The NFL is done. Done that is with the public hearings, or proceedings, or town hall meetings, or whatever you might call them specific to the issue of a few NFL teams making moves to another city. Last night the public events came to a conclusion culminating in little to no palpable results for fans in Oakland California. Recently the final “public hearings” were also completed in San Diego and St. Louis. Fans of all teams were given the opportunity to plead their cases and publicly verbalize their loyalty, in front of league officials, hoping to somehow influence the powers that be to come to their senses so the teams can remain where they currently are. One such clan of league insider executives made a showing at the Paramount Theater in Oakland California to hear (not necessarily “listen to”) avid Raiders fans who made sure their voices were at least heard.
The Oakland proceedings were however quite different from the events in the other two cities in that Raider's owner Mark Davis was the only NFL owner to attend and face the fans. Turns out it was a good move in one sense. He actually positioned himself alongside the fans rather than in opposition to them. For his effort he got a emotionally charged ovation for the approximate 400 fans in attendance directly after he got on stage to welcome them. He also gave a brief spiel that included the following:
“We need help from the community as well to get something that our fans and the NFL can be proud of. We don’t have that right now,” Davis said. He added: “We’ve been trying for at least the past six years, every day, hundreds of hours, people in this organization trying to get something done.”
Some saw the speech from Davis as another example of pandering, a false façade of words, and nothing more than cow towing to the fan base. Other critics are more specific and are convinced his words are really code for "give us the public money to build a stadium on taxpayer dollars instead of using my own money to complete the effort". In the end it may be a murky mix of both but who knows for sure. The bottom line is that St Louis and San Diego have gone to the extreme to give the teams the public money to stay put. Oakland on the other hand has given very little by way of promising any public money to keep the Raiders in Oakland.
Regardless of the business side of it the fans were praising Mark Davis for making the effort to be at the meetings and mingling among the fans. Davis answered fans questions and even hugged one in particular. He certainly connected with the “believers” even though many naysayers feel it was just another PR rouse to engender more self-serving support from the fans. So is Davis a warrior on behalf of the Raider Nation or is he merely masterful at playing the sympathetic figures in the ongoing saga? walking the line between politics and public sentiment is a no doubt a double edged sword. Unfortunately the public is more and more often left on the shorter sharper side of that sword.