By Jerry McDonald - NFL Writer
Tuesday, December 1st, 2009 at 11:09 am in Oakland Raiders.
The following press release was received today announcing the posting of a billboard today on I-880 from a fan group asking Al Davis to remove himself as general manager:
Erie, PA – – An international “grass roots” fan effort over the internet, headquartered over 2000 miles away from Oakland, has led to the posting of a billboard this morning on (I-880N) East side, near High street. The message on that billboard is a plea to Oakland Raiders owner Al Davis to “step down” as General Manager.
The effort is led by 22-year-old Jared Staszewski of Erie, Pennsylvania, who along with several other “disenfranchised” Raiders fans got together on an internet fan forum and decided that they would like to send a respectful message to Raiders owner Al Davis, asking him to relinquish operational control of the team to a Professional General Manager and winning coach who will not be “managed” from the owner’s box.
“We have nothing but respect for Mr. Davis and what he has done for the team over the years,” Staszewski said. “But that effort and our championships are in the past. I have been a loyal fan since 1993 and in those 16 years we (the Raiders) have only had four playoff appearances. We are now on track for our seventh losing season in a row and we believe something has to change,” he said.
“We thought a billboard, posted near the stadium might generate some awareness, create a dialogue among the ‘Raider Faithful’ and perhaps make a difference,” Staszewski said. The idea and discussion spawned a web site www.messagetoal.com to encourage signatures for a petition to the legendary Raiders owner, while also helping to raise money to pay for the billboard.
In less than eight weeks (and mostly through a word-of-mouth effort) MessageToAl.com has secured credit to get the billboard posted by their Dec. 1 target date, has raised nearly $2,000 of the $5,500 cost for the space. MessageToAl.com has also secured more than 21,000 signatures (toward their goal of 50,000 signatures) for their petition asking four things of Al Davis:
1. Please step down as “General Manager”
2. Hire a new GM
3. Hire a “Super Bowl” caliber coach
4. Agree to refrain from intervention in personnel or football operational matters
Staszewski said the strategy for the site www.messagetoal.com was based on some political web sites he had seen where visitors could express themselves and provide monetary support for a campaign they believed in. “This has been a labor of love for a lot of people who have pitched in from all walks of life and many locations to help send a message to the Oakland Raiders organization for change to help bring our beloved franchise back to the top, where it belongs,” he said.
“One fan designed the site. Another helped with the graphics, copy, and helped us establish a secure means of collecting donations. It has really been inspiring to see the commitment and passion these fans have for the team we have (and will) continue to support. Some disgruntled fans of other teams have worn “brown bags” over their heads or staged protests to try to get their message out there. We believe this billboard is a respectful way to give this initiative a voice and to ask Mr. Davis to allow the team to realize its potential,” Staszewski said.
The billboard, owned by Clear Channel media is scheduled to be posted this morning, along Interstate 880N, just ½ mile from the stadium and on the east side of the highway near High Street. Staszewski has faith that fans will continue to visit the site to help pay off the line of credit which has secured the posting. “We know times are tough and we’ll appreciate any support of and/or contributions to the cause,” he said.
“We believe in the organization and we hope that Mr. Davis might become inspired to ‘do the right thing.’ We believe he, our loyal fan base and the entire Oakland region will all benefit if we are to achieve our goal. We didn’t want to sit back and simply complain about our situation. We want to take steps to do something about it. We can’t make draft picks or coach from the stands. We can, however, bring the issue to light and respectfully request that the organization make some necessary changes which we believe can help the Raiders to fully realize their potential and to once again be considered among the NFL’s elite teams,” Staszewski said.
To learn more about this effort, to sign the petition, to help pay for the billboard, or just to help out, please visit www.messagetoal.com