Oakland Raider fans from around the Raider Nation have converged on Oakland, California,as the Raiders get set to take on their ancient arch-rivals, the Denver Broncos, in Oaktown’s notorious Black Hole.
For a fan as old as I am – I’ve followed the team since it was almost called the Oakland Senors – this season has been like a walk down Memory Lane.
What younger fans might not realize is this: the Raiders in their Glory Years never dominated. They simply never gave up.
Most of their most exciting games were won – or lost – in the final two minutes. They were known as a Fourth Quarter ball club.
If you left the game early because the Boys in Black were down by two touchdowns, you did so at your peril.
Talk about last minute comebacks. Have you ever heard of the Heidi Game? It was the only time in history that the New York telephone exchange broke down.
Why? Because it was overloaded by callers wanting to know who won the game, the Oakland Raiders or the New York Jets.
The broadcast ended before the game did to air a Shirley Temple movie.
So here were are at mid-season. It’s two of the old American Football League’s fiercest rivals – the Oakland Raiders and the Denver Broncos – tied for first place in the West.
This is like an old movie that has been shown over and over again – except for one thing: each time it ends differently.
Is it just a co-incidence that the Raiders Fan Convention was for scheduled for this weekend? Probably
Is it just a co-incidence that this game is being broadcast on national television? Maybe yes, maybe no. But probably not.
Nobody had any way of knowing that these two historic arch-rivals would be fighting it out for first place at mid-season. The last time the Raiders found themselves in this position at mid-season was 15 years ago.
But there is a certain sweetness to this age-old rivalry. the bad blood between the Raiders and the Broncos is the stuff of legend. They were the clean cut football players, with a gentlemanly aura and manicured haircuts.
We were the thugs … the disrespected football team that represented a disrespected town … living in the shadows of one of the world’s greatest cities – and resenting the hell out of it..
It just would ‘t be the same if it were any other team … or many other teams … -fighting it out tonight on national television.
I doubt that putting the Denver Broncos vs the Oakland Raiders, fighting it out for King of the Mountain in the Western Division of the American Conference of the National Football League on national television was a fluke.
The Raiders in their glory years always attracted the biggest television audiences … because you either loved them or you hated them. But nobody indifferent.
But none of this really matters.
All that REALLY matters is this: this is but one game. And treat it as such. If we win this game, we focus on NEXT week’s game. We DID beat Denver last year at THEIR stadium. But THEY won the Super Bowl.
One game at a time … One game at a time … One game at a time …