?Haven't been to the Super Bowl in the 1980s, haven't won a playoff game since 1982 and haven't won a playoff game against a team without a "Bay" in its name since 1980?
Of course, things are looking up. After all, the Raiders are plotting a comeback with: 1) a quarterback who attended pass-happy Oklahoma State and who has thrown 51 NFL passes in his adult life; 2) two backup quarterbacks who are, respectively, a 39-year-old coming back from arthroscopic rotator-cuff surgery and a guy who once lost a Worst Quarterback in Los Angeles competition to Dieter Brock; 3) an offensive line that gave up just slightly fewer sacks in 1986 than Safeway; 4) their second-leading rusher, Ensign Napoleon McCallum, swabbing decks; 5) their best pure athlete shagging flies in Kansas City until October.
The Cowboys plan to start the year with: 1) a 35-year-old quarterback with a bad wrist; 2) nobody to back him up; 3) their best receiver out for the season; 4) their second-best wearing a San Francisco 49er uniform; 5) a defensive line of which only one member was not alive during the Truman Administration.
So, after dominating pro football for nearly 20 years, the league's two most antithetical, yet prepotent, franchises finally have something in common: mediocrity. How did it happen? It's kind of like when they asked the guy who got run over by the parade what happened. "Well," the guy said, "it was a combination of things."
One day during the off-season, a finalist in the Raiderette cheerleader contest announced that she was working as a process server. "You never know," she told Raider executive Al LoCasale. "I might be serving one on you."
LoCasale just shrugged. "Why not?" he said. "Everybody else has."
Such is life the last four years for the Raiders. Nowadays, when America thinks of a renegade Raider, it thinks of T. Boone Pickens before Al Davis. And when one thinks of Davis, one sees him in a three-piece suit, being solemnly sworn in once again as a witness. Oh, Davis still has some of that Howard Hughes style. He has his perpetually reserved booths in certain restaurants, complete with his personal tableside phone. He still lifts weights in his silver-and-black suite. He still wears a huge, black, diamond-studded bracelet that says AL, and he doesn't like to be either quoted or photographed. But there must be moments when Davis yearns for the good old days.
Oh, for Oakland. Oh, for the days when process servers didn't know Raider executives on a first-name basis. You think Davis is still glad he came to L.A.? Forgetting the money, which is considerable, where has his role as NFL Public Enemy No. 1 gotten him in the one category he cherishes—winning? After eight years in court, he has a 1-2 record; he won his antitrust suit against the NFL only to come up empty both in his support of the USFL's antitrust suit against the NFL and in the malicious prosecution suit that former San Diego Charger owner Gene Klein won against him, which could cost him $2 million.
The L.A. Coliseum did not build his cherished luxury boxes nor make his proposed millions of dollars' worth of renovations to get the seats closer to the field. He has never broken 70,000 average paid attendance there, and in a 92,516-seat ball yard, 70,000 fans sound like 70. "The stadium is a concern to me," Davis says, "because it affects the team. Players need to hear the roar of the crowd. That place just swallows the noise up."
That won't be a problem in Irwindale, where Davis is planning to build a 65,000-seat stadium and hopes to be playing by 1990. For those who don't make Rand McNally bedside reading, Irwindale (pop. 1,038) is located just off the 210 Freeway in the San Gabriel Valley, 25 miles east of downtown Los Angeles. It's primarily known for its abundant rock and gravel deposits. Says Herrera, "The West would never have been settled if people were not willing to cross the Rockies in a covered wagon. Irwindale has never scared us." The town was so excited after the official announcement was made that city officials quickly promised to buy season tickets for every resident.