Oakland Raiders: In Defense of a Much-Maligned Team
It's hard to go a day without discovering another Raider-bashing headline in the news. That truth doesn't even take into account the happy-to-see-you-suffer sneers, you-poor-bastard chuckles, and outright, unadulterated disrespect coming from all angles: co-workers, friends, and relatives, to mere strangers. Wearing silver and black seems to bring out the worst in other football fans.
For example, my dear Charger-loving brother-in-law, a decent enough guy who puts up with my sister better than I ever could, decided to rib me during a recent visit. He pointed out that the Raiders hadn't had a winning season in "forever." I corrected him, pointing out it had been a mere seven years. (Isn't that some kind of limit on bad luck?)
When I added that the Raiders went to the Super Bowl that season (yes, only to be wiped out by the Bucs in 2003) and had actually won three titles in their glorious history, he replied, "Yes, but that's ancient history. That was so long ago you still had hair!" How could I let that kind of trash talk go unanswered?
So I asked him how many Super Bowls San Diego had won, and he rolled his eyes. The Chargers look good on paper every summer, only to be tripped up by the likes of the Jets come playoff time. I pointed out that winning three Super Bowls many moons ago isn't as long as "never." (Okay, the Bolts did lose a Super Bowl in 1995—fair enough.)
Who cares if Oakland collected all of its trophies in the last millenium? Last I checked, the folks in Pittsburgh counted all of their rings, not just those slipped on their fingers this decade. The Steelers have managed to accomplish the feat more times than any other team, so I will leave them alone in fear of warranted retribution.
Others, like Buffalo, haven't earned a bye. When was the last time the Bills won it all? Buddy Nix, help me out here. No, wait, I remember: Buffalo made it all the way to the championship game four times, only to lose all four.
Last I checked, 3-2 (Oakland's Super Bowl record) is better than 0-4. The Raiders' last trip was 2003; the Bills, 1994 (albeit both losses). And the story is the same for the roughly one-half of the league that hasn't won the big game.
If I have to live on three golden football memories for the rest of my days (or Al's days anyway), it's a hell of a lot better than being a Lions fan. There is that faint silver lining in the black clouds looming over one of the NFL's most-storied, most-loved, most-hated franchises.
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