Dear Raider Nation,
I’m sorry. I really am.
I’m sorry that this site has garnered a reputation for hating on the Raiders, and I’m sorry if you think of me as being a Raider hater. I’m sorry for the undeserved criticism we dished out on the Raiders and their fanbase, especially recently.
I’m sorry, and please give me a chance to explain.
Let me begin with an article published on Sunday by staff writer Chris Furry, calling out five cities who don’t deserve their teams.
The No. 1 team on that list? The Oakland Raiders.
I was the one who asked Chris to do that article, thinking that it would be an interesting read, and nothing more than that.
Chris agreed to write it, and when he was done, I looked over his draft and after a few edits, gave it the ok to publish. I knew that we would get some criticism and angry comments. I mean, who wants their team to be on a list like that?
However, nothing prepared me for the backlash that Chris would take. The comment section was flooded, almost immediately, with incredulous fans wondering why the hell their team was listed.
There was swearing, rambling, name-calling, debating, you name it. People were upset, and rightfully so. We even received rebuttals from Fansided’s Raiders and Blue Jays sites.
Quite frankly, I was shocked and taken aback. Chris and I tried to respond to the commenters and argue why their beloved franchise shouldn’t belong in their city, which, I should have known, was an impossible task.
There’s nothing that I can say now that will ever make up for the hatred that came from the publication of that article. What I thought would simply be “an interesting read” turned into a nightmare, with hoards of fans pummeling us with comment after comment.
I can apologize over and over again for us including your city and team on the list. But I know that will bring you little satisfaction.
So, I will try and satisfy the fanbase of the one team on that list who we have hurt most — the Raider Nation.
Yes, Raider Nation, I called you blind. Blind for being so supportive of a team that has been on the wrong path for the past decade. Blind for paying good money to sit in the dilapidated Coliseum to watch a losing team. Blind for your willingness to overlook the horrible decisions made over the years — from drafting JaMarcus Russell to, well, drafting JaMarcus Russell.
And you know what?
I was dead wrong.
When I saw the angry comments that came pouring in (again), and the reaction around social media to my article, I got a sick feeling in my gut, the feeling of immediate regret.
I woke up a sleeping giant, and although I defended myself in my comment replies, I knew in my heart that what these fans were saying was legitimate and truthful.
After having a few days to think about it, I’ve concluded that Raiders fans are far from blind. In fact, no fans of any team are blind, because they are fans. They aren’t writers, reporters, players, coaches, or owners.
They are fans, and the job of a fan is to remain loyal through thick and thin, no matter how the team is performing on the field.
The job of a writer is to dispel his or her opinions of the team. The job of a reporter is to inform fans of what is happening with the team. The job of a player is to win games. The job of a coach is to coach the players. The job of a owner is to keep everything in check.
The job of a fan involves none of the above. All a fan has to do is watch and enjoy the product of everything I just listed. They can cheer when their team wins, and they can cry when their team loses.
So with that being said, there is no way that a fanbase can be called “blind” for simply doing their job of being a fan.
As a writer, I made an incorrect assumption. I assumed that because of the downright awful performance of the Raiders for the past decade that fans who still remained ultra-faithful were blind, unaware of the failure that they were supporting. Seemed pretty logical, at least when I wrote it.
Well, I could not be more wrong. Calling out fans for being who they are and doing what they’re supposed to do? What an asshole, right?
So I’m apologizing again for my ignorance over the past week. I am going to do my best to rectify the damage I have done, which I recognize will not be an easy task. I have literally alienated an entire fanbase, but if I have to individually reach out to each and every Raiders fan who I have hurt, I will not hesitate to do so.
The morning of the day that I published that article, I received a long email from Shane Schilperoort, a retired police officer and longtime Raiders fan. Shane has been a member of Raider Nation since his birth in the 70s, and like most others, he vehemently disagreed with my article.
I invited Shane to write a rebuttal to the piece, and as a member of Raider Nation, tell everyone why they are not blind, if I still haven’t convinced you by now. Shane’s guest post will be published on this site on Thursday morning, and I look forward to the support he will get.
So that just about does it for me and my rant. I hope I have convinced you that I am truly sorry, and that I understand the mistakes I made, as well as the damages it caused.
I hope that Raider Nation welcomes me in, not as a diehard fan, but as someone who admires them for their spirit and loyalty. I am truly astounded by the overwhelming responses I received to these recent articles, and I deeply respect those who took the time to tell me why I was wrong (yes, even those who used inappropriate language and slurs).
If you want to keep calling me a Raider hater, go right ahead. Really, if you want to be ignorant and scoff at the emotion and heart that I poured into this piece to apologize for my mistake, be my guest.
For the rest of you, if you’ve read this far, thank you for your time and understanding.
Eric He, Editor of Golden Gate Sports