Monthly Archives: May 2011

The End of the Raider Nation

Los Angeles Raiders Bo Jackson #34

Let it never come to be! Those of us who love Raider football probably couldn’t live long without it. Too much history, too much emotion, too much blood, sweat and tears shed by players and fans alike over the years.

However, we have to begin to grapple with the fact that our Commander in Chief, Al Davis, is a mere mortal.  He may be determined to live forever, but we know that there is an end for all of us someday. He said as much at his last press conference, and acknowledged that he may last for years to come and he may not.

What will life be like without our leader at the helm?  We’ve had the benefit of his leadership all these years, but the downside is that there is no clear chain of command. Al Davis IS the Raiders.  Who will take the burden of blame, of praise, and of ownership once he is gone?

Other teams are more like corporations, quickly shuffling players out the door when used up, and switching executives at the whim of the latest management trends, attempting to extract all the “value” they can from the fans as quickly as possible. The Raiders aren’t like that.  Synergy between fans, coaches, and players creates a family that has many conflicts, but has a loyalty that is unlike any other team.

I’ve been told that Al Davis’s will says that the Raiders are to be disbanded and the team name retired upon his death.  Upon reflection, there is a certain poetry to this. A beginning and an end, and conclusion to this never ending up and down battle on the gridiron. If indeed that is Mr. Davis’s decision, then the people of the Raider Nation will stand by it, and retire from the field forever.

On the other hand, Oakland needs her Raiders, and what better tribute to times past than future victories!  Without the Raiders the NFL is a lost and lonely place. It could be the end of pro football period! The Raiders MUST live on to give well deserved beatdowns to our foes in the AFC West and across the league! They can’t have the last laugh, Raiders foundation is solid as granite, and the legacy of victory will propel this team for decades to come.

When Al Davis dies, the Raider Nation does too.  Long Live the Raider Nation!


The Raiders Quarterback

Oakland Raiders Kenny Stabler #12

The quarterback is the leader of his team, and many people put the success or failure of a team squarely on the quarterback’s shoulders. He is the most important player on any given team, and is often looked to as the face of the franchise.  A QB can be a hero if he succeeds, but can come under vicious attack if he fails.

The Raiders have had some of the NFL’s best and most colorful quarterbacks over the years.  Flores, Blanda, Lamonica, Stabler, Plunkett, Gannon, and others have all done amazing work for the Silver and Black.

Coming on as a new fan in 2009, the QB in charge was the notorious Jamarcus Russell, sometimes called “JaCarcass”.  Slow on his feet and even slower to make a play, his occasional well thrown pass was never able to make up for his constant fumbles, drops, bobbles, interceptions and utter ineptitude. Every snap was a terror, fans would cringe each time he took the ball in hand, and inevitably Russell would find a way to lose the ball, and almost always lose the game.

That season we saw QB’s Russell, Gradkowski, Frye, Boller and Losman.  In Week 17 the injuries got so bad that all five of them had to play in the same game, if I recall correctly! Truly this was a low point in NFL quarterbacking and the Raiders horrible record that year proved how important the quarterback is to a football team.

Many of us felt that with the talent on the team, we’d only need a decent QB to become a threat again.  When Russel was thrown out, and Jason Campbell came in, our hopes were proven right! At last a moderately talented QB for the Raiders! It seemed that the sky was the limit now.

But it takes time to develop chemistry and continuity with a new team and a new leader.  At first Campbell was a flop on the field and was pulled in favor of Bruce Gradkwoski. Bruce had been decent as a back up and had saved the day a few times in 2009. He gave it a shot in 2010, but was quickly injured and became ineffective. Meanwhile the benching did wonders for Jason Campbell and by the second half of the season he was doing an acceptable job at QB. There were some horrible games like SF and PIT, but games that were terrific to watch like @San Diego,@Denver and @Kansas City. Sweeping the division was an real achievement and getting back to 8-8 for the season was a big improvement.

Jason Campbell deserves plenty of credit for helping to make that happen, and looking forward to 2011’s upcoming campaign, there’s lots of reasons to think that Jason might do even better!

