Raiders

NFL still doesn't get Las Vegas, even with Raiders

NFL still doesn't get Las Vegas, even with Raiders

LAS VEGAS -- Sometimes the bumbling bozos in charge of the NFL just can't help themselves.

Or maybe they've been so afraid of Las Vegas for so long that they automatically start hyperventilating every time a player buys a plane ticket to this gambling town.

Blame it on their outdated and misguided beliefs about gambling and casinos - all of which have long been dismissed by other sports leagues. Blame it on their sheer paranoia that somehow their golden goose will go away if players happen to walk by a blackjack table.

But, really, doesn't the league realize its owners just voted 31-1 to allow the Oakland Raiders to move here?

Apparently not, judging from the reaction of league officials to a trip some players took to Sin City over the weekend. Their crime? Taking part in the Pro Football Arm Wrestling Championship at the MGM Grand hotel-casino.

"We are looking into it, and we became aware of it as it was underway," NFL spokesman Brian McCarthy said. "A longstanding policy prohibits any NFL personnel from promotional appearances at a casino."

Maybe the owners should have thought about doing away with that policy at the same time they met to approve Las Vegas as the new home of the Raiders. It wasn't on the agenda, though, probably because it didn't come with a $750 million gift attached the way the new Las Vegas stadium did.

People here have long been used to the NFL being hypocritical when it comes to gambling. But they might have thought the issue was settled when owners agreed to accept $750 million and Commissioner Roger Goodell said there were no plans to ask casinos to take the Raiders off the betting board when they come to town.

Yet here the league is, still fretting about players promoting casinos as if their presence at the MGM Grand somehow undermines the integrity of the NFL.

It's the same head-in-the-sand mentality shared by the NCAA that ignores the reality of the times. In the NCAA's case, it still has a prohibition on Las Vegas hosting NCAA events, which will prevent the city from being considered when the Board of Governors meets later this month to hand out championship sites.

Not only can't the city bid for a regional or Final Four, but also the men's ice hockey and wrestling championships it was hoping to land.

That's despite Las Vegas being host to four conference basketball tournaments this year - including the Pac-12 tourney that sold out the new arena on the Vegas Strip. Before it was moved this year from the MGM Grand, college players never had to leave the hotel-casino to play.

Fortunately for Las Vegas, other sports and leagues do get it. They gladly come to a town where fans will happily follow.

The ice was broken when the NHL decided Las Vegas would make a fine town for one of its franchises, now the Vegas Golden Knights. Then Mark Davis decided the city would be the perfect home for the Raiders, and every owner but one agreed.

And why not? Why should there be a stigma about a town based on beliefs from 50 years ago?

The NBA doesn't think there is. The league held an All-Star Game here and has a wildly successful summer league. Commissioner Adam Silver has called for legalized sports betting across the country, and there is a push behind the scenes to bring an NBA team to town.

NASCAR has not one but two Cup Series races scheduled in Las Vegas next year. The best rodeo cowboys in the world compete in their World Series every December, while the PGA has held tournaments here since the mobsters ran the town in the 1950s.

The biggest fights are almost always on the Las Vegas Strip, and the new T-Mobile arena is now the official home of the UFC. At a time when sports and entertainment bisect, Las Vegas has been the perfect host for everything from rugby championships to the World Series of Poker.

None of them has any worries about the reputation of Las Vegas. None believes ties between casino interests and teams are a problem.

None worries about their players spending nights in Strip hotels or walking through casinos like the other 42 million people who visit Las Vegas every year.

That the NFL does is laughable. But the real joke is on the league as it tries fitfully to move forward in a world where the old rules no longer apply.

Times have changed. Casinos aren't the threats the NFL always made them out to be, and to argue otherwise would be nonsense.

Luckily, the Raiders won't be here for three more years. It takes time to build a new palace for the team, even with taxpayers footing half the tab.

That leaves plenty of time for an attitude adjustment in league headquarters.

Raiders running back Marshawn Lynch suspended one game

lynch3.jpg
AP

Raiders running back Marshawn Lynch suspended one game

Raiders running back Marshawn Lynch watched most of Thursday night’s game versus Kansas City from the stands after getting ejected for making contact with an official.

He’ll also be a spectator next week.

The NFL suspended him one game for unsportsmanlike conduct stemming from an incident where left the sidelines to join an on-field scuffle and ended up pushing an official.

The league announced the suspension Friday afternoon. Lynch has already appealed the suspension, per multiple reports.

He was penalized for unsportsmanlike conduct and automatically ejected by rule.

Punishment after the fact has gotten expensive.

By rule, Lynch will be fined $30,387 for making contact with an official. He could get hit with other penalties, including entering a fight unnecessarily.

Lynch is also suspended without pay, meaning he’ll forfeit a $79,411 game check and a $31,250 per-game roster bonus.

The Cal alum won’t play a Week 8 contest in Buffalo, against a Bills team that drafted him No. 12 overall in 2007.

Lynch was on the sidelines during a third down draw play where quarterback Derek Carr incurred what officials called a late hit from Kansas City cornerback Marcus Peters.

The Raiders offensive line took offense, and came after Peters in a scrum. Lynch and Peters, both Oakland natives, are extremely close. Lynch ran on the field to get between his teammates and his friend, but ended up inadvertently pushing an official. The league has zero tolerance for that, and sent him off the field.

