Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Being A Raiders Fan

In the comments section of the previous take, Oaktown Blues threw down a challenge, asking: Why are you a Raider Fan, and what is one thing that could cause you to not be. Best answer gets a really nice Raiders jersey, I'm not kidding.

I answered: Because I am, and never. 

He replied that the response was weak, and said he's digging for more. I don't know what he's driving at, but it got me thinking, so following is my reply. I thought it might be a good topic for all of us to consider and share, if only to spare us from wallowing in the doldrums of this lost season. So here's my take, and I'd like to know yours:

Oaktown Blues, are you trying to get us to say it's the uniforms? In the famous words of Seinfeld, we are rooting for "laundry?"

The uniforms are definitely part of it, but it's hard to extract the emotional connection to the uniforms from the larger experience of being a fanatic. I'm sure there are Eagles fans, Bills fans, etc. for whom those uniforms exert a certain primal pull.

I grew up in a Raiders household, dad and older brother screaming at the TV, Stabler sauntering up to the line (Search YouTube for the Sea of Hands, there's a 15 minute special there, and Stabler just looks so badass as he walks to the line on that final play, slowly, deliberately, calm....), Al Davis sneering, Madden gesticulating...

Everything grabbed me, not just the uniforms, but the sense of household bonding that watching Raiders brought, the renegade nature of the team, and the perpetual drama, the incredible seasons that more often than not ended in disappointment (as dominant as they were in the 70s, they only went to one Super Bowl in that decade).

Other fans have their own infinite variants on my story. Something grabbed them and won't let go. Their favorite team becomes something larger than a team. It becomes a fond memory and a future promise, a bonding mechanism for family and friends, a point of escapism from the pressures of a job, responsibilities, etc. In time, the experience spans decades and generations, as it has done for me.

To this day, and most recently last Thursday night, I just can't reconcile the uniform with the performance. I see the silver and black, "the silver hats about their heads," and expect them to hit people. Yet there's Giordano, flying around in empty spaces doing a remarkable Stuart Schweigert impersonation. I'll never be able to get used it, even though I've been watching it for 10 straight years.

So why am I a fan of the Raiders? Like I said, because I am.


Anonymous JONES said...

Damn Take, why are you giving this patriot bozo the time of day? Anyone dumb enough to give this freak an address to "send a jersey" would have to be very naive. This guy is like a virus, don't spread it around. As far as being a Raider fan...it's like asking someone why they love their wife....that's between them.

OTB, go into Oakland and parade around in your patriots jersey, asking people why they are Raider fans. Tell them you will "give them the jersey" if they satisfy your warped little mind. Then tell us how it went, would love to know.


10:18 AM  
Anonymous memdf said...

My father thought the NFL was boring and began to watch AFL games. More passing, more scoring, more wide open.

We had a black and white tv in the kitchen and ate dinner with games on. This game happened to be the Chiefs and the Raiders. The date was November 1st, 1970. I watched two teams fight back and forth with great passion. I remember noticing the lights from the stadium glistening off the beautiful silver helmets. Then I saw Ben Davidson somersault onto Len Dawson, the benches emptied and the announcers went wild. So did I. I remember how cool Ben Davidson looked with his moustache and long black warm up coat on the sideline thinking, "he looks like a pirate."
Blanda kicks a FG to tie the game. Holy Toledo - I was hooked.

Hundreds of games later -
I still get a chill when I see the sun going down, lights glisten off the helmets and still think there will always be enough time for a miracle. Just like that afternoon back in 1970.

That's why I am a Raider fan and NEVER is the answer to part two.

10:57 AM  
Anonymous memdf said...

I would love to share pictures of my basement with my fellow Takers. Please email me at memdf2004@gmail.

10:59 AM  
Anonymous tinfoil said...

Take is Right.
Why, after all these years of fruitless hoping, are we Raiders Fans?

For me it's easy: I Am What I am.

From 1967 when they lost to Packers in Super 2, they went 10 years, 8 AFL/AFC title games, and won only one of them-1976 Super Bowl 11.

I was (and still am) hooked.

I am a fan of underdogs - and in the early days the Raiders (and the entire AFL) were super underdogs.

I liked that AD forced the merger with the stuffy NFL.

I liked that AD told his early AFL union reps to make sure they got benefits, insurance and retirement.

