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!

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About theoaklandraiders

Oakland Raiders fan since mid 2009, when I noticed the Raiders on TV during a visit to my wife's family in Ohio. By the end of the game versus the Bengals I had become a fanatical fan and haven't missed a game since... View all posts by theoaklandraiders

4 responses to “Raiders Mystique

  • Phil Fitch

    I was apart of Raider Nation in the 60’s, 70’s and early 80’s in Oakland. I went to the games with my father in the 60’s all the way up to the mid 70’s, til I came of age to go with my friends in 74. Yes, going to the Raiders games were nothing short of attending a hell’s angels convention or a black panthers party. People could think how could that be? how could two different groups of people being so far apart in so many different way be in one place at the same time without murdering each other?

    Yes, we had are difference on the streets, but once we all entered the gates at the Oakland coliseum we became Raider Nation, one big family. We put are differences aside and partied in the parking lot and raised hell come game time. It was a site to see, and it’s still like that in Oakland today to some degree. Back then it wasn’t called Raider Nation, but it was a Nation indeed.

    I can walk up to any Raiders fans and strike up a conversion no mater what color, creed or race from all walks of life. And they got your back as well. Much love you my Raider brothers. Being apart of Raider Nation is just not about being a football fan, it’s away of life. Once a Raider always a Raider, player fan or owner. And we defend are house!!!!!

  • theoaklandraiders

    Thanks so much for this comment Phil!
    I love to hear about Oakland in the 1960’s and 70’s, it was a very unique time in history.
    Going to the game these days is much as you put it here, so much love between all the fellow Raiders fans, and instant connection between people of all different kinds.
    Oakland is a special place in many ways, and I’m glad to call it home.

  • PackerNation

    Having been to Packer road games in both Oakland and SF, I felt much more welcome at the Coliseum than I did at Candlestick/3-Com/whatever it’s called now.

    Hard not to love the Raiders when you watch the old NFL Films footage–NFL Films loved the mighty Pack and they loved the Raiders, too–two teams with an intriguing story to tell. I always love it when the blue-collar Raiders send the gold-laden 49ers home with a loss! AFC: Go Raiders; NFC: Go Pack!

    • theoaklandraiders

      Awesome, I’d love to see the Pack v Raiders here at home someday! Their upcoming meeting in 2011 is going to be a rough one for the Raiders, they are the underdog, no question. But it will be a good game to test their skill and learn some lessons from the world champs. And with some luck who knows what might just happen on that given Sunday!!!!

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