An open thank you note to the OAKLAND Raiders

Raiders (Photo by Daniel Shirey/Getty Images)
Raiders (Photo by Daniel Shirey/Getty Images) /

This is an open thank you note to the Oakland Raiders franchise for all the memories they provided for the community in the Bay Area.

The end of the 2019 NFL regular season feels especially sad for football fans in the Bay Area. Whether they live in the city of Oakland, or they fell in love with the Silver and Black in other parts of the world, fans of the Oakland Raiders are coming to the realization that their team’s tenure in California has officially come to an end.

While the upcoming move to Las Vegas will give the franchise the long-term home they have been seeking for decades, it’s hard to imagine the Raiders making a home anywhere other than California.

As I ponder the team’s transition, I can’t help but feel as though other fans are also experiencing the move as I have. As a Bay Area native, I first connected with the Raiders solely because of their location.

By the time I started seriously following the NFL (in the mid-to-late 1990s), the team had already completed their stint in Las Angeles. so I immediately felt a pull toward the team closest to home.

As I look back over the past few decades, I feel compelled to write this article as an open-ended thank you note to the team that made me a sports fan. Through all the highlights and lowlights listed below, I will always be proud to call myself a fan of the OAKLAND Raiders!

The History

In the beginning, being a Raiders fan was a blast! The team’s playoff success in the early 2000s solidified my fan hood. This was my team. I watched John Gruden lead Oakland into the playoffs in 2000 and 2001.

I felt the sting of losing to Gruden’s Tampa Bay Buccaneers in Super Bowl 37. More than anything, I experienced the anger of having an additional Super Bowl run stolen at the hands of the greatest injustice in NFL history — the infamous “tuck rule game.”

To this day, it’s difficult to watch that highlight without getting frustrated.

Don’t get me wrong, there were plenty of low points that followed. The team would go through more head coaches than I could name as they puttered in mediocrity from 2003 through 2014.

Nine! The answer is nine different head coaches! In 12 seasons! And don’t even get me started on the JaMarcus Russell era…

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However, through it all, they remained my Oakland Raiders.

The Players

The team’s abysmal records made no secret of the fact that the roster was often void of talent. However, as this chapter of history closes, I can’t help but picture some of the standout athletes that made me proud to wear Silver and Black.

Do you remember watching Charles Woodson run back touchdowns while locking down the opposing team’s best wide receiver every week?

What about watching Nnamdi Asomugha (*double checks to make sure the spelling is correct*) making opposing quarterbacks too afraid to even look in his direction during the mid-2000s?

Did you ever catch yourself pulling for the Raiders to attempt ridiculously long-field goals just to see how far prime-Sebastian Janikowski could crush a football? How about watching Shane Lechler and Marcel Reece consistently perform better than anyone else at their positions?

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Whether it was the excitement that came with trading for Richard Seymour or drafting Derek Carr, there was nothing like being an Oakland fan.

The Commitment

Fans born in areas like New England, Pittsburgh, and New York (Giants… Obviously), had an opportunity to see their team win multiple championships with extremely well-run organizations. Fans like me, saw their team go a combined 56-136 over the course of 12 seasons.

However, there was something about the poor seasons that fueled the fire in many Raiders fans. We knew that one day, our team would pick itself up, and return to their former glory. And we were ready to be there to celebrate when they did.

If you look back at the game broadcasts, you’ll always see the Raiders’ Coliseum packed with fans wearing spiked shoulder pads and crazy face paint. Regardless of how much the team was struggling, we were there to faithfully support them.

Thank You Raiders!

As the franchise becomes a full-time resident of Las Vegas, I simply wasn’t content to have the Raiders’ tenure in Oakland come to a close by watching frustrated fans throw trash at the team during their final home game.

I hope that fans all over the world will join me in celebrating what was an important piece of NFL history. Not necessarily because it was the most successful history. But because it was our history.

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I wish the team the best in their new home. I’d also like to leave them with three simple words as they prepare for a new era of Raiders football. Words that epitomize the Oakland team better than any others.