Since the 26th January 2003, I have been dealing with an issue which has recently come to dominate my life. Every year it is my hope that I can get through this season without facing this dilemma, but I have to finally face the facts. This issue has reared it’s ugly head again within the last month and I need to confront it. It is said that the first step to recovery is to admit that you have a problem and need help. So here goes… ahemm… The Oakland Raiders Suck!” There I said it. I have released my demon.

For those who truly know me, this is no minor announcement on my part. I am not a Raider fan. I am a Raider fan-atic! I am a proud citizen of the Raider Nation. I bleed silver and black. I probably own the most Raider gear, paraphernalia and other crap in Canada… in Ottawa for sure! In December 2001, right after September 11th, when air travel into the USA was a major pain in the azzz, I went through all the indignity and stress of airport security questioning, probes and searches and made the pilgrimage to Oakland California to watch my beloved Raiders play their conference rivals, The Kansas City Chiefs. As I engaged in the tailgate festivities over in the “Black Hole”, as I entered from the light of day into the proverbial darkness of the Oakland Coliseum, as I looked around and saw a ring of silver and black all around me, as I watched people fighting and being dragged out of their seats by the po-po before the teams even took to the field for warmups, I knew I was home. If this wasn’t heaven, then hell ain’t so bad a place.  

Long ago I accepted that my love of the Oakland Raiders is a sickness. However, believe it or not, the sickness isn’t as pronounced as it was a few years ago. Hell not so long ago I regularly ended relationships because of the Raiders! I had more than a few conversations that went something like this:

Girlfriend (Gf): Hey baby, it’s a beautiful Sunday afternoon, let’s go out for a walk and enjoy the day. The leaves look so pretty as they are changing for the Fall.
Me: No can do. The Raider game is about to kickoff.
Gf: The Raider game!? What’s more important, staying in and watching a football game or going out and spending some quality time together.
Me: You know I love spending time with you… but it’s the Raiders! After the game, we’ll see. 
Gf: Well you need to make a decision now… me or the damn Raiders!
Me: Don’t let the door hit your azzz on the way out.

Or like this one:

Gf: Baby, turn off the T.V. for a minute. We need to talk about us.
Me: The Raider game is on and you’re standing in front of the T.V. and your lips are moving!
Gf: We need to talk about our relationship and where it’s going and…
Me: The Raider game is on and you’re standing in front of the T.V. and your lips are moving!
Gf: Fine then. If that’s your attitude… if you care more about your damn Raiders than about us… then I’m outta here!
Me: Don’t let the door hit your azzz on the way out. 

Sick huh?!

Now I’ll admit that I like watching other teams play, such as the Patriots, Steelers, Eagles, Colts, Giants and Ravens. However, I’m not a “fan” of those teams. In fact, I’m a “fan” of no other sports team period! There are only 2 teams a true Raider fan will ever cheer for: the Raiders and whoever is playing the 49ers! My first wife was a 49ers fan… which explains why she became my “first” wife. (nuff said… don’t wanna violate any court orders).

One of the worst days of my life was on 26th January 2003, when the Raiders played the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in Super Bowl 37. Leading up to that game, I was talking smack to anyone with 2 ears about how the Raiders were going to crush their former coach, John Gruden, and his current team, the Buccaneers. I was laying it on thick too for a couple weeks before the big game. I was strutting around like a peacock, wearing my Raider gear everywhere I went. Now I have watched some Super Bowl blowout before, but this was a beat down! The Buccaneers whipped the Raiders like a rented mule. The Raiders quarterback at the time, Rich Gannon, threw a record 5 interceptions, 3 of which were returned for touchdowns. I was stunned for weeks. I can tell you, I was quiet for a couple months when it came to the Raiders… and I took some. I was crucified unmercifully by my colleagues and friends… and I had no retort… especially after all of the smack I had dished out.        

The Raiders have never recovered from that loss. Since then they have had 6 straight losing seasons and became the first team in NFL history to lose at least 11 games in each of those seasons. This year they are well on their way to extend that record. Every Sunday I don my Raider gear… shirt, pants, socks, cap… with hope in my heart and a smile on my lips… and by bedtime I have a headache and red glassy eyes.  

So I have finally had to admit that The Oakland Raiders suck. I have finally come to terms with the fact that they will never get better until the owner Al Davis dies, they get a professional management team in place, they hire a real Head Coach, they get rid of the poser JaMarcus Russell and get a competent QB, and start performing up to their motto: “Commitment to Excellence”. 

Until then, I guess… no… I know that my hope… that same hope which “springs eternal” at the start of every season, that gets grinded down by week 4, will spring up again next year.