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What is it like to be a Raiders fan in Los Angeles in 2017?

Detailing my experience as Raiders Fan since the NFL returned via the Rams and Chargers: How has your experienced changed?

It’s a chilly October night. A friend invites me to an impromptu Clippers game. I find whatever jacket is in my trunk, and it is my favorite Raiders pullover.

Of course, I’m never afraid to wear my Raiders gear anywhere. Except for this time, it’s different. The Raiders are off to their hottest start in more than a decade. All of a sudden everyone is very receptive to my Silver and Black pride.

Instead of getting sarcastic remarks that trivialize my fanhood and test my patience, I find support. All of a sudden everyone respects the Silver and Black. Is this a product of their success? Does winning solve everything? OR are Angelinos paying attention to the NFL again due to the return of the L.A. Rams?

***

Los Angeles Raiders fans are an interesting bunch. The aren’t afraid to take short flights or long drives to support their team in the Bay. They tell legends of Super Bowls. They acknowledge the number of open seats leading up to the Raiders return to the Bay.

Even L.A. Raiders players like Marcus Allen and Howie Long will remind you that they spent their careers in Southern California and not Oakland. Either way, we are all members of the Silver and Black… Right?

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You can find Twitter accounts and Facebook accounts dedicated to fans of the L.A. Raiders. For good reason, the team called this place home for 12 seasons. Fans supported them through good and bad.

This specific geographic designation created a divide in Raider Nation, especially when the Raiders quest for a new kingdom almost brought them back to Los Angeles via a joint proposal with the Chargers in Carson.

Even as the L.A. Raiders return died with the return of the Rams and Chargers, this subgroup continues to exist. What does it mean to be a fan of the most successful Los Angeles NFL team, while two other teams try to establish roots in the Nation’s second largest market? Why did ratings for Raiders game surpass those of the newly returned Rams, despite occuring at the same date and time?

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It is January 2016 and the Rams are officially returning. I patrol the shops of the mall trying to find some new Raiders gear. Cowboys, Patriots, Seahawks and other popular teams’ gear are replaced with the Gold and Blue Rams gear. The struggle to find fresh Raiders gear at retailers persists, despite their upward success and popularity.

I’ve been going to the same gym for years. Now, I’m seeing more Raiders hats and tee-shirts. Are people getting more pride since the NFL is gaining popularity in my home? Am I becoming hyper-aware of casual fans since my team is finally entering the mainstream again? Am I policing bandwagon fans because I’ve been an active member of this culture since we were horrible?

***

It’s April 2017 and I’m enjoying Coachella 2017. Of course, I’m wearing a Raiders hat to protect myself from the sun and conceal my sweaty hair. It also matches my Raiders tank. People walk up to me and tell me it’s a dope hat.

“Go Raiders!” Strangers say.

“Raiders, baby,” they said.

My first instict is to challenge their fanhood. Sure, you’re a Raiders fan. I notice their crisp Derek Carr, Khalil Mack and Amari Cooper jerseys. They proceed to tell me how they’ve been a Raiders fan for years.

Where were you when we were 4-12?  Where were you when people were telling me they hate the Raiders.

Only two years before at the same music festival, people said, “Raiders suck!”

Now, Raiders gear is the most popular. Surpassing the gold, yellow and blue of the Chargers and Rams?

***

Although I’ll be the first to admit the Raiders Mecca will always be in Oakland, that doesn’t mean Los Angeles is not the second home of Raider Nation. Maybe, this is because I never saw the Silver and Black patrolling the green of the Coliseum.

Either way, I’ve certainly noticed a difference in what it means to be a Raiders fan over the past two seasons. Do I attribute this to the success of the team in recent seasons or the increased presence of the NFL in Los Angeles?

At least until the stadium opens in Las Vegas, L.A. is the second most concentrated place of Raiders fans in the nation. What does it mean to be a Raider fan in Los Angeles since the NFL is back and the Silver and Black are as good as ever?

