I suppose I am a Raider fan primarily because of where I was born. My father didn't speak English when he arrived in this country, but was recruited from India by American semiconductor companies because of his math skills. He had to find his own way to the USA, though and agreed to help offload supplies on a cargo ship from Bombay to Boston in exchange for free passage. During the 3-month journey, he delivered pistachios to Egypt and potatoes to Italy and various other items to various other places. He landed in Boston with an America visa, an admission to San Jose State University, barely ten dollars in his pocket, and a bus ticket from Boston to San Jose. When he arrived in the Bay Area, he had no place to live. He was allowed to sleep on someone's porch, and during the day he washed dishes and cleaned floors and bathrooms in a restaurant. He eventually got his master's degree in mechanical engineering from SJSU and then went back to India and married my mother. He then settled in San Jose, working in Silicon Valley.
I was born in the mid-1970s in San Jose after my parents had saved enough money to start a family. Although my father's first sports love was cricket, he gradually became a big football fan. Initially, the sport of football just seemed like a bunch of random collisions, but as he dissected the sport further, he learned that there is simply no other sport that has even close to as much strategy and timing and elegance. He supported both the Raiders and 49ers because they were both Bay Area teams, but kept the Raiders as his first team because they represented the kind of person he was: hard-working, unrelenting, and tough as nails.
I don't remember a time in my life when I "decided" that I would also follow the Raiders. I was just a Raider fan for as long as I know. My dad says that when I was a year old, I was "going nuts" when the Raiders won SB XI. My earliest actual Raider memory is watching Kenny King going all the way for a TD against the Eagles in SB XV. I remember how I felt as a 4-year old kid, watching my team become the World Champions for the second time and then a third time a few years later against Washington. The Raiders had already moved to Los Angeles, but by then, there was no way I would ever support another team.
Even though I am a Raider fan because of my dad, and he is a Raider fan because of geography, I don't believe that Raider fans must be Californian or Bay Area natives. Our team transcends city or state boundaries. The Raider shield evokes an image, a message, and a passion. Being a Raider means you get to be a villain for a short time. It means you believe in doing whatever it takes to win. It means you have only one team and 31 enemies. It means that whenever you see another Raider fan, you give a nod of acknowledgement and that you show him or her that you're a Raider fan, too. There is a bond between Raider fans that other teams' fans simply cannot understand. It is like having a huge family and meeting a relative that you've never seen before. There is instant camaraderie and friendship. I was indoctrinated in the Silver and Black as a very young child and I have stayed a Raider fan despite the team moving, despite the years of losing, and despite the team moving again. For me, I just love love football too much and it is abhorrent for me to support anyone but the Raiders. Perhaps I was lucky that my dad chose SJSU to attend when moving to the USA. He only did it because the school's brochure boasted a "Mediterranean climate". Coming from India, he definitely didn't want to live in the cold. Thank God. Just think, if he decided to stay in Boston and not take that long bus ride, I might have become a Patriots fan. Ewwww gross. GO RAIDERS!!! Love to the Nation!