Me and da Raiders

In 1969 John Madden became the head coach of the Oakland Raiders. That was the first year I adopted the team as my favorite. Over the next 10 years I became a staunch supporter of the Silver and Black, and I’ve stood by the team, through thick and thin, ever since (even when they deserted us and moved to that city down south).

You see, I fell in love with the likes of Daryle Lamonica, Fred Biletnikoff, Marv Hubbard, and George Blanda, with Joh Madden storming the sidelines. Then along came Ken Stabler, Raymond Chester, Pete Banaszak, Ray Guy, Cliff Branch, van Eeghen, Dave Casper, and Dave Dalby. We’ve had Jim Plunkett, Kenny King, Marcus Allen, Todd Chirstensen, Bo Jackson, Tim Brown, Howie Long, Matt Millen, Willie Brown, George Atkinson, Rich Gannon, Upshaw, Tatum, Matuszak, and so many more. Now we’ve got Mack, Carr, Cooper, and a future, for the first time in a decade and a half, that looks bright.

There has been the excitement of Al Davis defying the NFL, the Heidi Bowl, the Holy Roller, Ghost to the Post, the Immaculate Reception, Sea of Hands, and that damned Tuck Rule. And, you can’t forget all those games against the hated Broncos, Chiefs, and Chargers.

Oh, we’ve had some good coaches, and some not so good coaches. We had an owner who set the tone for the team in their heyday, and then rode the pony to death across the sands of a feeble mind. Now we’re saddled with his son—that man with the recognizable bowlcut.

I’ve suffered through the likes of Kerry Collins, Andrew Walter, JaMarcus Russell…oh, please let me forget the stinkers in our past.

During my first 10 years as a fan we won a Super Bowl, and would have won several more if it had not been for those damned Miami Dolphins and Pittsburgh Steelers. Those two teams had to go through our Men in Black to win their 30 pieces of gold and get their grubby hands on that beloved trophy. Oh, those were the days—having the youngest coach to lead his team to 100 wins, averaging 10+ wins a season (when the season was 14 games long) over a 10 year period, and building a fan base that is one of the strongest, and most feared, in all of the NFL. The Raiders were the first wildcard team to win a Super Bowl, the first to hire a woman executive, the first to hire a Black coach, and the first to hire a Latino coach—so many firsts. The Raiders are now the first team to desert a city twice.

Now has come a time for me to make a decision. When the Raiders moved back to Oakland in 1995 I made a statement to all who would listen. I would not tolerate the Raiders moving out of the Bay Area (specifically Oakland) again. If they did I would find another team to support. Well, that is easier said than done. I’ve been contemplating what I am going to do now that the Raiders are moving to Lost Wages. Should I step up and defend my promise to myself, or eat my words, and continue to support a team that does not appear to support its fans?

I’ve agonized over this dilemma I’ve put myself in, but now I’ve finally come to a decision. Marc Davis has made it very clear that he is more concerned about the almighty dollar (the apple does not fall far from the tree) than he is about the fans who have supported his team for so many years. I can no longer stand behind a team that treats its fanbase in such a fashion. This is not the first time this organization has done this to its fans, however it is going to the be the last time it ever does this to this fan. The men that wear the silver and black are not to blame. They’re being used and abused as much, or more, than the fans. No, I will no longer support the team, however I will never blame the players, not in relation to this decision, anyway.

Now comes a time to consider a new team to follow. I’ve got 31 to choose from. No, I don’t. There are a few that will never get my support. Let’s see. Broncos, Chiefs, Chargers, Steelers, Dolphins, Cowboys, Seahawks, Patriots, damned I didn’t realize the list was so long. Eagles, Giants, Redskins, Packers, did I mention Cowboys? Oh, hell. Let’s just put all 32 of them in the pile. You see, I have also decided I will turn my attention to arenas other than the NFL. When an organization (meaning the NFL) favors forcing cities to pay for their monstrous workplaces (stadiums) instead of building their own it’s time for me to look elsewhere for entertainment.

Not all the teams have done what the Raiders just did, however the majority of the teams that get new stadiums do so by raping the taxpayers. Oh, they get tax money to pay for the majority of the building costs of erecting a structure that is used less then 100 days a year, and if/when they leave they leave behind debt (recently there has been St. Louis, San Diego, and Oakland).

Consider this. When Tesla went in search of a place to build a huge battery factory they did not get the benefit of the local government to pay for their building. They received favorable tax structures, sure, but funded the construction costs themselves. The company then put up a building that conducts business 365 days a year, and added many new jobs.

A new football stadium in the area generates few jobs. Oh, there are added jobs during the construction phase, but once the place is open for business there are very few permanent, full-time positions. The jobs are there when the events are there (100 or fewer a year), and temporary, or part-time, help is used at those times. The majority of full-time, high income, positions are filled before the team arrives in a new city. They bring their employees with them, not add them at their new home.

No, I can no longer support a sport when the owners demand so much from their team’s fans. Neither can I support a sport that allows their employees (players) to conduct themselves the way some of the players do and allow them to continue playing. Time and again we see players on the field that have broken the law, and conducted themselves contrary to league rules and continue to put on the uniform. As long as these men play at a high level they can pretty much get away with anything. Without getting into specifics you see men in uniform who have been linked to murder, child abuse, sexual abuse, spousal abuse, animal abuse/death, drug use, and gang activity to name a few crimes. Once again, it’s about the almighty dollar.

I can site other reasons not to follow the NFL—players who do not honor the contract they signed by threatening to sit out the season if they don’t get more money (you or I would quickly be replaced); players refusing to sign autographs; players refusing to talk to the media, and when they do they’ve got nothing positive to say. I can give you a few more reasons, but I think you get the picture. I stopped watching the NBA because of player conduct and attitude. The NFL just got in line.

So, it looks like I’ve got to find another outlet for my winter sports fix, to go along with hockey. I’m leaning towards college football. But, I can’t pick just any team. I might support the Cal Bears only because my son is a Trojan fan. That would lead to some good discussion when we get together. Or, I might follow a Division II school. I was a fan when I lived in Reno and attended UNR. They were in the upper echelon of Division II at the time. Or, most likely, high school football, a place where the players are playing for the love of the sport, and not with dollar signs occupying their minds.

Now I have another decision to make. The Silver and Black are in my past. I wonder what colors will occupy my future? The next year just might be an interesting one while I make a decision.