Raiders

Oakland Raiders officially apply for relocation to Las Vegas

Oakland Raiders officially apply for relocation to Las Vegas

The Oakland Raiders have applied for relocation to Las Vegas.

The long-expected filing was officially announced by the NFL on Thursday morning, shortly after Clark County Commission chairman Steve Sisolak broke the news on Twitter.

Raiders owner Mark Davis said on several occasions he was committed to moving his franchise to Las Vegas, especially after the Nevada state legislature approved $750 million in public funds for a $1.9 billion stadium project near the Las Vegas Strip.

The Raiders had to wait until after their season ended – the Raiders lost their playoff opener at Houston on Jan. 7 – to apply for relocation.

“Today, the Oakland Raiders submitted an application to relocate their franchise to Las Vegas, as is provided for under the NFL Policy and Procedures for Proposed Franchise Relocations,” the NFL said in a statement. “The application will be reviewed in the coming weeks by league staff and the Stadium and Finance Committees. The relocation of a franchise requires the affirmative vote of three-quarters of the NFL clubs (24 of 32).”

A vote could come at the NFL owners meetings in late March. It’s uncertain whether Davis has the votes needed to relocate, but there has been momentum building for such a move over the past several months.

Davis has said that, even if the Raiders are approved for relocation, he plans on playing in Oakland the next few years while a Las Vegas stadium is built. The team has already sent out season ticket pricing to fans for the 2017 season. The Raiders have one-year team options to play Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum in the 2017 and 2018 seasons.

The Las Vegas stadium isn’t expected to be ready until the 2020 season.

Placing a team in Las Vegas was a non-starter in the fairly recent past. NFL ownership, buoyed by a record commitment of public funds, has warmed to the idea of placing a franchise in Sin City. Legalized gambling isn’t the hurdle it once was. Moving from a large market to a smaller one isn’t ideal, but Oakland and Alameda County officials haven’t provided the NFL with a stadium plan it considers viable.

The league doesn’t like third parties directly involved in negotiations -- it prefers direct work between team and municipality -- one of a few sticking points with Oakland’s negotiation agreement and stadium financing outline constructed with Fortress Investments and a group fronted by former 49ers and Raiders safety Ronnie Lott.

The Raiders have moved forward on a Las Vegas stadium proposal that includes $750 in public financing funded by a tourism tax and $500 million from the Raiders – that sum includes a $200 million loan from the NFL, and the sale of personal seat licenses and stadium naming rights.

Casino magnate Sheldon Adelson has also committed $650 million to the project if a business deal with the Raiders can be worked out. According to the NFL Network, those negotiations are ongoing.

The Raiders told the Las Vegas Stadium Authority board that they can proceed with or without Adelson. The Goldman Sachs investment firm is reportedly prepared to back the project if Adelson isn’t involved.

The Raiders applied for relocation last season as well. In 2016, they sought approval for a stadium project in the L.A. suburb of Carson with the Chargers. The league approved the Rams project in Inglewood over the Raiders-Chargers proposal. The Chargers were given a year to decide whether to join the Rams in L.A., and exercised that option last week.

Former Raiders interim head coach, 49ers assistant Tony Sparano dies

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Former Raiders interim head coach, 49ers assistant Tony Sparano dies

Former Raiders interim head coach Tony Sparano died unexpectedly on Sunday morning. He was 56.

The Minnesota Vikings announced his passing, though an exact cause of death is unknown.

He was the Vikings offensive line coach, a position he held since 2016. Sparano had been an NFL coach for nearly two decades, with stints in Oakland and San Francisco. He was also Miami's head coach from 2008-11.

He was hired to run the Raiders offensive line in 2013, and was promoted to interim head coach after Dennis Allen was fired four games into the 2014 campaign.

Sparano showed well in that role, kept the team playing hard during a difficult 3-13 season and nearly had the interim tag removed. He was a finalist for 2015 head coaching job, though Jack Del Rio ultimately got the job.

He left the organization then, and spent the 2015 season as 49ers tight ends coach. He ended up in Minnesota after that.

Sparano helped the Raiders finished 2014 with a three wins over their final six games, which started an upward trend that carried through 2016. He also remained patient with then-rookie starter Derek Carr.

Left tackle Donald Penn joined the Raiders in 2014, and experienced a career renaissance that season under Sparano.

The Silver and Black mourned Sparano's loss.

"The Raiders family was deeply saddened to learn of Tony Sparano's passing this morning," the team said in a statement. "Tony had a deep passion for football and was embraced by the Raider Nation during his time with the Silver and Black. Tony will be sadly missed by the entire NFL community. Our hearts are with (his wife) Jeanette and the Sparano family during this extremely difficult time."

The 49ers also paid respects to the longtime NFL coach.

“The 49ers organization is deeply saddened by the passing of Tony Sparano,” the 49ers said in a statement. “We share our heartfelt condolences with the Sparano family and the Minnesota Vikings.”

Sparano is survived by his wife Jeanette, their three children and four grandchildren.

Jon Gruden gets Raiders fans ready for training camp with party

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Jon Gruden gets Raiders fans ready for training camp with party

To celebrate his return to the sideline, Oakland Raiders head coach Jon Gruden threw a party for fans on Friday at Ricky's Sports Theatre and Grill in San Leandro.  

Raider Nation showed up in droves. 

In all, over 500 fans showed up, according to a Ricky's spokesperson.

"We are honored to be a part of the love story between Jon Gruden and this fan base," the spokesperson said. "It's incredibly special. And the significance of this event, at this time, is not lost on us."

The Raiders, Gruden, and Ricky's all collaborated on the event, which came together because of Gruden's relationship with Ricky's owners, Ricky and Tina Ricardo. Gruden paid for the catering and entertainment himself, according to the spokesperson. 

Plenty of Raiders alumni attended, including Cliff Branch and Lester Hayes, according to ESPN's Paul Gutierrez. Branch even took the mic and made a guarantee. 

Gruden broke in as an NFL head coach with the Raiders in 1998, and coached Oakland for four seasons. It was in Oakland where Gruden was first given the nickname "Chucky," after the murderous puppet in the Child's Play film franchise. Gruden paid tribute to those roots at Ricky's with a... creative autograph signing. 

Raiders training camp begins on July 27. Whether or not the team will be joined by its best defensive player remains to be seen. 

Star defensive end Khalil Mack skipped the team's mandatory minicamp in June in pursuit of a new contract. Gruden told fans on Friday that the team will "find a way" to bring Mack back.