A Raiders Fan on the East Coast
Reviewed by Melissa Minners
I have a confession to make – I’m a fan of the Oakland Raiders and I live on the East Coast. It’s not easy to be an East Coast Raiders fan. People look at you strangely when you say you are a fan of the Oakland Raiders. They say things like, “How the hell did that happen?” and “You should support your local team.” Well, I support my local teams…unless they are playing against the Raiders. As to how I became a Raiders fan and why it’s so hard to be one, well, read on…
Years ago…yes, I’m dating myself here…Wonder Bread used to offer free trading cards in each loaf of bread. Sometimes they were baseball cards, sometimes they were movie cards sometimes football cards – you get the point. Well, my very first football card came out of a Wonder Bread package. It was Ray Guy, Number 8, punter for the Oakland Raiders…Hall of Fame Punter, might I add. Strange reason that the Oakland Raiders should become my favorite team? Maybe, but my dad was more of a baseball fan than a football fan, so this was my first exposure to football. The Pittsburgh Steelers’ Franco Harris was the second football card I got out of Wonder Bread. Had he been the first card, this would be a very difficult article.
Now, being a Raiders fan who lived in the Bronx was extremely hard. Back when I was a kid, there weren’t all these sports channels broadcasting games, so the only real knowledge I had of football was gleaned through books. You think it was easy to find books about a West Coast team in the local library? Nope – all Jets and Giants…not even Bills and that’s a New York team, too. It’s not like you could listen to a Raiders game on the radio either. The Raiders were a very successful franchise when I was a kid, but I barely knew it. All I knew was Ray Guy was a great punter, John Madden was a great coach (though I never really liked the guy), Ken Stabler was a sure-handed quarterback, and we were known for rough play, right up there alongside the Pittsburgh Steelers. Bo Jackson got the team a bit more media coverage later on, but if you didn’t have cable television, chances are you never saw any of the games.
As I got older and became more versed in football, I became extremely frustrated at the lack of media coverage. Sure, the team wasn’t always doing well and had moved to Los Angeles and back again, but that is no excuse for not showing a Raiders game every once in a while. If you don’t pay for a special football package on cable, chances are the only time you will get to see an Oakland Raiders game on the East Coast is when they are playing the New York Giants or New York Jets (confusing names since those teams actually play in New Jersey). You can’t even find a Raiders game on the radio networks – ESPN and The Fan included. Usually, if I want to follow a Raiders game, I have to stream it online – thank goodness for the internet, huh?
Even when the big Sunday televised games end on the major networks, they rarely show the end of a Raiders game. I was shocked to see the Raiders on Monday Night Football a week ago, and nearly fainted when they showed the ending of the Raiders vs. the Carolina Panthers last Sunday. But that’s probably because they are at the top of their division right now. If they were close to the bottom, you would never see a game. Before you say, “Why would anyone want to watch a game played by someone scraping the bottom,“ I will remind you that the New York Jets are currently doing so and you can see every single Jets game out here.
And try to find Oakland Raiders memorabilia out here! Impossible. If you want anything Raiders out here, you have to order it online. You should have seen the look of outright glee on my face when I found an all-Raiders store in a mall out in Los Angeles – of course, a West Coast store. Now, I don’t expect to find a Raiders store out here – I’m no idiot – but I should be able to buy a hat or a shirt without having to get on a computer and order one.
I think I’ve successfully proven that it is not an easy task being an Oakland Raiders fan on the East Coast, but I can honestly say that we East Coast Raiders fans are a beautiful community. When one Raiders fan comes across another Raiders fan in the street, we yell “RAIDERS” to each other and often exchange fist bumps. I ran across a Raiders fan in the airport this year and we had a lovely conversation while awaiting our flight. Raiders fans will honk at each other if their cars have any identifying Raiders markers. We are small, but we are strong…we are RAIDER NATION and I wouldn’t trade that for anything in the world.