Joe Santoro: Raiders representing Nevada | NevadaAppeal.com
YOUR AD HERE »

Joe Santoro: Raiders representing Nevada

By Joe Santoro For the Nevada Appeal

It is just a patch. We get it. It will not change the world. The rest of the country likely hasn’t even noticed it. But if you live in the state of Nevada it has to give you a sense of pride. The Las Vegas Raiders’ patch on the upper left-hand front of their jerseys, just above their heart, is proof that the Raiders actually know they now live in the state of Nevada. It also shows the rest of the country that they are proud to live in Nevada and want everyone to know it. The NHL’s Vegas Golden Knights didn’t do it. Heck, the Knights, which look like Game of Thrones wannabes, don’t even use the full name “Las Vegas,” let alone make any reference to the state of Nevada in anything they do. Not the Raiders. The patch, honoring the Raiders’ inaugural season in Las Vegas, is in the shape of the state of Nevada. It is silver and black (Wolf Pack colors, if you remember the Mauling at Mackay last season). The Raiders could have used a slot machine as the basis of their patch instead. A pair of dice. An image of Elvis. That worn out “Welcome to Fabulous Las Vegas Nevada” sign. But they didn’t. They put the state of Nevada on the front of an actual NFL jersey for all to see.

•••

The Raiders’ 2-0 start is significant. The UNLV Rebels, after all, won two or fewer games 11 times from 1995-2014. The Rebels have had two winning seasons since 1995. Two victories for a football team in Las Vegas is nothing to sneeze at. The Raiders’ 34-24 win over Drew Brees and the New Orleans Saints in the first NFL game ever played in the state of Nevada this past Monday night could be a sign of things to come this year. The Raiders now play at New England and Kansas City and will host Buffalo the next three weeks. After that the schedule softens up dramatically. If the Raiders are 3-2 after the next three games we could be looking at a playoff spot.

•••

Isn’t it amazing what $2 billion can buy you these days? The Raiders’ new stadium looks amazing, even when it is empty. The Al Davis memorial torch is phenomenal. At any moment you half expect the image of Davis’ face to appear, slicked back hair and all, like the Wizard of Oz. Once that stadium is filled with crazy Raiders fans and cheerleaders, and the building becomes intimate, we could be looking at the biggest home field advantage in the NFL.

•••

Has any NFL team ever felt worse after a victory than the San Francisco 49ers last week? The 49ers beat the pitiful New York Jets but a half-dozen Niners suffered injuries. Jimmy Garoppolo, Nick Bosa, Solomon Thomas, Dee Ford, Tevin Coleman, Raheem Mostert all are now out for the season or hobbled for the next few weeks. George Kittle got hurt two weeks ago in the season opener. But all is not lost. The 49ers will likely win two of their next three games and will be sitting at 3-2. If Garoppolo, Kittle and Mostert are healthy going into Week Six this team could still make the playoffs.

•••

No matter what happens this weekend, San Francisco Giants fans should be happy. This Giant team, which would have struggled to win the Pacific Coast League, should not even be sniffing the playoffs right now. First-year manager Gabe Kapler should get a Manager of the Year vote or two just for keeping this team’s head above water, let alone in the playoff hunt with four days left in the season. Enjoy this, Giant fans. Things will likely become a whole lot tougher next year when the Giants have to play East and Central Division teams. In a normal season this Giant team is a 70-win team at best.

•••

Deion Sanders deserves a ton of credit for taking over the Jackson State football program. Can Deion coach? We know he can motivate and recruit and that is more than half the battle in college football. And if you motivate talented football players you don’t have to do all that much coaching. Jackson State has a rich football tradition. Walter Payton, Lem Barney, Jackie Slater, Harold Jackson, Coy Bacon, Robert Brazile are just a small sampling of the NFL stars who came from Jackson State. Deion is now competing in the heart of SEC country for recruits and, well, he will win a lot of those battles. He is a tremendous leader. Jackson State will flourish. Here’s hoping he stays at Jackson State for at least a decade and changes Historically Black Colleges and Universities football forever. “God led me to Jackson State,” he said this past week.

•••

Cam Newton is thriving under Bill Belichick. The former Carolina Panthers quarterback has completed 45-of-63 passes in two games for the New England Patriots for 552 yards and a touchdown. He was every bit as good as Russell Wilson last week in a 35-30 loss to the Seattle Seahawks. Nobody wanted Newton this past summer. The Patriots didn’t sign him until early July. Belichick, who made everyone believe that Jarrett Stidham was going to quarterback the Patriots this season, is simply smarter than everyone else in the NFL.

•••

One of the things we’ve learned since professional sports have returned the past couple of months is that fans are important. The games need the fans. Without the fans there is no energy in the arenas, stadiums and ballparks. There are no truly big moments. Basketball is hard to watch with no fans breathing down the necks of the players and coaches. It has all of the drama of a mid-afternoon scrimmage. Baseball and hockey are lifeless. Football has all of the intensity of a chess match. When sports returned in late July it was a welcome escape from the troubles of the world. But now it is just another constant reminder. We can’t wait until all of these coronavirus seasons are a thing of the past.