The Raider Nation is a fickle bunch.
It's no secret—the Raider Nation has been a divided house for some time. Even before the dark ages (Super Bowl XXXVII to present), the house was divided. It's just been showing up a lot more the last several seasons.
Why is the nation divided? Because Al Davis has run his franchise into the ground. Some of us see it clearly, while others deny it.
Oakland Raider loyalists buy into the Raider mystique completely. Not to say there aren't gray areas to this loyalty. It doesn't mean the faithful agree with everything Al says or does, but their loyalty is embedded in stone.
Certainly, no one is happy with being a losing team for several years now.
Everyone knows Al Davis has made some horrible decisions over the years leading to negative repercussions. Yet, the ardent loyalists are able to look past all of this and insist on respect for the franchise, especially when it comes to respect for Al.
Win or lose, Raider loyalists remain faithful.
Then of course there are the three Super Bowl wins from different eras to throw in everyone's face.
Fair enough. Like him or not, Al Davis made the team in his own image, so whatever that image actually is, defines the franchise.
The "if you aren't with us, you're against us" attitude stands out most of all in every conversation. One word out of line from an alleged Raider fan and you are labeled as a hater.
On the other hand, people with a clue (the haters/realists), question why things are the way they are. How can we not speak out after so many disastrous performances, personnel decisions, mishandling of coaching hires, player issues and everything else. All of this is as plain as day, especially since the 2002 Super Bowl XXXVII albatross.
You can call out as many past accomplishments and great players as you like to mark your claim for Raider greatness.
But let's look at the failures—all of them. You know it rips your heart out. You know damn well it hurts you so bad all you can do is try and put it out of your mind, deny it OR lash out.
Lashing out at criticism or a counterpoint is the best the blind Raider faithful can do. You don't have any valid argument for the failures, other than to look at the far past or point to the future (a future that has more or less stayed the same now for 6+ years running).
You can't shake the Raiders addiction. You have given too much of your time, heart and soul, too much of your hard earned cash for merchandise, tickets, plane fare, black hole makeup and whatever else. To give up on your team would be like having to do your own laundry. You know you can never do it.
Alright, maybe that's an exaggeration. I am hoping all of you at least know how to do your own laundry. If not, you are beyond reason and really too pathetic to acknowledge.
We, the haters/realists, sympathize with you. Really, we do—even if we think you are stuck in your ways and a little blind to the illusion of greatness.
Just like everyone else, we, the haters, are looking for resurgence in a new season. Yet, we have doubts, so we voice them. The faithful come back with the hater label as you do for everything that disagrees with your hardened point of view (or misplaced optimism as the case may be).
We all hope things will change for the better but deep down we know they won't. Even after Al physically dies, his ghostly form will linger and continue to corrupt the once proud franchise he built and destroyed.
If you think his son, Mark (the alleged inheritor of the empire), has any notion of a clue, your loyalty is even more misplaced.
The Raider Nation is forever divided by the faithful and the realists. That's the nature of the silver and black beast.