Raiders Mystique

Oakland Raiders Otis Sistrunk #60

For a team like the Oakland Raiders, with such a long and storied history filled with playoffs and championships, there’s no easy way to quickly encapsulate the core philosophy and legend of the team. Would we speak of last minute, hair raising victories? The longest series of winning seasons in NFL history? Hall of Fame players? The enigmatic and ingenious owner? The numerous fascinating and unique individuals the Raiders have had on the team?

There are so many aspects to this team, and its history, that you could spend years discussing it. And I plan to!

However, one thing that stands out is the Raider Mystique, the aura of danger that comes with wearing the silver and black as a player (and as a fan). When people see the Raider shield it creates emotions of various kinds. Pride for the Oakland resident, and usually hate and fear for the other 99% of the planet.

Some older fans have schooled me about the Raiders of the 60’s and 70’s, how this team was a haven for misfits, outsiders and counterculture. I’ve heard how Oakland Police Dept, Black Panthers and Hells Angels would all show up at the Coliseum for the games.  How Al Davis took the players no one else wanted, and put them together into a machine that demolished the rest of the NFL.  Some fans flocked to the Raiders because they had long hair and a reckless, Screw The Man attitude.  During the 1960’s when society was pretty conservative, the Raiders were the go-to team for young rebels who wanted to freak out their parents.

Then came the 80’s and the move to Los Angeles. The rise of thug culture to the mainstream, and gangsta rap as the music of the masses.  Suddenly sporting the Raiders hat was a sign that you were ruthless, ready and willing to hurt others.  The Raiders as a team were known for their violent, take no prisoners approach, so they were the perfect match for fatherless kids seeking an identity, seeking strength and potency.  The Raiders shield lost all connection to football, it was the symbol of NWA and the total collapse of civil society in East LA.  Or so it seemed to a frightened public.

That era cemented the sense that Raider fans are all criminals, who watch the games from their cells in San Quentin. Most of us go along with this dark side attitude as a joke, but in some ways there is a tinge of racism.  At the Coliseum you see so many black, brown, white and every color fans.  I don’t think it’s that way in most of the other NFL stadiums. So when people say Raiders are all welfare-loving drug dealers, they are exposing their stereotypes other races, which is sad to hear.

However, I’m happy to say that you don’t see gangsters and drug dealers in Oakland with Raider gear on anymore.  The gangs and wanna-be’s have moved on to other colors and symbols, so if you are trying to be a hard ass with a Raider cap on, you’ll just get laughed at nowadays.

But when it comes to football, other fans will always have a tinge of fear when they see the Raiders shield, it means they are in for a punishing game, no matter what the outcome!

Rivals: The Kansas City Chiefs

Oakland Raiders VS Kansas City Chiefs

Before I became a Raiders fan, I’d hardly even heard of this distant place called Kansas City. Now I carry a burning hate of that town and everyone in it, every moment of every day.  Just kidding, but in all seriousness it seems clear that for many fans here in Oakland, there is no more bitter rival than the Chiefs…

Founded as one of the original AFL teams by the famed Lamar Hunt, they were originally the Dallas Texans. Within a few years they had moved to Kansas City, and there they remain, a mob of red jacketed maniacs, and twice a year their team plays ours in a battle that is always highly contested. Some say that no matter how bad or good either team is in a particular year, it doesn’t matter, the mutual antagonism is so strong that they will always play up to each other, fighting for every possible advantage.

As a new fan, my knowledge of the history is pretty weak. But in the recent past, one of the Raiders greatest quarterbacks was drawn from the Chiefs roster, Rich Gannon, who led Oakland to multiple AFC West division wins, and the greatest trophy of all, the AFC Championship Title.  Obviously Gannon’s success only fueled the fire between these two teams.

I was lucky enough to make it to the Raiders home game against the Chiefs in 2010, and the place was on fire! Many were displaying their “FU KC” t-shirts, and the few KC fans in attendance wore their black shirts and hats to keep low key.  Anyone with red on was getting a lot of “feedback” from the hometown fans.

The game itself was a slugfest, neither team was making many good plays in the rain. Both defenses were stopping the offense, and no star players emerged.  Chiefs were pulling ahead at the half and the Raiders were looking positively stagnant. On the way back to my seat with two beers, halftime was over, and I entered the Coliseum just as the kickoff sailed through the air into the arms of rookie Jacoby Ford.  Within seconds the entire sold-out stadium was on its feet screaming, roaring and shouting full force as Ford broke though the Chiefs line and ran back for the touchdown. I came dangerously close to spilling my beers!