I liked that AD basically earned what he got and was not given a free ride or new toy/team.

I liked Davis civil rights stances: drafting out of small black schools, minority coaches and even the first woman (not married into it) to run a major sports team.

For my funeral I've given my wife the Autum Wind is a Raider on dvd. She'll play it, then get onto the ceremony.

Far as I concerned, the Raiders earned my fandom.


11:16 AM  
Blogger OakTownBlues said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

12:51 PM  
Anonymous tinfoil said...

And let's not forget the litany of bad/weird calls that kept us from the Holy Grail.

NFL Ch did a 1 hour show on the 10 most controversial plays in NFL history. One half of them involved the Raiders. And the top two were the Immeculate Reception and The Tuck Rule.

As far as what it would take to make me not a Raiders fan - death, my own that is.

12:57 PM  
Blogger Raider Take said...

Great stories and memories! That's what I was hoping for, keep 'em coming.

memdf, send some to me and I'll post them on RaiderTake.com!

2:16 PM  
Blogger OakTownBlues said...

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3:31 PM  
Blogger Calico Jack said...

I was born in the early 60's and during my most impressionable years (1970-1979) as a young sports loving enthusiast, the Raiders winning ways, renedgade spirt, and colorful characters sucked me into the Nation vortex and wouldn't let go.

As decades have passed, the identification and memories associated with the Raiders has only grown -- sinking deeper and deeper roots into my pysche and ultimately fanaticism with the team.

Hard to articulate in words but in many ways the amount of time & money invested in obsessively following the Raiders has made it MY team. It is the equivalent of being a stake holder in an enterprise where you have given your blood, sweat, and tears chasing glory.

As far as the 2nd part of the question, my answer:

I, Calico Jack, take you, the Raiders to be my TEAM, to have and to hold from this day forward, for better or for worse, for richer, for poorer, in sickness and in health, to love and to cherish; from this day forward until death do us part.

6:25 PM  
Blogger nyraider said...

Great distraction, but unfortunate at the same time. I guess you know we’ve hit rock bottom when we’re discussing how we became Raiders fans 13 games into a season.

My fanaticism was not handed down. My brother was a staunch Vikings fan, and my father didn’t really have loyalty to any single team. He casually enjoyed football, and the occasional wager; particularly college bowl games.

As boring as it sounds, I was drawn to the uniforms, but also the renegade owner and his pirate players. When you’re a kid, bigger and tougher is always better. And that was the Al Davis way. When I became a fan for life back in the 70s, the Raiders personified Badasses!

That team is long gone, and this team is all that's left. But I'm still a fan.

Remeber too, there was a time when the Raiders were king of prime time... which then only consisted of Monday Night Football. Raiders had the best record on MNF, and carried the best winning percentage in all professional sports into the 80s.

I feel bad for new Raiders fans who never got to experience what made the Raiders who they are, or were.

6:26 PM  
Blogger OakTownBlues said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

8:09 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

People ask me all the time why I don't just switch to a different team. My answer is always the same: it's my sickness, a congenital disorder passed down from my grandfather to my mother to me. You can't change your DNA.

I remember a time when the Raiders won more than they lost. Although frustrating at times, they were always fun to watch. Any given Sunday I knew they could win.

I hope that someday this losing culture that has permeated the Raider organization fades away. I fear the longer it lasts the harder it will be to disappear. But I continue to have hope.

What is the one thing that will cause me to no longer be a fan? A major scientific breakthrough that actually makes it possible to change your DNA. Not going to happen in my lifetime.

8:35 PM  
Blogger Calico Jack said...

From the Shell II disaster to our current bottoming out, The last 10 years have been extremely difficult to swallow as a fan.

It is funny how the mind works sometimes. I figure that if I waited 10 long years, if/when we return to glory, it will be that much more sweeter to have not thrown in the towel.

Twisted yet but somehow justified by keeping the flame burning in our darkest hour.

9:47 PM  
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3:28 AM  
Anonymous Raider Nate 75 said...

