RAIDERS THANKSGIVING 2008
I attended games at Frank Youell Field, (Laney College) from 1962 - 1965. I was 6 years old when I began my affair with the AFL's Oakland Raiders (almost Senors). For much of my youth, I wanted to play for the Oakland Raiders someday. (Ricky Brown # 57), one way or the other I have to meet this guy…We lived in Hayward at the time off of Harder road by the “Big Top” market (where the giant 8 dimensional clown would flip around).
Eventually we moved to Fremont. My pop had season tickets, being the oldest I was there most of the time. Coach Rauch lived down the street (Fountainbleu St. Fremont), visited the Santa Rosa training camp with our family several times, met Cotton Davidson and a guy named Tom Flores who was also a quarterback in the early years for my team. I witnessed the Heidi game. (40). The sheer amount of exciting finishes over the years, (Blanda and the Mad Bomber, Mr Lamonica and of course the snake himself), helped me become dependant, fond of, well pleased and addicted to the Silver & Black. (I admit it)… Mr. Bill King was so outstanding- “Holy Toledo”.
I have a picture of “Big Ben” Davidson pouring me a seven – up at our awards banquet for Fremont Football, when we won the “Cauliflower Bowl”, I was 10 at the time somewhere by Niles CA. in (1965). Jim Otto was there (ooh the ladies liked him). The “News Register” took a great picture I have to this day in my scrap book. Off the top:
Tom Keating, Todd Christianson, Gene Upshaw, Art Shell, Henry Lawrence, Dave Dalby, the Tooz, Dr Death, the Mad Stork, Mr. Tatum, Lester, Mr. Haynes, Casper the scoring machine, Warren Wells, Hewritt Dixon, Billy Cannon, Kenny King, Mr Marcus Allen, the ultimate BO JACKSON, Willie B. Freddy B. Ike Lassiter, Mr. 00, Big Phil V. Rod Martin, Ray Guy I mean really this was such a fun team to love!!! I REMEMBER WHEN THE DIRTY Dozen movie came out right about the time Mr. Madden was hitting his stride, being carted around in that ridiculous outfit of a blue V-neck and gray slacks with ‘THE DEW”.
I witnessed the Raiders in Hawaii compete in 1977 in the “Super Teams” competition in Honolulu Hawaii with the Vikings, Reds and Yankees. I sat in a beach side bar hut with Art Shell, Ken Stabler and Otis Sistrunk (man from mars). They bought me drinks, were very good to me. I remember thinking how small Art Shells wife was. The Raiders, A’s and Warriors were all world champions during that 1976-77 campaign. I was in heaven, I was 22 at the time and life had unfolded in a special way as I had just moved to the islands and witnessed the “tug of war” at the beach (Raiders lost and I ended up 5 rows back in a retired couples lap, If you want to know why get in touch, it is a knee slapper). with the Vikings as well as Cliff Branch and Sammy White racing in a 440 yard dash at Punahou high school up on the hill. Mr. Branch won but was later disqualified (for bumping White)... (figures)..LOL. My buddy from high school earned a football scholarship at University of Hawaii. That is how I wound up there. Lots of talent but too many Qualudes… When Mr. Davis decided to move South, it was like my girlfriends Dad decided to move the family far away. Happened once when I was 13 or so as I had a special gal next door and one day they were off to Wisconsin and I never saw her again…. Shelly was her name. As a survival tool, I looked at the Raiders owner as, I did her “DAD”, that way it wasn’t personal. I was sad, I was confused but that was the way of the 60’s and 70’s, heck life is that way all the time. She (Raiders team) had always been taking ballet lessons as long as I knew her and I knew she had a lot of potential. Nice strong wheels, I recall. Her Dad was very protective and caused me much pain before they moved, he didn’t like me getting too close, to his only daughter. (Oakland City Jail-Detroit game some time in mid-seventies)…. So why was I still so enamored with her?
One day her Dad decided to move the family back to where their roots were. It was a joyous day for me and the Oakland community and my unconditional love for this special lady from years ago was alive and well. I welcomed her back with eyes wide shut. Unbelievably she was really finally back (Houston game coliseum, Pastorini comes to mind).
I embraced her with open arms. It was so apparent that the young girl, who left years ago, had become a beautiful adult women I hugged her big time. We began seeing each other and started to date. I was just glad to have the special lady back in my life…..
As fate would have it though, she had changed, for soon to be obvious reasons. My denial was beginning to hurt. While she was away, she had a few boy friends (quite a few) in LA- LA land and had become disillusioned with life, lost her edge due in part to the glamour, grandiosity and glitter of the South lands. I tried my best to tolerate and forgive her but she was so very hard to handle, heck I even paid a lot of money for her rehabilitation, as she had developed quite a habit (PSL’s). What made matters worse, she made very obvious choices to better her self, I would see her continue to be mistreated by her peers, friends, family and associates (referee’s, commissioners)…
Well, I went for her love anyway. I was like a cat on a hot tin roof and at times, although in absolute disillusioned terror and pain, I remembered the absolute beauty of my memories of her from long ago (1961-1976, 1980, Mr. Madden) and the recent past (making the Super Bowl –Tampa) were still etched deep in her soul. She was a “keeper” so talented and charismatic….
As time moved on, I have had to love her from “a distance” and let go to the best of my ability and assist her when possible in finding her own path if you will. Just be friends. (Yeah Right)
There were many painful lessons along the way in recent years and I could not put my heart out there any more until I felt I was safe. I have felt her pain as if it were mine at times.
So I have gone on with my life, (married raised children, 4 grand children), but never lost my fondness or memories for her. Her Uncle, Mr. Papa has been a blessing to me, reminding me of her greatness, thank you sir.
In the recent past I saw her perform often for an 11 year stretch but finally, again, I realized it was time to quit leading with my chin. (all the while realizing I had no choice but to love her as long as I sucked air on the planet). “BROWNZONE” IN THE NORTH END ZONE…
I would go to events and watch her perform but stay in the back ground. Unconditional love is that way… After viewing some of her very humbling performances I would go home with my dark thoughts, I would pass the “Wall of Fame” (some called it shame) at her favorite place to perform and just shake my head as I viewed my name and thousands of others who truly appreciated her but were witnessing her demise….
Love is a powerful thing.
Over the years I have come to realize that “Letting Go” with love can bring
r-e-l-i-e-f, if nothing else.
So here we are, the beautiful young woman, with so much potential has once again completely hit rock bottom… (until yesterday).
However, one thing I will never forget about the joy this lady had brought me was that some how, in the midst of absolute destruction and chaos, she again and again, over and over would pick her self back up and survive for the next challenge life threw at her. She is a fighter until the end and I will always love her for that. In her darkest hours, somehow, she kept showing glimpses of greatness and self actualization. I admire her, always have, always will…
To overcome the dark side of ourselves is never easy. The thumping of the DENVER DONKEYS on November 23, 2008, (thanksgiving, grand sons birth day) is another example of her resiliency and one of the most basic & powerful reason’s why I keep coming back for more and why I will always love her so much. Adversity teaches success, I suppose. And so it is….
She will continue to be one of those loves of my life that is unpredictable and can put a stake in my heart in a New York second. Some how, though I wouldn’t want it any other way. It is my pathology, my nature. East Bay Grease.
209 765 0638