Boo My Player, My Team, My Owner, My City?
Let’s get one thing clear up front. I don’t have the right to speak for anyone but myself.
Like all of you, I have a point of view and an opinion. I admittedly will express an extremely biased and slanted opinion. The one thing you can count on from me is that I am all Raider to the core.
You may consider me a kool-aid drinking unwavering believer in the Organization. But that's ok because its true. I realize I am wired a certain way, but I'm okay with it.
If your Brother or Son, played in the NFL, would you ever Boo him?
What if he was not playing very well and in your mind, he didn’t work very hard?
Would you? Could you do it? Would it even ever cross your mind?
The answer would be no. Some of us consider our team an extension of Family.
My personal history of the Oakland Raiders.
I grew up going to games with my Dad, - another Raider to the core - in the late 70's.
We could barely afford rent, but he always had his season tix.
We didn’t have a whole lot of connectivity going on between my Dad and I but we did have this one thing. This one cool, "guy" thing, where a Father could connect with his son.
The Blue Collar City of Oakland was always considered second Class to the other city by the Bay, San Francisco. We did always have that one special Jewell to hang our hats on however, “the Raiders”.
As a kid growing up, all I knew was this is my town, my team and I was very proud of both. The Raiders brought pride to Oakland and we were proud of them.
Both I and my Dad were devastated when the Raiders moved to L.A. in 82. I think what really hurt the most was me (a 14 year old kid) watching how quietly devastated he was.
My little old Grandma somehow became one of the biggest Raider Fans I knew. She would get nervous for the Raiders at game-time and preferred to listen to Bill King announce the game on her transistor Radio than to watch on TV. Like me she seemed to live and die with every play.
In my mind, it just couldn't be true; the one thing that brought true joy to us was gone in a flash.
I immediately, began trying to convince anyone and everyone that they would be back.
I would say, "you watch, Al Davis will see just how loyal we were and they will be back".
I would even pray at night, pleading for the return.
I rooted for the L.A. Raiders from a far, but it was never the same. I was bitter and although I rooted for them I began my own personal boycott. I refused to buy or endorse anything L.A.Raiders. When I talked about them, the attitude was like a scorned Parent talking about their runaway kid.
As the years past, I never wavered. I kept it to myself now but I always felt there was an everlasting bond between the City, the Fans and the Raiders and AL Davis knew it. Al maintained his home in Piedmont (part of Oakland) even when they were in L.A.
In his heart of hearts, he knew what the Team meant to the City and the Fans. He knew he could always count on us being there when he needed us to be the 12th man.
Along the way, I realized just how much a privilege it was to have an NFL Team in my town that I loved and when they did come back, I would show how this would never be taken for granted.
In my mind, as the years went on, the Team began to change a bit in terms of Defensive toughness. Teams began to no longer fear the Raiders Defense. They were becoming soft. In my mind, Hollywood was just not the place to be if you wanted to maintain toughness and the Hollywood lifestyle was rubbing off on the Team. I believed AL knew this too.
Al took a shot with the Iwindale deal, but I didn’t think his heart was in it really.
As the other Team by the Bay went on their run to five Super Bowls, many so called Raider fans jumped ship. As they set sail over to what I considered public enemy number one, I stood my ground. How can anyone who was ever a "Raider", jump on that Bandwagon?
The simple answer is "they were never Raiders". In other words, they were never truly loyal so good riddance to them all!
13 long years later, when it was announced that the Raiders were coming back to Oakland, my heart just about jumped out of my body. I told myself and others, "I knew it!!", "I knew it!!". You don’t understand I really knew it!! No one I discussed this with really understood.
My dream became reality. The one person that made this happen was Al Davis.
Al Davis did something that no owner in sport history has ever done. He sensed this undying loyalty and brought the team back to where they belong, their Birthplace.
This one person who places the highest value of all values to this one concept, "Loyalty".
It's constantly preached throughout the Organization as a core value. Al Davis is very well known around the league to treat his ex-players very well due to it. Some ask, why keep these old guy coaches like Fred Bilentikoff, Art Shell and Willie Brown around for so long?
Why do ex-Raiders play huge roles within the Organizational Structure? It all comes back to that Core belief "Loyalty will win out in the end".
I believe in this too.
Every now and again you hear people say, “once a Raider always a Raider”.
There is a reason for this; it’s not just something you say.
You think I would ever Boo My Player, My Team, My Owner, My City?
You gotta be out of your mind.
Rest in peace Dad. We will be back!, We will be back!