Had a fantastic night/day at Raider headquarters…
For starters, we went to Mikuni Elk Grove to meet up with Grant and Jodi, and enjoyed most of the first round, along with the best sushi in the world. Seriously, Taro at Mikuni knows what he is doing, and most of the time I think fish tastes stupid. But he has a way of making it taste amazing, so props to the KHTK promotions team for picking the right spot to watch the draft.
After Grant’s show was over, we took the quick drive to Alameda and checked into our hotel near Raider HQ. I had Joe ride down with me, and had fond memories of when we used to be friends. I say USED to be because all we did was tweet and text and not really pay attention to each other. Our friendship, like so many more, has fallen victim to technology. All we need now is an aural input and screen in front of the eye (Google glass style) and the need for human contact will be erased. Well, ALMOST erased. One big exception.
We arrived and checked in to the hotel (which will not be named to protect identities), and decided that even though the hour was late, we’d go down to the bar and have a quick nightcap.
Now, I say the hour was late, but it was actually 9:54. Back in the day, I would just be starting my night show, and would have many hours left in my day. Being that morning show hosts become social lepers with no concept of time and sun, 9:54 is extremely late. As we sat down to our double shots of chocolate milk on the rocks, we noticed that the bar was almost empty, except for one table directly next to us with about eight dudes there. Big dudes. Talking about the draft.
Talking a little too expertly about the draft.
Uh oh, that’s Reggie McKenzie, Raiders’ GM!!
Yeah, dumb us had stumbled onto basically the entire Raider front office throwing a few back and breaking down the draft.
So Joe and I decided to play it cool and basically illegally eavesdrop on their conversations. At one point things got quiet, and I loudly said to Joe “MAN, I CAN’T BELIEVE THE RAIDERS GOT MACK!! WHAT AN AWESOME PICK!”
A couple of the guys closest to us stretched their ears our direction, and most likely enjoyed what they were hearing. Mission accomplished. Reggie got up to exit the meeting, and I nonchalantly beat him to the elevator while having a fake phone call with my wife to make it seem like I still had no idea who these guys were, and was just limping off to bed and telling my wife I was on my way. I held the elevator for him, and just as I thought I had achieved my goal of fully stalking an NFL GM, one of his assistants who closely resembled a five-story house in Roseville joined us on the elevator. We were both on the same floor, and as the elevator climbed, I told Reggie we were broadcasting from HQ the next day, and I thought he had an awesome draft. He very politely said thank you, while having a look on his face like he was deciding between calling the cops or hoping I didn’t start jumping on him. He exited the elevator, and it was off to bed for all.
Arriving at HQ in the wee hours, we were met by an older gentleman who took us for a quick tour. As neither Joe nor I had gotten much sleep the night before due to me snoring like a dinosaur, singing the National Anthem, we one-eyed our way through the place.
I have discovered that every team headquarters has one thing in common: an older gentleman who has been there since World War II. Usually they are named Murph, Skip, Paddy, Bones, Jonesy, Mack, Frankie, Johnny, or LeCarpetron. No exceptions.
We sat down in Conference Room One, and did the show. You can listen by playing the clip, and amongst other things hear WR Rod Streater call in, and eventually FB Marcel Reece joined us at HQ. One thing that was very apparent with both players, the front office, and even random people inside Headquarters, was the culture had changed. There is a genuine buzz with these people, that type of buzz where expectations are high, and a long road to redemption may have a light at the end of the tunnel.
Although Al Davis’ face was rightfully plastered on almost every wall, for the first time it feels like this franchise has begun to complete the transition to Raiders: The Next Generation. People are stoked, goals are higher, and its not that cliche sportsy “anyone can win any year.” Of course teams are going to always have a good outlook going into a new season, but they know if they’re going to be really good or suck, for the most part. There is no league like the NFL when it comes to parity. One year a team can completely suck (Carolina), and find itself the following year in the thick of the playoffs. Same goes the opposite direction (Houston).
Listening to Reece and Streater talk, watching the body language of the front office at that hotel, feeling the buzz of the office staff at Raider HQ, these people definitely have a “Why Not Us” attitude. And who knows? Maybe the Raiders shock the world. Although, with the improvements to the roster, I’m not so sure a much-improved season should be much of a shock.
Things are shaping up to be very interesting for the Oakland Raiders.
To hear the full audio from KHTK storming the castle at Raiders HQ, listen below:
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