Long time listener, 1st time caller.
January 25, 1981. Imagine the 7 year old boy at a Superbowl party. He is asked "what team will win, what team do you want?" looking at the screen he picks the team in white, with the one-eyed scary dude on the helmet. Imagine this. First game this boy had ever seen (or remembered seeing anyway). He was right. They did win. Since that game, he has been a fan of the Silver and Black, never blinking through all the ups and downs, highs and lows.
To be a Raider fan means that you must have a certain amount of fortitude, a strong constitution.
Moving to L.A. was somewhat welcomed, as I was originally from there. They had success, some would say, glory years, but now they had a stigma, ‘The Traders’, ah how I used to hate that! Marcus Allen was a favorite, Howie Long, Van McElroy, Branch, Hayes, Plunkett, Haynes. Winning the Superbowl again! The best, the best! Then the amazing Bo!
Then a down time, gangsta’s in Raiders garb and with that came a different image, still one of defiance, though, one of strength. Marcus being punished? Feuds with Al Davis. Drafting Marinovich? Ugh. But a glimmer of hope, mid-90’s, moving again, back to Oakland, and me living in San Francisco. The joy! Perfection. Many games I came to see. Wheatly, Tim Brown, Kaufman, Woodson, Gannon. Hiring a coach they called Chucky! Perfect. What...Rice and Brown on the same team? Okay, I’ll take it. Great being a Raiders fan! Then the cursed snow, the tuck rule, the downward slide. Did we just trade our coach? Say it ain’t so Al! The Superbowl that Barret Robbins destroyed.
Then, coach after coach after coach. No fans, blackouts. Coaches punching other coaches. Players not wanting in the org. Al slipping deep into his Howard Hughes persona. Overhead projectors. Woodson gone. Brown gone. Sapp, Seymour. These dark years how they test me. Glimmers of hope come quickly and disappear, McFadden, Russell, McClain. Why are we drafting Hayward-Bey? We are jokes. Laughing stocks. Al dead, odd son takes over. Now, moving back to L.A.? Portland? Moving again? Ugh. Please. Why do you test my loyalty so?
To be a Raider fan is to have a back bone of steel.
To be a Raider fan is to have perpetual hope, to understand roller coasters. Highs linke on Everest and falls from grace. The game passed Al by to a certain degree; holes he dug are still not climbed out of completely. But the team that that 7 year old boy once picked to win, and has stuck by them, still exists, not just in memory, but now. It has to. Or what? We give up?
Win, and we stay in Oakland.
Win and terrible draft picks are forgotten (not completely).
Win and ghosts of past glories will rise.
Win so we can reclaim the position we proudly held.
Win. Make us proud. Win, and us defiant ones can stick our middle fingers to the wind and drink our ale’s. Cheers to the Raiders! Imagine that.