Thursday, November 15, 2007

An Ode to The Nation

Have you ever had something weighing on your mind, getting you down, to the point of depression—only to suddenly wake up one morning with a clear head and fresh perspective?

Maybe it's a brilliant sunrise, or a breath of fresh dewy air, or the laughter of a child. Whatever the trigger, your sorrows fade, replaced by the redemptive knowledge that some things are just beyond your control, which ironically enhances your sense of freedom. And you realize that no matter how bad things get, God’s magnificent green earth will be forever yours to behold and enjoy.

If you can relate, then you know how I felt last Sunday.

The day got off to a surprising start when Cousin of Raider Take and I went to Safeway to grab some tailgating grub. As my receipt printed, the checker informed me that I’d been randomly selected to win an iPod Shuffle—a silver one, no less. Who knew that buying beer could be so rewarding? Alas, I also mistook it as an imminent sign of victory.

At our tailgate, we met three folks who’d recently moved from Las Vegas to Rocklin. One of them was a diehard Raiders fan who was bonkers about being back in the relative orbit of Oakland. The other two, a couple, were Bears fans. The guy had an excuse, he grew up in Chicago, but he compared visiting the Coliseum to visiting Fenway Park in his quest for iconic sports experiences.

Dave (a.k.a. memdf, a frequent Raider Take contributor) stopped by with his wife and daughter, and they came bearing gifts, which was very cool. They came all the way from Chicago—but Dave is all about the Oakland Raiders. He literally oozes passion for the team and its legacy. He once met Mr. Davis in Kansas City. He helped remind me why, in the midst of this prolonged tailspin on the field, I am still so proud to be a Raiders fan.

Cousin of Raider Take has a sharp eye for photography, and a new camera to back it up. So off we went, on safari, documenting the various species of the Raider Nation, individual in expression yet united by a common genus known as the greatness of the Oakland Raiders. Some of his snapshots are included here for your viewing pleasure.

Later, as I beheld the curious sight of a Josh McCown pass fluttering to the ground like a wounded bird lost in the green wilderness, I still had a smile on my face. Apparently, I had come to the new-age conclusion that “it is the way it is.” I had been enlightened by the realization that no matter how many losses we suffer, the Raider Nation will never disappoint.

It is, indeed, comforting to behold such loyalty, tenacity and good vibes amid the worst of on-field times. Consider that with each mounting loss by the 49ers, the colors of red and gold vanish from the streets, and are now verging on extinction. The same will be said for Patriots blue and red when their run comes to an end.

But Silver and Black never fade. These colors are not a trendy garment nor a bandwagon, but rather a tattoo on the soul. Winning is still everything, but I've been joyously reminded that it's not the only thing.

37 Comments:

Anonymous Tokai Raider said...

Thank you, Raider Take, for your words of wisdom. I spent the last 2 years in Japan, enjoying my time there but missing Sundays in the Nation.

While Art Shell worked his magic, I heard that the shine had faded a bit on the tailgates, but I have yet to be disappointed. Off the field, that is. On the field is another story.

Our team's struggles have been well documented, but the tailgates remain righteous. I've spent Sunday mornings chatting with fans from across the league and across the globe, meeting Cliff Branch and John Vella, sharing this experience with my kids, and having the time of my life. There's something special about the tailgates, the bonding over beer and meat. It's like no other place.

If fans of the Lions, the Texans, the Browns, and the Bears can schlep their asses across the country to root for losing teams, then at least we'll always have brothers to share beers with.

It's all good. It's sad that Faida-man doesn't get it. I pity him.

11:12 PM  
Blogger Leighraider said...

Sums up just what we were feeling on our trip the last two weeks in Oakland.Two games, two losses, but the Nation never fails, the welcome never diminishes and the true sense of togetherness prevails.Looks like you have found yourself another 49er literary genius too Sean.For the man in Pink and Gold, we know our team is bad, and we know the 49ers just got blanked, but this is about how the Nation does it every Sunday, every year, because its more than what happens on the field.We've been to Candlestick, and it is a tailgate in name, but in name only.What we do in Oakland is beyond you, and always will be.

1:54 AM  
Anonymous H said...

