The Gazette’s Paul Klee has three observations before Monday’s game between the Denver Broncos (6-8) and the Oakland Raiders (3-11) at Oakland Coliseum:
Christmas Eve in Black Hole
Are we sure this is a good idea? Possibly the final Raiders game in the Black Hole. Christmas Eve, so folks might hit the eggnog without work the next day. The hated Broncos as the visiting team. What could go wrong? “They have unique fans,” Vance Joseph said. Things could get weird at Oakland Coliseum on Monday. OK, weird-er. Before the locals attempt to yank out the seats for a ride home on the BART — a totally underrated means of transportation in the Bay Area, by the way — it’s important for the Broncos to avoid the slow starts that have plagued them. Here, take the last time the Broncos played a prime-time game in the Black Hole: 30-20, Raiders, and it was 20-0 at halftime.
The energy in the building reminded me of Penn State’s Beaver Stadium during a “white out” against a Big Ten rival. The visiting team never had a chance. But enough on the football game. In a stadium that showed the fourth-most arrests in the NFL from 2011-15, according to the Washington Post, enormous dead rats in the press box are a given. I can’t wait ... to say goodbye.
Consider me surprised if first-round bust Shane Ray plays another game for the Broncos. And credit Vance Joseph for putting his foot down with yet another draft pick who brought more entitlement than game to the field. Ray has one sack over his past 15 games. That’s nearing Paxton-Lynch-bust-level territory.
Still, the pass rusher decided the fault lies with the Broncos. “Disrespectful” is how Ray described the Broncos telling him the day before the Browns game that he would be inactive. “Whatever reason they felt I needed to be inactive, that’s on them,” Ray said. It’s too bad for Ray he didn’t follow the lead of Von Miller, who ran into adversity as a young professional and put the onus on himself to become one of the best and richest players in football. And the Broncos should’ve traded Ray when he had value. While Ray has one sack in almost a full season, he’s maintained his status as a media favorite due to his eagerness to conduct interviews. But it’s no coincidence that Ray was inactive one week after The Gazette reported he was laughing with Brandon Marshall and Su’a Cravens (also inactive) in the locker room following a loss to the 2-10 49ers. Soon enough, Ray, a Missouri product, will join Lynch, Isaiah McKenzie and Carlos Henderson as ex-Broncos whose entitlement outweighed their investment.
Lindsay’s NFL rise similar to rise at Denver South
On the rainy September afternoon Phillip Lindsay made the Broncos’ 53-man roster, Denver South High senior Nejon McCray reflected on the accomplishment of his fellow Rebel: “It gives us kids something to believe in, to know we can do that. To go to the same school as a guy like that, it’s crazy.” It’s crazy, all right. What Phillip Lindsay’s done this season as a rookie is crazier than Cherry Creek Mall selling the No. 22 jersey he wore at South. Four months later Lindsay became the first undrafted rookie on offense named to the Pro Bowl. Here’s the kicker: how Lindsay approached his NFL career is just like how he approached his high school career when he stole a starting spot at South as a freshman. “There was a couple ones (upperclassmen) that didn’t like it. They disagreed with it. But I showed it on the football field and I showed it at practice every day,” Lindsay said during a media interview in 2013. “I got their respect by calling them out, by telling them I’m not scared and I’m going to back down to nobody.” See, nothing’s changed. Here’s hoping he never does.