Tribute in 2011
Youth is a blessing. Senior years are good, too. The advantage of our senior years is that we can sit, sip our coffee and remember both the good and hard times of the Oakland Raiders.
On this day in 2011, we also remember the contributions of others.
After all, in times like these we get relief from viewing sports, especially NFL games once the season starts. Hum, if the season starts on time this year.
I don't know about you, but with the international situation increasing in complexity, watching an Oakland Raiders game will be uplifting if they can be more victorious in 2011.
The seniors tell the story so that the younger generation can eventually gain the depth and understanding to lead and move forward. In some communities, it's called oral history.
Now that we have the Internet, oral history becomes written history; anyone can participate and give their account of world events.
This writer became a Oakland Raiders fan in the '60s, and observed the good times of Raider Nation. However, the '60s were perceived as troubled times. After hearing about Egypt, Libya, Yemen, Dubai and others, again we are entering troubled times.
With the tsunami and the earthquake in Japan, again we are entering troubled times.
In earlier eras, a winning team called the Oakland Raiders helped relieve the stress. It is uplifting to remember that our team was a winning one in those days.
We felt elevated because our team was elevated. In a society wretched with assassinations and protests, we still felt like winners.
The Advocate in the NFL
Al Davis, the Raiders' owner, seemed to select men who represented disenfranchised communities. As those men won NFL games, their communities somehow captured the spirit of the team.
The people of those communities felt that they, too, could eventually rise up and win in America.
Many of those communities have prospered, and are now telling their stories of achievement to children and grandchildren.
Recent years have been humbling for the Oakland Raiders, but our vision is of a team that gets back to the playoffs and starts winning Super Bowls.
These wins would make the seniors shout with joy. And you can only have real joy if you have past sorrows with which to compare it.
The joy becomes so sweet when you see how far you've come.
On this day, let's sit, slow down and remember each and every player who is a senior Oakland Raider.
Let's also remember our military men, both young and old. Some of us are old enough to remember when the United States had a mandatory draft program to enlist young men, willing or not, to serve their country for the sake of themselves and others.
A dig through the archives shows us that Al Davis served in the U. S. Army. He also coached at The Citadel.
Warren Wells was drafted and he served. He finished with an excellent five-year NFL career. He is unique in that the gap in his career comes from his willingness to serve his country. Without his service in the military, he would have had seven years in football.
There are many others who served, and many who died. We honor all of them, no matter what their present state may be. We commit to researching to discover their present state during their senior years.
Some of these veterans are now homeless. Some are not of sound mind because of the pressures of life, both in the military and at home.
Some returned from Vietnam, for example, and could not find jobs or a place to fit.
Some are regular visitors to the Veteran's Hospitals across the United States. Some are on medication for the remainder of their lives.
But no matter what state these men find themselves in, they must remember that we love them and we appreciate them for serving in the military in the United States of America.
We also appreciate the seniors who played professional football during times of conflict and war.
And for those who played professional football for the Oakland Raiders, we salute them, too. While some strong young men played for the Raiders, their friends and relatives served in the military.
It all works together for the preservation of the American spirit.
The question is, how do we celebrate their contributions to our freedom, liberty, and justice?
Here's an answer. They serve so that we who are beneficiaries can pursue excellence and recommit to the Oakland Raiders' motto: "Commitment of Excellence."
Is the younger generation truly appreciative of the contributions of the older Oakland Raiders, a franchise which has encouraged and uplifted the spirits of millions of Americans?
We demonstrate our appreciation by showing the type of integrity that aligns what we say with what we do.
The younger generation of Oakland Raiders must demonstrate a high level of integrity in 2011.
They are young.
They are intelligent.
They are increasing their football character and football intelligence.
Finally, this is a day to remember the contributions of military men, women and civilian volunteers who support the military in America and volunteer to help countries like Japan, and to say "thank you" to a team that has helped lift the spirit of America during the hard times and the good times.
Thanks to you, Al Davis, for your many years of advocacy and forward thinking in the NFL and in America!
Go Raiders. Become a winning team, again, in times like these in 2011.