It all started with the Rams.
From the owners meetings on Monday morning, the Raiders secured 31 of 32 votes approving their eventual move to Las Vegas, making them the third NFL franchise to relocate in less than 15 months. The Rams kicked it off by moving out of St. Louis and back to Los Angeles at the start of 2016. The Chargers joined them in L.A., making the trek up from San Diego, at the start of 2017. And now the Raiders are moving out of Oakland for the second time.
When they make the move — either in 2019 or 2020 — they’ll join the Rams as the only NFL teams to move three times.
But they’ll do so under vastly different circumstances.
“The Raiders, just from a logistics standpoint, have an advantage because they’re not relocating in the same year as the vote,” Rams COO Kevin Demoff said. “They’re staying in California this year. There will be some difficulties that come with that, but from a planning perspective, logistics perspective, it gives them a lot more time than we had, or the Chargers have, to get set up, to give players a chance to look at houses, to understand where the facility will be. Some of the really difficult challenges that come with a compressed time frame, they will not face.”
Demoff acknowledged that remaining in Oakland with the inevitability of a move is “awkward from a fan perspective,” but it is a logistical advantage nonetheless.
The Rams lived through the hassles of a move throughout a hectic, nomadic 2016. One of the outside concerns when they began centered on the distractions of a major metropolitan city like Los Angeles and whether they would be a detriment to their young, millionaire players. Brandon Marshall raised those same concerns about Raiders players in Las Vegas, a city known for its night life.
“I just want to make sure that the players are protected,” Marshall said. “I think that it can be a tough place for a kid coming out of college. So that locker room has to be strong because there is so much there. There is access to so much.”
Demoff doesn’t necessarily see that as an issue, however.
“At the end of the day, through your culture and your player-development program, you help your players make the best choices to contribute to the team as best as possible,” Demoff said. “I think every team, in every market, wants to make sure that their players make good choices away from the field and have the responsibility to help guide and counsel as much as they can.
“We’re not naïve to the fact that these players go to Las Vegas, Los Angeles, Miami, New York in the offseason anyway. You’re only handling the challenge of in-season, where a good culture has the players taking care of their bodies and getting ready for the upcoming games.”