Reality is starting to set in for many in the NFL world as the Oakland Raiders will be saying goodbye to the Coliseum on Sunday. Despite its obvious aging, the Coliseum is one of the most iconic places in all of sports and has been home to some of the greatest teams in NFL history. The team will be moving on to Las Vegas next season and leaving the structure and city behind. Sunday will likely represent the last game to ever be played in Oakland.
Every NFL coach, besides a handful of younger ones, has coached at the Coliseum. With such a monumental moment for football about to take place, New England Patriots head coach Bill Belichick had a chance to weigh in and while he’s not one for talking a lot, he did take the chance to praise the Raider fans.
“Pretty intense fans,” said Belichick, via ESPN’s Mike Reiss. “Like Halloween every Sunday. So, yeah. I mean, it’s a great environment. Baseball stadium, so it was configured that way, which you don’t see that much anymore…when I was in Cleveland, we played them and they were in the [Los Angeles Memorial] Coliseum. So, when you say the Raiders, it’s not always Oakland…but, yeah, the Oakland crowd was a lot more intense than the L.A. crowd.””
Belichick hasn’t made the trip to Oakland since 2011.
Charles Woodson Sounds Off
Charles Woodson is one of the most beloved Raiders ever and he made the trip to Oakland for the last game. He had a chance to talk about what he expects the experience to be like.
“It’s going to be emotional,” Woodson said, via The Mercury News’ Jerry McDonald. “When you think about when Oakland left the last time for L.A., I think people probably suspected there was a chance they might come back at some point in time. You never know, but there’s a chance.
“This time there’s a finality to it. They’ve got a new stadium in Vegas. They’re going to be in Vegas. They’re not coming back to Oakland . . . I think a lot of people are going to have their hearts ripped out for a second time, but this time they’re not coming back.”
It’s true, barring any unforeseen circumstances, the Raiders will be in Las Vegas for 2020 and beyond. Woodson also spoke about the fans.
“I think every fan base, they’re unique to their team,” Woodson said. “But Oakland, man, it seems like it drives a little deeper. When you’re around Oakland fans, you’re in the stadium, or you’re out at Walmart or wherever, it just seems like it drives a little deeper.”
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Fred Biletnikoff Weighs In
While Woodson is certainly a major member of the Raider family, there may not be a more iconic Raider than Fred Biletnikoff. He was the Super Bowl MVP for the team’s first-ever Super Bowl win. There’s no way he’s missing the last game in the Coliseum and he spoke about some memories heading into Sunday.
“Just being able to be at that stadium,” said Biletnikoff when asked about his favorite memories. “Remembering being in that locker room, going through that tunnel and going out to the field… Every media person, every person involved in any type of media relations, newspaper, radio, whatever they’re doing – they all wanted to be here at this Oakland Coliseum because that was like the mecca of football.”
It should be a memorable day in Oakland and there’s no doubt that there will be many legends present at the game. The most important thing for the Raiders to do is win one last game for their Oakland fans.