redrum Posted August 1, 2011 Share Posted August 1, 2011 Dude, get your history correct. It WAS Al Davis that made the Raiders great...they were nothing until he came along in the 60's. He was a great schemer and evaluator of talent in the days before computer printouts and youtube made scouting easier. Al Davis was also one of the great boundary-breakers in the NFL: he hired the first minority head coach(Tom Flores), and the first african-american head coach(Art Shell)...the Raiders also were the first NFL team to have a woman serve as Chief Executive(Amy Trask). Of course, the key word in all of this is "was"...sadly, Al seems a little senile and petty these days, and frankly, everything went downhill when he let "Chucky" Jon Gruden go. But although the last decade has been terrible, and there ought to be a palace coup...that doesn't erase the legend of the man's first 30 years with the Raiders. Well, I do have a story, Walter...although I don't know how interesting you'll find it. Probably as interesting as any story from the 1,127th most interesting man in the world can be. First I'll start with the basics...as a kid, although I was born in LA, we moved when I was 2 or 3 to Huntington Beach, smack dab in Surf City, USA...Orange County, CA. So being in Orange County, we were a little sensitive about the big bad city to our north. I saw a California Angel game before I ever saw a Dodger game. Nolan Ryan was pitching. The Angels also seemed more colourful, wild and wooly(this was the 70s...the greatest decade ever for hairy sports heroes: crazy mustaches and afros and long hair sticking out from under helmets and caps) than the staid, clean-cut Dodgers, led by Mr. All-American Steve Garvey. Basketball-wise, I could be a Laker fan because Orange County had no basketball team, so it was Lakers or nothing. But after watching the heartbreak of the Lakers loss to Boston in the 1969 Finals, and the class and dignity of Jerry West, and the enthusiasm that the late, great announcer Chick Hearn brought to the game, it was pretty easy to be a Laker fan and not feel like you were just jumping on the bandwagon. Plus, in those days, the NBA might as well have been tiddly-winks, for all the majority of the country was concerned. Kids today have NO IDEA how different things are regarding the popularity of basketball and the NBA in particular. Being an NBA fan in those days of the 60s and 70s felt like being part of an underground cult. Which was another key to how I became a Raider fan. As I grew up in the 60s and became a rock and roller, and ingrained and interested in all things counterculture, if you were a hippie-rocker who was anti-establishment, the NFL was the evil empire and the AFL were the Jedi knights. The NFL Los Angeles Rams were this boring CORPORATE team who had George Allen as a coach...this was the guy who took play tips from Tricky-Dick Nixon, ferchrissakes! Yeah, the Fearsome Foursome was great, but for the most part, I hated the brand of football they played...run, run, run, 3 yards and a cloud of dust(just like the Big 10 college teams who always came to the Rose Bowl and get their hearts broken by USC and other Pac-8 teams who didn't treat the forward pass like a disease). They were safe, boring, predictable...and I even hated their uniforms. Also, because they played in the huge LA Coliseum, and because of the NFL's insane rules, their games were frequently blacked out...only when they were on the road would you have a chance to see them on TV. On the other side of the ledger, you had the Oakland Raiders of the AFL...and you couldn't pick a more contrasting-style team to the Rams if you tried. They were wild and crazy, aggressive in tactics and demeanor, they had hair and mustaches everywhere, they had awesome uniforms and logos...and they had the coolest sports theme song ever: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_nSKIJvVQI0&feature=related If the AFL was the jedi revolt to the NFL's evil empire, then the Raiders were Luke Skywalker...or on second-thought, maybe they were more like Han Solo. For you soccer fans, imagine the Raiders being like the Brazilian or German World Cup teams: always attacking and free-wheeling, while the Rams were like the cowardly Italians, who just pack it in on defense and play for a tie. Hell, the Raiders even had a quarterback they called the "Mad Bomber": Darryl Lamonica! They had the ancient yet ageless George Blanda, whose accomplishments are too numerous to mention. They had a player, Jim Otto, with the uniform number "00"! How cool is that?!? They threw the ball all over the field from any field