View Full Version : Raider smack - an oldie but a goodie

Big Slick
11-09-2005, 01:53 PM
I was cleaning out some old stuff on my computer, ran across this. Still a great read almost 4 years later!

Pity the fools: Raiders fans a pathetic lot
by Gerry Callahan

Tuesday, January 15, 2002

Like any other cult, it preys on the young, the confused, the simple-minded. The most likely victim is a boy in those awkward teen years, with no friends to speak of, no date to the prom, no hope that his acne problem will clear up before his 30th birthday.

He would like to buy a Harley and get a tattoo and dangle a thick, manly chain from his wallet, but he knows that's just not possible. His mother would kill him. So he does the next best thing. He roots for the Oakland Raiders.

Suddenly, he is no longer alone. He is somebody. Even better, he is a bad ass. A hard guy. Someone you don't want to mess with. He looks in the mirror and sees Chuck Zito. He wears black, has a skull and crossbones on his baseball cap and occasionally goes to town, dressing on Sundays in the fall like an extra in a ``Mad Max'' movie to show his devotion to the cult. He would love to get a nose ring and a dog collar and really make people step back when he walks by, but again: Mom would freak.

So he does his best to get the message across, and the message, as always, is: Look at me. I'm bad. I root for the Raiders. It would be funny if it weren't so pathetic. In his heart, he believes that if he ever sees Ken Stabler in an airport, the Snake will stop and do shots with him. He would consider it an honor to change Al Davis' sheets at the rest home. He would name his son Biletnikoff, if he ever had a son and could spell Biletnikoff.

Raiders games are the Star Trek conventions of sports: a sorry assembly of lost souls who dress like the last cut at the Village People tryouts and find camaraderie in the company of like-minded losers. They don't really care about their team the way, say, Patriots fans or Packers fans or Bears fans do. No, they're just trying to carve out an image, baby.

Unfortunately, Raider games, unlike Star Trek conventions, are on TV, which makes it easier for the cult to find new recruits. That's the bad news. The good news is that you will rarely see a Raiders fan, in full Darth Vader regalia, accompanied by a member of the opposite sex. Some of them have children, and hopefully the local DYS will succeed in taking most of them away.

Let's be honest: Could anything cause more lasting damage to a child than waiting in the car while Dad looks for his ``Gladiator'' mask and his sword? Then when they get to the stadium, father and son cheer for the likes of Sebastian Janikowski, a loathsome slug who once was arrested for possession of the date-rape drug GHB. Apparently, Janikowski wants to carry on the fine Raider tradition but doesn't want to work as hard as John Matuszak, who once dangled a woman by her ankles from a balcony.

One of the great myths in sports is that Raider fans are genuinely tough and intimidating. That's like saying guys who drive Corvettes are cool, or that fat, balding, middle-aged men with hairy chests look sexier with gold chains around their necks. Talk to any psychiatrist and he'll give you the medical data: Wearing spiked shoulder pads and painting your head silver is a telltale sign that you are woefully insecure in your own manhood.

Of course, rooting for the Raiders while growing up in the Oakland area is one thing. Veal is treated better by its owner than those people, but at least they have a tenuous, on-again, off-again hometown connection. You really can't blame them for siding with Davis' drifters. The Raider fans who are truly beneath contempt are the ones in the neutral cities, the ones who are so obnoxious that they root for a team that produced the lowest form of NFL life, Jack Tatum. Those are the fans who should be sent to Guantanamo Bay to clean cages. We'll start with the ones from New England.

This Saturday the Patriots will host Oakland in a playoff game at Foxboro Stadium, which means all the local Raider fans will crawl out of their mothers' basements and pound their chests and say the silver and black is back. And why not? Didn't you hear? Their team won a game last Saturday night! That may not sound like much, but it was their first win since Dec. 15. It was their first win against a team that finished above .500 since October. The Raiders lost at home to the Jets six days earlier, but then New York flew home, flew back and came down with flu-like symptoms. The Raiders won, earning the trip to Foxboro for Saturday night's showdown.

This will be the third postseason meeting between the Patriots and Raiders. The Patriots won both previous playoff games, although the first meeting, on Dec. 18, 1976, was stolen from them by referee Ben Dreith, the biggest Raider fan in history. The Patriots got their revenge 10 years later, knocking off the Raiders in the Los Angeles Coliseum on their way to the Super Bowl.

This is the first time the teams will square off in New England in the playoffs, and it's hard to imagine a visitor stepping into a more intimidating atmosphere. It's the first Saturday night playoff game ever in Foxboro, a place not known for its orderly crowds. It could the last game ever played in the stadium. It will be cold, windy, dark, loud and genuinely crazy. There will be nothing contrived or trendy about it.

The Raiders - and all the phony Village People who root for them - won't know what hit them.

11-09-2005, 01:59 PM