There's no denying it, the Oakland Raiders have a bad reputation. Starting with the hardcore teams of the 1970s with guys like Jack Tatum (aka The Assassin) and George Atkinson, I think some of that reputation may have been well-deserved.
We can laugh about it and say it's just hype, but I think we all saw the result of that reputation last season with regards to penalties. The Raiders were the most penalized team in the league and even set the new NFL record for most yards lost to penalties during a season. Suddenly, it's not so funny.
I have no doubt those penalties were not deserved and were called because the refs have that thug image in their mind and are looking at the Raiders, waiting for them to do something, sometimes while ignoring the actions of the opposing team.
Because of this reputation, I think the players need to hold themselves to a higher standard and keep themselves out of off-the-field incidents. A perfect example of this is the conviction of Oakland Raiders linebacker Rolando McClain for not only beating up a guy, but for pointing a gun at his head, then pointing it away, but still shooting off a round, apparently to scare the victim. Getting in a fight is one thing, pulling a pistol and firing off a shot is a whole other level to me.
This week, McClain was convicted in an Alabama courtroom for his actions. In addition to a $2,000 fine, he must serve 180 days in jail. McClain was convicted of four charges, including reckless endangerment, third-degree assault, menacing and discharging a firearm.
A video of the incident taken by a mobile phone has now emerged so members of the Raider Nation can watch and listen to the incident, look at the fact McClain was convicted of the crime and make their own judgement. My judgement is that he did it.
In an article by the Sports Xchange on Yahoo! Sports, McClain's lawyer told the Huntsville Times they would appeal, but the article also reports McClain can start serving his sentence June 1. This for a guy who, in 2010, signed a $40 million, five-year contract that included $23 million in guarantees.
Now I don't think McClain is the worst guy in the world or public enemy number one, he basically got into a fight that got out of control. But as a Raider, as an NFL player, I do think he needs to hold himself to a higher standard. I think the only way to send out that message is for the team to enforce their contract, which I can assume has a morals clause that allows the Raiders to cancel the agreement for just such an incident.
Although born and raised with Eagles fans in Philadelphia, Freddy Sherman has always been a citizen of Raider Nation at heart. Since his dad got him a signed George Blanda football as child, to meeting Lyle Alzado in the 1980s, he hasn't looked back. Follow him on twitter @thefredsherman
More from this contributor:
- American Football
- Sports & Recreation
- Oakland Raiders
- George Atkinson
- Jack Tatum