Oakland Raiders Diary #1: 1983 Was A Long Time Ago

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I am a Raiders fan. Go ahead and make your remarks and jokes, I’ve heard them all by now. Yes, I’m aware that we were last in the Super Bowl in 2003 when we got beat by the same coach who constructed our team. Yes, I know that we haven’t won a Super Bowl since 1984 (it was my first birthday).[1. One of the greatest birthday presents of my lifetime and I don’t remember it. I’m not sure if my father even remembers it. All I know is that Marcus Allen ran all over the hated Redskins and I have no memory of it at all. It’s disappointing. And it reminds me that I should get a copy of Super Bowl XVIII.] Yes, I’m aware that (God bless him) Al Davis shitcanned Tom Cable after a very promising .500 season. Yes, I’m aware that Hue Jackson got the same treatment despite a mini collapse down the stretch. Yes, I’m aware Reggie McKenzie and Dennis Allen are promising a New Era Of Excellence.

I don’t buy it.

Welcome to the diary of a Raiders fan.

Last night looked like a huge step back. Granted, Denarius Moore and Jacoby Ford were out. But I hate how ESPN and Monday Night Football insist on putting us in the late game Week 1 every year. Waiting to play the last game of the week on Monday is bad enough but having to wait extra late while the Ravens and Bengals slug it out? I don’t like it. The NFL is so hung up on making sure the Raiders are on MNF but I dread Monday Night games. Games like last night happen.

A lot of our issues can be attributed to our special teams errors. Jon Condo went out with a head injury, leaving us with no long snapper, and effectively neutralizing Shane Lechler’s leg. And of course the Chargers, the dreaded, bloody Chargers, decided they wanted to show up last night. They have Nate Kaeding to mostly thank but still, they showed up.[2. I think I hate and like San Diego the most out of the other AFC West teams. I also love to see Redskins castoff Norv Turner succeed elsewhere. I hate it when we play them but I’d rather see them taking the West crown than Denver or Kansas City. And I don’t even want to talk about the Broncos and Peyton yet.]

I didn’t watch the full game. If you follow my other articles, you’ll see that I was more concerned about the health of Jerry “The King” Lawler than I was my team’s first game of the NFL season. I don’t even have any Raiders on my fantasy team but if the name isn’t Darren McFadden there isn’t much point thus far in the season. But I did see the closing drive of the first half.

McFadden was running amok as he was on his way to a career high 13 receptions. The O-line was holding and Carson Palmer was driving us towards the end zone. A 13-10 halftime was inevitable. But Run DMC was stopped short of a first down and we settled for a field goal. And the momentum stayed settled with the Chargers.

I’m glad McFadden is healthy again, but I’m really worried about losing Michael Bush. Without having that 1-2 punch, I’m afraid Darren is on his way to an injury plagued season again. But that might just be the Raiders pessimist in me.

And we have to keep our receiving core healthy. We’re never going to be that team who relies solely on the run. But if Moore and Ford miss large chunks of time, I don’t like our chances this season either. And while he has seemed to be rejuvenated since we acquired him last season, I’m waiting for the other shoe to drop with Carson Palmer. I still claim he hasn’t been the same since the Steelers took out his knee in 2005 and we’ve seen what kind of fits he likes throw when he’s not getting his way. Hopefully, he realizes this may be his last chance to be an incumbent starter on a team that still wants him. Cause Lord knows, we like to replace people for no reason around these parts.

The pros from last night: we outgained the Chargers in total yards, we had more first downs, and our time of possession was evenly matched. Despite San Diego and our special teams mistakes dominating the action, the Raiders didn’t play that terrible. This bodes well as we head to Hard Knock central, Miami this week. Of course, the Miami game last season was one of those gimme games we needed and I proceeded to watch Miami dominate us all over the field. But Brandon Marshall is in Chicago now and Dolphins didn’t do much to improve from last season. This should be the time to even up our record. Except that we’re wearing white.

I never used to care about our road jerseys when I was younger. But I had a conversation with my dad a day or so before Super Bowl XXXVII.[3. I blame my father solely for my Raiders fandom. I don’t know how he did it but it was implanted at a very early age that I was a Raiders fan. It didn’t help that I had a ridiculous wardrobe of silver and black as well. I both loathe and love him for it; I don’t think you’re a true fan of a team unless you watch them suffer.]

Me: We’re in the Super Bowl! Aren’t you excited?

Dad: Yeah, but we’re wearing white.

I immediately thought he was crazy considering we had won our first two Super Bowls in our white road jerseys. But he must have known something I didn’t. Maybe our time in Los Angeles brought bad luck to the jerseys. One of my earliest Raiders memories was that awful 1990 AFC Championship lost to Buffalo. Of course, we had lost Bo Jackson forever the week before, but it sure put a damper on our 13-3 season.

My dad’s words proved true; our team was demolished by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.[4. It was akin to playing a 2 player video game by yourself; they knew what was coming because Jon Gruden had built it. It was the most lopsided Super Bowl ever in my opinion, and the most unfair.]  I don’t like to visit that day often and any mention of the game makes me cringe.

Needless to say, my dad added to my many, many sports superstitions after that game. Anytime the Raiders suit up in white, I’m readying myself for impending failure. Therefore, our chances increase tenfold when we’re wearing the classic black. [5. Two times when the home jerseys failed me in recent memory, at least when we were competitive: 2000 against Baltimore in the AFC Championship Game and that day the NFL decided to screw us out of our Super Bowl XXXVI appearance.]

Sadly, I didn’t mean for this first entry to run into all my ups and downs as a Raiders fan. But whenever we get to talking about my team, I can’t help but mention the past. Last night’s game didn’t come out in our favor and I’m still not sure about Dennis Allen as our head coach. He has only had 1 game though and we showed several signs of life. As long as we get Condo back in short order I think we can field a competitive team each week. Mostly because I don’t want to write this series during a losing season, but can’t imagine anyone would want to chronicle their team’s season full of woes.

There’s hope right now, as there is at the start of every Raiders season. And as The Hunger Games stated, hope is more powerful than fear. But I’ll be damned if I don’t fear that this season is going to end up badly.

Current outlook: 6-10.

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