Blog Archives

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?

***

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?

***

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.

Gambling on the Raiders staying at home

It was an overcast day. That could not stop me from grilling.

I got into the gravel-filled parking lot and found myself parked next to some Buffalo Bills fans. They were blonde-haired and blue-eyed white people enjoying cold cuts. They were nice and peaceful compared to the rowdy college students which we were.

Surrounding us there were plenty of Silver and Black Jerseys. People of all shapes, sizes and ages engaged in chants of, “Raaaiiiddddeeerrrssss!” underneath canopies of all kinds.

The smell of moisture and BBQ filled the air. It was my first Raider game. It was against the Buffalo Bills and in the O.co Coliseum.

For a few moments, I wondered if that would be my last Raider game in Oakland. All season, I tried to go to a Raider game.

Something always held me back. Finances, weekend commitments, driving and flaky friends were all great excuses.

Still, I desperately wanted to attend another Raider game. As an Angelino, I attended many sporting events but nothing like this Raider game. The ambiance of the Raiders original home is the mecca for anyone claiming Raider Nation.

I wanted to go to Mecca again, but that was questioned with the Raiders attempt at relocation to Los Angeles.

Despite its’ proximity to my home, I always said the Raiders belonged in Oakland.

Realistically, the team was never going to move to Los Angeles. They had me and many others fooled. The Chargers used the Raiders brand as a ploy to garnish interest in the market for their joint Carson project. The two AFC West rivals rely on the L.A. market, and they felt the Rams stepping on their toes. Their best defense included banding together.

This week, their Carson plan failed. It should not be seen as a surprise. If the Raiders had $550 million for relocation fees and another hall billion for construction, they would use that money in Oakland.

However, they do not have that money. Therefore, the Raiders were never really a threat for Los Angeles. It seemed like Davis’ bluff might have worked if the NFL forced Kroenke to Carson and Davis received a lump sum from Kroenke. Instead, Kroenke got his way and the Davis is stuck in the same place.

Well atleast my gamble on the Raiders playing another game in Oakland paid off. I got one more season to see the team in the Mecca of Raider Nation. I better go next year, because who knows what will happen to the franchise after that.

 

Desean Jackson Finally Free

Desean Jackson in his days with Cal Bears

The Philidelphia Eagles released their prominent reciever Desean Jackson after seven years of elite play, which created a silent auction for the newest and best player on the open market.

Coincidently, a report from NJ.com said the player had connections with known gang members from Los Angeles, which may or may not have influenced his release.

With the Aaron Hernandez ordeal still in the back of everyone’s minds, teams are weary of players with questionable histories.

Lets make this clear, Jackson has a clean record and no history of crime. Sure he knows some people in gangs, but that does not mean he is affiliated with gangs.

The only thing Jackson is guilty of is being an outspoken media darling wanting a bigger contract. What NFL Wide-Reciever is not guilty of that?

For those unfamiliar with Jackson’s background he comes from Los Angeles and Long Beach Poly High School. Sure he knows gang signs, which NFL and NBA player doesn’t. Gang Signs are thrown up all the time, and that does not mean a gang affiliation so much as means a sign of respect for where he is from.

Added, Jackson does own a record label with questionable affiliations. Which professional athlete isn’t trying to crossover into the music industry which is an industry thirsty for street credibility?

Lastly, growing up in Los Angeles it is almost inevitable knowing people with gang affiliations. Being a prominent athlete does not exclude you from interacting in a gang environment. Especially as an athlete who can not get in trouble, many times you make friendships with gang members because they can protect you from other gangs who have self interest in physical or verbal altercations.

That may not even be the case with Jackson, but either way these gang ties are a non story. What do you think the 3pt sign is that NBA players throw up?

As for the Raiders, adding Jackson almost makes too much sense for it to happen. Jackson is from cali, he played at Cal, and there are even pictures of him at a Raider game as a kid.

