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Breakfast with the Raiders

I don't know if anyone else has had the privilege of attending this event, but this morning the Raiders held what I learned is a monthly breakfast at team headquarters with a randomly chosen group of season ticket holders.

Color me impressed.

With permission of Amy Trask herself, here is a quick rundown of today. I must warn you: if you are in search of earth-shattering Raider news, it won't be found here.

I honestly had no idea what to expect, other than what was stated in the e-mail; to recap, an open forum where the fans are given a voice in which to ask questions of the Raiders front office staff.  About twenty of us die-hards were led to the second-floor conference room, where we were treated to a spread of bagels, doughnuts, coffee, and orange juice.

Trask sat at one end of the table, and fielded most of the questions, relying on her staff for department-related items.

Most of the conversation centered on improving the fan experience (naturally), but topics ranged from the new stadium (Trask said the plan is still the same, and that is to build in Oakland) to the Tuck Game (hey, I wasn't the one to bring it up).

I was really impressed with how down-to-earth Trask is; it is clear to me that she, like everyone else in the room, bleeds silver and black.  She does nothing to disguise her passion or fandom.  When one fan asked if there was special satisfaction in knocking the Jon Gruden-coached Bucs out of the playoffs on the last game of the 2008 season, Trask took the diplomatic route, sort of:

"Hey, it was a great way to end the season.  All the signs were there for us to lose that game.  But even after we fell behind, we kept fighting.  So regardless of the opponent, it was positive in the sense of having something to build on."

Wait for it...

"And did I mention it was against Tampa Bay?"

Sweet.

The Raiders appear to be making every effort to make the Coliseum a happy home, but there are some things they have no control over.  That would change with a new stadium.  The goal of course is for every seat to be occupied by a season ticket holder, the idea being that it would create a family atmosphere, without compromising the passion that makes Raider fans a different breed indeed.

While one fan said the crowds need to be even louder on game day, another argued that the Raiders need to give us something to lose our voices over.

Trask agreed with both:

"It's cyclical.  The team feeds off the fans.  And the fans feed off the team.  "

But she knows that there hasn't been a whole lot to get excited about lately, what with six consecutive seasons with eleven or more losses, after dominating the division for the first three years of this decade:

"I won't dare sugarcoat the last six seasons.  It's been hard on all of us, from Al on down."

Ah, but there is reason to have hope, from an "outstanding draft" to the guy wearing the headset on Sunday:

"The thing about Cable is that he doesn't just want to be a coach.  He wants to be our coach.  And he is looking at that first game (a Monday night meeting with the Chargers on September 14) as a perfect opportunity to show what we have."

If the on-field Raiders are as geared towards customer satisfaction as the front office folks, their fans may have no choice but to stand up and shout.

I, for one, welcome that concept.