There is something that I have been meaning to post about for quite awhile. It is the generations gap between us Raiders fans. It is amazing the difference in outlook and perception between fans that saw the great days and fans that have only seen the dark days. I don't even know what I would give to feel the bliss of being the final team on top of all the rest as Super Bowl Champions.
That is all I can talk about though from my own experience, WANTING to see a championship. The jealously of having missed out on the truly great days of the Raiders is immense. There is an empty place in my heart that yearns to be filled. There is a place in my mind where I just relive disappointment after disappointment without the memory of holding a Lombardi Trophy to fall back on. The Tuck Rule, the fat slob Tony Siragusa with the dirtiest play I have ever had to witness rolling onto Gannon's arm, the Bills beating us, the Broncos beating us, the freaking Tampa beatdown we received from our old coach.
Its moment after moment like that in my memory that had so much built up only to be dropped on my head from a staggering height. Those are the good times I remember too, not even the darkest of days over the past decade. As most of you know despite all of that disappointment I am still an optimist and an ever glowing ray of positivity. It is almost a miracle that I have been able to survive all of this with a sunny disposition. Most fans my age or younger are not so lucky.
Then on the flip side we have so many fans that were lucky enough to witness greatness. To have seen the sun shine over the mountains and know that what they just say was pure unadulterated greatness. It must have felt like it would last forever. It must have felt like nobody could stop the Raiders, because at the time nobody could. When the youth talk about Jack Tatum its from research, but when the lucky ones talk about him its from memories. Sure, I know Kenny Stabler was a party animal but the lucky ones saw the days where he may or may not have smelt like vodka in the huddle.
Here is the real crux of the difference though. The man himself, Mr. Allen Davis. The reverence that many have is lost on so much of today's youth. The boundaries he pioneered the crossing of is glossed over to the youth who only have memories of a man that appeared to be hard to work for, stubborn and by many accounts lost. Even I was ignorant of the real Al Davis until I had found this great forum of Raider fans.
I hadn't even known that Tom Flores was the first Latin American head coach or that Art Shell was the first Black American head coach, nor that the great Amy Trask was the first woman executive. All of these great moments in equality orchestrated by one man who courageously said "I don't care what you think" to the bigots and sexists.
I knew that Al was the AFL commissioner but I didn't realize how much he did to create the present day NFL. I knew Al had been the owner of 3 Lombardi Trophies, but I didn't know the way that those titles made the fans feel. I still to this day can't really know because I haven't felt that joy but I can ask a fellow Raider fan to tell me their story. Ask a fellow Raider fan to tell me of their life as a fan witnessing the pinnacle of success being achieved by our team.
I can see my dad's smile when he talks about the Raiders being the meanest, toughest, rowdiest sons of bitches to ever roam a football field. I can see the joy in his face when he speaks of the titles won, and I can see the pain in his eyes as he remembers the Immaculate reception. He was able to spread the love of the Raiders to me from those times long past. I am able to feel the Silver and Black blood running through my veins because of those memories, but they are not my own.
All of that comes down to a bitterness being left over. A feeling of having been left out, of being born too late. I have been able to overcome it and am a respectful thoughtful fan, but I think our team's youth has been deeply effected. I know I have been deeply effected. It is something that causes a disconnect from the fans who saw greatness and the ones who wish they had had the chance to. That gap in generations is something we deal with every day on Silver and Black Pride. It is something that often goes unsaid. This is an attempt to explain my side of the disconnect, but I don't know if it is something that can be understood by those that saw the true greatness of the Raiders. We will never truly be able to understand your side either, that is just life.
I have been chewed up and spit out over and over by this team. The fates have not been kind to the Raiders over the past decade and more. It has been over 27 years since we last won a Super Bowl. That is a lifetime ago. That is MY lifetime ago. There is something stronger than bitterness that holds us all together though. We are all still right here, living and breathing proof that when you love something enough you can make it through the darkest days.