Amen!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

5:43 AM  
Anonymous Raider Nate 75 said...

RT, totally understand on the post. The last Raider game I've been to was in Houston against the Texans after Gannon was injured. Little did I realize that game was the beginning to where we are now.
I'm wearing my Raiders gear today, like I do every Friday at work during football season. The Cowboy/Longhorn fans here in Austin, like to rub it in a little that we are sitting pretty at 2 wins. I ask them a simple question, "Were you a Cowboys fan during Jimmy Johnson's and Troy Aikman's first year at QB?" The majority of them say, "That's when they started winning, so yes, I was a fan." I go on to remind them that Johnson's and Aikman's first year at HC and QB, they went 1-15, and then proceed to call them for what they are, bandwagon fans. There have been only 3 Cowboys fans that I've met, who tell me about that year, and how they went to every game, and the horror they felt about the future of the team.
I know how they feel. It's funny how everyone claims that the Raiders were no good from '83 until Shell's first stint, then went into the crapper again until Gruden. Couldn't be far from the truth. It wasn't until 1987 that we didn't make the playoffs in the '80s. Then 89-92, we were in the playoffs. Then the drought hit until 00-01 season, but we did have good teams from '95 until through Gruden. The reason we didn't make the playoffs before then was due to injuries. Remember 95 and 06 we lost Hostettler in mid season. In 95, we were 6-2 when we lost Hos, and ended 8-8. 96 and 97 were similar stories with Hos and Jeff George, and when they went down, we ended 8-8.
Yes, these have been the hardest 5 years as a Raider fan in my life. But you know what, I'm still wearing and supporting my team with the same pride as if they were in first place. Yes I complain, and have felt a loss of hope this season; but I am still loyal to them. That's more than what most fans can say (the only other fan remotely as loyal as Raiders fans are the Cleveland Browns' fans).
We may be going through the rough winter seas, but it won't be winter for long. The pieces are falling into place, and we're setting a new course.

6:53 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Oddly enough I find myself to be more into the Raiders when they're losing. I guess because there is more to fix, and it's clear to me that the decision makers in Alameda listen to the fans' opinions of how to get it back on track.

There is a loyalty to the fans that you won't find anywhere else, and in return there is a loyalty to the franchise which never fades. Sure, we get pissed off and call for heads to roll. Some even call for Al's head, the guy who provided us with this opportunity to be part of something unique in sports.

But it's all good in the end. We're all going to have one big party when this thing gets back. And 5 years of non-partying is a lot of partying to get out of our systems when the time comes. I might die of alcohol poisoning, but at least we'll be winning.

Psycho

7:21 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I am glad you are back RT!

At the end of the day, it is what it is and like Blanda said, we are paying customers but it is not a must and we do it because we love to do it, we are not forced to be a part of this madness, I am so stressed that I won't watch this game on Sunday that it is pathetic, but at the end of the day to me it's a life style and although I would love for us to never loose a game, I would hate it even more if for some reason I wouldn't be able to watch a game.

raiderdecoachella

8:23 AM  
Anonymous memdf said...

RT-
Thanks for the props. As I told you at the game on Sunday. You would think that the Raiders were going to the SB by the celebration and tailgating before the game.

Over the past few years there have been many feable attempts at nation building; red sox nation, sports nation, live nation, even chefs nation.

There is only one nation.
Our nation.
The RAIDER NATION.

8:25 AM  
Blogger BlandaRocked said...

Take, absolutely magnificent!!!

With all of our differences of opion over the last couple of weeks, you are, Sir, my Raider Brother. A lost brother I have never met, but I hope to one day soon. And the same for you all.

And Raider Nate, great, great post. I have similar memories of 49er fans. Having been a 49er fan until about their 3rd Super Bowl, I know almost as much 9er history as Raider history. I have yet to find a 49er fan who can tell me who the QB before Montana was - even while Montana was still the QB.

memdf, we ARE the only true NATION of fans, but we are far more. Our brothers and sisters are of every color, code and creed. The Raider fan base is world wide. The Raider colors are recognized the world over, and they always come back to the fans (Take's new iPod). Searching through e-Bay, I stumbled accross a 1988 Mercedes 560SL up for bid. Few seemed to notice it, and I won the bid for a rediculously low price (and I'm really talking rediculous!). It's in fabulous shape, only about one tick short of pristine. It's colors, my brothers and sisters, are black with chrome (silver) trim. A Raider shield on it somewhere would make it perfect.