position and they played defense the same way, man-to-man, attacking and coming from all angles. Unlike the Rams, who pussied out and played mostly zone defense. John Madden, Fred Biletnikoff, "Old Man" Willie Brown, Big Ben Davidson, Gene Upshaw, Art Shell, Kenny "The Snake" Stabler, Mark van Eeghen, Clarence Davis, John Matuszak, Dave Casper, Cliff Branch, Jim Plunkett, Ted "The Mad Stork" Hendricks, Lester "The Molester" Hayes, Mike Haynes, Howie Long, Matt Millen...and last but not least, the coolest and greatest punter ever, Ray Guy...the only punter to hit the jumbotron in the New Orleans Superdome with one of his punts. Plus, it sometimes seemed like they were on tv more than the Rams were. I still can tell you the exact day I became a Raider fan...Sunday, November 17, 1968. NY Jets at Oakland Raiders on NBC. Yes, the famous "Heidi" game. It was the wildest craziest game I'd ever seen, and in fact, still is to this day. Unlike the poor folks in the midwest and east, we on the West Coast got to see the entire game; it had started 1:00pm PST, which was 4pm EST, so there was no danger of NBC cutting to "Heidi" for those of us in California. I fell in love with the team on the spot...I became a member of Raider Nation, the Silver & Black. Of course, just like with the Angles and Lakers, I had to pay my dues and see my team falter time and time again in the playoffs. But that just made the victories sweeter when they did come. Super Bowl wins in the 1976 and 1980 seasons rank among my most treasured memories...especially the Super Bowl in 1977 at the Rose Bowl, where the Raiders demolished the Minnesota Vikings, which remains the lone Super Bowl game I attended in person. When the Raiders announced they were moving to Los Angeles, I was both excited and concerned. Excited because my favourite team was moving closer to home. Concerned because I knew with the gi-normous Coliseum and the NFL blackout rules, there was a possibility that with the Raiders in LA, I would actually see LESS Raider games on TV than when they were in Oakland. Plus, everyone who knew anything about local politics of the time knew that the LA Coliseum Commission were a bunch of idiots. It was their bungling that led the Lakers to flee the Sports Arena and build the Fabulous Forum, for which Led Zeppelin is thankful. It was their bullshit that made UCLA seek a place to play elsewhere. Then their incompetence cost the Coliseum the Rams, who moved to Anaheim to escape the stench flowing from the LA Coliseum Commission. So I knew the combination of Al Davis and the Coliseum Commission would be a volatile one; sure enough, it was...almost right from the start. Of course, at that very moment I was entering the Army, so it didn't really matter...I was in Missouri, then Texas, then Germany, so the blackouts didn't affect me. I had a year of gloating during the 1983-84 season, when I could lord it over the Ram fans, whose team never won a Super Bowl during their entire stay in LA and Anaheim, while the Raiders in just their second year in LA won the Super Bowl over the defending champs, the Washington Redskins. I was in Germany at this time, and I had to get up at around 3 or 4am to watch the game...but it was worth it! Not just for the Raiders victory and watching hometown USC hero Marcus Allen(my favourite Raider) run circles around the Redskins; but also for the huge amounts of money I won in bets with all the Washington fans on base, hahaha! Yes, it has been a long dry spell since then, save a brief period in the early 2000s when it looked like we might return to glory with Jon Gruden. But save for the Super Bowl appearance in 2002(whereupon that strange bi-polar incident happened with our starting center and the Raiders didn't look like themselves in that game), it didn't last. At least the team moved back to Oakland, which is where they rightly and spiritually belong...not that it wasn't fun to have them here for a while; and to be able to wear LOS ANGELES RAIDERS gear! But, although it gets harder with each passing season, I still have hope that one day the team will rise from the ashes of the past decade and return to its rightful spot as scourge of the league. So there you have it, Walter. That is HOW a Southern California boy like me became, and remains, an Oakland Raider fan. I used to have a book on The Raiders called 'Good Guys Wear Black' Hell if I know what I did with it and I can't find a copy on line. I remember one pic of Otis Sistrunk's steaming bald head. Link to comment Share on other sites More sharing options...
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