A ray of hope

On March 27, I was scrolling through my Twitter feed and a breaking news headline flashed before my eyes. It was the news that I was dreading and hoping would never come to fruition.

The Oakland Raiders officially announced their intent to leave Oakland and relocate to Las Vegas.

When this story broke, it instantly made me irate and sad. Fans like myself were justly disappointed and left with little clarity as to exactly why the Raiders were leaving. Though several months have passed since this devastating news was released, it is still tough for me to fully let the ill feelings dissipate.

In every disappointment, however, it is important to search for silver linings. Raider fans’ silver lining emerged April 26 when the Raiders traded for former all-pro running back and Oakland’s own Marshawn Lynch.

Upon hearing this news, I forgot about the Raiders move to Las Vegas for a mere instant. Growing up, Lynch was one of my favorite players, so I was instantly fired up when I caught wind of this exciting news. I’ve always admired Lynch’s playing style, his commitment to the Oakland community and his unwavering stance to remain himself regardless of the shine or limelight of his celebrity.

Lynch is exactly what Raider Nation needed to help ease their pain over the team’s looming move to Sin City. It would be one thing, if Lynch was joining a team continuing to flirt with mediocrity and only presenting a feel good story of a city’s own returning home to soften the blow of a team’s relocation. This however is not the case at all; Marshawn is joining a Raiders team that has one of the NFL’s best young rosters and is knocking on the door of being among the league’s elite.

This is what makes the signing of Lynch so intriguing. He is the veteran presence that can take this young roster under his wings and show them what it takes to be championship-caliber. He is also the catalyst that can quite possibly help this team reach its potential and reinvigorate a fan base that is struggling with the team’s departure.

It’s no coincidence that shortly after the signing of Beast Mode, the Raiders announced that they had sold out their season tickets for the upcoming season. The addition of Lynch has me thinking less about the Raiders move and more about what the team can accomplish this year.

Raider fans like myself will not be able to ever fully let go of the ensuing move because it feels as if team owner Mark Davis turned his back on and betrayed a fanbase that has been nothing but loyal to the Raiders, even through the countless years of mediocrity. Fans, however, can see that this team has the makings to be great and compete at a high level next season. If last season’s 12-4 record tells us anything, it’s that this is a different Raiders team that doesn’t scream mediocrity but rather possess the foundation to be great.

An offense featuring the likes of Derek Carr, Amari Cooper, Michael Crabtree, Jared Cook, Lynch and one of the NFL’s most dominant offensive lines is going to give the Raiders a good shot to win week in and week out. The question now becomes will Oakland’s defense, featuring the NFL’s reigning Defensive Player of the Year Khalil Mack, be able to take the next steps to compete with the AFC’s elite such as the New England Patriots and Pittsburgh Steelers.

This season, I’m going to try my best to not get caught up in the misfortune of the Raiders’ move but rather keep my excitement high for this season in Oakland. Lynch and this young and talented roster offers a disappointed fanbase a ray of hope that this team could very well compete for a championship this year and in a storybook ending hoist a Vince Lombardi Trophy for Oakland.

Contact Ryan Groves at [email protected].