John Madden is not happy about the Raiders relocation from Oakland to Las Vegas.
In an interview on SiriusXM NFL Radio’s Hall of Fame show, the legendary Hall of Fame coach expressed that dissatisfaction exactly as you’d expect him to, saying that losing the history of the team was difficult for him.
“Maybe this is just me being oversensitive, but doggone it, if you’re going to go, that’s really tough, but leave us something,” Madden told show hosts Joe Horrigan, James Lofton and Howard Balzer on Wednesday night.
“Leave us something here in Oakland. Please.”
Madden coached the Raiders from 1969 to 1978 and won the franchise’s first Super Bowl before embarking on a broadcasting career.
Raiders owner Mark Davis plans on moving the Raiders to a $1.9 billion, 65,000-seat dome stadium with natural grass in 2020, while playing in Oakland for at least the next two seasons with 2019 still in question.
Madden said the Raiders’ pending move to Las Vegas hurts more than when they went to Los Angeles in 1982, as this time it feels like the door is shutting for a final time. The thinking when the Raiders departed the first time was that the Oakland Coliseum was still relevant enough to attract another team.
“It really gets you because of the finality of it,” Madden said. “When they moved before, that was after I got out and I was in broadcasting and I wasn’t that much of a part of it, but we had a stadium in Oakland that was relevant. And so, ‘OK, Oakland may lose the Raiders, but we’ll get another team,’ because that was the way it was working back then.
“And with the stadium now, when they move out, that’s going to be torn down and it’s going to be a high-rise or some doggone thing and there’ll be no more Oakland Raiders, there’ll be no more history of the Oakland Raiders. That really bothers me. Not just me personally, but all the Raiders fans over all those years and all the great players and great games. Just, boom, it goes away.
“We don’t have a Hall of Fame, we don’t have a museum — there’s nothing to leave there. And maybe this is just me being oversensitive, but doggone it, if you’re going to go, that’s really tough, but leave us something. Leave us something here in Oakland, please.”
Madden, who turned 81 on Monday, said he was “surprised” at how swiftly the NFL approved the move.
“I didn’t think that that would happen and when they got a vote of 31-1, I was really shocked and I was surprised not only that it happened, but how quickly that it happened,” Madden said. “And I’m not sure that they have that whole deal together yet. I’m not sure that they even know exactly what this stadium is — how many (seats it has), where it’s going to be and all those things.
“For some reason, they jumped into that thing quickly.”
Davis announced his intentions to move to Southern Nevada last April, and there are 750 million reasons why the league did not let the deal die. The $750 million via a hotel tax is the largest public subsidy ever for a stadium.
Still, as Madden indicated, while the Raiders have identified a site, a 62-acre plot on Russell Road, west of Interstate 15 and the Mandalay Bay Resort and Casino on the south end of Las Vegas, there is still no lease, design plans or FAA approval, considering the relative proximity of the site to McCarran International Airport. The league wants to see progress on each of those topics, as well as where the team plans on playing in 2019.
Madden said he was confused by the league’s apparent double-standard in approving relocation to Las Vegas but preparing to fine players who appeared at an arm-wresting competition in a casino there last weekend. He thinks visiting coaches will eventually have issues with players in Sin City.
“I would hate to be a coach to take a team in there,” Madden said. “I would hate to have my team be in Las Vegas on Saturday night before the game. And that’s any team. You say, ‘Well, you had a bunch of rowdies,’ but every team has a bottom 10. You can say, ‘Oh, we got a good group, it’s a great group, we’re together,’ and all this stuff. Say you have 55 guys. Forty-five of them can be perfect, but you’ve got that bottom 10. And you have to be as good as your last guy.”
Madden was referring to the “bottom 10” players on the roster in terms of behavior.
“I think there’s going to be a lot of problems like that,” he said. “I’d stay in Mohave [Arizona] or something.”
But supporter of the Raiders move to Las Vegas have pointed out the trappings of such existing NFL markets as New Orleans, Miami, New York and Los Angeles.