We Are All We Got: A Letter To The Raider Nation
We are all we got. These are the words that were echoed in The Raider's locker room in Oakland after yesterday's victory over rival San Francisco. While this sentiment may not gain the notoriety of some other phrases that have become synonymous with the franchise, it certainly is a positive spin on a season that has fallen well short of The Raider Nation's expectations. It is easy to forget that The Raider Nation does not stop with the fan base of the organization but extends down the sideline and up to the owner's box which contains the people who may have had the highest expectations of anyone.
I have been a member of this once proud nation since I could remember. I took for granted my first years of football fandom being 11 years old in the year 2000 when The Raider's started a string of playoff appearances. I experienced the gut wrenching playoff losses ranging from seeing Rich Gannon get pancaked by Tony Siragusa, The Tuck Rule Game and of course, The Super Bowl loss.
The first game I ever attended was in San Diego in December of 2003 almost a year after The Raiders appeared on that same field during The Super Bowl. The season was already lost and Oakland was sitting at 3-12 on the year. This being the first losing season in my four years of being a Raider fan I remember turning to my dad who had been a fan of the team since the glory days of the 1970's and 1980's and I said to him "I hope we lose this game." "If we lose this game then we will have a better spot in the draft." It was almost a forgone conclusion that Eli Manning was going to be the number one pick and the season was already lost so, who cares. Right? I remember my dad turning to me and saying "I don't give a s*** where we pick in the draft, I just want us to win."
Being the omniscient teenager I was, I thought my dad was crazy. I knew we could just lose that game, and use the second pick in the draft to gain a superstar player and return to glory in the 2004 season. We all know what happened next and with every subsequent losing season and NFL Draft, the story has been just about the same. Over 10 years later I am at home watching Tony Sparano coach his first game against The Chargers. At 0-4 we were already being compared to the 2008 Lions and I turned to my friend and said, "I just want to win a game". I didn't care anymore if we finished 0-16 or 8-8, not being in the playoffs is still not being in the playoffs.
It is easy and even fun at times to be the black sheep of the National Football League when we are winning but it is even more important to remember in these dark times that we are, and always will be, all we got. We don't have the #1 pick in the draft secured. We don't have Marcus Mariota (his "RGIII like draft pick haul") or Amari Cooper. We don't have Jon Gruden on the sidelines and I am pretty sure someone else still signs Jim Harbaugh's paychecks. We have Reggie Mckenzie, Tony Sparano, Greg Olsen, Jason Tarver, Derek Carr, Khalil Mack and Charles Woodson. We have each other. I hope we win out the rest of this season. No draft pick in the world is better than having three more wins. We are all we got. So let's stick it to The Chiefs next week and build ourselves back up to a proud organization and fan base so we can enjoy being hated, instead of ashamed. Go Raiders.