Why I'm a Fan of the Oakland Raiders

Neville E. Guard-USA TODAY Sports

I began my journey into NFL fanhood as a Bronco Fan. I was a huge fan of John Elway and they had just won a super bowl. My father, a lifelong fan of the Raiders wouldn't have it. He promptly made me go and read Ken Stabler's autobiography. While it wasn't the wisest decision for a father to have his 12 year old son read this book, I absolutely fell in love with the Raider Nation. Hearing story after story of Raider Pride on and off the field made me enamored with the Silver and Black.

From that moment, I never looked back. I officially became a fan the year after they lost the Super Bowl. I got constant grief for following a failing team, but the history of the Raiders as told by Stabler and my dad sustained me through the worst of years.

Unfortunately, the Raider evangelist that my father was was killed in Jan. '09. When I spoke at his funeral I literally ended his eulogy with the phrase "Go Raiders!" It was part of my dad's identity and I wanted it to become part of mine. A couple months after his death I got a tattoo to commemorate my dad's lifelong dedication to his family and the Raiders. Directly below my dad's initials, I got a Raider helmet forever inked on my left arm.

While I've gotten my fair share of grief for having a raider tattoo while living in Michigan, every time someone asks me about it I get the chance to let everyone know how great it is to be a raiders fan. My dad and I had a difficult relationship. We rarely got along, but even in the worst of our struggles, the one safe space we had was the Raiders. We could be hate each other one day, only to share in one another's grief over the last loss the next day. When I went through my Dad's belongings after his death, the keepsakes that meant most to me was his Raider gear.

Why am I a Raiders fan? Because my Dad and Ken Stabler taught me how to be. Because every time I hear Greg Papa scream "Touchdoooowwwwwnnnnnnn Raaaaiidddddeeeerrrsss" I'm instantly reminded of the best memories I have between my Father and I. The Raiders are a foundational part of my identity.

Go Raiders!