The future of the Raiders has turned into a leverage game and, as usual, their fans are stuck in the middle.
On Monday, Oakland Mayor Libby Schaaf confirmed local authorities are in negotiations with team owner Mark Davis on a lease agreement that would allow the Raiders to play in O.co Coliseum at least one more season. Once that was completed, Davis said, he would discuss future plans for the team.
What the motivation was for fans to buy tickets, Davis didn’t say.
In a memo to team owners, the NFL indicated Las Vegas has not been ruled out as a future destination if it meets league standards, this despite its firm stance against gambling in the past. It came days after Davis had spoken with parties about the possibility of a new domed stadium there.
After all, the league no longer has Los Angeles as a wild card, so it has to string somebody else along.
“I think Las Vegas is coming along,” Davis said. “I don’t know if the environment is correct for the National Football League or not. That’s for the other  owners to decide.”
“No, I’m not [surprised],” Schaaf said of the Las Vegas fling at a Moscone Center West news conference. “The Raiders have an incredible brand. They have fans all over the world. They have lots of options.
“But it’s my job as the mayor of Oakland to stay focused on putting our best foot forward and really convincing them that we have something that nowhere else has, and that’s the most committed fan base that they will ever find. And we have the tools, including very valuable real estate, that we believe can get the stadium that they want but within kind of the set of tools that we have to work with.”
Meanwhile, Davis ruled out speculation that the Raiders would wind up as co-tenants with the 49ers at Levi’s Stadium.
The Niners welcome the arrangement — it’s more money in their pockets — but Balls can’t think of a worse place for the Raiders than Silicon Valley. Somehow, the image of Darth Vader, spiked helmets and painted faces in the dead of tech country doesn’t translate well.
Really, would you want to be on an Amtrak train with those rowdies after Derek Carr throws an interception late in a close loss?
SAN HO-HO-HO: Maybe it was the site of the Broncos’ bus stalled on the side of the road along Highway 101 in Sunnyvale, after a minor collision with a CHP motorcycle.
Or maybe it was when the Broncos were introduced to a few thousand fans at SAP Center. On a makeshift stage that looked like the Golden Gate Bridge. In front of a backdrop that looked like downtown San Francisco, even though it took place in San Jose.
Or maybe it was the radio bozo who pretended to interview Broncos defensive back Chris Harris Jr., who didn’t know whether to laugh or punch his clown nose.
Whatever the case, Balls found Super Bowl 50 Opening Night to be, uh, different.
For television purposes, the annual Media Day was moved to the evening and given a fancy name. But the SAP Center wasn’t nearly largely enough to accommodate thousands of media in their attempts to interview players. The throng in front of quarterback Peyton Manning was more than 10 deep at one point.
Shark Tank? More like Fish Bowl.
The event should have been held at Levi’s Stadium, site of the game. But the host committee had to get San Jose involved somehow, and as usual, San Jose came up small again.
SAME OLD STORY?: If Manning has an advantage over Cam Newton, his Carolina Panthers counterpart, it’s Super Bowl experience. But one ex-Super Bowl quarterback doubts that it will be a significant one.
“If Peyton was 27 years old, I’d say yeah,” CBS analyst Boomer Esiason told Balls. “He’s going to be about 40 and playing against an awesome defense that forced 39 turnovers in the regular season. He’s got a lot of heavy lifting to do. This is not a Peyton Manning offense. This is the [coach] Gary Kubiak offense that we saw in Houston. It doesn’t have those types of players. It doesn’t have that offensive line. It doesn’t have those types of running backs.
“This game is a 39-year-old, living legacy going against a top-notch defense. All I want is a game like we got in Super Bowl XXXXIX. I don’t want to see what we got in XLVIII, because if that happens, everyone loses interest. I hope Peyton can keep them close.”
MONTHLY HAYNE: Wait ’til Chip Kelly gets his Hayne on you.
Niners opponents shouldn’t be scared yet — Jerryd Hayne touched the ball all of 23 times from scrimmage as a rookie — but Kelly has big plans for the Aussie next season, to hear general manager Trent Baalke tell it.
“We haven’t spent a ton of time speaking about individual players on a roster yet, but I’ll tell you he’s well aware of Jarryd and Jarryd’s story, as is everyone in the National Football League by now,” Baakle said per the Sydney Morning Herald. “He’s excited to get his hands on him, the whole coaching staff is. We’ll find out in short order who fits and who doesn’t fit.”
This could be a ploy to sell jerseys. Because Kelly prefers backs who can stretch the field, and Hayne is not one of those guys. Unless Carlos Hyde is slow to recover from surgery, he figures to be the workhouse again.
If Hayne has a future anywhere on offense, then tight end may be the place. He’s big enough to block there, the position isn’t as complex and his average speed is less of a factor.
NICK OF TIME: Nick Kasa was in the stands at the AFC Championship Game in Denver last weekend when he received a phone call. His old team wanted to sign him to its practice squad in advance of the Super Bowl, an offer he couldn’t refuse.
“A freaking dream come true, for sure,” Kasa called it. “I don’t know how to describe it. … It’s just good to be here. I don’t want to distract from this team at all. They’ve been working hard for a long time.”
The Broncos drafted Kasa in the sixth round of the 2013 draft. He sat out 2014 season because of a torn ACL, then was released.
Now he’ll be paid about $6,000 to mimic Panthers tight end Greg Olsen for one week. As an added perk, he’s eligible for Super Bowl tickets even if doesn’t suit up.
“I’ll be the best Greg Olsen I can be,” Kasa said.
THE LIST: Dumbest questions in Super Bowl media history:
“Do you believe you can win?” (Cornelius Bennett, Buffalo Bills).
“Is this a must-win game?” (Pete Carroll, Seattle Seahawks).
“On a scale of 1 to 10, how ticklish are you?” (Dennis Pitta, Baltimore Ravens).
“What’s your relationship with the football?” (Joe Salave’a, Tennessee Titans).
“Do you believe in voodoo, and can I have a lock of your hair? (Kurt Warner, St. Louis Rams).
“How long have you been a black quarterback?” (Doug Williams, Washington Redskins).
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