For actual business, one of the things I love about this current coaching staff is that if we can get someone in the media to ask our questions, the coaches will provide the answers (whether we agree with them or not). Asked why he doesn't blitz more, Ryan says:

“We have four great defensive linemen, so you can send everybody you want but, right now, one thing you guys all know, on third-and-3 to 10, we're the No. 1 defense in the NFL. So, you can send anybody you want, but when you’ve got four great rushers you, generally, like to send them, let them do their job and let our pass defense, which is usually one of the best in the league, go to work.”

Always remember, if you are a member of The Raider Nation, there is no such thing as losing.

8:49 AM  
Blogger BlandaRocked said...

According to Lechler, the reason for his and Jano's success this season is that they are simply being trusted to do their job, and are respected.

According to Kiffin, "Some players you simply have to leave alone."

9:18 AM  
Anonymous H said...

Blandarocked,

If that's Ryan's reasoning, then by blitzing only one additional player would almost insure a sack.

Take,

In the end, we don't bandwagon. We, as fans, don't dissappear. We support our team through good and bad. With us it's Halloween and Christmas every Sunday in the Fall.

I will be out of town this Sunday, but I will be seeking out a bar in Harrisonburg, Virginia for viewing. As a backup I will set my DVD recorder.

My glass had fallen to 54.1% full, but with Culpepper back in and Russell waiting in the wings I'm back over 60.

But, if the unwanted happens this Sunday, the sun will still rise on Monday and I will still be a fan.

H

9:25 AM  
Anonymous LK said...

RT-
excellent perspective...while the team rights itself, the Nation endures.

Cousin of RT has an eye for talent, especially the young lady with the tig bitties.

9:52 AM  
Anonymous horsecollarjack said...

RT, you rule. Seriously. This is the kind of writing that local hacks wish they were capable of. RT for Blog of the Year!

10:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Blanda - Do you know if this is true? Did some egotistical a-hole take over the 9ers in the 70's and "destroy" all of their existing history? I heard they lost a lot of stuff from their HQ. Kinda like ancient Egyptians destroying stone carvings of previous kings to make themselves appear more powerful.

See, that kind of thing would never happen to us. Even if Alameda burned to the ground we would pass the Raiders true history onto our kids. And they don't even know who the QB before Montana was. While average fans like you or I can say we drafted Eldridge Dickey in the 1st Rd the same year we got Stabler, which was like 10 years before I was born.

I'd like to see what Patsie boy knows about the pre-Belicheat NE history.

Psycho

10:09 AM  
Blogger Doobie said...

Sorry I haven't been around much recently (work and family), but here's something that I noticed which I'm not sure anyone else has...the lack of Al Davis.

Usually at this depressing time of the year, the press would be all over Al. He's down on the sidelines talking with the players before the game, he's too intrusive, he's the root of all evil. This year? Nothing. Could it be he's successfully removed himself from the limelight? If so, why? Is he in poor health? Or could it be that with the recent regime change in which he's cast off the "good old boys" (Biletnikoff, etc.), the press is now seeing Kiffin as the leader of the team as opposed to the dark imposing visage that they see as Al Davis?

10:35 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Bama7
RT, nice job.
Blanda: I read Caveman's quote on blitzing too and almost threw up. How can this guy brag about his front 4 when they are part of a unit that is 29th in the nfl against the rush. That same unit is 22 in sacks. Our unit is BY FAR not a GREAT unit. If Caveman is proud of his front 4 with those stats then we need a new DC. Ryan makes no sense. What game has he been watching? Everytime the opposing team has needed to score, they have. It's well documented. Yet Ryan talks as if he has some fearsome front 4. Sickening.

11:03 AM  
Blogger BlandaRocked said...

Psycho:

Don't know about the history destruction, but the "fans" seem to have done it all on their own. No memory of DeBerg, Plunkett (who the blamed the team troubles on) or even Brodie. Sad people, 49er fans. Here's a name they'll never remember - Scott Bull.