I was 9 years old in 1983-84 season. After the Raiders took the Steelers in the Divisional Game and advanced to the AFC Championship against the Seahags; the Raiders had a press conference on the field.
My dad's company set up the canopies, tables, chairs, mics, podium, etc; and sent my dad to do it. He waited the whole day there to break everything down, and as he was doing that Al Davis came by and gave him 4 tickets to the AFC Championship game. That was my first NFL game. My dad loved the Raiders, and what Al did and that game made me love the Raiders.
The only thing that will change that is if the Raiders no longer exist; but even if that happened, I will always be a Raider fan first. Of all the sports, and all the different teams, the Raiders are my favorite team of them all.


7:26 AM  
Blogger OakTownBlues said...

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7:48 AM  
Blogger GGRaider said...

Being a Raider fan is emblematic of everything I love about sports and particularly football. Without getting too sociological, the concept of community is severely challenged these days. We no longer watch the same 3 TV networks, even our kids don't all listen to the same music. Our culture is increasingly diversified. There are many positives to all of this, but the down side is that we sadly are not nearly as connected to each other as we used to be. But when I go to a Raiders game, it's not just a chance to root for the team I've loved for forty years, but it's a chance to be connected for a few hours with Raider Nation, a community of people from all walks of life and ethnicities which reflect the wonderful diversity of the Bay Area, unified in the love of their team. There are few experiences like it in my life. It's Oakland and the greater East Bay in all its glory. I get the feeling that I used to get when I went to Oakland's Festival at The Lake - the feeling that you are in one of the most integrated communities in the country where everyone is represented. There's nothing like it anywhere else. To me, every game I attend is a celebration of that.

3:06 PM  
Blogger Raider Take said...

Awesome take, GG!

3:58 PM  
Blogger Calico Jack said...

I always have believed in hearing something from the person directly than relying on bogus rumors. Yes, this quote is for you, Gary.

From todays video conference with CP:

On coaching staff maintaining high standards: “Football is football. You’ve got to show up and work. This is a job; this is a profession. The coach is going to handle that situation however he feels is the best fit for the team. Whether you’re playing for the playoffs or not playing for the playoffs, we’re still trying to win. We’re still trying to get better, still trying to perfect the little things on offense and defense. Whatever repercussions happen to guys that aren’t giving it their all, those are the repercussions that you have to deal with. This team believes in Coach Allen and Coach Allen will handle any distractions or anything that’s not going the way he expects it to go. The rest of us are going to continue to grind and work.”

8:45 PM  
Blogger Raider Take said...

Great find, CJ!

Like I said two weeks ago: "The benefit of the doubt remains on the side of Mark Davis and Reggie McKenzie (and to a lesser degree, Dennis Allen). They may not get a full pass for this year's debacle, but we owe them time, and they will get it...Many of the players will not."

And a month ago: "The perpetual Christmas is over in Alameda. Don't buy a Raiders jersey right now, because you're going to see a lot of names on the discount rack next summer. There's no other path to take at this point."

10:21 PM  
Blogger nyraider said...

No question upgrading the roster and maintaining continuity in coaching is the right play for now; but when you hire a defensive-minded head coach and then your team leads the league in points allowed, it’s valid to question his ability to get the most out of the players he has.

IMO, the Raiders can’t just replace the roster and expect it to work. Coaching also will need to improve.

4:47 AM  
Blogger OakTownBlues said...

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7:48 AM  
Blogger OakTownBlues said...

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7:52 AM  
Blogger OakTownBlues said...

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9:53 PM  
Blogger OakTownBlues said...

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9:26 AM  
Blogger OakTownBlues said...

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9:27 AM  
Blogger OakTownBlues said...

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10:49 AM  
Blogger OakTownBlues said...

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10:59 AM  
Blogger OakTownBlues said...

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11:01 AM  
Blogger nyraider said...

These revelations go against what has been emphasized here as providing us with the most hope for next season.

From Steve Corkran:

“Knapp and defensive coordinator Jason Tarver said their schemes are sound, but they take time to implement and for the players to learn. Bringing back as many players as possible from this year’s team and giving them a year to adjust are going to pay huge dividends.”

“Knapp said his history in retooling offenses shows that players need a year or so to get acclimated but, once they’re up to speed, good things happen.”

“Tarver said. ‘It’s been good. With a year under our belts and keeping as many of these guys as we can, it’ll grow big time.’”

Of course, the players are echoing the same sentiment.

So while upgrades should be expected, some here might want to temper talk of house cleaning.

Seems the coaches believe the Raiders problems are simply a matter of continuity?

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