There are very few more connected to the history of the Oakland Raiders than Tom Flores. He played for them in the 1960s. He coached them in the 70s and 80s. Now, he covers them on the radio. So how does he feel about the team’s move to Las Vegas?
“I just can’t get used to ‘Las Vegas Raiders,'” Flores told Eric Goodman and Les Shapiro during Afternoon Drive on Mile High Sports Radio. “[It’s] very sad, really, because a lot of my friends are affected by it. All of those people in Oakland are just really getting into the swing of the Raider Nation, with the team on the uprise and the fact that I started there, way back in the early years of the American Football League. When they first started, I was there in Oakland. I still feel the Raiders belong in Oakland, but there’s not much I can do about it.”
Flores was actually the coach of the Raiders the last time they left Oakland. In 1982, they headed to Los Angeles. As such, he knows how hard moves like this can be.
“It will be tougher on the families than it is on the player or coach because, when a team moves, you’re moving with your whole ‘team family’. 57 players, 20 coaches, trainers, the equipment people, everybody moves,” he said. “You don’t have a place to go home to, initially, until your family moves down there or if you decide to move down there, that’s where the big difference is.”
The Raiders aren’t moving quite yet though. The plan is for them to play two more seasons in Oakland. The news of the move may have cost them some fans in the Bay Area, but winning could help them keep most of Raider Nation.
“Right now, people are either returning their deposits on their season tickets or not,” he said. “They stayed with us at least one year in Oakland when we were still there. We didn’t fill the stadium, but we didn’t have a very good team that year. Winning really helps a lot.”
The Black Hole used to be an intimidating place for the Raiders’ opponents. With the franchise, as well as the Los Angeles Chargers, on the move, road games might be a little easier for the Denver Broncos in the coming years.
“It could, because your home is not a home,” Flores said. “They won’t have to worry about the intimidation of coming to Oakland to play, the Black Hole, the fans and the excitement of that place and how it gears up on Sunday and how intimidating it can be to opposing teams. They won’t have that to worry about that at first.”
Listen to the full interview with Tom Flores, including his thoughts about Menelik Watson and if San Antonio is a viable temporary home for the Raiders, in the podcast below.
Catch Afternoon Drive with Goodman and Shapiro every weekday from 4p-6p on Mile High Sports AM 1340 | FM 104.7 or stream live any time for the best local coverage of Colorado sports from Denver’s biggest sports talk lineup.