Doobie, according to Kiff, Davis hasn't been around since camp. Actually, I think that's way it's been with Al since Gruden.

Odd, isn't it, Bama7? Last week they did blitz and kept the Bears on their heels except for one play. The Bears succeeded in the one play because, while the Raiders ran a late blitz, Sapp was held (no call on the obvious penalty) so Grossman could get the pass off.

11:30 AM  
Anonymous memdf said...

Doobie-
Funny you should ask. In Jerry McDonald's blog Wednesday:

Interesting response to the Minnesota media by Kiffin regarding his interaction with Al Davis during the season.

"We have more interaction in the offseason, free agency and draft preparation, but he leaves me alone for the most part during the season because obviously there is so much to do," Kiffin said.

11:35 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Bama7
Blanda, blitzing is just PART of the problem.
Blanda, you said "Doobie, according to Kiff, Davis hasn't been around since camp. Actually, I think that's way it's been with Al since Gruden"
You cherry pick info brother... Kiff made mention of the fact that Al plays a part in the draft & FA selections. So, it's not like he just lays low and does nothing.

11:47 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Blanda:

You want answers from the team, Nancy Gay actually told me that if we want answers from the team, she can actually ask those questions to the team and hopefully get a response for us!

raiderdecoachella

12:11 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Yeah, but by the time Nancy translates the teams' response into a report it's all twisted in with hate and speculation on her part. What a B.

I got into it with Phil Barber this morning over this article:

http://raiders.pressdemocrat.com/default.asp?item=700127

Bama, was that you in the comments section? I started as "Raider Fan" and it turned into e-mails. He gave up.

As usual I get the typical hater response along the line of "Do you visit the locker room after games? Do you attend every press conference?" I get the same crap when I mess with Nancy Gay or other haters.

Psycho

12:40 PM  
Blogger BlandaRocked said...

Bama7, I never said Al took no part in draft and free agent decisions. I said that he didn't make all of the choices on his own, rejecting the recommends of the coaching staff. If you think that the guy who holds the money on other teams plays no part in how he's going to spend that money, especially if he employs a GM, you're smokin' somethin'. Every owner has final approval because he writes the checks and it's his signature, or a signature he authorizes, that goes on the contracts. And I'm sure that Davis is very strong about his opinions in meetings discussing these matters because he's a former coach. But I do not believe he dictates his choices, nor do I believe he runs the team on the field from the owners' box.

raiderdecoachella, don't get me started on the lazy, know nothing, Nancy Gay. I haven't seen her anywhere around the Raiders since before camp. I wonder if she got laughed out of the business when she reported that Kiffin was going to release every player over the age of 30 because he was insecure about his youth.

12:42 PM  
Anonymous raider00 said...

We have 4 great defensive linemen ????

Where ? Who ?
Why haven't I heard about them ?

This is great news.
I hope the Raiders will suit these "stars" up, amd let them play in a game one of these Sunday's.

1:46 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Tyler Brayton, Leon Hall, Chester "The Molester" Mclockton and Darrell "Lets video tape it" Russell.

Psycho

2:13 PM  
Blogger BlandaRocked said...

I always thought that the nickname given to Chester Mclocton by the coaches was the most accurate...

"First & five."

2:22 PM  
Blogger nyraider said...

Been on the road for several days, only to find the most refreshing blog by RT upon my return. So what if we're all in denial.

I do believe! I do believe! I do believe!

GO RAIDERS!

3:53 PM  
Blogger BlandaRocked said...

According to Profootballtalk.com, Javon Kearse could be available in the off season because Philly believes he's a free agent bust. They have no sympathy for the fact that he's been off knee surgery for a very short time, and since he's a little undersized needs all available tools for leverage.

I don't know if he's really on a downhill spiral or not, but back in the day this was the kind of pick up Al Davis was famous for.

4:57 PM  
Blogger BlandaRocked said...

Wow, I just thought a little more about that.

LE Kearse
DT Kelly
DT Sands/Warren
RE Burgess

Ooo...

4:59 PM  
Blogger Calico Jack said...

Excellent commentary and photos RT!

