Pulp Fiction is a great movie. It marked Quentin Tarantino's rise to fame, of course, as he capitalized off of Reservoir Dogs. Nonetheless, in Pulp Fiction, Marcellus Wallace had a conversation with Butch (Bruce Willis) regarding Butch taking the fall in a boxing match as he was believed to be too old to win.
"The night of the fight, you may feel a slight sting. That's pride f***ing with you. F**k pride. Pride only hurts, it never helps."
As much as I love that movie and love the character, that's not true. Pride helps, pride can help build off a foundation and move into the future. Kansas City is already heading to the playoffs when it faces Oakland today. Regardless of the game's outcome, the Chiefs have worked themselves in as the representative of the AFC West, but Oakland? They're going to be watching the rest of the season from the luxury of their own homes. Some may contemplate the next move of their career some may not even come back.
Kansas City has the chance to earn the third seed in the playoffs, instead of the fourth, which may help their march in the postseason, but Oakland? They're playing for pride. Sure, against the Colts they got a shot of reality and it didn't go down well. It probably tasted like spoiled milk and oysters, but the shot made them see. They have nothing more to play for: no playoff implications or chance at the Super Bowl, but a chance to make a jump, and for the first time in a long time, end the season with a .500 record.
That's pride, ladies and gentlemen.
Maybe to the fans of the Patriots, Colts and Steelers, 8-8 is far from pride. It's more "average," but it is quite understandable. These franchises have grown used to winning, whereas Oakland fans hope for the best, and the best usually means us winning more than five games recently. But on Sunday, we have the opportunity to break even and show the rest of the NFL that we are for real and going to be a contender next year.
Whether or not Kansas City pulls its starters looking towards the playoffs, Oakland should play hard and play like there is no tomorrow, because there really isn't. These 53 men who are suited up will have to wait another year before they have their shots at redemption. But before that, they can leave the AFC West representing Kansas City Chiefs with a taste of what’s coming next year: a winning season.
Laugh, mock and joke all you want. We Raider fans appreciate what we can get. We may not be playing in the next stages of the season, but we have the shot to kill two other streaks, something we've been quite good at this season (Kansas City's home field win streak and Oakland's losing season streak).
After Sunday's early game, when it's all said and done, we in Raider Nation may not be looking forward to playing in the game of games, but we can look forward to a promising season next year. But before that, we have the chance to take down a playoff-caliber team and win out in the AFC West, making the claim that even though we finished third, we are the most dominate team when it comes to division games.
Oakland plays in The Pride Bowl today. We may not get trophies at the end of the day, but we will have the satisfaction of knowing that we are capable of beating 3 rivals twice a year, allowing us to change our attention to those games that we were supposed to win but couldn't manage to seal. Be proud Oakland fans, we let some wins slip through the cracks, but we still had a hell of a season, and Kansas City will have its hands full with an Oakland Raider team playing for nothing but pride.
And in this case? Pride is gonna help a lot more than it's going to hurt.