It was 1990, and Tecmo Bowl had just come out for Nintendo. I was 10 at that time, and I was living in Lima, Peru, and somehow I had come across a copy of the game. Until then, the only thing I knew of football was that it was played with a weird shaped ball.
I remember popping the cartridge in, and immediately being attracted to “the black team”, as I called it, and it was the only team I played with, because I liked how you could use the running back to run backwards some 30 yards, turn around, and run all the way back for a touchdown. The black team was the best team in the game, and I really liked the way the team looked.
Fast forward two years to 1992 when my mom, my “gramma”, and myself moved to California. When we first got here, we lived with my aunt and uncle in Long Beach. It was my uncle who took me to my first football game—Raider game. It was the first game of the season, and I remember walking into the coliseum and seeing “the black team” I knew from tecmo bowl. Only this time, I realized they had a name, The Raiders.
We played the Vikings that day, and won. I still have the ticket to that game. It was amazing. I remember the high fives, the screaming, the yelling, and experiencing for the first time how the nation rolled. I knew right there and then, that this was my team.
As the years passed, I began learning the history of the Raiders. Who Al Davis was, and what the Raider way meant. I immediately could relate to it, and it became a part of me. During my high school years, when NWA, and other L.A. rappers represented the Raiders, I wore their gear and dressed in black, I realized that the Raiders were more than just a sports team.
It was a mentality. It was a culture. I don’t mean the gang banging, or thug mentality side of it. I mean the mentality that we are in this together until the end. The loyalty, the respect, knowing you belonged to something and you would stand for it, with it, through thick and thin; seeing the look people get on their faces when you tell them you are a Raider fan; standing tall during the past 14 years, as people tried to put you down for being a Raider fan; and knowing we are the best fans in all of sports.
When the Raiders moved back to Oakland, I was sad because I knew I wasn’t going to be able to go to the games anymore. I also knew Oakland was their home, and that no matter what, I would still be a Raider fan no matter where they went. Location wasn’t going to change how I felt for the team especially after going through the ups and downs they had in the 90s before the Gruden years. Part of me wished I could have lived through what I like to call the golden years of the team (the 70s and 80s). But I did get to experience Chucky, and that was in itself amazing.
Through the late ’90s into the early ’00’s, everyone came to know I was a Raider fan. My gramma, even though she couldn’t tell you what a first down was, knew who the Raiders were. And I could count on getting Raider gear gear from her every Christmas.
I got my first Raider jersey and a Reebok reversible Tim Brown jersey from her. I still have it. Home team on one side, away on the other. And believe it or not, I have not missed watching a game since 2000. At home when they show them on TV, or at a bar, and today, on Sunday ticket. When I began dating my wife, that was one thing I warned her about, and she knew she had to be ok with it. Been married 10 years now, and not a complaint from her in that regard. As a matter of fact, even my mother in law has began watching the games and texts me when we win.
The past 14 years have been tough on all of us fans. Which is why this season is that much more special. Whatever happens in the playoffs, let’s not forget what this season was. A rebirth of the Silver and Black, a return to excellence. A much needed break from the losing, and the beginning to a whole new Raider era.
Let’s make sure, as Raider fans, that we don’t forget to appreciate what this magical season brought to us all. A hope for the future. If we win it all, let us walk proud but humble, and show all others that Raider fans are truly the best fans in all of sports. Let’s show them that being a Raider fan, it’s more than just rooting for a team. It’s a way of life. It’s a family. It’s a sense of belonging to something bigger than all of us.
We are brothers and sisters united for a single cause, a single purpose. We got each other’s backs, and we bleed silver and black. We are the one and only true nation, RAIDER NATION!
WHY NOT US? WHY NOT NOW?
NO QUIT! BY ANY MEANS!
As always, GO RAIDERS!!!
Written by: EMRaiders
Edited by: Kenny Stapler