I arrived late to the Grilla-Rilla tailgate because I had family issues to deal with, but I was quite happy that I did because I had no time for tequila, which became important later.
When I arrived on BART it was already 6:15, 45 minutes until game time, and I was looking for a cocktail and a steak...stat!
By the time I arrived at the Grilla-Rilla tailgate, by the way, you are all invited there for the Denver game, there were only a few Mickey's left and the food was being packed up. I can do without the cocktail, but, Chewbacca had prepared a bucket of shrimp, 4 tri-tips and about a half a pig, which I had no time for, I had to run in. So, I slammed down two Mickey's and headed into the entrance...There is no way that I wanted to miss my first kick-off in over seven months, pre-season or not.
When I entered, the Raiders had local "public servants" on the field and the crowd was booing. This was quite a difference from A's or Warrior games where these people are applauded and thanked for their service. No, on this night, they were booed.
As I made my way to my seat, in the third deck, I was able to soak in the excitement of every Raider fan in the place. From the yelling of "Oakland...Raiders, in the entry tunnel, to the little children proudly perched on their father's shoulders as they took in their first game, I knew I was at one of my homes away from home, I was amoung the Raider Nation, and I was happy.
As for the game, here are my notes:
1) "Zeke" (Isaiah Ekejiuba) may be the best special teams coverage player in the NFL. He destroyed the blocking on the first kick-off and will be a VERY important part of the Raiders winning the field position battle in 2009.
2) Chaz Schillens has arrived. He ran perfect routes, adjusted well to broken plays and caught every ball thrown his way.
3) Speaking about balls thrown his way, JaMarcus Russell was flawless on his underneath passing. His first pass split the 8 and 1 on Chaz's jersey and his best pass of the day cam on a beautiful pass in daylight that hit a window, about two feet wide, and landed perfectly in Schillens' hands.
4) JaMarcus's best play, the one that made the corwd go, "Oooooo...Ahhhhhh" was his run to daylight on a broken play.
5) On the down side, J-Russ did underthrow his two bombs and made a bad read on a check-down to Neal on a second and goal after Carlisle's hold.
6) Speaking of Carlisle's hold, it would have been a back breaker in the regular season, but then again in the regular season that had better be Michael Bush following Neal's lead block and NOT Justin Fargas.
7) Carlisle did have another penalty later, but after watching the horrible calls on Horton who was flagged on two phantom calls in the defensive backfield, I realized that the refs are getting their 2009 legs under them as well. One call was 10 seconds late and the other was on an uncatchable ball when he rode a receiver out of bounds. Horton got a raw deal and I can see what the team sees in him...Speed and instincts.
8) McFadden missed a key block, but he made up for it with a run into the North end that brough the crowd to it's feet and made even the harshest Raider critics take notice...Mc-Badd-Ass is in the building!
9) Sampson Satele (One of my favorite young centers in the League since he was drafted) looked to handle his assignment very well. He was quick and didn't get beat all night, that I saw.
10) DHB, Darius Heyward-Bey, was exactly as advertised, raw and able to stretch the field. The Cowboys tried press coverage at first, then after he blew by the coverage they started shading a safety his way and playing 10 yards off of him. He hauled in one inconsequential pass, but his speed effected the game much more than his numbers showed.
11) It was easy to see when Bush had the ball, because the pile moved in a forward direction. He is a BEAST!!!
For years I have wanted a player like him on the team, an all-out footbal playing little gnat that will do the dirty work to get open and that has sticky fingers...Nick Miller may just be that guy. I do know that every receiver not named Darius, Javon or Johnnie is a little worried about slipping down the depth chart after his performance on Thursday Night.
14) The back-ups lit up the Dallas defense and none were more impressive than Gradkowski and Frye. I am getting the feeling that Garcia may be nursing this calf thing because he doesn't want to get beat out. IF that IS the case, then I'm sure that the team across the Bay would like him in the mix.
15) It would have been great to see Mitchell out there laying the wood. As it was, I though that Tyvon Branch and Mike Huff played the best at the safety position.
16) one of my chief causes for concern was the lack of a run defense on Dallas's second possession and that is something that we will have to watch all year. Also of concern was Martellus Bennet running througfh Chris Johnson and STanford Routt looking uncomfortable on Nnamdi's island after Asomugha left the game.
17) Ricky Brown and Slade Norris are putting pressure on every linebacker for playing time. Brown looked better at MLB than Morrison and Slade was great at dropping back and also at covering the run. I LOVE Kirk Morrison to death, but these two did play better than him on Thursday.
All in all it was a great game for Raider fans, inside the Coliseum, but no one knew just how bad it was getting outside the Coliseum.
When Raider Bob, Chewbacca and I got into the parking lot, after walking by the portable Police Station/Command Central for the Po-Po, we got out the cold food while we packed up the BBQ's and prepared to leave. No sooner had we gotten there than a motorcyle cop game roaring his engine through our group and telling us to leave.
He then went down the line and did the same to others who were having what we like to call, the post game tailgate.
It was obvious from all of the mounted policemen running through the parking lot that things have changed at the Coliseum, before the game, but their actions after the game alarmed me.
It was late, so I had to get back on BART and head home. As I walked past Gorilla-Rill and others I saw that about 20 policemen had a truck surrounded and they were harassing Rilla and El Senor and were trying to arrest somebody.
There they stood, forming a perimeter, around the black truck. On the outside, they stood as if nothing was happening, while by the truck they were arresting people and imposing their will. They were so intimidating that I had to say something. I asked one of them if they enjoyed this Police state that they have started in the Parking Lot, and he just stared ahead and said nothing.
I then asked another one, a much younger one, he looked about 24, and he asked me, "Are you okay sir?", I replied that I was fine and the I was just blown away that this slice of America has become a police state. He then began approaching me, and asking the same question. I knew what he was saying and in order to get home at a reasonable time, I dropped it and just said once again, "America is the Land of the Free and home of the brave, yet HERE it was a Police State". Then I turned and walked to BART in complete disbelief.
I bring this up because it is real. Be prepared the next time you go to a Raider Game. The Police are to be feared MUCH more than any fan.
As a fan, I had to write this because it was my experience. I do not hate police officers and have a massive amount of respect for the ones who do their jobs correctly, heck, my cousin is a Sheriff that works the Raider games, but I have to keep it real.