Let me know what it means to be a Raiders fan in Los Angeles in 2017 via Twitter or shoot me an email, petedcamarillo@gmail.com.

It is time for a New Direction

After  a 23-13 loss at the hands of the divisional rival Chargers, Dennis Allen’s time in Oakland might be up. Him losing the job is not necessarily a reflection of Allen, but a relection of the orginazation.

When Dennis Allen took the job as head coach, he understood what he signed up for. It was going to be a complete overhaul. This was a team who lost its direction, and lost its legendary leader. The franchise needed to create a new culture of winning. No one said it would be easy, and it hasn’t been. The team faced a horrible salary cap situation, work ethic concerns, and more athletecism than football ability.

Dennis Allen is 8-23 as the leader of this team. The team still lacks a franchise quarterback. There  is no consistent #1 reciever or lockdown corner. The defense and offense are both variables week to week. The Raiders still have problems with penalties as they committed 13 against the Chargers. What has really changed?

Well anyone who has watched this Raider team has seen a difference in how they compete. The Raiders play hard, they have bought into Allen’s regime and vision. Unfortunately, that has not lead towins.

Charles Woodson put it into perspective when he said coach Allen just doesn’t have the things he needs. Even another Raider said Allen puts them into a position to win, but it is up to them to do something with it. Therefore, in Allen’s defense maybe he just hasn’t had the talent to compete at this level. The Raiders were predicted to be a bottom feeder team, as they had a record high dead money salary. Allen was forced to weather that storm, along with other pieces of adversity. Fortunately for the Raiders, that dead salary comes off the books this season, and will give the Raiders $70 million in cap space. Does Allen Deserve another shot to lead the Raiders once they have more talent?

Many reporters and people close to the Raiders have defended Allen and have said he deserves to stay. Even owner Marc Davis has preached patience. However, The Raiders do not owe Allen anything other than the money he is due. 

I understand Dennis Allen has done much of the dirty work by leading a talent defecient team. Maybe it would be fair to see what he can do with a better squad, but no one said the NFL was fair. Hue Jackson got fired after one 8-8 season. The two are different circumstances, but that is an indication of how cut throat this league is.

I understand there are people in the Raiders organization craving stability. Some will say an Allen firing will signal the same old Raiders, and compare Marc Davis to Al Davis. My question is, What stability is there in the organization right now? Every starters job is in question. Even the teams most consistent players could benefit from more competition for their jobs.

The fact is, the Raiders still don’t have an identity after 2 seasons. Sure there seems to be a sense that the Raiders are moving in the right direction, and Allen seems to have a better vision of building a team than previous coaches. However, if Davis really bought into Allen’s vision he would have indicated that by renewing all of the  assistants contracts. If the Raiders do decide to replace  their assistant coaches then Allen shouldn’t be saved either. They either buy into Allen completely, or sell him completely.  If they wait another season then the backlash will be worse. The Raiders will have committed to Allen’s draft picks, Allen’s free agents, and Allen’s assistances, which will lead them to rebuilding again.

Hence, I don’t think the Raiders can move forward with Allen at head coach. Having an 8-23 coach doesn’t exactly attract the big name free agents the Raiders need.Neither do you want the Raiders new draft class having to deal with a coaching overhaul next season. Keeping Allen signifies stability, which is great. But The Raiders need tangible results, which are wins, and they might have took look else where to find that. The Raiders are better off starting the process now, while the slate is blank, rather than waiting for next season.

If the team struggles out of the gate then fans and media will call for Allen’s job. A midseason fire/interim coach situation is not something the Raiders can afford to deal with. Firing Allen and going back to the drawing board will not be that bad because the Raiders still haven’t built anything. Maybe committing to Allen is the start to building something and stability, however, the Raiders should build something with a new leader.

