Can Carson Palmer be for Oakland What Drew Brees is for New Orleans?
John Doublin – Aug 6, 2012
Ever since NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell stated that he wants to get an NFL team in the Los Angeles area, rumors have been rampant that the team moving to southern California will be the Oakland Raiders. Sure, the Rams, Vikings and Chargers have all been mentioned too, but no one really believes those teams are a legitimate option.
The Raiders have a bigger fan base in southern California than any other team—including the San Diego Chargers. This fact keeps the rumor mill churning that Oakland will lose their beloved Raiders...again!
This is likely a do-or-die season for the Raiders and the city of Oakland. At the moment, the county of Alameda doesn't seem interested in doing much to keep the Raiders, whereas the county of Los Angeles is willing to bend over backward to get a team in their area. This is frustrating for the homegrown Raider Nation who desperately want to keep their team.
If nothing changes—if things stay the way they are right now—the Raiders will be playing at Farmer's Field in L.A. come 2014.
So, what will it take to keep the Raiders in Oakland? What will motivate the county officials to quit sitting on their hands and actually take some action?
To quote a famous football cliché, "Winning cures all." Winning is the one thing that will speak louder than anything else.
Winning means a full stadium, which means busy restaurants and shops. Busy restaurants and shops means economic success and growth for the city. Economic success means votes. And really—that is all that motivates politicians.
Until the winning starts, the votes won't come. Until the votes come, the politicians will do exactly what they've been doing for several years—nothing.
This is where Carson Palmer comes into play.
Palmer finds himself in a situation very similar to the one Drew Brees found himself when he moved to New Orleans. A veteran quarterback, who was vastly under-rated, going to a team with a new head coach, in a city that was in danger of their NFL franchise moving after years of playing losing football.
Though the circumstances causing the team to consider moving are different, the situation remains the same.
Hurricane Katrina devastated the city of New Orleans so badly that keeping the Saints became a far lower priority to the city than rebuilding—and rightfully so.
In Oakland, the financial hardships that have precipitated the bankrupting of nearby cities have caused the priorities of elected officials to shift from keeping the Raiders, A's, Sharks and Warriors, to simply keeping the city financially afloat.
Regardless of how or why things got where they are, the fact is: If nothing is done, the city and/or county will lose the team. Period.
Following the 2005 season, Brees was moved to the New Orleans Saints—a team that had a history of failure. Only one playoff win since their inception in 1967 and the era of "the Ain'ts" and "Bag-Heads" were still fresh in the mind of New Orleans' citizens following a disappointing 3-13 season.
Brees and newly minted head coach Sean Payton set out to change the perception—and the performance of the team. The following season, they did just that by leading the Saints to a 10-6 record and their first playoff appearance—and first playoff win—since the 2000 season with a 27-24 win over the Philadelphia Eagles in the NFC Wild Card round.
From there, fan excitement and more importantly, political support for the Saints, reached an all-time high. Suddenly, the Super Dome was full every week, the politicians were crafting legislation that would provide the necessary funds to repair and upgrade the Saints' practice facilities, as well as the Super Dome.
Three seasons later, the Saints were hoisting the Lombardi Trophy as Super Bowl Champions—in New Orleans! Not San Antonio, Texas or Mobile, Alabama—or any other city that was rumored to be a destination for the Saints.
Carson Palmer has a golden opportunity to do the same thing for the Raiders. Lead the Raiders to a winning record for the fist time since 2002, take the team to the playoffs and generate so much support from the citizens that elected officials have no other option but to act.
A season like last year, when Palmer was asked to put down the television remote and come play football, only to throw more interceptions than touchdowns on his way to a 4-5 record will not cut it.
Palmer must play better—much better.
Palmer will need help from new head coach Dennis Allen. Like Payton, Allen must make the right decisions, call the right games, expect perfection, but settle for nothing less than greatness from his team.
Palmer needs to go beyond playing well on the field. He has to become an important part of the Oakland community as well.
In Brees' time in New Orleans, he's helped the citizens rebuild their homes and business, both with financial donations and by actually picking up a hammer and getting to work. This endeared him to the voting public, who in-turn, applied pressure to local officials to get something done for the Saints.
If Palmer can use his high-profile position as the starting quartback of the Oakland Raiders to better the city, improve the community and make a legitimate difference in the lives of the citizens, he can have a similar effect on the voting public of Oakland—who will hopefully rally behind their star athlete and put pressure on the city and county officials to get the team the new stadium they so desperately deserve, and keep the Raiders in Oakland.
This article is not intended to compare Palmer to Brees from a performance standpoint. At this moment, Brees is a Super Bowl winning quarterback, and as mentioned in a previous article, Palmer is not—yet. The purpose of this article is only to point out that Palmer is in a similar position Brees was at the start of the 2006 season.
A good year from Palmer on the field, as well as a significant contribution to the city of Oakland, coupled with a smooth transition from Allen, a winning season and a playoff berth will go a long way to motivate the only people that can prevent the Raiders from moving to L.A.—the politicians.
Do these things and Raider Nation's chances of keeping their team at home are greatly increased. Do them not, and the citizens of Oakland will have to get used to hearing, "The Los Angeles Raiders"—again!
It's really not a matter of can Palmer do it—of course he can. The real questions is: Will he?
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