Raiders ready to begin new era

The Raiders will head to Napa next Friday with a list of issues to address, but for the first time since 2000, there won't be a dark cloud looming over their heads.

Granted, the team is coming off its worst season in the modern era, but new head coach Lane Kiffin has brought a new attitude and new atmosphere to Oakland, something neither of his three predecessors were able to do.

There's evidence of that everywhere, from the high turnout at the team's offseason workouts, the new-found peace and happiness of wide receiver Jerry Porter, to quarterback Josh McCown defending the team's contact drills during mini-camps that ultimately led to a one-week suspension of practices handed down by the NFL.

Granted, the good feelings won't last long if the Raiders don't put together a few more wins than they've had the last few years. But for a team that has been in a six-year rut, it's definitely a good place to start.

"It's just a whole different attitude," middle linebacker Kirk Morrison said. "You can just see the competition that we have every day. There were a lot of times (last season) where we just didn't finish. What we did (in the offseason) was work on finishing. Three plays left, who's going to win?"

This new attitude is extending beyond the football field, as well. The Raiders' front office has adopted a PR-friendly approach this season, and the team recently added to its website by adding versions in Japanese and Tagalog.

The Raiders, who last year took over ticket sales for the first time since relocating back to Oakland in 1995, also announced new ticket plans which allow fans to purchase season tickets to five games rather than a full slate of 10. There is also a pick-three package in which fans can pick tickets from three groups of games.

That should help facilitate larger crowds, but nothing will accomplish that task quicker than a winning team. We'll find out soon whether or not the Raiders have that, but at least for now, things appear pointed in the right direction.

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