Dennis Allen seems to be widely respected around the league, and I am sure he will find a coordinator position. He should eventually  land another head gig, because his struggles were not all his fault. I do not think his firing is an indication of his ability to lead or coach, as Allen did the best with what he had.  It is an indication of the direction the Raiders are going. Regardless of what he has dealt with, Allen simply hasn’t had the results he wants or deserves. Firing Dennis Allen will be the example of accountability that Reggie Mckenzie has preached since he became GM of the Raiders. The Raiders want to win, and they need a coach who has done that. 

Now that Dennis Allen has moved the Raiders out of the bottom and into respectability, it is time for a new leader to move them into success. The new coach will have a clean slate to mold the team in their vision, as the team has a full slate of draft picks and tons of cap space. Better days are ahead of The Raiders, and Allen deserves a lot of credit for helping this team move out of obscurity.  It may not be fair to Allen, but The Organization needs a new face to lead to excellence.

Just Roll Baby!

Last week, there was some talk about the Raiders interest in Josh Freeman. Initially, I thought why hes a far less dynamic version of Pryor. Then I thought about the last disgruntled quarterback they went after, Carson Palmer, and how that quick fixed failed. I thought about why would you look to a quick fix after Pryor has injected so much hope into the team. Then i heard talks about the Mcfadden injury and I asked myself, why are the Raiders concerned so much with the quarterback when it should be the least of their worries. I hadn’t heard any talk about pursuing offensive line help, a pass rusher, reciever, tight end, running back, or any other position where the Raiders are lacking playmaking ability.

Then Sunday came, and the Raiders showed up underneath the lights. They played a bitter rival, The Chargers, but still seemed more inspired then there opponent. Even with a late rally, the team kept playing hard and managed to pull out a win rather than falter like previous teams. Therefore, I don’t want to talk about who is not in a Raider uniform. I don’t want to talk about the star safety, running back, and left tackle that are absent from the active list. I don’t want to talk about the free agent quarterbacks they might sign or ended up releasing. I don’t even want to talk about the players the roster is lacking at various positions. Rather, I want to talk about the team as it is constructed.

CHarles Woodson

He absolutely balled the last game and all season. If you think it is a coincidence that he recoved a fumble or got an interception than your dead wrong. Woodson has been getting to the ball all season long, so it was only a matter of time until they started creating turnovers. More importantly, you could see his leadership skills to rally a defense that seemed worn out as the Chargers tried to make a comeback.

DJ Hayden

I’ll admit I was pretty hard on the rookie all game. No means did play perfect, but his interception in the fourth quarter couldn’t have come at a better time. He finally showed some of those playmaking abilities when he broke on the ball and intercepted it. It is promising to see a kid get beat all day and then comeback and make a pick. To be a successful DB in this league, you have to posses that confidence and swagger. I know he missed a lot of training camp, so I hope this is an indication that he will continue to get better as the season goes on.

Terelle Pryor

After a tough game against the Broncos, and talk about Josh Freeman, Pryor was able to come out and ball. In the first half, lacking his dynamic backfield partner, Pryor was able to piece together nice drives. His speed and elusiveness were showcased as he was able to outrun linebackers and dbs to the corner. Even as his offense sputtered in the second half, he held his composure. I think this game really cemeted Pryor as a starting quarterback, because he was able to showcase his physical abilities and leadership qualities. I also seen his ability to throw on the run, and the receivers are beginning to adjust to Pryor’s timing and accuracy. I think as they get in more cohesion, Pryor and his receivers can only get better. Streater caught a nice ball in the first half, and Moore caught a few good passes to keep the drives along.

In closing, Pro Football talk moved this team up to number 18 in the power rankings. As they get healthier and as they continue to get better I can only imagine how far this team will go. If Pryor continues to show improvement week to week, then his team will as well. For the first time in a long time, it seems like the coaches, media, and team are starting to buy into the Raiders Starting Quarterback. Hopefully it means the team will end the playoff drought, but either way it is nice to see the Raiders compete in every game, and have an once of hope that their Quarterback can make a play when its time to.