It's as if after years of neglect, the Raiders are clearing the cobwebs from the windows, pulling the weeds and having the rusty old truck hauled from the yard.
As if they're painting the house and planting trees and landscaping the garden.
Realtors have a term for these makeovers, referring to it as upgrading the "curb appeal" of a property.
The Raiders' curb appeal is higher than it has been for nearly a decade. It can be seen from the outside that it's a lot less cluttered and dilapidated than a month ago, which puts Oakland back in position to market itself as an NFL franchise.
That's significant when there are dozens, maybe hundreds, of wealthy folks who wouldn't mind having a piece of an NFL franchise.
After seven years of damage and destruction, the Raiders are showing a desire to be considered a part of the league. The careful spending, the logical drafting, the addition of quarterback Jason Campbell, the subsequent dismissal of JaMarcus Russell — all of it — puts a responsible face on a franchise most had written off as impossibly unstable. Up goes their stock among speculators.
When it was apparent last year that Raiders boss Al Davis was amenable to adding minority partners, more than a few ears were cupped. But anyone sniffing around quickly discovered that Davis planned to remain the sole voice of the company, making all pertinent decisions, answering to no one.
All those ears closed. They couldn't trust their millions to an 80-year-old managing general partner who was becoming more cranky and whimsical by the hour.
They'd already seen Davis get an infusion of cash from new investors and turn it into $250 million in unwise contracts before the 2008 season. They'd seen how a month into that season, Davis fired coach Lane Kiffin — while standing firmly behind Russell — during a much-ridiculed overhead projection show. They'd seen the Raiders finish 5-11.
They'd seen the team's value drop yet again, according to the annual Forbes magazine stud, and wanted no part of Crazy Al's House of Dysfunction.
Then came last season, when the business of selling the Raiders got infinitely worse.
The Raiders barely sold out the home opener, despite having rival San Diego as the opponent and the pomp of Monday Night Football. Customer traffic at the Coliseum slowed to a trickle, and most of those who bothered to show up spent an inordinate amount of time griping and fussing and cursing the team, especially Russell, who was perceived as Al's pet. The staggering number of empty seats exposed an active unrest, if not an outright revolt, among a fan base once as spirited as any in America..
One fan gathered support from other fans and bought billboard space, urging Davis to hire a general manager.
Once a strong and unified family, the Raider Nation split into factions. That's what can happen when the mighty patriarch of a massive family doesn't age gracefully. The business crumbling, family started bickering and taking sides.
As long as Davis has heartbeat, though, he'll eventually find the essentials, which for him are a winning team and a profitable franchise, within a thriving league. Though he is prone to getting sidetracked — doghousing players, shaking his fist at members of the media etc. — Al needs but one corner of sanity in his mind to come back to the essentials.
Given the state of the franchise, it needs new blood. Some limited partners have died and others are considerably older than Davis. The fellows that signed up in 2008 are younger, yes, but just as voiceless. It's still Al's team, all the way, every day. And it was a stinking mess.
How pleased can they be? How appealing is it for anyone wanting in on the cash machine that is the NFL?
Sherratt Reicher, the great-grandson of original owner Ed McGah, a few years ago went after Davis in court, saying Al's "management practices have resulted in the Raiders franchise losing substantial sums of money." Davis came away with the McGah family share of the team, while the remaining limited partners were as limited as ever.
Yet potential new partners are always eyeballing NFL properties. They're curious and interested and willing to buy. But they want a voice in the operation, or at least a sense of stability.
The Raiders want to listen to offers, need to listen to them. And the best way for that to happen is if the tenants seem responsible and the property is presentable.
If the Raiders can keep painting and planting, someone might come along who can't resist. At worst, they'll be back in the NFL.
Contact Monte Poole at firstname.lastname@example.org