"I have aligned myself with all those who been stung by suppression"
These words, found on the inside pamphlet of a CD cover of a band whom I admired as a child, were to be etched upon the fabrics of my soul. It became the mantra I would forever live by, the basis for which, is empathy.
So it's not just that I grew up in Los Angeles during the time of Bo Jackson. Nor is it exclusively my adornment with the lovely silver & black colors. Nor can it alone be the penetrating inspiration we feel when witnessing the physical act of a Raider swagger, boldly defying the will of another. Perhaps it is a little of everything. Beyond it all, surely some metaphysical force attracted me to align myself with the organization that most stood for the underprivileged and oppressed. They embodied the spirit of the one who has nothing, would still oppose the establishment and do so every time with an abundance of pride. They represent he who has been casted out and pariah'd. The one whom others have attempted to silence, often for the profit of the silencers. And dare we still proceed with a swagger! Ah yes, my Raiders.
This week we witness the arrest of Aaron Hernandez. A Patriot. One who pledged himself to 'The Patriot Way.' The three little words which in today's world represent the preeminent culture of the football world. Three words to set the tone for a dynasty which remains in place to this very day.
But what of this dynasty? Ask any Raider fan and they can tell you of a Raider dynasty imploded at the cost of the Patriots emergence. Heck, some Raider players will tell you how that mysterious Patriot magic which keeps them superiorly relevant year-in and year-out, is borne of the Raider magic they stole years earlier.
So should it be any surprise that after stealing our mojo and cruising to three Super Bowls, they were years later tagged for Spygate? This which essentially proved they had not just an unfair advantage when playing other teams, but a unilateral one of unprecedented proportions? It was akin to stealing signs in baseball, except in this case they stole signs on every pitch.
I don't presume Mr. Hernandez's guilt and of course defer to the outcome in the courts. however I cannot help but wonder, as I watch the video tape of Aaron Hernandez speaking about 'The Patriot Way' upon signing his $40 million contract 10 months earlier, what exactly were we duped into believing 'The Patriot Way' was all along? Was it just one guy who got the message wrong? Or has it been a castle built on sands of smoke & mirror all along?
Last I checked, the very call which was the basis for the breakthrough of their dynasty was a lie perpetrated against our beloved Raider Nation. Then we hear, after winning their multiple Super Bowl's piggybacked on the aforementioned theft of what belonged to us, they in fact employed other new innovative measures to cheat their way to victory (I shudder to think what would happen if it was the Raiders who were caught cheating in such a scandal!). I've always felt this issue -- particularly considering the unknown extent of the crime combined with the known extent of their success, was simply never given enough divulgence in the media.
It's a big IF -- but IF Hernandez is found to be guilty, well then as a champion of empathy, I wouldn't condone but I would wish him to experience the mental (and spiritual) health recovery one in such a condition so desperately needs. After all, we each have some shitty element in our upbringing which eventually marries us to the accepting Raider Nation, so we all possess the quality of relating to others without condoning their heinous actions, do we not?
Be as it may however, from a purely football perspective, I do seek the balance of the Raider magic rightfully restored. This arrest, when lined up with the other notorious events attached to what defines the Patriot Way, begin to illustrate a culture -- no doubt a solid football operation laden with superior talent & minds, a head coach somewhat reminiscent of a combination between Dr. Evil and Dick Cheney, reinforced by what we have often seen as character guys -- founded upon a healthy pile of cover-ups painted over with generous strokes of luck creating enough flare to entertain the masses with stories of grandeur so impressive, they've all forgotten how it all began.
Thus I find it no coincidence that as Charles Woodson returns home to assist bridging Raider Nation to its new chapter, there surfaces the opportunity to redefine the Patriots for what they truly are, all they truly were not, and how it was predicated upon what never was rightfully theirs.
I proclaim: With the benefit of insouciant fate, the truth will become more easily apparent to all, and the scales will tip away from the Patriots and back in favor of the good guys -- the Raiders.
Reggie McKenzie will strengthen this team for the long-term fight. And with it the stars shall align, a brisk autumn wind will blow along, and the fortuitous sails of the Raider Nation will return to glory once again, where it belongs.