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Raiders staffers must sell tickets to avoid pay cuts, layoffs

Doug Farrar
Shutdown Corner

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When Oakland Raiders employees were called to a meeting with chief executive Amy Trask on March 11 — the day the NFL's lockout started — there must have been a lot of worry in the room, After all, teams had already made noises about the kind of cost-cutting measures since put in place by the Miami Dolphins and several other teams (namely, pay cuts).

But Trask had a different idea in mind, and a different way to present it. Those Raiders employees who wanted to sidestep their own seemingly inevitable pay deductions and possible layoffs would need to sell tickets in an amount that equaled at least 10 percent of their salaries during the length of the lockout.

That's for all employees, though we're pretty sure that Trask and team owner Al Davis are exempt. "I understand that some clubs are taking different approaches," Trask recently told USA Today's Jarrett Bell. "(But) a very strong argument can be made that this is something that staff members of every team should be doing all the time."

There was a time when the Raiders had to do this sort of thing — in the early days of the American Football League, the Oakland franchise almost went under and was saved by a $400,000 loan from Buffalo Bills owner Ralph Wilson. And when the AFL started, everything was about ticket sales to keep the league solvent in its long and ultimately successful battle with the NFL. But there's a difference between asking everyone in a mom-and-pop league to do double-duty, and putting the burden on employees in a wildly prosperous organization (if by dint of revenue sharing alone) to chip in and start cold-calling, "Boiler Room" style.

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Right now, it's a tough sell, Not only are these employees trying to sell tickets during a lockout with no foreseeable end in sight at this time, but the Raiders averaged a league-worst 46,431 fans last season, and have had 86 of a possible 123 games blacked out locally since returning to Oakland from Los Angeles in 1995. Seven straight losing seasons before 2010's 8-8 campaign didn't help matters, especially when Davis fired Tom Cable, the head coach primarily responsible for that eventual turnaround

Then again, if current coaches like Raiders defensive coordinator Chuck Bresnahan don't have anyone to coach right now, maybe this is a creative solution. Bresnahan certainly seem to have a problem with it.

"It was like Christmas," Breshnahan told Bell of the odd situation. "And with a big sigh of relief … Most of the people I've encountered have been understanding. I think the public looks at us as caught in the middle. The hardest thing is looking someone in the eye during this economy. But on the other hand, people really want football."

Well, we can certainly agree on that. No indication as to just how many tickets have been sold in total, though one assistant coach apparently offed 10 club seats on the first day of the promotion. We don't know if a "friends and family" discount was involved.

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