Sunday, November 2, 2008

Oakland Raiders may leave NFL for local Pop Warner League

By Lillian Rasmussen and Darnell Washington, Newsophile Staff Writers

OAKLAND, CA -- Following Sunday's crushing 24-0 loss to the Atlanta Falcons, the National Football League has announced plans to remove the Oakland Raiders team from the storied organization at the end of the current season.

Although such a move has rarely been done in the 88-year history of the NFL, Commissioner Roger Goodell said the league had its reasons. "After numerous second chances, we're simply out of patience," he told officials at ESPN, "and we felt that the Raiders were starting to cause some serious damage to the NFL brand."

While clearly disappointed, Raiders owner and General Manager Al Davis expects the team to live on after the current season in the nearby city of Fremont. "Since Fremont has been without a Pop Warner team for five years since the death of its founder and coach, Bill Meyers, we think the Raiders can provide a much-needed boost to their local sports program," commented Davis in the Oakland Tribune.

However, neither the City of Fremont nor the Pop Warner Football organization have signed off on the idea, arguing that they also have brand images to protect. According to Jon Butler, Pop Warner's national Executive Director, the entry requirements for Pop Warner have become stricter over the last decade. "We just don't let anybody carry the 'Pop Warner' name," Butler recently told an AP reporter. "If members of the Raiders want to join us, that's great, but they'll have to try out just like Jimmy and Johnny and Timmy do at the beginning of the season."

For its part, the City of Fremont is taking a 'wait and see' attitude. "Since we're the fourth largest city in the Bay Area, we pretty much have our pick of whom to pick for our youth sports programs," explained current Mayor Bob Wasserman. "And frankly, based on their last season in Oakland, we're not sure they're ready to compete against our chief rivals, the East Bay Fighting Toddlers."