The death clock is apparently ticking on the Oakland Raiders.
It is too late for Dr. Death to come to the rescue?
If the rumors are true, Mark Davis, son of the late Raiders managing general partner Al Davis, may be in a fix. According to the latest research by Forbes, a Raiders franchise that hasn’t been to the playoffs since 2002 because of a 49-111 record since then under seven different head coaches is worth $825 million. But that’s No. 32 – and last – on the list of most valuable NFL teams today.
If Davis and his Prince Valiant haircut can’t inspire local investors or business leaders to help him generate income from a new stadium, he may start threatening to move.
Back to L.A.
This must be one of those irreversible DNA mutation strains that modern science just can’t stop.
Just the thought of the Raiders on their Oakland death bed kills a guy like Dr. Death.
“The Raiders are my life here, and it’s on the verge of extinction,” said the Black Hole season-ticket holder otherwise known as Ray Perez, a 25-year-old college broadcast student from West Sacramento who waits tables at Joe’s Crab Shack to support his silver-and-black addiction.
“There’s no Dr. Death if they move to L.A. People need to understand that. When they aren’t playing, I have a subconscious depression. I was at the first exhibition game (recently), watching Raiders fans hugging and laughing. I realized then how excited I was to be there. If they move, I will probably cry. This all affects my livelihood and my culture. This is personal.”
Perez’s game-day apparel is complete with knives sticking out of his helmet, dreadlocks, shoulder pads, black-and-white striped pants and the No. 26 jersey as a tribute to the late Raiders cornerback Skip Thomas, the former USC standout who wore the “Dr. Death” nickname when he played during the 1970s.
Perez has been met with the mayor of Oakland and attended – in full costume – Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum Authority meetings. He has a regular forum on Facebook, Twitter and a podcast that registers 30,000 listeners.
But in his latest attempt to change the course of history, Perez’s petition on Change.org entitled “Raiders: Don’t Move to L.A. – Commit to Staying In Oakland” has generated as many as many as 1,000 signatures a day over the last couple of weeks.
Honestly, L.A.’s NFL fans may be torn on this one. Do we support keeping the Raiders locked up in their original habitat and away from our children? Or are we romantically driven, after a 20-year hiatus, to welcome them back with open armed security?
Perez explains the immediacy in collecting these cybersignatures:
Q: Is this a real threat, the Raiders moving back to L.A., or one you think is fabricated?
A: I think it’s very realistic. I’ve talked to people who are part of a group called Save Oakland Sports, people who go to city council meetings and know facts in this case. There’s a developer who six months ago said the Raiders’ chances of staying were 70/30 but now they’re closer to 50/50, and he’s trying to help them stay. This is the reality and some fans without their ear to the ground don’t understand the severity of it.
Q: Launching a petition seems like a very civilized approach to getting the word out, especially for someone named Dr. Death. Couldn’t you create more attention by turning over cars, torching trash cans, throwing garbage off the Oakland Bay Bridge?
A: Anyone who thinks of Raider Nation as a bunch of criminals, we’re far from it. I’m trying to be very professional here. I’m speaking to people who maybe aren’t into sports to explain why keeping the Raiders in Oakland will help this city economically. This is the best way to be heard. Turing over cars, that’s starting another problem that overshadows the issue here. People love to bash Oakland. I don’t bash to bash. Talk to me with facts and have a civilized conversation. We need investors to spend money in order to start making money. Oakland unemployment is 11 percent. If you think Oakland is poor now, it would be worse with more jobs leaving.
Q: On your petition, you ask: ‘Can you imagine taking the Packers out of Green Bay, the Yankees out of New York, the Lakers out of Los Angeles?’ Do you know something about the Lakers possibly moving that we don’t know about in L.A.?
A: They did exist once in Minneapolis before, right?
Q: So if I were to circulate the address of this petition among L.A. sports fans, would it be OK if they signed it based on their desire of not wanting the Raiders to move back to Southern California – basically, you stay in Oakland, and we’re good with that?
A: Yeah, because that’s their reasoning. I understand the affect that a team can have on a fan base, based on when the Raiders left Oakland the first time. The analogy I use is that: If you were married to someone for 23 years, then they leave you for another man, and 15 years later they come back – there’s a lot of husbands that wouldn’t take their ex-wife back in that case. It hurts too much to live with them again, no matter how much you love your spouse.
Q: But the thing is, it’s not so much a case of a smitten lover. It’s the other stuff that comes with the Raiders being in L.A. They may have a lot of fans left here, but they also have detractors. What I started my own petition asking people to keep the Raiders out of L.A.? Wouldn’t that also serve your purpose?
A: That’s you. You worry about L.A. Just stop bashing Oakland on the other end of it. I don’t know L.A. I know some people in L.A. that think it’s a terrible idea to have the Raiders back there, and they’ve seen a backlash when they still wear Raiders gear there, with that criminal thing attached to it. I’m not going to promote that. More power to you. Good luck catching me on my petition. I’m Dr. Death and have a great following. Look at how much support the Raiders have in Oakland, for a team that hasn’t won in 10 years.
Q: You’re asking for 56,000 signatures. What if you get that, present it to Mark Davis, and he still moves to L.A.?
A: The goal of 56,000 is what it would take to fill a new proposed stadium. That should be easy. It would be a symbolic gesture for anyone who wonders if they could be comfortable investing in this city. You worry about the financial side of it. I’m pro-Davis and pro-Oakland.
Mr. Davis has told me: ‘There are investors in L.A. and it can work there.’ I’m sure it could work anywhere. The issue is making it work in Oakland, and letting him know he has fan support to show to investors here. There are plenty of Fortune 500 companies in Oakland that should want to help.
I know the problem with Al Davis in the past is always believed that “The Shield” sold itself. Do you want to be in business with someone like that, someone who was always threatening and suing everyone? Now these Raiders have to deal with that.
I’ve been to council meetings, each time missing work or school. Is it worth it to me? If the team moved to L.A. and I didn’t try to do anything, I couldn’t live with myself. I want to exhaust all my resources with zero regrets.
In fact right now, I’m in Sacramento and about to go into mayor Kevin Johnson’s office because I would like him to attend a Save Oakland Sports business summit in November when we put a Raider rally together, like he did with saving the NBA’s Kings from moving.
I’m not doing this Dr. Death for me, it’s for the people. I’m trying to use my platform to help other, help Raider Nation. I’m doing this all on my own. I just know that in the end, if the Raiders stay, I’d be the happiest man on earth and feel completed.