From there on Oakland had the momentum and staged a solid comeback. Ford made multiple clutch catches to help the Raiders move downfield, and the Seabass kick put it into overtime.  Tension was thick as the Chiefs got the ball first, but somehow the Raider defense put a stop to them.  And another amazing catch by Ford put us in range for Janikowski to kick once again in the intermittent rain.  Silence reigned until our reliable kicker put it through and then pandemonium! Celebrating with my fellow fans from all over the state and the world, we cheered in victory.  I think that game was the one that made me into a Raider fanatic.

Next Chief’s game, you can be sure I’ll be there fully prepared to celebrate another victory over this most hated rival of all!

SPECIAL EDIT:  Just for the sake of posterity, I’ve added commentary on the AFC Rivals from the notorious S.O.B. of Silver & Black Pride, the man knows what he is talking about!!!!

“When assessing a rival, several factors come into play; to name only a few: the teams players, fans, win/loss record against us

The Chiefs have been more belligerent and bellicose with respect to players, e.g. fights on the field, while the Bronco fans have been especially rude and derelict, e.g thrown batteries and beers at and against our beloved Raiders. However, the abject crudeness, gaucheness and lowness of the Chief fans is astonishing and sobering – as St. Augustin said, “There but for the grace of God go I.” Also, the Chiefs are the only divisional rival having a superior overall record against us; in fact, no other franchise in the league has been more successful against us than the little red men. The Chargers, on the other hand (3rd hand, as it were) are not so much hated as despised, especially since they’ve only enjoyed a certain level of prominence in recent times (albeit modest by Raider standards) after being perennially weak. Moreover, the StD fans are not only lukewarm fair-weather sorts but amongst the least informed fanbase in existence. Objectively, the Chiefs are our ultimate rival – based on a 50 year history that takes into account players and fans, Denver is second and San Diego third. However, because I like j-man so much, I’ve elevated StD into 2nd place and relegated Denver to 3rd.

“I did the (2010) draft. … I made a trade for Seymour. Gave up the first-rounder this year. I could tell you why. You may not think it was a good trade. I thought it was a great trade. Still do. [Al Davis 1/2011]

by Sons-of-Blanda on May 6, 2011 8:20 PM PDT”

The Al Davis Press Conference 2011

Oakland Raiders Al Davis

The media was a-twitter before the Raiders owner Al Davis’s press conference earlier this year.  People were asking what would he do? What outrageous things would he say? What crazy directions would his press conference take? How old and crusty would he look?

As a new fan, I had never seen one of these famous events, and I wondered what all the hype was about.

Well, I watched the whole thing and now I know. In all the football media I’ve consumed over the past 2 years, I’ve never seen anything like this.

He spoke with great knowledge of the game, and detailed information on the players. But it was more than just the information he imparted, he had those reporters in the palm of his hand. He’d forgotten more about football than everyone in that entire room had ever known.

More than anything else I was blown away by the way he spoke from the heart.  Normally in our sanitized, white washed media world, no one says what they mean. They just say what they are expected to say. The media crucifies anyone who dares to show their real feelings on screen.  Any other coach would do as they are expected and say “We wish Coach Cable well, and things just didn’t work out.”

Screw that.  Instead, Mr. Davis actually said how he felt. He put his heart on his sleeve and spoke as a real human being. Not a media product, not a polished, airbrushed, phoney TV personality. He said what he meant and he meant what he said. NO BULLSHIT!

In sports you must always spin things just right. Not Davis. It might be a New York thing, if you like someone you say it. If you fuckin hate someone, you say it. No need to do the California thing and be nice to everybody.  Al Davis is 100% genuine, authentic and real.  Like him or not, this man will tell you the truth.

I didn’t agree with firing Cable at the time, and airing out the dirty laundry was perhaps uncalled for. But looking back, I can’t imagine it any other way.  Al Davis has a passion and love for winning the game of football that has no excuses, no apologies and no vacation days.  Even from his wheelchair he’d haul off and punch you in the face if you questioned his commitment.  The man is real as hell and in our modern world of teleprompters, scripted announcements and plastic commentators, Mr. Davis is utterly one of a kind.