The Raiders also have the most salary cap short and long term to give him the deal he desires. There is definitely a need for a true number one WR who can impact games everytime they touch the ball, and Jackson can do that. Matt Schaub needs playmakers around him, and adding Jackson would be a great start, not to mention it adds more flexibility to what the Raiders can do in the Draft.

Maybe he does not fit the squeaky clean mold Reggie McKenzie wants, but he does have a chip on his shoulder which is something that McKenzie values. After being released, Jackson’s asking price should come down, and by the looks of his gang affiliations I do not think he is a fan of the 49ers because of their RED (LOL JK). Plus the oppurtunity to be closer to home and play for a team he probably loved is priceless.

Football wise, Jackson can stretch the field vertically. He is young enough to give the offense an identity it has lacked for years to come. I even thought he was a fit for the Raiders out of the draft, but philly got to him first. Sure he could do more across the middle, but Streater, and Jones are both more than capable slot options. Jackson with the big targets of Rivera, Streater, and Moore are all great weapons’ for Greg Olsen’s arsinal.

Off the field, Jackson’s accomplishments and advocacy have gone unnoticed. He is a force in his community and speaks out against bullying. That is a message he could bring to the Bay Area as well as his exciting play on the field.

Oakland Raiders Culture

2005-trophies-wp-1152

Since the passing of Al davis last year, the Oakland Raiders franchise has gone through dramatic changes in culture and on the field. GM Reggie Mckenzie came from a prestigious Packers Franchise and was installed to bring the franchise back to its winning ways.

First, lets not get things twisted, in the NFL there is one goal, and that is to sell tickets and merchandise. The only way to do that in sports is to win games, and put a product on the field that fans are going to buy into. Insert Reggie Mckenzie. Mckenzie has a philosophy of drafting and acquiring blue collar, hard nose, and smart football players. It is a philosophy that has brought many championships to green bay, but the Raiders are not green bay.

You see, there is a special ora about the Raiders. There is a reason why the team has one of the most reliable fan bases despite being irrelevant for over a decade. The Raiders are the Raiders because they are the gritty, underdogs. The Raiders have been the team renown for their toughness, explosiveness, and even recklessness. It is a reputation that has caused many people to hate the raiders, but many others to love the team.

The Raiders logo represents a grittiness and toughness in itself, so much that gangs and rappers have affiliated with the logo. I don’t see too many people in green bay affiliating with the packers. The packers are an organization partly owned by its citizens, it is a franchise build on heritage and tradition, but it is mainly an organization dedicated to the blue collar hard working meat packers of Wisconsin.

Thats the biggest difference between the Raiders and Packers historic organizations. The magic of the Raiders is found in the minority fan base that has claimed the team as its own. Besides being the logo for urban youth around the country the Raiders were the first team to have minority coaches, and executives. This organization is built on a culture of reckless, so if Reggie McKenzie hopes that fans will be patient while he “builds things the right way,” then he has another thing coming. Raiders fans want to see a product that reflects the recklessness and rebellion in themselves. The reality is they don’t care about hardworking smart football players. Raiders fans want to see deep balls, big runs, big hits, and mostly they want to see them win.

Raiders fans love the raiders because they reflect an enigma in our society. The idea that someone can win and be successful doing things their own way and not caring what others think is something that resonates with the hearts of Raiders. The Markets of Los Angeles and Oakland are both huge minority fan bases that love the Raiders. You see, the white collar fans have teams, in northern California those fans can see 9ers games, and in the south they have chargers games. But for everyone else, all the bad asses and people who don’t give a fuck, those are the people the raiders are built for. It is a totally different fan base than the Wisconsin folk who will live and breath green bay football regardless of how good it is. See in California, we have so many other choices as sports consumers that we dont have to follow all of the mediocre free agent signings that McKenzie has made. All we want to do is see wins, so if McKenzie keeps anything from the previous regime it should be “Just Win Baby!”