The most recent week has seen a stretch of Las Vegas Raiders retirement news that have fans wondering whether they’re all somehow linked.
On Tuesday, Las Vegas Raiders offensive tackle Sam Young announced that he is retiring at the age of 26, and veteran running back Theo Riddick and linebacker James Onwualu have both decided to call it a career in the last couple of weeks.
While Raiders fans see the trio of retirees as an unfortunate circumstance on its surface, it appears that what’s happening behind the scenes in Allegiant Stadium is an even bigger issue. Per Yahoo Sports, a number of executives and high ranking personnel have left the team recently as well.
On July 19, team president Marc Badain announced his departure from the team after three decades and several cities with the Raiders. According to Adam Schefter, Badain released the following statement regarding his decision:
“The successful construction and operation of Allegiant Stadium has been unequivocally the most challenging part of my 30 years with the organization. Seeing it through to the end has been rewarding beyond measure. Together the Raiders and Las Vegas accomplished what seemed impossible. Now that the project is complete it is time for me to focus on my family and look ahead to new pursuits. … Once a Raider always a Raider.”
After the move by Badain, two key financial analysts stepped down, and the Raiders Senior VP Brandon Doll retired as well.
While some of the player retirements were expected because of age — Theo Riddick is 30, and James Onwualu is 34 — the depletion of braintrust among key departments up top stirs questions about the team long term. Speculations are budding over the direction of the team under the tandem leadership of owner Mark Davis and head coach Jon Gruden.
However, the report states that the loss of executives may be connected to the pandemic year of 2020 that resulted in great losses across the league. The worst case of sudden retirement news came out of New York, where freshly signed offensive lineman Joe Looney retired from the Giants just days after signing. Linebacker Todd Davis also left the G-Men last Tuesday, calling it a career after five seasons.
The Raiders, who finished 8-8 last year, are far from the worst situation in football. They now have a new city and a new home in which to welcome fans and tourists for a full NFL experience in 2021-2022. Barring any delays due to COVID, the Raiders look forward to a new season ahead and aim to dethrone the Kansas City Chiefs in the AFC West.