The Raiders and Chiefs were trying to have some semblance of a football game Sunday but a pigeon was only interested in rummaging through the grass. And this little guy only seemed interested in the part of the field near where the play was taking place.
At one point, it got so bad, Chiefs defenders were at a loss as to how to move around without stepping on him. Javier Arenas displayed his frustration by nearly booting the pigeon but stopped himself short likely because there was a whole stadium worth of fans watching him, not to mention a television audience at home.
Chiefs defensive end, Justin Houston, lined up to rush the passer only to find the bird directly in his path. He stood staring at the bird before the ball was snapped, befuddled at how he was to fly into the backfield with this little grazing obstacle.
The Crowd loves the pigeon. They feel a kinship with it. Not only were the antics entertaining, but it is not the first time it has happened.
Two years ago February, Raiders linebacker and special teams player, Marquis Cooper, was killed in a boating accident in the Gulf of Mexico. When the Raiders returned to action the following season, a pigeon showed up on the field. At first no one thought anything of it. The bird went unnoticed. But then it literally lined up with the special teams unit and when the ball was kicked off, it flew to the other side of the field and landed a few feet from where the return tackle was made.
There were many who saw the spirit of Cooper in this bird. And so today when this pigeon was mulling about on the field, he was immediately a fan favorite.
This pigeon would flap its wings when approached but never attempted to fly away. Perhaps it could not fly which would explain why it remained on the field for so long and made no efforts to avoid being stomped when players walked around it.
Following a few plays in which many times it seemed certain the bird would be trampled, Raiders right guard Mike Brisiel walked over to where it was sitting just off right tackle, and gave it a little boot. The crowd booed loudly as they thought he was kicking the bird with malicious intent. It was clear, however, that he was trying to get the bird out of harm's way.
Brisiel is new to this team and does not know the story behind the pigeon and the fans' affinity for it. We filled him in on the Cooper story after the game. He assured us that he was only trying to help the bird and would never intentionally hurt it. He also was shocked at the fan reaction during the game and was glad to know the history behind it.
It was an entertaining ordeal in an otherwise rather mundane game that saw the Chiefs go scoreless and neither team get in the endzone.
The Raiderettes came out to perform their annual "Jingle Bells" dance at halftime and they too found themselves having to dance around the little feathered fiend.
At that point, the stadium staff had seen enough and came out and scooped up the fearless rogue pigeon and ushered it out of the stadium. Just to add to the hilarity of it all, the coliseum sound system blared Lynyrd Skynyrd's "Free Bird" while the bird was being corralled. It was a classic moment.
In the end, it offered a few laughs, reminded us to honor a fallen former player and Raider, and no one was hurt - least of all the pigeon itself.