It’s hard limiting the heartbreak the Las Vegas Raiders have felt into a handful of moments.
Old-timers will talk about the Super Bowl II loss to the Green Bay Packers. There’s also the bouts with the Steelers and the Immaculate Reception in the 1970s.
Then there are the countless draft busts like taking JaMarcus Russell, Robert Gallery and others over generational talents like Calvin Johnson, Larry Fitzgerald and Adrian Peterson.
And then there’s also the times the Raiders have moved locales and leave behind a devastated community.
The silver and black left Oakland in a very public way for a new frontier in L.A. in the 1980s. They went on to become the only Los Angeles team to bring home a Lombardi Trophy. However, they never got the stadium they were promised and returned to the East Bay a decade later. Los Angeles watched as the NFL ripped away both their teams in a few years’ span.
Now, the Raiders have left Oakland for the final time. This time, the new stadium is real and the new home is in Las Vegas but that won’t stop the devastation for fans admiring from afar in Los Angeles and the Bay.
However, those don’t outrank these most devastating moments.
5. Trading Khalil Mack and Amari Cooper
It’s not often two Pro Bowlers on the right side of 30 years old are traded for draft picks, midseason and within two months of each other. That’s exactly what happened when the Raiders sent Khalil Mack to the Chicago Bears amid his holdout and then sent a disengaged Amari Cooper to the Cowboys in 2018. Both of those teams made the playoffs while Oakland was firing their general manager at the end of Jon Gruden’s first season back as head coach.
The franchise sold Raiders fans on Mack and Cooper being a part of the foundation for years alongside quarterback Derek Carr. Cooper and Mack were quiet, hardworking, blue-collar and exactly what Raiders fans wanted for the franchise. However, they were shipped out prematurely with nothing but another promise of a rebuild in return.
This is extra devastating because it lead to nothing but segmentation in the fanbase, with Carr supporters versus Gruden apologists versus everyone else. It created anarchy even for a fanbase that loves chaos.
Of course, this roster teardown netted the Raiders tons of draft picks. The jury is still out on those picks but for now these moves still scream heartbreak.
4. Derek Carr’s Broken Leg
Finally, the hard years were over. The 2016 Raiders were back looking like a legit contender. Derek Carr was a serious MVP candidate. The Raiders were winning and poised for their first playoff berth in over decade.
That’s when all hope went crashing down as Trent Cole sacked Carr. The Raiders quarterback was carried off the field and he’s yet to return to that same level of play.
Carr’s fractured his right fibula in Week 16 meant Connor Cook would give the Raiders an uneventful start in the playoffs versus the Texans. Three Cook interceptions later and the silver and black have not reached that level again. That would eventually cost the hometown head coach Jack Del Rio his job not long after.
3. Siragusa sits on Gannon
This one sometimes gets lost in the shuffle but the Raiders lost the AFC Championship Game in 2000 to the eventual Super Bowl champion Baltimore Ravens. Oakland ended their first postseason run in six years with a 16-3 loss largely because quarterback Rich Gannon never recovered from a hit by Baltimore defensive tackle Tony Siragusa. Raiders fans remember it as the time a 340-pounder rolled on their franchise passer like a pro wrestler.
The late-hit earned Siragusa a $10,000 fine after the fact but Gannon was not the same after the shoulder injury to his non-throwing arm in the second quarter. Barret Robbins also secretly went MIA before starting that game as well, which explains why the league’s No. 1 rushing team that year finished with only 24 yards on the ground.
This game served as only the tip of the iceberg when it came to the Raiders’ string of heartbreaks.
2. Tuck Rule
Everyone knows this iconic incomplete pass call a year later. It was the call that led to the Adam Vinateri game-winning kick in the snow. That call helped birth the New England Patriots’ dynasties.
Not to mention, this was the call that would shock Raiders for generations. The Tuck Rule was the catalyst for what caused the Raiders boy-genius coach and renegade owner to have a falling out. That boy-genius coach, Jon Gruden, would be sent to Tampa Bay for a draft pick thanks to an angry Al Davis.
Raider Nation will never forget this devastation.
1. Super Bowl XXXVII Loss
It’s hard to make this the No. 1 moment only because it was an accumulation of devastating events which led to even more heartbreak. The Raiders got trounced, 48-21, by their former coach (Gruden) and a Buccaneers team desperate to get over the hump.
Let’s also not forget the team’s Pro Bowl center went AWOL. Darrell Russell was also suspended. Charles Woodson’s career as a Raiders player nearly didn’t recover. Greats likeWoodson, Jerry Rice and Tim Brown would never sniff that sort of relevance on a winning team again. The Raiders were a revolving door at quarterback shortly after this as well.
It was embarrassment on the highest stage and the start to nearly two long decades as the rotating joke of the league. This heartbreak signaled that time was up on the Raiders’ dominance at the time.