Raiders fans like no other |

Raiders fans like no other

Raiders fans are not like fans of other NFL teams.

I know because I’ve been one since the age of four when my uncle gave me a Raiders pennant to hang on my bedroom wall. Now, while I’m a die-hard fan, I’m not a crazed one.

I’ve talked to the crazed ones and while they are pretty normal people with families and, yes, even jobs, they are different.

Raiders fans have a special bond with their team. It’s a lifestyle more than anything. There’s the whole commitment to silver and black everything -cars, wardrobe, household items, etc. – and personalized license plates among other things.

Raiders fans take this stuff seriously. There’s no messing around with this group. You will never see a true Raiders fan wearing red during the football season (some won’t ever wear red). You won’t see them wearing blue, gold, orange, or any other AFC West team colors.

It’s too risky. What if it jinxes the team?

I’ve seen a lot in my days as a Raiders fan. See, I’ve not only been a die-hard fan, I also traveled with the team for a few years in the late 90s as the founder and designer of the original – the team’s official web site. We would travel to some out of the way places arriving at ungodly hours. We’d arrive, bleary-eyed, to our hotel on chartered buses and drag ourselves through the hotel lobby doors.

You’d expect that the lobby would be a ghost town at that hour. Not when you are dealing with Raiders fans. The lobby would be roped off by hotel security and we would walk by upwards of fifty to a hundred wide-awake Raiders fans dressed to the hilt in their Raiders gear. Make up, spikes, masks, jerseys, helmets, you name it. Just as if they were at a game in Oakland on a Sunday afternoon. Only it wasn’t a Sunday afternoon, it was after hours on a Friday night – two days before the game – and it was Buffalo, New York!

There is a guy in the bay area that started growing his hair in 1986 and vowed not to cut it until the Raiders won another Super Bowl. There was a couple in Oakland a few years back with the last name of Blackwell. They had a baby girl during the football season. Yep, you guessed it – they named her Silver Ann Blackwell. No lie. There’s the Violator, a guy who lives in Southern California and actually flies up to home games in Oakland. The funny thing is that it takes him close to two hours to apply his make up, so he flies with it on.

Raiders fans have had to endure more than most fans as well. Raiders managing general partner Al Davis took their team away from them in 1983 and relocated them to Los Angeles. Los Angeles?!? How can a true blue collar team from Oakland move to Hollywood? It didn’t make sense! Yet the true Raiders fan stayed true to the team. Many fans abandoned ship and became – gasp! – San Francisco 49er fans, but they weren’t true fans to begin with.

The Raiders faithful were rewarded for their loyalty when the same guy who moved them away for more money in a larger market unbelievably moved the team back to Oakland where they belong in 1995. And after seven long and painful years, they are back on top and in the Super Bowl again. The faithful are smiling through silver and black face paint.

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