Derek Carr has plenty of great memories playing at Oakland Coliseum.
The Raiders' starting quarterback has orchestrated several fourth-quarter comebacks on this hallowed ground, including a win over the Kansas City Chiefs on an untimed down. His first fourth-quarter comeback doubled as his first professional victory, and it snapped a 10-game losing streak.
Carr has led nine come-from-behind victories at the Coliseum, and he wants to put on another show Monday night against the Denver Broncos in what could be the last Raiders game at the old stadium.
No matter where the Raiders go in the future, a yet-to-be-decided location next season or to a brand-new Las Vegas stadium in 2020, the outdated Oakland venue always will be important to Carr.
“It may not be perfect and to everyone’s standards or anything like that, but it’s home,” he said. “This is where I was drafted. This is where I have some of my favorite memories.”
One of his worst moments (professionally) happened on the same ground. Carr broke his fibula on Christmas Eve 2016, ending an NFL MVP-type campaign and eliminating the Raiders’ legitimate hopes of a deep playoff run.
Even that moment, when Carr knew right away that his leg was badly broken, came with a unique Coliseum spin.
Carr couldn't reach the Coliseum X-ray room to confirm the break from the field level, so he had to be carted out of the stadium, through the fans, into the parking lot and back around to an easier X-ray machine access point. Carr’s inner eternal optimist even found a silver lining in that no good, very bad day.
“Even when I got hurt, that’s still a moment for me that I’ll never forget, just the love that the fans would show,” Carr said. “We were driving on the outside of the stadium to find the X-ray machine because there’s no way straight up to the locker room, driving through the fans. Those are things that I’ll never forget.”
While players typically try to avoid discussing non-game-related distractions, the Raiders' locker room has openly discussed the prospect of Monday being their final game in Oakland.
“That’s weird to me, this is home,” Carr said. “I was drafted here, I’ve played on this dirt, I’ve got a lot of blood, sweat and tears, broke bones out there, won some great games, had some memories. It’s weird to think that this could possibly be the last game.
"I don’t want that, I know I don’t. I know our fans don’t. But the fact that it could possibly be, I think that it’s going to be a great atmosphere.”
The team’s lease with the venue expires after this season, and while the Raiders had long hoped to stay put for one more year, a stick was thrown into the spokes.
The city of Oakland is suing the Raiders and the NFL for antitrust regulations and breach of contract, so the Silver and Black pulled a lease offer to play 2019 at the Coliseum before moving to Las Vegas the next year. While staying at the Coliseum hasn’t been ruled out as a possibility, the team is actively searching for another venue.
Leaving this one will have its benefits. There will be no more infield dirt in the fall (unless they move to AT&T Park next year) and awful turf in the winter, no more possums under the stands, skunks in the concourse, mice near the press box soda fountain or X-ray machines that are hard to reach. There will be no more random floods or roof leaks, but …
The team also will be further away from a venue steeped in proud Raiders history, surrounded by a rabid, passionate fan base that treats each game like Mardi Gras.
“That crowd is easy to feed off of,” linebacker Nicholas Morrow said. “When we’re going good, that place is just awesome. I get chills just thinking about it. It’s a totally unique place to play, and I love it.”
Doug Martin was born in Oakland and grew up in Stockton. The veteran running back was raised a Raiders fan, and has sat in the stands cheering on the Silver and Black. If this is the last Raiders game in Oakland, he wants to send the fans away on a high note.
“Our goal is to finish strong, especially for Oakland and the fans that support us here,” Martin said. “… I was born in Oakland, and I know how much this team means to the community. That’s why it’s so important that we finish strong.”