Tuesday, March 28, 2006

Don't Just Win, Baby

I hear it frequently: Just win, baby. As if that’s all there is to it. Well, we haven’t won jack squat in three years (quite the opposite), and you haven’t gone anywhere, have you? You’re still here: loyal, hardcore and in it for life. And why is that? Must be that Autumn Wind, because there’s no fair weather in the Raider Nation.

Think about it, how many teams could win 13 games over three seasons and experience less fan attrition than the Raiders? I don’t want to hear about the lack of Coliseum sellouts. The Lions sell out, yet the Lions stink and there is no Lions Nation. I’m not talking about the art of building domes and filling luxury boxes and selling out to the corporate crowd. I’m talking about the following equation: intensity + loyalty x fans ÷ geography.

When the 49ers stink it up, the colors of red and gold virtually disappear from the streets. Honestly, how much 49ers gear do you see around the world these days? Yet I still see Raiders gear and decals everywhere.

I wonder, what if my team were the Patriots, owned by a guy who made millions in paper products, coached by a guy with no personality, led by a golden-boy GQ quarterback and a bunch of workmanlike veterans who blend together like wallpaper in their fancy contemporary uniforms...Would winning be enough for me? Would I be banging away at a fan blog in the wee hours? Would I bleed silver and blue? I doubt it. I’d still be a fan, but no longer a rabid one.

(If that pisses off any Patriots fans out there, good. I hate the Patriots, and the fact that the zebras propped up your golden boy in the snow for a thieving mulligan.)

So while “Just Win, Baby” is a familiar battle cry to all of us—one coined by Mr. Davis himself—it is perhaps least suited to the Raider Nation than any other fan base in the NFL, and that includes all of these people suddenly "rediscovering" their Steelers hats here in the Golden State.

Don’t get me wrong: Winning is very important to the Raider Nation, just as it is the driving and defining force behind Mr. Davis and his legacy.

But I also submit that the destination and the journey are inseparable in the Raider Nation. In other words, while winning is the destination, how we get there is also very important. We want to get there the Raider way, don’t we? In other words: It is whether you win or lose, and how you play the game.

So what is the Raider way? I believe that it’s a spirit, an attitude and ultimately a culture that starts at the top of the organization, and that is embodied and perpetuated by the Raider Nation. It’s not the easiest thing to define. I’ve got some ideas, but I need a day or two to collect them into a coherent take.


Until then: Don't just win, baby.

19 Comments:

Anonymous raider00 said...

Interesting take, RT, though I'm not sure I know what you're driving at. If you're saying that the Raiders history, and tradition is so deep, rich, and unique, that even when they are down, they are still more fun to follow then any other team, then I certainly agree with that. However, sometimes I feel as if Al Davis is more consumed these days with Raider Mysique, then he is with winning. More worried about playing Raider football, then just winning football games. So, yes, our pride, & poise boys don't have to win to be special, but, I really wouldn't mind if Al found a golden boy Qb to win a couple of more SB's. I'll tak'em anyway I can get'em. Just win baby.....just win.

10:47 PM  
Blogger Calico Jack said...

The Raider Nation is a proud group that likes to fly their colors even in tough times like the past 3 years. However, most of this loyal fan base (myself included) would be even more proud of the team if we got back on track to being a winning, playoff caliber team.

To me the phrase "Just Win, Baby" means to find a way to win ... find any way to win no matter what schemes are being run, what style of Offense or Defense is being run, who the personnel might be.

As a fan I don't care whether one of our players is a golden boy, chroir boy, or former convict. All I care about is how that player performs on Sunday. The phrase "Just Win, Baby" rang hollow in the Turner/KFC era.

7:25 AM  
Blogger Raider Take said...

Simply put, this is meant as an ode to a fan base like no other.

As Calico Jack said, the phrase "Just Win, Baby" means finding a "way" to win. It is this "way" we've won, and this "way" we will win again, that binds us as the most loyal and intense fan base in the NFL.

