Monday, June 25, 2007

The Evil Empire Strikes Again

While Raider Take played truant over the past few weeks, and while the Raiders Haters were hedging their bets by giving the Raiders some preseason props in the wake of Coach Kiffin’s early results (remember, the Raiders and Al Davis are always dead…until, like clockwork, they rise again to smite the Raiders Haters), the Oakland Raiders hosted a golf tournament last week to benefit the Special Olympics of Northern California. The event raised more than $200,000.

Following is a partial transcript of an interview on Sirius NFL Radio between Jill Osur, Sr. Vice President of Special Olympics Northern California, and two Sirius hosts, including Pat Kirwin:

Jill: I’m a former athlete, and I love the Raiders. Artie Gigantino and I have known each other for many years. We approached the Raiders and said, ‘Your players have been supporting Special Olympics for years, so why don’t we formalize this partnership and do something special.’ People don’t realize that the Oakland Raider players are so philanthropic. We work with a lot of the Bay Area sports teams, and these athletes from the Raiders give more back than any other team, and people need to know that.

Siruis Host: People don’t understand that the Raider family is very tight knit, past and present. People go, ‘They’re dysfunctional, they’re this and that.’ Listen, it’s tough to win games in professional football, but when you look at the family structure and the way these guys all take care of each other, it’s pretty amazing.

Jill: It really is, and today is a great testament to that. We’ve got over 78 Raider legends and players, so every golf group that comes out is going to have a chance to play with some incredible legends. That just makes the experience so authentic that they’ll keep coming back. And when they get to hear our (Special Olympics) athletes speak tonight, and see our athletes on the course, they know that when they come out, even though they’re with the Raiders, they’re doing something that’s tremendous for our community. And it truly will make a difference.

Sirius’s Pat Kirwin: As you all mentioned the things the Raiders do, there are other teams that also do a lot. But I will say this: Al Davis is a unique person. I just know back here in the East, Al flies out the high school coaches of the year out here that are going to work at either Boomer Esiason’s charity game for cystic fibrosis or whatever…Al flies those guys out and makes them honorary Raider coaches for a couple of days. It’s those little subtle things. I think he takes a good look at the power of the Raiders as it relates to community affairs and the things Jill has going on, but I think he also cares a lot about the grassroots of football. I know they run their big camps there for the kids in Oakland, and it’s really kind of impressive. I think that often when we say 'the Raiders' nationally, some people want to give us a negative or some image of them that’s not true. And I don’t know that we praise Al Davis enough for the things he does that nobody knows about.

Those evil Oakland Raiders and their selfish, heartless boss. They’re as bad as their fans.

Wednesday, June 06, 2007

Raider Take's Believe It or Not

Let’s not pretend there’s a ton of news out there right now regarding our Raiders. Our roster is nearly set, but we can’t really test drive it until training camp. The reasons for optimism are plentiful yet unproven at this point. At the prompting of Pscyho, who spoke for many of us when he declared (in the Raider Take comments section) his anxious boredom with the lack of real news right now, I am inspired to roam beyond the Xs and Os in search of more curious storylines…

The Numbers Game
As you may have already heard, Jerry Porter put the brakes on his intended jersey switch from #84 to #81. Apparently, it was going to cost him $210,000 to reimburse the team and the league for pre-existing merchandise.

Porter said he’d rather spend the money on sports cars, which is certainly logical, yet nonetheless annoying coming from Mr. Doghouse.

Anyhow, this is what I found most strange about the story: “NFL spokesman Steve Alic said Porter could wait until next year, when the supply of unsold shirts would be depleted and the cost would be less, before making the change.”

Next year? How on earth are they going to deplete $210,000 worth of Jerry Porter jerseys within a year? How would you like to be a Jerry Porter Jersey Salesman right about now? That's a pretty rough gig.

Here’s my layaway plan for helping deplete the overstock of Jerry Porter jerseys: (1) Porter never wears the oversized dollar-sign belt again while ripping off the fans with disruptive behavior that undermines the team; (2) he lets his hands, not his piehole, do his talking for the entire 2007 season; (3) he then makes it through the next offseason and 2008 training camp without a diva event; (4) then maybe—just maybe—I consider buying Mini Take a little Jerry Porter jersey. Until then, it’s guys I know I can rely on, like Sapp and Asomugha.

Gathering Moss
Speaking of which, get your Randy Moss replica jersey—only $15 right now at the Raider Image. You can also get an authentic Moss jersey for $50. That’s not a bad deal if you can rip his name off and replace it with “Cole,” for Marquice Cole, an undrafted free agent cornerback who has inherited the number, and who actually appreciates the opportunity to play for the Raiders.

I declare myself the first member of the Marquice Cole fan club.

Fans for Life
One week after a Raiders fan was executed by the state of Arizona, another Raiders fan won the lottery in New Mexico. If you’re a Raiders fan in the desert, watch out—the silver-and-black space aliens are apparently working overtime right now.

Phillip Piña of Chama, New Mexico won a $62 million jackpot in the New Mexico state lottery the other day. According to the report: “A football fan who has been to a few Oakland Raiders games, Piña said he might be hitting all the team’s games this season.”

You think? Crikey, this dude can now afford his own private jet. He could rent out the entire Oakland Airport Hilton. He could even loan Jerry Porter enough money to get his coveted #81.

Phillip is a 57-year-old mechanic by trade. Couldn’t have happened to a cooler guy, as far as I can tell. Phillip, if you’re out there, please contact me. I want to buy you a beer.

On a more morbid note (thanks to Doobie for the initial tip), Robert Comer’s last words upon lethal injection last week were: “Go Raiders!”

Of course, the Raiders Haters had a lot of fun with that one, wielding it as yet another brick in the wall of Raider Nation stereotyping. Now, let’s get this out of the way right now: By all accounts, Mr. Comer committed some heinous crimes. No excuses.

Yet here we have a guy on the brink of death, and another living life to the fullest with a multimillion dollar windfall, and what are they both thinking about? The same thing as us: The Oakland Raiders.

Need I remind you that all of this comes after a 2-14 season and four straight losing seasons? If the Patriots or Chargers go 8-8, half of their “fans” disappear overnight. Steelers gear performed the ultimate vanishing act last year. Yet our fans are standing by their team no matter what the circumstances, from losing seasons to gas chambers, lottery windfalls to alien invasions, and everything in between.

To those who would paint us all as mere criminals: You can’t handle the truth. And the truth is passion, commitment and dedication. Those aren’t the hallmarks of criminals. They are the hallmarks of character.

Haiku: The Wait
Napa, so close yet
so far; is it September
yet? Tick, tock, tick, tock...