You will get no apologies from me, either. I've been a fan ever since I was about 9 years old. I can remember playing football with my friends and then everybody going to their homes to watch the Bears play. This was back in the mid-1970s. Anyone from Chicago can tell you how bad the Bears were back then. It was actually embarrassing. Even the arrival of Walter Payton did not make much of a difference in the win/loss column. There was no other way to say it: Back in the middle to late 1970's the Chicago Bears were BAD. Actually, the early 80's were not kind to the Bears either.
I usually had the TV to myself back in those days. Watching 6 hours of football was the norm for me. After watching the Bears routinely lose week in and week out, I started noticing the Raiders were on consistently at 3 PM on Channel 5. I'll never forget the game that made me a Raiders fan. The Raiders were playing the Chargers and Raiders Defensive End John Matuszak sacked the Chargers quarterback. Matuszak stood over the fallen quarterback and the quarterback tried getting up which resulted in Matuszak putting his hand on the Chargers quarterback's facemask and shoving him back down to the ground. I sat there in awe. THAT was how football was supposed to be played.
From that point forward, I was watching the Raiders play. The Raiders didn't win every game, but they sure fought like hell...and they put fear into the other teams. I remember my mom letting me stay up late on Monday nights, when the Raiders were on MNF. They actually did win just about all of those games. The Raiders were unstoppable on MNF.
Me & my sister around 1979. Notice the Raiders shirt...As I grew up and peer pressure entered into the picture, I started catching flak for my love of the Raiders. I didn't really care though. I actually loved the notoriety that came with rooting for the bad guys. I was completely drawn in by the Raiders mystique. True story: I was out with the family at a department store and I was wearing my Raiders football jacket. I remember these two older men nod their heads at me when we passed. One of them said to other, “My man's rootin' for the right team”. I held my head high the rest of the day. I remember being at my Grandma's house, in the back bedroom sitting in front of the TV when the Raiders beat the Browns in the playoffs in 1981. I begged my parents to stay until the game was over and they did. I made a scrapbook from the newspaper clippings when the Raiders beat the Eagles in the Superbowl that year.
I was in high school when I bought my first Raiders jersey. I still have it, as a matter of fact and I was on cloud 9 when the Raiders crushed the Redskins in the Superbowl back in 1983. My love of the Raiders runs deep. So deep, in fact, that I got a Raiders tattoo back in 2003. On my bucket list is to go to Oakland to see the Raiders play.
There's more to my love of the Raiders though. I'm proud to say I am an Al Davis fan. I think if more people knew what Al Davis did for football, they would have respected him more. Al Davis took care of his players, often hiring them after their playing days if they needed work. He paid for funerals for other teams players. Let that sink in for a minute. He actually paid for the funerals of players that didn't even play for the Raiders. John Madden was quoted as saying “If you were in trouble and could make one phone call, that call would be to Al Davis”. That's the kind of man Al Davis was. He was fiercely loyal to the people that were loyal to him and to the Raiders organization. That's classic “us against the world” mentality and something I can really relate to.
I'll never apologize for it, but I'm an Oakland Raiders fan. Raiders forever, baby!