INDIANAPOLIS — The Raiders don’t have to look far to find examples of NFL teams that relocated from one city to another. Or the challenges those teams faced moving an entire organization to a new home over a matter of months.
Between 2016 and 2017 both the Rams and Chargers made moves from St. Louis and San Diego, respectfully, to start their new lives in Los Angeles. Their combined records in the calendar years of their moves was 13-19, with the Rams stumbling to 4-12 and the Chargers losing their first four games in their new home.
Neither team made the playoffs.
It is impossible to determine whether their struggles were the result of the upheaval they experienced during their relocations, but it would be naive to believe there wasn’t some correlation between moving and performance. Especially when you observe the first-year records of other teams moving to new cities over the years.
The Baltimore Ravens finished 4-12 upon arriving in Maryland from Cleveland in 1996. The Indianapolis Colts were 4-12 in 1984 after moving from Baltimore. And in 1997, the Tennessee Oilers (later the Titans) were 8-8 after arriving from Houston.
As the Raiders continue their trek from Oakland to Las Vegas, where they will open the 2020 season at Allegiant Stadium, the key will be minimizing the inevitable distractions to ensure the challenges they face don’t become the excuse for a rough season.
“You can’t have an excuse,” Raiders general manager Mike Mayock said Tuesday at the NFL scouting combine.
The organization is being proactive in making sure of that, although the timing of the opening of their new headquarters in Henderson could be problematic.
Construction of their new facility is not expected to be completed until June, which means the bulk of the Raiders’ offseason football operations will take place in Alameda, California. That includes draft and free agency preparations, rookie minicamp and OTA’s.
The organization is feverishly working to get the facility ready for mandatory minicamp in mid-June, the possibility of which coach Jon Gruden announced last weekend at the Tyson Fury-Deontay Wilder fight at the MGM Grand.
“The purpose of that is to try and get the coaches and players invested in a new building,” Mayock said.
But that is dependent on the building being operational in time for minicamp.
“We want to make sure their showers are on, we can watch film and everything is ready to go,” Mayock said.
The sense is the Raiders will figure out a way to make it happen.
If so, it could expedite the transition to a completely new work environment in mid-to-late August when the Raiders return home from training camp in Napa, California, and begin preparations for the season opener.
The alternative would have the Raiders setting foot for the first time in their Henderson headquarters on the cusp of the start of the regular season.
“I don’t really want the players walking around like this ‘Wow, this is cool,’ while we’re getting ready for week one,” Mayock said. “I want to get all the shock and awe out of there. Get them used to it. Know where their meetings are, where everything is in the building. And when we get back from training camp, it’s ‘Let’s go to work.’ ”
The Raiders’ journey differs a bit from that of the Rams and Chargers, both of whom moved within months after officially declaring their intentions and then playing in temporary stadiums in Los Angeles during construction of the new home they will share in Inglewood, California, beginning next season.
The Raiders, on the other hand, remained in Oakland for three years during construction of Allegiant Stadium. That allowed them to methodically relocate various segments of their operation to Las Vegas over the last three years and, perhaps more importantly, additional time to prepare for the final push they’ll execute in the coming months when they transport a full football team and coaching staff and football operations staff across 558 miles.
“Hopefully, (with) as much advance work that’s gone into this, it’ll be seamless for the football people,” Mayock said. “I’m not saying it’s going to be seamless for everybody. But the most important priority is making sure when we set up (in Henderson) after camp — and hopefully we’ll have a couple preseason games at home to finish up the preseason and get the stadium rolling, make sure we’re good in our building — so that when week one happens, it’s just an afterthought.”