Hello Raider Nation...
I recently had a little fit after watching the Raiders' last game against San Francisco and came on this board with a negative attitude. During this time, two different people told me I wasn't a Raider fan. One even called me a "mole sent to disrupt the Raider Nation." LMAO.
So this got me thinking about how long I've been a fan and why. I'll relate this to you and would love to hear from anyone else who wants to tell their story about joining the Raider Nation.
I started playing football in 1977 as a ninth grader. At the time I liked Earl Campbell's Houston Oilers. Consequently, I hated the Steelers. The Raiders and the Steelers were huge rivals. So I've always liked the Raiders, though it took a few years before they became my team and passion.
During the next few years it was unclear as to who my favorite team was. I had several. One thing that became abundantly clear was that I HATED the Dallas Cowboys. The whole concept of winning due to a system instead of the players irritated me. Whether it's even true or not doesn't matter, I was 16 and it was how I felt! So my first real passion was for whoever was playing the Cowboys.
While in high school I played for a team called the Packers and the Green Bay Packers were a flash in the pan favorite, but at the time they weren't very competitive.
After high school I played for a team called the Richmond Raiders. The uniforms were exactly the same as the Oakland Raiders, helmets and all. Many of the guys on the team were huge Raiders fans. I was at this time an AIR Don Coryell, Kellen Winslow fan. I was watching a game one monday night with a bunch of teammates who were devoted Raider fans (many of whom now are still great friends and fans) all of whom were at least two years older than me. My San Diego chargers went up 24-0 in the first half. I was dancing around poking fun at my friends. But the Raiders scored before half time, making it 24-7. And then, to make a long story short, the Raiders came back and won 28-24. I was embarrassed in front of my older teammates and knew I had to make a change.
So an impressionable 18-year-old became a Raiders fan. I wore the silver and black (of Richmond) for three years until a knee injury and lack of size halted a career on the O-line. I was 5' 11" and 245 lbs (45lbs lighter than the next smallest guy on the O-line).
At this time, Oakland was winning Super Bowls and was the antithesis of Dallas. I loved the characters on the team and all the Raider lore that, at that time, was only their recent past. We had Marcus, Howie, Plunkett, Lester, Mike Haynes, Alzado, Branch and Christianson. I never had a chance! The timing was perfect to develop a lifelong romance.
I have been a diehard fan ever since and have been involved with football either by coaching or playing flag and touch football for years. The high school team I coached for about 11 years was head coached by a guy who said the Raiders were everything bad about the NFL. Man that was harsh coming from a guy I really respected. This guy was a great guy and a positive attitude guy who motto was "put up or shut up" (never put teammates down). This guy just hated the Raiders. My love for the Raiders survived this little hiccup.
I have two brothers who are huge Raider fans too. Both played for years and were Provincial allstars in high school. I was a starter but never anywhere near an being an allstar. After high school and a few more years of tackle football, we played on several touch and flag teams (called the Raiders whenever possible). At one point I was coaching, playing touch football on two teams and flag football on one. Football was my passion.
I'm 46 now, and even to this day, football is my passion. When the Raiders lose (even in the preseason) it cuts deep. So if I seem critical, or less than blindly optomistic, check the paper, if the Raiders lost, gimme some slack. I'm just venting. Love is a fickle thing.