There might not have been a more inevitable result than the Raiders winning their game over the Texans on Sunday. There simply was no other possible ending. Because wherever you think the sports world’s No. 1 curmudgeon landed in the afterlife after his death on Saturday, Al Davis was going to make eternity unbearable for whoever is in charge had his beloved team not given him a proper sendoff victory. After years of raging at the N.F.L. machine, his raging might have produced actual thunder. Or an earthquake.
But seriously, Davis’s death does more than create the emotional spillover that was the Raiders’ victory over the Texans, . Sure, Davis’s fingerprints are visible, with his love of speed evident everywhere,, but it will always be impossible to know how much of the Raiders’ recent resurgence dovetailed with Davis’s declining health because others were taking more of the reins. Now, they could make the same surge that the Blackhawks did in the N.H.L. after their crotchety, old-school owner (William Wirtz) died in 2007, although it is worth noting that Chicago fans hated Wirtz enough to boo his memorial moment of silence while Raiders fans still. That is despite the fact that the Raiders have just three winning seasons in the past 15 years and their motto now is apparently “Just fire a lot of coaches, baby!”
Also keep in mind that the Raiders are 2-2 and Sunday’s victory came over the Texans, who, , have created a specialty out of blowing close games. The one thing we do know is that one of sports’ great villains is now gone, , and the N.F.L. just got a little more logical, which means it might be a little less fun.
Even aside from the Raiders’ victory, the N.F.L. was full of signals from the football gods on Sunday. They clearly still do not like the Eagles, whose slide to 1-4 has brought on a full-scale condemnation of Coach Andy Reid, which, , was probably inevitable. And quarterback Michael Vick’s recklessness with the ball is looking a lot less charming these days, . The Falcons have also apparently angered someone in high places because they haven’t been the same since they lost that playoff game last season, . And the Jets are not only losing games, but their entire bluster-based personality is disappearing, .
Perhaps the most entertaining losing, however, is going on in Denver because it has created a new Tim Tebow firestorm, a spectacular clash between the Broncos fans who have seized upon him as their great symbol of hope — as — and the “football people” who watch him play and start running away while covering their eyes. The clash shows no sign of ending, , and wasn’t quelled when Coach John Fox turned to him against the Chargers even though he , and he nearly engineered a comeback despite going 4 for 10.
Meanwhile, the most entertaining winning comes courtesy of the Green Bay Packers, who rode in the Georgia Dome. This indicates that Wisconsin has not only wooed the football gods, but the overall sports gods too, because the Packers’ come-from-behind victory followed the Brewers’ come-from-nowhere victory over the Cardinals in the National League Championship Series. That featured an offensive comeback that would make Rodgers proud: a 22-pitch span in which Prince Fielder, Ryan Braun and Yuniesky Betancourt blasted the game wide open, . , Yuniesky Betancourt, who for a time this season was suspected of being . Brewers fans were understandably thrilled, perhaps because their team is finally more exciting than the sausage races, .
The American League Championship Series was postponed by , but did give the Tigers another day to figure out how to replace the players . The Tigers added Delmon Young, .
Hockey threw a great moment into the mix Sunday with the Winnipeg Jets opener, which was a triumph even though the Jets got clobbered by the Canadiens, . And golf threw in a not-so-great moment when Tiger Woods’s round at the Open was interrupted by a .
Maybe Al Davis had something to do with that, too.
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