Downloading "Hells Bells" on your new iPod seems fitting.

I find it quite comforting to know that no matter how bad the team performs on the field, there is always a huge contingent of die hard, loyal Raider fans that simply won't abandon ship at any cost.

Kiffin has an enourmous rebuilding job in front of him. Russell will have pressure filled challenges to take on. This team needs a major overhaul. We are staring down another 2 & 14 season. And you know what I say to all of that? Fine! I'll deal with it since I'm not going anywhere. I'm in for life and lovin' it!

Silver & Black Forever!

6:28 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Patriots fan here.........


I don't know how you can say that Patriots fans are fair weather. You honestly think the Blue and Red is going to dissappear when this dynasty is over? I think not. Remember, we lived through the 5-11 season in 1989 followed by the 1-15 season in 1990. After that, who could forget our savior Dick MacPherson, the pride of Syracuse, as he led us to a 6-10 record in his first season in 1991? Boy that was a fun year. I still have nightmare flashbacks about Hugh Millen at QB. How about 1992, when we went 2-14? You know there was a reason we got Drew Bledsoe in 93 and that was because of that stellar 2-14 record.

My point is, the Patriots and their loyal fans are being rewarded for their loyalty to the team. You think we have not suffered through years of misery? Well we have my friend. We are not fair weather, we are not bandwaggoners. Just like the Raider fan base, the Patriots fan base are here for life! We are going 16-0 this year, but I would still be going to every game even if we traded records with Miami. It is what it is.

7:02 PM  
Blogger Calico Jack said...

The "blue and red" ... Yeah, right! What a sham. First the "Red Sox Nation" now the "blue and red". How pathetic can you get? What the Patsies need to do is go back to the logo of the gay QB grabbing the balls of the center. Go find you own GD team forum/site/blog and get a F'N life.

9:34 PM  
Blogger nyraider said...

Not to disturb the great vibe, but I have a feeling the Vikings may give the Raiders fits this week.

Talyor will replace Peterson at RB, but was their featured back last season with approx. 1,200 yards.

Jackson will play QB and gave us problems before with his quick feet and ability to run.

The Vikings have pro bowl players on both lines.

We will need to attack their perimeter out of the backfield. Kiffin should use Fargas' speed side to side, something we should have done more of last week, but didn't.

Also, get Rhodes in the game. Find a way to get him the ball and give Fargas a rest.

Our passing game is bad, and every team in the NFL knows it. We don't have a QB and our receivers are marginal at best.

Culpepper needs to play smart and protect the ball. One or two early bombs down field should keep the Vikings' D honest. Otherwise, look for them to stack the box, like every team we've played.

Walter will be the #2 QB. It really doesn't matter what we do at QB. Until Russell is ready and we can provide him protection and a corp of receivers to throw the ball to, we can expect to see much of the same sh*t we've been watching.

Buckle up fellas, and remember to remove all loose objects from the TV viewing area.

5:57 AM  
Blogger Calico Jack said...

One more thing Patsie Boy ...

Let me guess, the south end zone at Gillette Stadium is called "The Blue Hole".

9:21 AM  
Anonymous memdf said...

CJ-

Good one. I also love the rich tradition of the lighthouse.

11:14 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Losing 56 games over the last 5 seasons has made Calico Jack quite testy!

1:59 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

VIKES will shutdown any attempt the Raiders have of running.
So whats next...besides Culpepper fumbling a half dozen times. Well he could throw the ball...but will he have time against the blitz??
Or who will he throw it too? Nobody at WR seems to like to get open. Sounds like a sticky situation. I say we will go 2-8.

Now that being said, it feels better knowing we will lose before it happens so I am not so FREAKING UPSET at the poor play of our offense.
Al and gang have made very poor roster decisions last few years and it will take a few years to clean house.

9:21 PM  
Blogger Raider Take said...

I've got you right where I want you, Faida Boy: watching every second of the Raiders game and live blogging about it.

I was thinking of getting a pet monkey to train, but now I've got you, so I don't need one.

10:45 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

At the end of this season the Raiders will have lost a total of 70 games since the Stupor Bowl in San Diego! That has to be a record.

1:28 PM  

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