Raider00, in reference to your second sentence, yes, that is partly what I'm saying, and you did a nice job of saying it yourself. You make good points beyond that. I would never diminish the importance of winning, but I know that we're both in it for more than that.

Let's not forget that not long ago, Mr. Davis, in the Raider tradition, enlisted veteran castoffs like Gannon, Rice, Romo and Rod Woodson, who, along with homegrown talent like Porter, Brown, Jano and Charles Woodson, led us to the Super Bowl.

When the team went south, Mr. Davis, in the Raider tradition, reloaded by signing the baddest receiver in the NFL, snagged Derrick Burgess and outbid the rest for LaMont Jordan. Mistakes were made with Norv, Kerry and others, so Mr. Davis reloaded with a new coaching staff and a new QB, and hopefully some solid draft picks.

In other words, I believe that Mr. Davis is more consumed with winning than mystique. However, the mystique is a byproduct of how he does business and how he approaches the game.

8:11 AM  
Anonymous LK said...

RT--I understand what you mean completely. I love when we win; I love it more when we win our way--with complete domination and punishment of the opponent e.g, when Ben Davidson speared Len Dawson to draw a penalty so the down had to be replayed; when Tatum and Atkinson so jacked up [pun intended] Lynn Swann he was afraid to come on the field, let laone across the middle, vs. the Raiders; when Howie Long went into the Seattle huddle and told their o-line he would kick all their asses in the parking lot in front of their families if they didn't stay out of his knees; when he went back in their huddle two plays later during a timeout and told the water boys the Seahawks didn't deserve any water cause they hadn't blocked anyone all day; when the Raiders dominated Washington in every aspect of the game on a day Marcus could have run for 300---you get the picture--gotta go back to work now

8:55 AM  
Blogger TheFreakingPope said...

I agree that the phrase must mean something more than hoping the win/loss columns lean one way more than the other.

I personally felt that we could have lived up to our mantra, losing games with Tui or Walter under center in the later part of the season. Repeatedly my brother and I reminded each other that we'd rather lose truly trying to win.

9:18 AM  
Blogger Raider Take said...

"We'd rather lose truly trying to win." - Brilliant! It's a lesson that Norv Turner never learned.

LK, love your bit about Howie Long.

On the recently released Raiders Super Bowl DVD, one of the extra features is a segment on Howie Long. We always hear about how players are getting bigger, stronger and faster these days...This feature on Howie is a reminder and a reality check. His timing, quickness and ferocity are indeed something to marvel.

9:44 AM  
Anonymous Bob H. said...

That was REALLY well put. I moved to the Seattle area in 94 and have taken much abuse from Seachicken fans - sometimes rightfully so for our underacheiving and sometimes weird family/nation/organization, but I know till the day they plant my ass in the ground it's RAIDERS all the way baby. Last season as I watched debacle after debacle from optimistic start to demoralizing end I sometimes asked myself how in the hell can I watch every second of this , knowing that the very next Sunday I would be right in the same spot. Thanks for helping explaing the Raider nation psyche. Well said.
Bob H.

11:11 AM  
Blogger Calico Jack said...

Bob H - I hope you are able to represent the Nation when the Raiders visit Seattle this year!

LK - good points. One element that is sorely missing from the Raiders is an intimidating, nasty D. We need to draft/sign some vicious, hard-hitting defenders who will bring the intensity of the D up a notch or two.

12:37 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I think the Just Win Bany slogan is from when the Raiders use to lead the league in penalties and yet they always found a way to win.

Unfortunately they still lead the league in penalties but are not able to overcome them. Just Win Anything Baby!!

2:41 PM  
Anonymous Raider Nate 75 said...

