I had the good fortune to attend the Broncos/Raiders game on Sunday night, tagging along with a friend who was tagging along with someone who actually had suite tickets to the game. Suites are, well, sweet, and it's a good thing the beef tenderloin was good because the football was rotten.
The next morning, as I sipped my coffee and avoided work, I caught the tail end of The Price is Right. They were doing the Showcase Showdown, the classic final battle between two hurrendously T-shirt clad TV junkies for what can only be termed "fabulous prizes." In this case, the prizes were actually pretty fabulous, including a NEW CAR and a trip to Australia. But I digress.
As I was watching Bob dole out the goodies, I suddenly made a connection between the Raiders and TPIR...they're both the result of a longstanding commitment to a formula attached to an aging patriarch.
Bob Barker IS The Price is Right. When he's gone, it's gone. There's no question about it. And the fact that all the staging on the show is pretty much the psychedelic same as it was in 1976 (do they have that color green in stores anymore?) shows the degree to which the producers understand the comforting function the show performs in households around the country. In a word, everything's crazy, but I still have Bob and his big, beeping wheel. You find TPIR, and you know it's almost time for lunch.
I wouldn't say that Al Davis IS the Raiders in the same way, but I think he certainly feels he is. In much the same way doublenicks sees George Steinbrenner as self-defeating in his largesse, Al Davis is tragic in his self-aggrandisement. While Bob Barker still trots himself out there into the limelight and gamely allows hysterical consumers to dig in his pockets, Davis sits in darkness with pursed lips.
No one's afraid of the Raiders anymore. But they still employ bad boys like Randy Moss, Warren Sapp and Robert Gallery and they still commit more penalties than a prison work crew. But rather than facemasks and late hits, it's false starts and illegal formations. The ethic behind Just Win, Baby is one of all out war, of victory no matter what the cost. It's a formula that no longer works and hasn't for a long time because the Raiders can't get out of their own way.
The formula, I think, will remain in place as long as Davis is around. The facade of being the league's pariah is the only marketing option the Raiders have left, but I wonder if even their fans believe it anymore.
Is Steinbrenner Retarded? [55 Problems]