Today's gathering of the Raider Faithful proved to be one of my favorite "fan" moments as a Raider fan.
Once I got in the gate I was greeted by three Raiderettes and I made sure to get my poster personalized by all of them. That was not a bad way to start off the evening's festivities, but, believe me...IT GOT BETTER!!!
Some friends of mine saved me a seat in 115 row 1 and by the time I made it down there the event was about to begin.
Amy Trask was in mid season form as she told the security guards to stand in the dugout. She then walked up to me and said, "How much common sense does it take to know that you don't stand in front of the "Shorties"?"
Raider Nation I almost fell over the fence. There was Amy Trask, "The Dark Princess", "The Empress of Raider Nation", standing up for the kids. She wanted the kids to be able to see their heroes. She instantly became one of my favorite people in pro sports.
I never ask for autographs, but I did ask her to sign my ticket, which she did. And I'll tell you this, she is on task...her name could have very well been Amy Task. This was her event and she kept it tight.
The Raiders took the field, one team at a time.
First the special teams took the field and Shane Lechler was VERY impressive, as always. He boomed kick after kick high into the Oakland sky as he easily showed us all why Fredrickson is just a fill-in for camp purposes.
Sea-Bass drilled most of his kicks, only having problems when he continuously flubbed from the dirt. But, what else is new? Sea-Bass has problems kicking from the infield dirt!!!
The next team to take the field was the DB's, QB's, wide-outs and running backs.
I was startled at first as only 6 players took the field, then, within 30 seconds, here they came...Daunte, Michael Bush (The Shannon Stewart Clone), Zach Miller (He is freaking BIG), Jerry Porter, Mike Williams (He looks to be in GREAT SHAPE), O.J. (Santiago that is) and the rest of the bunch.
They ran the typical wide-out/qb warm-ups and then the DBs stepped in and warmed up their coverage technique.
McCown looked to be on the money the most and he has the swagger of a starting QB. I was impressed with his size. He looks to be a good 6 foot 3, I don't know why I always saw him as a 5 foot 11 guy.
The most impressive wide out to me, outside of Jerry Porter, was Mike Williams. His size can be a difference maker this season. I see now what Lane was talking about when he mentioned his body allowing him to block off defenders.
The most spirited was Jerry Porter. I really wish that every one of you could have seen JP's countenance. He was toying with the mics, doing his best James Brown impression and he was dribbling a football between his legs like it was a basketball. Ladies and Gentlemen THE Jerry Porter that we have all been waiting for...IS IN THE HOUSE!!!
The next crew to step on the field was the OL.
Jeremy Newberry looks like a FREAKING BEAST!!! If he is healthy, which he looks to be, we have that guy that I have wanted ever since "The Wiz" retired. When Tom Cable was addressing the OL the rest of his mates were on the bench while "NEWBERRY!!!" was taking a knee and nodding his head. Jeremy can be the veteran leader that this team gathers around in the trenches.
Can you tell that I am PUMPED???
The final team to take the field was the DL. Sapp and Burgess look like they are in fine shape and so does Quentin Moses.
When Burgess came up to us and was signing autographs I asked him how many sacks he wanted, "16, 17, 18, 19, 20?", and he replied, "I want to WIN a RING!!!"...
And speaking about one on one questions that got answered:
I asked Ronald Curry if he ever beat Moss or Courtney in one on one basketball and he said that he always made sure those two were on his team. Between you and I, I am sure that Ronald Curry was being modest. His first step would undress any one of those two...Well, as long as the ACL held up.
I asked D.D. about his hit on LaMont the first day in pads and he said, "Hey, we are all on the same team man, but I'm praying for him and so should you."
That was the second time that I nearly fell over the rail.
When LaMont came by we all told him that we were praying for him.
My final highlight was starting a chant for Michael Bush which Mike Williams picked up on and he pointed out to Bush that he should come over and meet his fans. That was AWESOME!!! Michael freaking BUSH!!!
Coach Kiffin thanked us all for coming out and putting up with watching their practice. He said that they still had a lot of work to do and that is why they ran it like a practice. I wonder if he knew HOW MUCH we loved witnessing the team practice instead of a dog and pony show.
It was a classic day and one I will never forget.
First and foremost, I am a fan. Moments like today
take me back to when I was a kid with a Raider banner hanging over my bed and I looked up to Plunkett, Kenny King and Lester Hayes.
The season is around the corner and let's all get out there on Saturday Night.