While I am not a proponent of fan bashing by any team's fans, I still have a dark spot in my Raider heart for the events that occurred in New England on Jan. 19, 2002.
Cheating allegations aside, I have the utmost respect for the abilities of Tom Brady and the organization that Bill Belichick has built in NE. I just wish he hadn't tarnished his achievements with his win-at-all-costs mentality.
In the six years since the "Snow Job" game, I have had many a conversations with NE fans. For the most part, they have been obnoxious and arrogant about their team's achievements, which has given me quite a bias against them.
I have run into a few articulate and genuine individuals with whom I've had great football discussions, and I choose to believe that they are the majority in NE, not the very vocal minority.
That said, I would like to relate an experience from a good friend at last year's Giants-Patriots Super Bowl. It was his own little revenge party, which he pulled off with an audience, and quite frankly, one of the funniest stories I've heard in years.
My buddy, who I'll call "Pancho", to protect his identity, is well connected in the NFL party circles, and had been in Phoenix attending many of the Super Bowl extravaganzas.
Let's face it, Pancho goes where the women are, and has had the success in life to pursue hottest of the hot. Where you and I might be just a bit overwhelmed by the Playboy girls, Pancho is in his element.
One of his acquaintances has been kind enough to see to it that he had a very good single seat to the big game. Having been tainted by the very same bias against the Patriots and their fans, he didn't have any desire to watch what we all felt would be another New England victory, so he decided to sell the ticket the morning of the game.
No doubt that decision was also fueled by having an outrageous hangover from several days of partying, and a fine, shall we say, accoutrement taking up residence in his hotel suite.
Being the businessman that he is, he'd heard that the going price for his ticket was fairly substantial and decided, on a whim, to post a local ad on Craigslist. It wasn't the smartest move. He'd posted his cell number and received 50 calls in an hour.
Pancho, always one to make the best of a bad situation, decided to have a little fun wheeling and dealing. He quickly figured out, by the area code of the callers, who was calling from a New England number vs. a New York/Jersey digit.
He developed a script and returned the first call from a Pats fan.
"Pancho here, returning your call regarding the Super Bowl ticket."
"Yo...You still got that ticket? How much?"
"Yes sir, and thanks for calling. Allow me to put something out front before we talk about you buying my ticket. There are special requirements for purchase. I am a Raider fan and I'm going to need you to admit that we got f***ed in the Tuck Rule incident."
"Yes, I have a ticket in my hand (gave out the section and seat), and it is a great seat. If you want me to sell it to you, then I am going to need to hear these words: 'New England did not deserve to go to the SB the year of the Snow Job. It was a bad call and a fumble. We don't talk about it, but we all know it deep down the Raiders were screwed.'"
The first guy, in an accent that sounded like he has a wad of bread in his mouth said, "Aw forget about that, do you want to sell the ticket or not?"
Pancho hung up. If they weren't going to play the game his way, then they weren't going to get to the second step of negotiating a completely unreasonable price for the ticket.
The guy calls back and says, "Are you fricking serious?"
Pancho replies, "About as serious as a heart attack, sir. This is your Karma you have on the line. I have the ticket, and you are going to have to sing to get it. Do you have your confession ready or should I move on to your next-door neighbor whom I have on hold? Listen, I'm in a hurry."
This time bread mouth hung up. I have the utmost respect for that particular fan, he was a true believer and couldn't bring himself to making the admission.
Pancho decided to field the calls with his phone on speaker while hanging out in the sports bar at his hotel. By the time he was finished, he had coerced eight confessions as a crowd stood around his table laughing uproariously while being thoroughly entertained by his nefarious activities. It's not only Raiders fans who hold a grudge with the Pats fans.
Eventually he sold the ticket to a Giants fan of 30 years. He slept well that night knowing that the elderly gentleman had been able to live his football dream, while at the same time he was able to exact his own little bit of sweet revenge for the years of ugliness we've seen from the vocal minority.
Pancho watched the game from a legendary local sports bar, and ironically there were four Pats fans (two couples) in full gear a couple of tables over, as Pancho recalled, "They were making a whole lot of noise and yelling 18-0 over and over, then 18-0-and-a-half at the intermission."
"After the game, I watched both the female Pats fans weep uncontrollably, and their men just too devastated to console them, after Eli engineered that sweet last-minute drive. I thought about that elderly gentleman I sold the ticket to. This was meant to be. He was meant to be there and to witness that, and I was meant to be in that bar to enjoy every last tear."
Over the years, if we are lucky, our teams will be great, and almost certainly great disappointments. It's always a good idea to practice humility in victory and be stoic in defeat. You just never know when Karma is going to run over your Dogma.