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Becoming a Raider Fan


Top question everyone asks me during football season is, "How did you become a Raiders fan?" So I decided to look back at why and how I become a fan of a team like the silver and black. The hated, renegades, who played the game rough and pushed the limits of the rules while intimidating the other teams.

I grew up in central California as the middle of three boys and we were all very close in age, thanks to a Brady Bunch scenario. We grew up outside playing all seasonal ball sports and emulated the pros an dreamed of being great. With front yard football I was NOT coordinated till my early teens, so I was the center, my oldest brother was the QB and the step brother was very athletic and fast so he was the receiver. We played tackle in the neighborhood and it was rough, but fun. Pop Warner was what we all wanted to play. This was during the days when you had to try out for sports and not everyone got on the team. I learned rejection and that I needed to work hard at getting better if I wanted to play in a league. None of this "everyone plays" BS that we have today.

So being in central CA and my brother being a QB, he was a huge John Brody fan and fell for the 49ers, my step bother was part Cherokee (or so he claimed) and he picked the Redskins and I liked pirates, so I picked the Raiders. See, we were all getting NFL team coats for school and we had to commit. I loved the logo. It was tough...and I wasn't. So since I had the coat, I had to watch the team right?. We collected bubble gum cards and looked for our players, we watched the games and played in the yard at half time. I am not sure where the parents were. They didn't watch with us. But my guess is they were probably enjoying the fact that we weren't fighting unless we were arguing over a play.

Back then we only got one or two games and then Monday night, so we ddn't get to see our team every

week. But more so the Raiders and 49ers, than Washington (sorry bro). As I continued to watch the games, I began to love the players. It was my way of living out the war on the field and my team was good! I remember being fascinated with the players, especially George Blanda early on. How could this old guy do it. He kept kicking these field goals and even quarterbacking to victories. The mystic was enthralling. The drama of the games. Pittsburg, Miami, amazing plays, controversial calls, the thrill of victory and the agony of defeat. I grew up watching my

Raiders and when I was skilled enough to play football myself, my passion for the team deepened even more. There's something about playing the game creates an understanding of the battle, the win at all costs mentality. The Raiders were that kind of team. Like no other team with players like Casper, Fred Biletnikoff, the "Snake", Ron Hubbard, Pete Banasak, Otis Sistrunk, Cliff Branch, The Stork, Lester Hayes and on and on.

As I grew older the bubble gum cards faded but the team connection became deeper, the game day was serious. I would watch pregame, read the newspaper predictions, and yell and scream at every play of merit. There were moments so sweet such as Super Bowl XI against the Vikings after two tough years losing to Pittsburg in the playoffs we got off the schneid. We should have repeated the next year but were robbed by a terrible call at Denver's goal line, when Rob Lytle fumbled and we ran it back for a 90 plus yard TD. But the refs didn't see if, the TV cameras did, yet instant replay was not part of the game back then. So Denver got the privilege of facing the vaunted Dallas "Dooms Day" defense and Craig Morton (with knees that looked like they bent backwards) was pummeled. The game was a route. I still think of what the game would have been like if we had gotten in. I think it really would have been something.

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