The Las Vegas Raiders have been made official. The
Oakland, Los Angeles, Oakland, Las Vegas Raiders are all set to start playing in Sin City in 2020.
For UK based sports fans the concept of the mobile sports franchise tends to be pretty alien. Perhaps it is a matter of scale, partisanship, and collective experience. To see a Premiership team move this far across Europe for example would be unthinkable.
Of course the Raiders aren’t the first NFL team to move, and probably won’t be the last. But that is not what this is about. This is to point out that the Raiders are and always will be the second outdoor Pro Football team to appear in Las Vegas.
First came the CFL, and the now almost mythologized Las Vegas Posse. They may not have been too successful, but the CFL’s Las Vegas Posse were the first attempt by a major pro sports league to site a team in the city.
After the CFL came the XFL and the Las Vegas Outlaws. Like the Posse they weren’t around long (one season) but have a cultural footprint still.
This was all part of an American expansion plan masterminded by then CFL commissioner Larry Smith who envisioned a multi site North American CFL with teams in the USA and Canada.
As we are back to a nine team league consisting solely of Canadian based teams, we can say that didn’t really work out. However this is a period looked back on fondly by fans.
I won’t go into all the details here. But I cannot recommend enough the book End Zones & Border Wars if you are interested in this period of CFL history. Plus it is well worth reading some detailed accounts of the Posse’s time in Vegas.
The Fun Stuff
As I say I am not going int o great detail here. Just celebrating the fact that the CFL got there first.
However there are some fun nuggets worth remembering about the Posse’s time in Sin City:
In July 1994 when the Posse beat the Sacramento Gold Miners 32-26 it was the CFL’s first game between US based teams.
The Posse’s team owner Rick Mileti, had to offer a public apology after the Canadian national anthem was mis-sung prior to the Posse’s first game in Vegas. “By way of explanation, but not excuse, this singer was recommended to us out of Los Angeles as a professional who had sung your anthem many times for the Olympics,” Mileti stated in a letter to then Canadian Prime Minister Jean Chretien. “Obviously, we were misled.”
Lest we forget – there was also the heat to deal with. For their first exhibition game in June the temperature was a baking 115 degrees. The CFL plays earlier than the NFL to avoid the harshest times of the Canadian winter – but that will have been of little solace to those roasting in Nevada. Edmonton QB of the time Damon Allen said after the game it felt like “the Devil was breathing fireballs at me.”
Their penultimate home game against Winnipeg had an announced attendance of 2,350 – the lowest in CFL history.
They were the starting point for the career of the CFL, and come to that (outdoor) Pro Football’s all time passing leader QB Anthony Calvillo.
Jeff Reinbold – who has such a big presence on the UK football scene was their Special Teams Coordinator.
Always Remember the Las Vegas Posse
As I say this isn’t a deep dive on the team. There are plenty of places you can get that.
What this is though is a reminder that the Las Vegas Raiders arrived second. Remember the Las Vegas Posse – they were there first!