The life of a Raider fan is unlike any of the average NFL fan. To other NFL fans, football is usually nothing more than a luxury, a small form of entertainment. To the Raider Nation, the Silver and Black is a way of life.
The Oakland Raiders is the basis of our lives. The many philosophies of the Raiders militate our lives. Our passion will never be outmatched by another fanbase. Even in these years, when our team remains one of the worst in the league, we still fill the seats at McAfee Coliseum and we still provide our team with our never-ending loyalty.
My life as a Raider Fan began when I was around 15 years old. Many die-hard NFL fans will tell you that they followed their team the minute they first saw them play on TV. However, my story did not happen that way. I first began to watch football around the age of 12. The Raiders, though I have stayed with them for seven years, were not my first team.
Many Raider fans may find this controversial, but I unfortunately began my football fan life cheering for one of the public enemies of the Silver and Black. I was born in San Diego, and I was raised in San Clemente, which is an hour away from Daygo. In addition, my father was a huge San Diego Chargers fan. So, in turn, his desire was for me to be one as well. As a result, unfortunately, for the first two or three years of my fan-life, I was a Charger fan.
By the way, any Raider fan reading this will immediately stop and say, "Then he's not a real Raider fan!" I would simply like to point out that my short tenure with the Chargers occured when I was young and did not follow football as closely as I do now, nor did I have a mind of my own. In addition, though many of you may not be aware of this, Spike and Howie, two quite popular Raider fans, were raised as 49ers fans throughout their childhood.
Now, back to the story. There were many events and realizations that drew me to the Silver and Black. One of these events was a Chargers-Raiders game that I attended with my father in San Diego. I clearly remember that day. Though the game was played in Qualcomm Stadium, I literally felt like we were in Oakland, as there were massive waves of black jerseys in the stadium that day. Raider fans outnumbered the Charger fans by about 2 to 1.
When I saw how the Charger fans were outnumbered in their own house, that made me question their loyalty a great deal. In addition, I couldn't help but admire the courage and perserverence of the Raider fans. Even though their team was down by double digit points during the game, the Raider fans still refused to back down from or take any crap from any Charger fan that day. It was that day that I first witnessed the passion of the Raider Nation.
After studying the Raiders and trying to acquire a feel for them, I was overtaken by the greatness of the Silver and Black. Commitment to Excellence was exemplified in everything the Raiders did. Whether it was their three Super Bowl wins, the iron-fisted general Al Davis, or the loyalty of the Raider Nation, the Silver and Black had one of the proudest franchises in sports.
Along with that, another thing that prompted me to become a Raider fan was the philosophy of the Raiders. As Raiders, we have always maintained the mentality that we are different from the rest of the NFL. We are the misfits, the most hated and misunderstood team in the league. And if any team claims to not like us, we promptly give them the finger and let it be known that we could care less what everybody else thinks of us.
I used to read stories of how during the 1970s and 80s, when the Raiders won their three Super Bowls, Al Davis used to take players who were considered misfits, castoffs, underachievers, etc., and turn them into Pro-Bowl caliber, world-class players.
I felt that I fit that misfit mold perfectly. Going through middle school and high school, I was more of a social misfit than anything else. Though I had a few friends, I was still quite shy and had numerous social problems growing up. At times, much like the Raiders, I felt like it was me against everybody else.
Though I am fine now, it was that which compelled me to become a Raider more than anything else. I found that I was very much like the Raiders: a bunch of misunderstood misfits who were fighting a battle against the rest of the universe.
So, at the age of 15, I officially switched to the Silver and Black. I am now 22 years old and I am still with team, and plan on staying a Raider fan for the remainder of my life.
In my years with the Raiders, they have taught me several important things. They taught me that no matter who you are or who your opponent is, you need not take any crap from anybody. If somebody wants to fight you, you walk up to that person and bust them in the mouth.
The Raiders taught me how to deal with haters. They taught me to focus solely on what you want to do with your life, and to ignore anyone who hates or dislikes you. If anybody claims that they have a problem with the way you live your life, simply give them the finger and move on.
The Oakland Raiders changed and transformed my life, and the way I perceived the world as well as myself. I am proud to say that I am a member of the Raider Nation, the fanbase that will never die.
As a last message to my Raider brothers and sisters, I urge you all to keep your pride and poise. In these difficult times, it is almost unbearable to watch our team play nowadays. However, we mustn't stop cheering for our team. Our team needs our support now more than ever, and we will be there to provide it to them.