The "Raider Way" has also cost us (fans) a lot of pain. The whole "snow job" debacle a few years ago against the Pats, for one. My question, would the Pats be a dynasty had the Raiders won that game, then the Super Bowl?
My problem with our team that game though, is the next play was 4th, and 18. Instead of blitzing puss Brady again, we played puss defense, and gave up the first down, and eventually the tie and winning score. We still had opportunity to shove it down their throat but went the "Patriot way" and tucked our tails and left weeping like the Chiefs.
I'm not saying we were cheated because we were! Especially the following season, when Gannon did the same thing Brady did, and it was ruled a fumble! I'm saying if we truly played the Raider Way, it wouldn't have come down to that call because we would've dominated the Pats so much, that drive would have been meaningless!
Look at the times we have been screwed or won a controversial play. The "Holy Roller" (vs Chargers), the "Immaculate Reception" (vs Steelers), the "Snow Job" (vs Patriots), the "Goose Flop" (vs Ravens). Even the Super Bowl vs the Bucs, the rumor is that Callahan gave Gruden a copy of the playbook, "as a payback to Mr Davis, and his 3 lawsuits that year against the NFL." Do you really think Tagliabue wanted to hand the Lombardi Trophy to Al with 3 lawsuits pending?
I wish it was more like lk said, that the Raider Way was to kick ass and take names. It is that way when we win, but only when we win. Here lately, it seems the Raiders have lost that meaning, and are content with being "Paper Champions" playing down to the competition. I'm hoping Art Shell will bring the definition of "Just Win, Baby!" back to our proud franchise, and get back to the "punch-your-momma-in-the-mouth" football that defines "THE RAIDER WAY!"

3:03 PM  
Blogger Raider Take said...

Bob H, thanks for your feedback! Much appreciated. I can't wait for the taste of barbecued Seachicken in 2006!

Nate, great take, thanks. To the crazy plays that rarely work in our favor, I'll add the Rob Lytle FUMBLE in the AFC Championships following the 1977 season. Another classic zebra ripoff in a key game.

As for the Patriots mulligan...Despite his supposedly agressive nature, I remember getting regularly PO'd at Gruden's conservative playcalling and prevent-nothing defenses during his tenure.

3:55 PM  
Anonymous Stick'Em said...

For me, "Just Win, Baby!" has a certain meaning. It means:

I don't care if you are an afroed ghetto kid from NC who's first words to the team owner are, "Who the f' are you?!", you can be the free safety...

I don't care if you are a skinny, cheesefed farmboy from Wisconsin, you can be the center...

I don't care if you're parents are blind Mexicans, and everyone labeled you a #1-overall-pick bust, you can be the QB...

I don't care if you are Caucasian- or African- or Mexican-American, you can be the head coach...

I don't care if you are a female who started out in the copy room, you can be the head executive...

You can be any of these things (QB, HC, CEO, waterboy--whatever), no matter who you are or where you came from, if--and only if--you are committed to winning. If you are, you have our loyalty.

This is not some hollow corporate marketing directive perpetrated in response to an inquiry by the politically correct police squad.

No. It is simply the most efficient way to build a team, allowing yourself to draw from any and all sources to find the winners.

The Raider Way has no limitation as limitation. Since everyone is included as a part of the organization, the fan base of the team also naturally excludes no one.

You can wear metal gear and Halloween face paint, or not.

We don't care what you wear, nor how you got to the game or where you live on days not named "Sunday", as long as you understand it's about winning.

The newcomer fans who haven't seen much winning in the last few years don't understand.

But Art Shell gets it.

As Art said, "The Raider way. Everybody has a way of doing things. The Raiders have a way of doing things. We're about winning. And we will win."

4:05 PM  
Anonymous raider00 said...

Another important thing to remember is that the players who set the whole bad boy, rebel, Raider image in motion, were winners. Sure the Snake, Tooz, and others were out late on Saturday night, but come Sunday afternoon, they performed. No one was counting penalties when your in the playoff's every year. Sometimes I feel like these so called Raiders types around today, are just living off the glory of the great Raiders of the past. These guys bask in the mystique, and make millions playing football, but they don't show up on Sunday. They don't win. Even worse, some of them don't even seem to care. So when discussing Raider mystique, it's important to draw a line between the Raiders who helped established the mystique, and those who wouldn't know it if it kicked them in the ass.

