Dec 30, 2012; San Diego, CA, USA; Oakland Raiders fan Pablo Navarro points at the camera before a game against the San Diego Chargers at Qualcomm Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jake Roth-USA TODAY Sports

Oakland Raiders: Why It's Unfair To Call Their Fanbase "Thugs"


Raiders fans have been called many disparaging names over the years, including “fat,” “ugly,” “delusional,” “poor,” “obnoxious,” “sweaty,” and “dumb.”

They are now also commonly referred to as “thugs,” which might be the most ignorant insult of all.

A “thug” is defined as a “brutal ruffian or assassin,” according to the Merrian-Webster Dictionary.  This definition may apply to the hard-knock rappers who don Raider jerseys in their music videos, but not the folks who fill out the O.Co Coliseum on a Sunday fun day accompanied by their loving families. It makes you wonder, have these judgmental individuals ever attended an NFL game in Oakland?

The perception must be caused by something irrational.  After all, there are outliers in every NFL fanbase who do physical harm to others, yet their reputation as a whole never suffers like the Raider Nation’s does.

Then you realize the answer is right in front of you.  It’s easy to notice on a television broadcast there are a countless number of ethnic minorities at a Raiders game (in expensive seats, no less). Much more so than an event in Seattle or Green Bay, for example.  Many Americans (and especially those who still live in segregated communities) have a subconscious tendency to stereotype and fear what they aren’t familiar with, so this would fit the bill.

“They—They’re forming a gang in the stands!” quips a couch quarterback every Raiders home game.

Is this a scientifically-backed conclusion?  No, but most Raiders fans know deep in their heart this is the reason the nation is popularly scrutinized on a national level.

Critics argue (and subsequently generalize) that Oakland is a statistically high hub for violent crime, but narrow-mindedness fails once again to acknowledge that the club’s fanbase stretches far and wide, concentrating from the Sacramento Valley to Riverside County.  Are you telling me a majority of the Silver and Black supporters within this span commit assault and battery?

And not every Raider fan can speak perfect English, but that doesn’t mean they’ll resort to force. Similar to illegal immigrants, the less-fluent are frequently perceived as subordinate because they don’t appear as cookie-cut Americans.

Point in case: don’t portray the acts of a few drunken morons on a diverse nation of a million strong and counting. It’s the same as the new, disturbing widespread league reputation that many NFL players are uneducated delinquents—it simply isn’t true.

In the meantime, the Raider Nation warmly invites you to visit a game this fall, so you can see for yourself how easy it is to survive four quarters and escape unharmed.

Is a little reasoning too much to ask?

Dick's Sporting Goods presents "Hell Week":

Tags: Fans Oakland Raiders Raider Nation Thug

  • Blu Spikes

    Fans should be fans. The Raider nation for the most part are like 85% of John Q. Public. Love their team support the team win or tie.Yet the 85% get thrown in with the 10% that want to dress up and be a part of the show. The show gentlemen is out on the field, not a freakshow in the stands, The players and the game is on the field. You dont help the team win or lose, you assist your ego by dressing up. (Sigmund Freud would have a comment). Last but not least you have the 5% that start trouble at games and involve innocent people that have to watch and some unfortunately get in the mix. its a very small percentage but their actions are big and cost the raider franchise in liability and perception. Love the Raiders but have never understood the characters in the stands. I respect their right to do what they do, and why.

    • R8RSRULE

      I got no problem with the elite fans dressing up, they like to show their pride a little to a lot more than most of us. Actually some of those elite fans do a lot in their communities and for the team all year round, not just get dolled up for game day. I for one enjoy those fans and that we probably have some of the most recognized characters in the NFL.
      I do have a problem with the 5% you mention, but we can’t go profiling and limiting every fan that wants to see the game. I think the perception will carry on sadly…though we the real fans know better.

      • Blu Spikes

        Elite fans, this is the first i have heard that term. do they give big money to sit in the sky boxes or are they the guy the spills his beer just like me. I got ya; doing things in the community helping out when you can and using your character to do that– that can be their stage.yes the Raiders are know for their colorful fans right now– unfortunately it’s not their football.
        The math 85% of people want to do the right thing, advance in their careers, provide for their children, do the right thing. 10% want that same thing but their on the edge and they know where the line is and they stomp the crap out of it. Then you have 5% that doesn’t care, they want a hand out; not a hand up. That % can change if teachers, mentors are effective. Unfortunately we give more attention to the squeaky wheel or the 5%ers than they deserve.

        • The Dude

          You’re coming off as ignorant as the masses that generalize the Raider fan base as “thugs”. Gorilla Rilla, Dr. Death and so on are always putting on community fundraisers to donate money for charities; getting petitions signed to keep the team in Oakland and so on and so forth. Dressing up has nothing to do with taking away from the product on the field. Each fan base has fans that go to the extremes (dressing up); however they all just pale in comparison to the Raider faithful…. the real problem is the 5%; and EVERY TEAM HAS THOSE FANS!!!

          • Blu Spikes

            it great that the “Elite Fans” are able to use their character to raise money for the community. As you stated many teams have those same characters, Denver had the man in the barrel, the quiefs have (who cares who they have). If they use the persona they developed to aid the community Im all for it. At the game Im focused on the gridiron. The 11 men in black and silver are my focus. I want the Raiders to win or tie maybe more than the next guy. Perception of character is more real than reality itself. If you pose as thugs you’ll be perceived as thugs. The 5%, not every team but every community has those. Thanks Keep Posting.

  • James Holtslander

    Maybe it’s the beer that gets thrown on visiting players that score and trash talk, or incidences like last years raider 9ers game.
    I live in Pennsylvania and have been to oakland twice and i never felt more at home even though I felt like I was a minority. Now I have been to Pittsburgh as well and I live here. I would say there is
    the same percentage of thugs that are steeler fans. I hate going there.

    • R8RSRULE

      James,
      that Niner/Raider game was a bad example but of course it got the most publicity. If you go back and see the footage on Youtube, those involved really are thugs…on both sides. Sad state but every team has them, football is the most popular sport and the fans come from all walks of life.

      • The Dude

        also…. nobody seems to mention that the 49er’s fan was the one who actually shot anyone… not the Raiders fan. however, both were “thugs” IMO

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  • Maninblck

    If you want to see football in the truest, rawest form, go to Oakland. We like our image and want to keep it. The image was crafted by our owner Al Davis and we love it. We want you to be intimidated for reason, it makes you pause and say maybe we don’t want to go there. If you don’t support the Nation we don’t want you there and if you show with your Donkey, Quief or San Diego Supper Choker gear on, well get ready for a bad, bad day. Also for all of you fair weather fans that say, I don’t understand why they act this way, it’s just a game ( F%#K YOU!)
    Go Raiders!

  • Bryan Cramer

    Larry King, Tiger Woods, Tom Hanks, George Lopez, Carlos Santana,
    James Garner, Anthony Anderson, Jessica Alba, Jeff Gordan, Magic Johnson, Kareem Abdul- Jabbar, Guy Fieri, Aaron Eckhart, etc…. All Thugs?