After watching him on TV, I realized sadly that a legendary man like this is the last of his breed. There won’t be any more owners who played the game, who are from the streets, who tell it like it is. Our world of infotainment doesn’t allow for dinosaurs like this, who come from the heart and put it all out for the world to see, damn the consequences. We are too cautious, too critical, too much nitpicking by scrawny necked TV twits.

Al Davis is already a legend in his own time. Agree with his decisions or not, Coach Davis is a throwback to another age when men were men. You won’t see his like again.

Rivals: The Denver Broncos

Oakland Raiders VS Denver Broncos

The Broncos have been rivals to the Raiders since day one, and like all the AFC West teams, have fought many hard battles against the silver and black.  Some might say the Broncos are the best of the AFC West, in that they’ve won the AFC Championship 6 times to the Raiders 5. However, in terms of Super Bowl wins, the Raiders hold the most, so that pretty much settles the case.  That said, the Broncos always bring a lot of passion to the game, and their fans have a deep hatred of our team, and rightfully so!After all the Raiders have crushed their hopes and dreams many times over the decades.

I read one anecdote that when John Madden started his TV career, his first game as announcer was in Denver. He kept wondering why the fans were so quiet, waiting for them to roar and scream like usual. He finally realized that he’d only ever been to Mile High as the Raiders coach, and that only the Raiders got death threats, constant boo’s, beers thrown and an utterly berzerk fan base…   Playing other teams, the Denver fans were pretty normal!  That says a lot about the heat of rivalry between the AFC West teams.

So far I’ve only seen three games on TV featuring Raiders and Broncos.  The first was when Jamarcus won (!?!?) at Denver, in a very hard fought and close game in 2009.  In 2010 I saw parts of the Mile High Massacre, which I’ve rewatched many times on youtube. This is the game when the 2010 Raiders came to life and saw the potential they had.  Crossing the goal line so many times, and getting a team record 59 points made us all realize that this team could become great. The second meeting with Denver in 2010 was the unveiling of Tebow, and when he made his first running touchdown right past Seymour and the guys, I admit I started to get nervous.  By the end of that game Tebow and the Broncos were put in their place with a solid beatdown and when the dust cleared their coach was fired, their fans were streaming out of the stadium, and the final nail was put in the Bronco’s coffin for the season.

The 2011 campaign should bring a new depth of hatred and spite toward the Oakland Raiders, and that’s just the way we like it! This could and should turn into a nice long streak of Raider wins for the next few years to come…

6 Rings for Steelers: Blame the Raiders

Oakland Raiders VS Pitsburgh Steelers

The Pittsburgh Steelers hold the record for victory in SuperBowls, having won 6 Lombardi trophies.  This is hard to accept for the die hard Raiders fan, whose team has battled the Steelers so many times in the post season.  But ultimately, it’s the Raiders who are to blame… It was up to Oakland to stop this yellow and black monster from bulldozing their way to the top, and our team failed when it was all on the line.  Despite their loss in the 2010 SuperBowl, the Steelers are still ruling the NFL, and it’s the Raiders who let it happen.

So many playoff and AFC Championship games could have gone the other way had Oakland been able to put it together. But for a few quirks of fate, it would be the Raiders with 6 trophies, not those hated Steelers.  The rest of the NFL can stand around and complain about the way Pittsburgh has risen, but for Raider fans it’s different. We know it was up to our team to stand in the way, and take that rightful prize, but the chances were blown and we have to live with the knowledge that it was all our own fault…

Last year’s meltdown in Pennsylvania, when the Raiders imploded during a horrible loss to the Steelers, hasn’t improved the picture.  Sure, our defensive leader Richard Seymour KO’ed their quarterback, but we ended up losing anyways.  It exposed the fact that Oakland was not quite ready for a playoff run, and showed what happens when an average team tries to climb up to the big leagues.

However, the lesson has been learned, and next year a more experienced, stronger and smarter Raiders squad will take the field.  And this time I look forward to seeing Pittsburgh in the playoffs once more, so that Oakland can set things right and demolish the Steelers once and for all!