Lynch watched a dramatic 31-30 victory over Kansas City from the stands and screens near the field, and congratulated his teammates after a big win.

Lynch did not explain why he entered the fray, though he seemed to be trying to get Peters out of harm’s way.

“They can say what they want but one thing’s for certain: Family do come first,” Peters told Bay Area News Group’s Logan Murdock.

His Raiders teammates and coaches must carry on without the 31-year old power back. They’ll roll with Jalen Richard, DeAndre Washington and fullback Jamize Olawale against the Bills, as they did against the Chiefs.

Lynch had two carries for nine yards before getting tossed. He has just 266 yards and two touchdowns on 72 carries through seven games.

If the suspension is upheld, Lynch will be eligible to return in Week 9 against Miami.

Snap count: Bowman worked overtime to be 'hunting dog' in Raiders' defense

bowman-ap.jpg
AP

Snap count: Bowman worked overtime to be 'hunting dog' in Raiders' defense

OAKLAND – NaVorro Bowman would’ve been forgiven for skipping Thursday’s game. The veteran inside linebacker signed with the Raiders, and had one practice and a pair of walk-throughs before facing Kansas City.

That isn’t much time to absorb a new scheme. No matter. As he said Monday, Bowman wanted to show you something.

The former 49er certainly did, even more than Bowman expected. He played 60 of 62 defensive snaps in a crucial 31-30 victory over the Chiefs.

He didn’t just play. He performed. Bowman led the Raiders with 11 tackles, including one for a loss and a crucial hit on Chiefs quarterback Alex Smith on a crucial third-down stop in the fourth quarter.

He wore the green dot – play calls were relayed to his helmet speaker -- and helped get the defense lined up.

“I just absolutely love the football player in him. He’s a hunting dog,” head coach Jack Del Rio said. “He loves to play. He brought experience during the week. He was a settling influence, kind of a determined influence on the sideline. I thought he did a remarkable job.”

That’s the result. The process of getting there was remarkable. He put in 40 hours of work in three days, memorizing terminology and defensive concepts specific to the game plan. He bunkered down and ignored the world during his acclimation process, and came out a functional member of the Raiders defense.

“Everyone knows I’ve only been here for three days and must be wondering how I did it,” Bowman said. “It was my commitment to the game, and my family understanding how much I love the work and giving me that peace and quiet time in hours away from them to really get everything down. This is why you want to come out so well and execute. So many people are sacrificing so you can play the game.”

Bowman helped keep the Raiders close down the stretch, and had key stops in a pair of defensive stops that allowed quarterback Derek Carr to orchestrate a successful two-minute drill.

"I was on the sidelines with my back turned, saying ‘I can’t watch, I can’t watch,’” Bowman said. “They all looked at me funny like, ‘This is what we do.’ They went out and won, and acted all normal. I guess that’s how we roll. It was a great game, and I enjoyed it.”

That was clear after the game. There was a good reason for it. Bowman hadn’t won a game since September 2016. Bowman lost most of last season recovering from an Achilles’ tendon injury, meaning he last tasted victory in Week 2 last season.

“I’ve worked my way back from the Achilles injury, and to have a shot to better and get better and possibly win a division is huge,” Bowman said. “We just beat a really good team. I think this will propel us and get us going.”

OFFENSE
Quarterback –
Derek Carr 82
Running back – Jalen Richard 26, DeAndre Washington 25, Jamize Olawale 11, Marshawn Lynch 10
Wide receiver – Amari Cooper 78, Seth Roberts 72, Michael Crabtree 72, Cordarelle Patterson 18, Johnny Holton 6
Tight end – Jared Cook 67, Lee Smith 17, Clive Walford 8
Offensive line – Kelechi Osemele 82, Rodney Hudson 82, Donald Penn 82, Vadal Alexander 82, Gabe Jackson 82

DEFENSE
Defensive line –
Khalil Mack 62, Denico Autry 46, Justin Ellis 44, Treyvon Hester 32, Mario Edwards 28, Eddie Vanderdoes 19, James Cowser 3
Linebacker – NaVorro Bowman 60, Bruce Irvin 59, Nicholas Morrow 38,
Cornerback – TJ Carrie 62, Dexter McDonald 50, David Amerson 28, Sean Smith 19
Safety – Reggie Nelson 62, Karl Joseph 62, Keith McGill 7, Shalom Luani 1

SPECIAL TEAMS
Keith McGill 25, James Cowser 25, Shalom Luani 21, Xavier Woodson-Luster 19, Erik Harris 19, Jamize Olawale 19, Shlique Calhoun 16, Jon Feliciano 14, Lee Smith 14, Giorgio Tavecchio 12, Johnny Holton 12, Marquette King 11, Jon Condo 11, Cordarrelle Patterson 11, Jalen Richard 10, Nicholas Morrow 10, Darius McCray 8, Kelechi Osemele 7, Gabe Jackson 7, Vadal Alexander 7, Clive Walford 7, Justin Ellis 7, David Sharpe 7, Khalil Mack 6, TJ Carrie 6, Denico Autry 6, Treyvon Hester 6, Eddie Vanderdoes 6, Mario Edwards Jr. 5, Karl Joseph 5, DeAndre Washington 4,

DID NOT PLAY
QB EJ Manuel

INACTIVE
CB Gareon Conley, QB Connor Cook, OT Jylan Ware, LB Marquel Lee, LB Cory James, DL Jihad Ward, RT Marshall Newhouse