Why I’m a fan of The Raiders

Brian Bahr/Getty Images

How I became a Raider fan and why I stayed Raider fan in a sea of Red and Gold.

Picture this the year is 1981 Your birthday is in a few days and you will be turning 9. You’re a young boy living with your mom and her boyfriend that has 7 other sons, all older than you. They are from Philadelphia. You are just starting to be interested in football and starting to pay more attention to things on the TV that are not cartoons. It’s a Sunday… Super Bowl Sunday in fact, there is a team dressed in white and silver on the TV playing against another team in an ugly green. The house is deafening and full yells and laughs as the game starts. You all watch on the color TV with ‘rabbit ears’ and little tuffs of foil taped onto the end of the antennae to help with reception (so they say). Suddenly the laughs turn in to curses and angry words are hurled about. You smile inside slightly because you don’t really like your mom’s boyfriend or all of his sons, and they are upset. The Raiders (you learned the name before but never paid attention to who or what it exactly meant) had scored a touchdown and were winning 0 to 7. Some guy named Branch caught a touchdown pass. Still the cursing and yelling didn’t stop there in fact it grows with a BOOM! As Kenny King catches a pass from a scrambling quarterback called Plunkett, he runs nearly 60 yards and suddenly the Raiders are winning by 14! As the game goes on, the family from Philadelphia gets angrier and you hope that nobody can see the smile your hiding. A smile like that cat from that weird cartoon with the girl that falls down the rabbit hole.

That was how I became a Raider fan.

The year that followed I grew into a HUGE Raider fan and learned much about the sport. Also, realizing that there was a side to my grandpa and uncles I didn’t know. They were Raider fans! Now Sunday’s were so much better. My mom split up with her boyfriend and Sunday’s I got to goto my grandparents’ house for football games served with chips n’ dip and Coca-Cola. Still I was too young to pay attention to the talk of the Raider God named AL, trying to add more seats and improvements to the Oakland Coliseum. And too young to fully understand what the move to LA meant when his bid for luxury boxes in Oakland was denied. My family though. That is a different story my grandpa was livid that the team he had been watching so long was leaving. Being from New York himself choosing the Raiders to root for because they were local (we lived at the time in Concord, CA) it was easy for him to banish them from his heart and chose another local team. Who had recently drafted a quarterback named Montana. The Raider jerseys and posters disappeared from my grandparents’ house and were replaced with the Red of the Niners.

Still lucky for me I was getting older, more independent and wanting to be my own man (at 11 years old). So, my blood stayed black and silver while the rest of my family’s turned to red and gold. It was helpful that I had a heros at that time to keep me on the path of the Raiders. These heros were numerous; Marcus Allen, Todd Christensen, Howie Long, and Lester Hayes to name a few. I look back now and realize that I didn’t care that much about the move to LA because I was too young, and I had never even been to a Raider game in Oakland. Things we not always easy being the only Raider fan in a large Italian family that all loved the Niners. I listened to the jokes and watched each year knowing my Raiders would compete again, this strange era of Montana and then Young could not last forever!

THEN BOOM! The Raiders returned in 1995!

To be 23 years old and see your team live in person, to tailgate for the first time with Raider Fans…to share in the libations and cheering RAAAAIIIIIDEEERS! I became even more devote a fan going to multiple games every year since their return to Oaktown. I have seen live the highs of the Raiders in Oakland since their return, like Eric Allen’s 50 yard int TD return vs the Jets in 2000, Tim Browns last punt return for a TD in 2001, and more recently Khalil Mack’s interception to touchdown vs the Panthers last year. Sadly, I have seen the lows as well, like the Dolphins game in 1997, where Jeff (the statue) George was sacked 6 times, and in 2000 when freaking Siragusa fell on Gannon in the Championship game. I have watched nearly every Raider game in person or on TV since their return. Watching the snow game with the Tuck Rule hurt like a truck ran me over. And the super bowl loss to the Bucs like a building fell on me. While killing the Jets and then the Titians in 2002 was like a news year party that lasted 2 weeks. And the Raiders win over the Niners a few years back where Big Penn caught a TD pass was like flying over the Grand Canyon on a dirt bike.

I guess to sum it all up I became a raider fan in spite of others. I supposed that’s why I am still a Raider fan and why I will remain a fan. To ignore the nay-sayers, the haters, and the rest of the world that seems to change daily like a dog with a new toy. The Raiders are my rock on which I stand against the currents trying to push me their way down the river.

DOH! I went over the word count limit for the contest. Oh well, I was not going to win anyways, the Raiders will next season though!