Those who read me often probably know how I feel about the idea of anyone claiming to know what it means to be a ‘true fan’. Plainly put, I think it’s nonsense. And often misguided.
We’ve heard a lot about what it means to be a ‘true fan’ of late with the divide that developed over the past couple years between those who would like them to stay in Oakland and those who would like them to move down south or are at very least ok with it. First it was Los Angeles and now Las Vegas.
Well, Derek Carr has jumped into the fray of those who would judge someone by his definition of what is and is not a true fan. And as you might expect, he is on the side of those who will remain a fan of the team with which he is looking to sign a long-term extension.
Carr said he has been surprised that the majority of fans with whom he has come in contact have said they’re sticking with the team; “It’s just, ‘Hey, we’re going with you. We’re Raiders’.”
“Through the hard times and the good we’re still Raiders,” said Carr, echoing a message he posted on Twitter recently. “There’s been a lot of hard times before, now we’re starting to have some good times. This is just another thing that we’re going to deal with together. We’re not going to split up like you’ve seen other cities do. We’re not going to do things like that. For the ones that do, I don’t believe that they are true Raiders fans. I feel their hurt. I’m with ya, I hurt too, but at the same time we’re all in this together and we’re just gonna do it together.”
I get this sentiment. I do. Derek Carr has to embrace the fans who are either sticking around despite the move or who are enthusiastic about it. But to say those who aren’t onboard with this are not ‘true Raiders fans’ is a shocking level of callousness from a guy who has said more than once he feels the pain of fans in Oakland.
There are a lot of fans who have passionately cheered the Raiders as far back as the 60s and 70s and stayed loyal through the first move to Los Angeles in the early 80s. Now they’re in a ‘fool me twice’ type situation. John Madden said as much recently when he talked about how this move is different than the first one. As he told Sirius XM NFL radio, it’s “the finality of it”.
“With the stadium now, when they move out, that’s going to be torn down and it’s going to be a high-rise or some doggone thing and there’ll be no more Oakland Raiders, there’ll be no more history of the Oakland Raiders,” said Madden. “And that really bothers me. Not just me personally, but all the Raiders fans over all those years and all the great players and great games. Just, boom, it goes away.”
To have those people’s longstanding fan loyalty put into question by a kid who just turned 26 and wasn’t even a glimmer in his parents’ eyes when these fans swallowed their pride the first time the Raiders moved is just…well I don’t know what they would call that. You’d have to ask one of them. But it ain’t good.
As for the fans in Oakland who are sticking around, Carr wants you to know he and his Raiders teammates are going to be focused on making you feel special. That is when they aren’t asked to do outreach to fans in their eventual home.
“It’s something that’s coming, it’s big news, it’s exciting for our organization and for fans that are Raiders fans in Nevada. But at the same time we have our fans here that we need to take care of and that’s really important to me, to take care of our fans here, to make sure that we enjoy our last time, whether it’s two years, three years, who knows.”
“Obviously there’s going to be times where we’re in Vegas doing things because that’s a weird situation, but my focus is here and now and making sure that our fans feel appreciated knowing that they are going to get the very best version of me and my teammates every time we step out on the field.”