It's an election year in the U.S., a year in which the nation divides to take sides and vote for the new leaders of the country.
The NFL uses the colors red, white, and blue, and, if you look around the league, you'll find that as many as five teams also sport that combination of colors, while 14 others sport either red or blue. Let's face it, the NFL caters to national pride, but you can't get any more patriotic than to sport silver and black.
What is the one word used to describe by every immigrant from the 1600s to now as reason to immigrate here? Freedom.
From all accounts, especially those from the great '70s teams, the Raiders have been known as the team with the fewest rules. Players within the organization have always been allowed to express themselves. You've never heard a story about team management forcing players to look or act a certain way.
To this day, the image remains with the Raiders. Even with the players over the past 15 years, you don't have to go far to find a fan of another team call out the Raiders for being a team of convicts. The fact is that the Raiders players have kept it pretty clean with the law while they were Raiders.
This legend that is the Raiders is part of what draws Raider Nation to the team.
No other fan base has the fare that you get by going to the Colliseum to catch a Raiders game. Freedom reigns in the Nation.
You have the Chuckie dolls, Darth Raider, Violator, Spike, and Gorilla Rilla sporting silver and black. No other team has fans as rabid and unique as the Raiders. There are all shapes, sizes, colors, and backgrounds who come together on those special days with only one requirment for acceptance—allegience to the silver and black.
I'm not saying that you have to be from the states or even live here to be included in this discussion, either.
The Raiders have fans spanning the globe from every continent and they all share the same qualities as the fan who grew up in Oakland and has season tickets—passion.
The Raiders were the first to broadcast in Spanish, Navajo, Chinese, Japanese, and Tagalog as well as creating sites for these languages, along with German. How can you get any more American than that?
The first team to have names for their individual fans, is also the first team to have a name for their fan base. It has become cliche' to call your fan base <insert nickname> Nation, i.e., Red Sox Nation, Yankee Nation, Hoosier Nation, etc... Get the point?
There really is only one nation, and that's Raider Nation.
The first to emulate this were 49er fans, probably due to proximity, with the moniker 49er Empire. Many in the Nation used to make fun of that, but, looking back on it now, at least they were creative enough not to use 'Nation.'
Even if you are a Denver fan, you've got to throw up in your mouth a little when you hear someone on ESPN say, "Bronco Nation." That's just not right no matter how you spin it.
Equality, thanks to Al Davis, who is one of the biggest themes of the Raiders. Just like the free-and-easy players from the beginning, anyone ever hired by Davis has only been required to produce results.
He has never cared what your race or gender is, and this is what a member of Raider Nation has always loved about the Raiders. The first black referee was hired by Davis when he was the AFL's commissioner.
The first black quarterback drafted in the first round, Davis again. The first black head coach, Art Shell—hired by Davis. The first Latino head coach was Tom Flores, yeah, you guessed it.
The first female executive is Amy Trask, and everyone knows who hired her, too. Like the U.S., if you work hard enough, have enough talent, and prove yourself, you can succeed in the Oakland Raiders' organization.
With the draft coming up, many stories will be made about the Raiders inability to draft good players. From the beginning, the Raiders have been known as a place for malcontents and troublemakers to go and thrive.
Davis always has immigrated players from other franchises. Recently, former first rounder William Joseph was signed.
A few years ago, Davis signed a guy named Derrick Burgess, and, this year, he has traded for DeAngelo Hall. Like the U.S., the Raiders have always been full of immigrants looking for a better career/life from the one they left behind.
This Fourth of July, don't bother looking for anything red, white, or blue.
Put that jersey on, don the facepaint and pads and proudly show off your patriotism, even if you live in another country.
Pride and poise are not the only marks associated with the Raiders—it's also a trait of being an American.