5:16 PM  
Blogger frkyraider said...

stick'em, wow, i read this article (nice job rt) and then the posts and couldn't wait to get done reading so i could expound on my own take of what "just win baby" means to me. then i got to your post, took the words right outa my mouth braugh!!! couldn't have said it better.

Bob H., born and bred in seattle baby, some 40 years ago. been a diehard raider fan since memory. the people in our area don't have a clue what it's all about, this past season proved it. most are just happy to have gotten there. was anyone happy when we played the bucs three years ago? gettin there is one thing. but with the raiders as an organization and fandom it's about winning period. whats that you say naysayers? haven't been doin much of that lately? to that i say it aint supposed to be easy, it's supposed to be hard. football is the greatest game on the face of the earth, if it were easy everyone would do it, it's the haaaarrrrd that makes it GREAT!!!

6:08 PM  
Blogger Calico Jack said...

Stick'em - You absolutely nailed it. A total bulls-eye. It is that inclusive, communal feeling that binds the Raider Nation together and makes it strong. Race, age, gender, occupation, hometown, face paint etc ... doesn't matter as long as your are screaming your lungs out for our beloved Silver and Black.

One of the major legacies that Mr. Davis will leave behind is his willingness to give players, coaches, executives an equal opportunity to shine based on merit and merit alone.

To the best of my recollections there has never been a team in the history of the NFL who has had an african-american HC, O-line coach, and QB at the same time let alone a female CEO.

To recapture the Raider Mystique, Art will need to instill in the players some of his "old school" values ... first, that it is a privilege to don the silver and black uniform and then most importantly, get the team to dominate and destroy their opponents on Sundays! Can't wait for Sept. 11th. MNF vs. the Bolts in our crib. Welcome to the NFL Philip "Cry Me a River".

8:01 PM  
Anonymous LK said...

great take, stick'em

5:53 AM  
Blogger Doobie said...

Stick'em...beautifully stated.

5:15 AM  
Anonymous Stick'Em said...

Oops...I screwed up:

We DO care what you wear!

While you don't have to wear Raider Take approved gear (its recommended, but optional--LOL!), when you find your jersey is baby powder blue, ketchup red 'n' mustard yellow, or a shade of Donco orange...

what did the old monk keep saying to Grasshopper?...

ah yes, "It's time for you to leave."

There is only one color in the rainbow, and as far as I know, it is silver'n'black.

BTW, for the newcomers (and I don’t use this term condescendingly. After all, there was a time when each of us—me, LK, CJ, Doobie, RT, FRKY, 00…every one of us—learned they are a Raider at heart), the answers are:

The FS with the afro is Jack Tatum.

The C from Wisconsin is Jim Otto.

The QB with blind parents is Jim Plunkett.

The three HCs are John Madden, Art Shell, and Tom Flores.

The copy room CEO is Amy Trask.

The face-painted fan is Hardcore.

And the waterboy's name is "Run Run." ROTFLMAO!

If yer gonna be a Raider, then ya gotta know yer history. That way, when the bozos try to feed ya mediot propaganda diguised as truth, you'll know the deal.

There’ll be a quiz later, natch.

6:05 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thanks Stick em...I had all up to the copy room ceo lost the rest on down. Moving to Alaska has me lost to the history from then on.
And Just Win meant to me ...just that. History showed we can have a QB/K come in the final seconds and kick a Fg to win the game. Jack Tatum came in to just kick butt and take names later. And we all listened to the cryings of these that felt we were too rough. Or just cheated. When people hated the Raiders...I knew we would win. Now it's like listening to peeps tellng me....Just win is all in the past.
In Alaska....I am with others...Raider Nation in Alaska.We just don't want to win...but beat the Western Division and then take names with the rest of the league. We are not going to take it anymore. It's time to focus.... I can't wait for he slaughter to begin.

AlaskanRaider

11:21 PM  

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