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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?

***

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.