When the 2013 NFL schedule was announced Thursday there was something odd.
The Oakland Raiders were granted two prime time games this season despite not making the playoffs since 2002. Any other team that hasn’t been in the playoff chase for 10 years wouldn’t be worthy of one prime time game let alone two, but something about the Silver and Black is different.
In theory, the fact the Raiders remain relevant is due to the culture the late Al Davis created under his ownership. The countless phrases, most notably “Just Win Baby,” divided the nation much like the New York Yankees have done since George Steinbrenner bought the team. Whether you like it or not, Davis made the Raiders relevant and they remain relevant to this day.
Oakland’s first prime time game is a Week 3 matchup with the Denver Broncos on Monday Night Football. The game was meant to highlight Peyton Manning and give him more national exposure, but Denver will play plenty of more marquee opponents than Oakland this season. The Broncos play five times in prime time and the Raiders did not deserve to be one of those teams in the spotlight. It is not the best matchup of the third week, but something about the Raiders makes for good television ratings and so networks go with it.
The Raiders also are in the limelight on Thanksgiving day when they travel to the Dallas Cowboys. This decision makes more sense, but it seems like the game would be much better if Dallas tussled with an NFC foe if not a divisional one. Dallas and Oakland are two of the most hated franchises of all time and were owned by two of the most controversial owners in the league. The matchup may no longer be good, but both teams sell well.
How Oakland continues to remain relevant while losing double-digit games is beyond me, but it makes it work. Like it or not the Raiders will be in the spotlight and Al Davis wouldn’t have it any other way.