Oakland is an Experience
Everyday for the past four years I’ve woken up and looked at the Oakland Coliseum, Alameda Coliseum. O.co or whatever it is called. A few years back someone bought me a picture of the stadium printed on canvas.
It’s a reminder of the place I feel most at home.
Gruden hit it perfect when talking about the Black Hole via an ESPN article earlier this week:
“There’s something about these people. They’re nuts. They’re the closest thing to me that I’ve ever seen. We have that in common.”
You get that feeling throughout the entire Raiders gameday experience. Some of the best days of my life are the Raiders games I’ve gone to.
Last month, My friend and his wife along with me and my pops traveled to the Bay for Oakland’s final Thursday Night Football game versus the Los Angeles Chargers. It was my first night game in the Coliseum and a very tight turnaround from early Thursday A.M. until Friday the next morning.
The tailgate was as great as ever but we had to prioritize trunk space in my sedan over bringing the full BBQ and meat experience. Luckily, one neighbor from Sacramento, Ron, was a butcher. He hooked us up with a cowboy-cut steak large enough for our part of four. The tender meat possessed all sorts of flavor from the charred bone attached and the carmelized fat. It literally made our day.
I’d be lying if I said this is the only time I got help from generous tailgaters at a Raiders game. I can’t recall all the paper towels, lysol wipes, utensils and helpful hands setting up I’ve acquired from literal strangers. There is no tailgate like a Raiders game. UCLA, USC, Rams and more are cool but they are no Oakland.
Tailgating is an uncertainty headed to the new stadium. However, the Oakland tailgating experience was one of a kind. It is something you had to experience whether you were a Raiders fan or not. Sometimes, just being there feels like a win.
The Legend of Oakland 2.0
All week, there’s been great reporting from across the Bay Area. Scott Bair, Vic Tafur, Jerry Richardson, and Paul Gutierrez all taking their own angles on The East Bay’s final home game for the Raiders. Those
Various fans and legends have all talked about their favorite moments and pieces of Raiders history in the Coliseum. Of course most of them revolve around Oakland and Raiders Nation.
Kirk Morrison, hit it on the head with this quote via Gutierrez:
“The positive I took from those years was the fans, always showing up. Being a Raider and being a Raider fan is not about sports; it’s a lifestyle. One that says, ‘We don’t take nobody’s s—.”
For me, that’s what I’ll always remember. The great fans. I did not grow up to see the Badasses. I missed Madden, Tom Flores, Marcus Allen and most of the Raiders greats. Heck, I barely recall the first Gruden and Gannon days.
I will remember Raiders twitter. That time we got #DJAXtoOakland trending. Or the many free agents we tried to tamper with. All the second guessing of Reggie McKenzie.
I’ll remember the one playoff season. The taste of greatness I never really got to experience got delivered by a QB from Fresno St. and former NFL Linebacker turned head coach from Heyward.
I will remember the draft headaches from Jamarcus Russell all the way to D.J. Hayden.
I will remember the bit of home gamebreakers like Denarius Moore, Jacoby Ford, Darren McFadden and others gave us. Did we win? Nah, but the only glimpse of hope we had each week came from those guys.
How about standout defensive players like Thomas Howard, Derrick Burgess, Fabian Washington, Stanford Routt or Michael Huff. These alumni might not ever make a Hall of Fame but they’re legends and icons for those of us that never had any.
What about all the veterans that passed through. Maurice Jones-Drew, Justin Tuck, Lamar Woodley, Doug Martin, and the list goes on. Sure, we were a blimp in their career but I won’t forget the excitement we sold ourselves.
Remember Charles Woodson’s return? Or the Goat’s final game versus the Chargers on Christmas Eve. Marshawn Lynch’s addition was crazy too in its own way.
Plus, the hoggies like Jared Veldheer, Stefan Wiśniewski or Jon Feliciano. Lamar Houston, Stacy McGee, Desmond Bryant and others we developed through the years. You have to look fondly at those considering all the times we missed.
All the coaches that passed by. Some too early like Hue Jackson and Lane Kiffin. Others too late like Art Shell and Norv Turner.
The man, the myth and legend that was Al Davis patrolling the sideline in his all white and Raiders gear. The bowl cut infamy from Mark Davis that watches from the box these days. They are the foundation of the story too.
Goodbye to Raiders Nation’s Mecca
Good and bad, we leave an era behind today. No matter what the Raiders become it won’t be the same as Oakland.
A NFL.com article described it pretty well.
A pro football team born in the ebb-and-flow fires of the AFL — tinged initially with threats of bankruptcy — only to morph into a rough-and-tumble underdog puncher predestined to permanently rock the 100-year-long storyline of the NFL.
Whatever it means to be a Vegas Raiders fan it won’t be the same as an Oakland or L.A. Raiders fan. Either way, there is not much we can do but say Goodbye to Oakland.
Goodbye to the place that inspired the colors and names of the Raiders. Goodbye to the City that supported the team through nearly two decades of trash play.
Goodbye to the community this renegade team supports and represents. A place significant to culture. A place important to history whether it is the Black Panthers or Hells Angels.
Goodbye to the place that welcomed the Raiders back when they left. Goodbye to the place that welcomed me and Raiders fans from outside of the area every single week.
That’s why this hurts so much. Oakland has been nothing but great to the Raiders. It is not their fault ownership can not front a stadium like Kroenke and the Rams. This is California in 2020 and no team is getting a stadium built with tax paying dollars with homelessness and everything else on our agenda.
So this blow to Oakland is felt throughout Raiders nation because the team is not relevant. The Raiders need a lot of stuff to happen for them to have a craps chance at the Playoffs. It would have been nice to bid the city farewell with one last playoff role.
Instead, Oakland gets gifted one last mediocre season. They got to watch young talent like Maxx Williams and Josh Jacobs flash only to see them blossom in another city and time down the line. It hurts but might only hurt less if the team leaves on a high note. They got to beat the Jaguars for this to be a true Goodbye.
Either way, it will probably feel far less kumbaya and more like Cleveland, Baltimore, Seattle or any of the times a pro team just up and left the community that berthed them.
Ending On a High Note
Back to the game today. Josh Jacobs is expected to play today. You saw what the team is like without him in the second half last week. They needed a playmaker. Jacobs would’ve worn on the Titans by that point in the game.
Oakland needs better QB play. They need to create more pressure upfront. They need better receiver and DB play. These are all things I’ve been screaming for literally every week. Some weeks it has been enough and others it hasn’t come close.
My bet is that it will come closer to enough this week. The Jaguars are in about the same boat as the Raiders. They have some talent, youth and experience. They lack the QB play to get them anywhere near consistent but they are good for a surprise.
The Raiders can not afford to come out slow. They can not afford to mess around because the Jaguars will surprise them. They matchup well especially with their strong defensive line.
Still, the Silver and Black got to bring it together for a win. They got to come out hot and hyped. They better since it is Oakland’s final week as host. For now, all I’m screaming about. Goodbye to Oakland. But I’d like to toast to one more win in the Easy Bay.