Typically, Sierra Nevada Memorial Hospital allows for casual attire on Fridays, but employees probably gave little notice to the Raiders cap resting atop Larry Day’s dome this week.
After working there for 28 years, his co-workers are well aware of the facility engineer’s love affair with the men in black.
And they wouldn’t even have to ask. They’d know his allegiance to the Raider Nation simply by watching him pull into the parking lot each morning. His black-and-silver Toyota 4-Runner is >decked out with personalized license plates declaring “RAIDERL.”
But to truly see how far he’s taken this Raider thing, one needs only to pay a visit to his Grass Valley home. That’s where he displays all of his prized possessions in a make-shift shrine known as “The Raider Room.”
“Why? Why do I collect the memorabilia?” Day asked with bewilderment all his own. “They’re my team. I’ve always loved football. But why the Raiders? I think it’s because of the bad boy image, the outlaw type of thing. The silver and black.”
Day is no fair-weather fan. He first started following the Raiders while serving in the U.S. Navy during the Vietnam War. He said most of the servicemen he came in contact with had favorite teams – and the Raiders were his.
He’s endured a 19-year drought between Super Bowl appearances, not to mention the franchise’s move from Oakland to Los Angeles – and then back to Oakland.
“I want to make this clear. I’m a Raider fan no matter what,” he said. “I’ve heard people say ‘Well, I used to be a Raider fan, until they went to L.A.’ Hey, it’s not the team’s or the players’ fault they moved. I don’t care where they move; I’m still going to be a Raider fan.”
His collecting days began when friends started picking up items as gifts. The collection continued to grow when he began attending sports collectible shows. It’s become his hobby and it’s been quite an investment.
“Thousands,” he said of the amount of money he’s poured into silver-and-black memorabilia. “I’ve spent thousands on clothes alone. I’ve got jewelry, everything you could imagine. My wife kind of gets after me once in a while because I spend too much on it. But it’s my hobby.”
Among his most prized pieces is an NFL 75th anniversary coin with the Raiders’ logo. His son, an artist, sketched out a pair of portraits of former Raider superstars Marcus Allen and Ken Stabler.
Remember the 1993 AFC Divisional Playoff, when L.A. Raiders fell short at Buffalo 29-23? Day does. In fact, it seems like he watched the game just yesterday – and perhaps he did. Day has 10 years worth of Raider games on videotape, meaning he has more than 160 matchups available to him at the touch of a remote control.
The latest addition to his video library is last week’s AFC Championship. But Day didn’t watch the game in The Raider Room. He was front-and-center with the thousands of other Black Hole inhabitants at Network Associates Coliseum.
This week though?
“We thought about going to San Diego, but not after last week,” he said. “That was the first time I’d ever been to an AFC Championship game. It was the most incredible thing I’ve ever seen. But it was such a hassle getting into the Coliseum last week. We got there six hours before the game, but still had to park a mile and a half away.
“I’ll be sitting at home this week. My children are grown adults and are all Raider fans, so they’ll come over to watch. I’m jazzed. It’s been 19 years, but I remember the last time watching the game on TV.”
The biggest difference since the last Super Bowl for this silver-and-black clad fan?
“We’ll be watching the game on our 60-inch big screen (TV),” he said. “Back then, 19 years ago, we probably watched it on a 19-inch.”
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