I recently did some thinking about loyalty in sports.
Here’s what provoked the thoughts.
I was completely irritated with another co-worker who is an alleged San Francisco 49ers' fan. He has been a season ticket holder since he was young. In the fourth game of the 2009 season, the Niners were getting ready to play the Rams. I’d just discovered he was a big fan and ticket holder. I asked him his opinion on the Michael Crabtree hold out. His response, I kid you not, was “who?” I said, “Michael Crabtree, your No. 1 draft pick." He looked me dead in the face and said “I haven’t heard of him, who is he?” I stopped and recommended to him that he pull up one of the sports websites and take a read. I was flat out perplexed. How could he be a season ticket holder and never heard of Michael Crabtree? I wrote it off to he being a stereotypical Niners fan. Sad, just really sad considering how much winning history is in that franchise.
As I was walking away, another guy who's a Steelers fan looked at me and said "what?" I shook my head and said "man you guys kill me." He asked what I meant. I said “you front running fans." I mean how hard is it to be a Steelers fan? He then went into this long story about Mean Joe Green and the Coke commercial. How Bradshaw was his idol blah, blah, blah. I asked him what he thought about Rocky Bleier and as a test. He got white as a ghost and didn’t answer. I knew I had him. "You don’t know who he is do you?" He shook his head in shame. I then asked him about Michael Cooper, Byron Scott, and Kurt Rambis being as I’ve seen him with Laker gear on. He knew Rambis and Scott, but had no idea about Cooper. I Just shook my head and laughed.
I get a lot of flak for being a Raiders fan. I have for a long time. People have made comments like "you could change teams and no one would blame you."
I met a guy who was a “huge” Tennessee Titans fan. He told me that he loved being Steve McNair on Madden and that helped him choose his new team. A video game, I can’t make this stuff up. He explained how he was once a Raiders fan but just couldn’t handle how the franchise was run now.
People are entitled to be fair weather or bandwagon fans. I don’t personally have a lot of respect for them. Liking a winning team is easy, sticking by a team can be much harder.
On Sept. 27, I was in the parking lot on the North side of the Oakland Coliseum wearing my Tim Brown jersey clanking beer bottles with fellow members of the Raider Nation. We made fun of a couple guys that walked by in Broncos jerseys. We talked about how we love the Raiders and how we hoped this was the year they got it back on track.
Needless to say it wasn’t that day. This year has been rough so far. There have been high points and low points.
I don’t know when the Raiders will be back on track the way I want them to be. It may be this year, next year or another year.
It hurts to lose and no one enjoys it.
When the time comes and the Raiders are back to their winning ways I will be there, just like I am now. How do I know that? I’m a loyal fan through and through. If you have not experienced the lows you will never fully appreciate the highs.
I was at the AFC Championship game against Tennessee in 2003. It was one of the greatest feelings I’ve ever had as a sports fan. The emptiness I feel now is nothing like the goodness I will feel when winning comes back to Oaktown and The Nation. Loyalty has a price but that price is pennies considering the reward.