I was recently thinking back to my first Raiders experience. What I remembered filled me with a certain melancholy I hadn't had in a long time.
It was Sept. 20 1976, I had turned 10 only weeks prior and was pretty excited that my Dad was going to let me stay up late to watch my first Monday night game.
I will confess. I was no football fan. I was more interested in my Big Wheel, G.I. Joe and the Goggin twins down the street, but the idea of staying up past my bedtime on a school night was like Christmas and my birthday rolled into one.
My Dad sat in his Archie Bunker chair—you know the one I'm talking about. That beat up old recliner that sat right in front of the 8ft x 8ft console T.V. on top of the most comfortable shag carpet ever made.
I grabbed my pillow from my room and found a spot right next to the old man. We were men and we were watching football.
I don't remember the specifics of the game, who scored first, who had X-amount of yards, but I do remember it was Oakland and Kansas City. I'll never forget how they looked on the sidelines. They looked like the meanest bunch of guys I had ever seen—banging their helmets together, the dirt and blood that covered their faces and uniforms.
Oakland won 24-21. I was hooked. All of a sudden being a Big wheel ridin' G.I. Joe wasn't the most important thing in the world. I wanted to be an Oakland Raider, I wanted to smash into people. I wanted people to look at me like I did them. I wanted to be feared and respected all at the same time.
I was never built for football. To this day I'm all of 5'7", but back then when the neighborhood kids got together for a game of football I was either Ken Stabler or Jack Tatum, (when I was Jack I got into more than my share of trouble for "hitting" in a two hand touch game). I was on the field with all those other guys; Casper, Branch, having the time of my life.
33 years later I still see myself in the park throwing a pass to Casper, and to this day the boy in me still wants to be an Oakland Raider.
Being a fan of the Raiders to me is more than how many games we win.
It's about the greatest adventure a boy could ever have.