What is the Raider Nation, and why is it so hated?
The unofficial name was given to the fans of the Oakland Raiders, particularly to a section of fans in the Oakland Coliseum known as “The Black Hole” termed as such for the loudest, rowdiest, and most eccentric fans in all of the NFL. It is unique, to say the least, as no other team has fans quite like the Oakland Raiders, and no other team has an entire section of their stadium devoted to their fans quite like their beloved coliseum.
The Raider Nation now, however, encompasses all fans of this team regardless of where you sit in the stadium or if you have ever attended a game. If you are a Raider fan, you are the Raider Nation.
What was the attraction and where did it start? Nobody really knows, but some say it started with one of the greatest owners and contributors to the NFL, the great Al Davis. His mannerism and his unwavering ability to face issues head on without fear of reprisal are just two reasons that gain the support of the Raider Nation. His own “us against the world” slogan, or his “I do what I want” attitude in relation to the NFL and its rules and regulations attracted players and fans alike.
Others say the devotion started when a team of bad boys took the field in 1960 as the eighth charter member of the American Football League (AFL), where they won one championship and three division titles, and the number of fans grew larger year by year. The attraction for a lot of fans may have been directly related to the way the Raiders conducted themselves on the field through their extremely aggressive and combative play style. That, in my opinion, is what drew the crowd base, grew it, and held their devotion for the past 50 years.
Just a few of the players contributing to the bad boy Raider image include Jack Tatum (1971–1979), Howie Long (1981-1993), Bill Romanowski (2002-2003), Lyle Alzado (1982–1985), and John Matuszak (1976-1981). These great Raiders, with their explosive personalities, their aggression on and off the field, and their ability to strike fear on the enemy line making plays happen speak volumes for themselves.
Widely known as the most hated team in the NFL, the fans of the Raider Nation also take quite a bit of heat for their devotion to such a hated team. Some speculate the hate for the team started with the dirty play tactics the Raiders used on the field, such as thumb tacks taped to the inside of their jerseys. In other words, they cheated.
Penalties for unsportsmanlike conduct from players like Steve Wisniewski, who is possibly one of the dirtiest players in NFL history using tactics like chopping from behind or taking out knees, fueled tempers from players, coaches and fans of other teams. Fear took over on the field as a result, and the Raider Nation soaked it up, quickly becoming as hated as the team itself for supporting such brutality.
The Raiders play style of today is nothing like that of yesteryear, but the image of those days is still quite vivid in the minds of NFL fans everywhere. Ask a Raider fan if they mind the hate. Most say it's just part of being a Raider fan. The history of this team is what it is, and choosing to be devoted to the Raiders brings with it the challenges of making that choice.
These fans just love their team, and there isn’t much anyone can do to change their minds. They are loud and proud to shout out the words “RAIDER NATION,” and the strength and dedication it takes to be devoted to the Raiders is deeply rooted in the heart of every fan. I would also dare to speculate if Raiders fans were asked, "Would you like to see the team return to the hard core players of the past, and with it, continue to fuel the hate?" They would be more than happy to answer with, "Hell ya!"