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Roadtrip: a TSD trek into ‘Raider Nation’

  • Written by Kelley Evans
  • Published in News
The NBA lockout has created down time for some reporters and opened doors for them to cover other leagues and different teams.
 
 Kelley
Evans

The NBA lockout has created down time for some reporters and opened doors for them to cover other leagues and different teams. Labor talks are in standstill mode, with NBA Commissioner David Stern already having cancelled the preseason and the first two weeks of the regular season.

So last Sunday, I found myself in the crowd in Oakland, Calif., as the Oakland Raiders took on the Cleveland Browns, coming away a 24-17 victory. And while I started off as a corn dog-enjoying spectator, I ended with pen and pad in hand.

Across the Bay from San Francisco, through a tunnel and over a bridge, sits the Raider stadium known as O.co Coliseum (originally Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum), which is shared with the city’s MLB team, the Oakland Athletics. About 20 feet away is the Oracle Arena, where the NBA’s Golden State Warriors do battle.

After retrieving a will call ticket, I was seated with a great view. The jumbotron graced the celebrities such as rapper, actor and film producer Ice Cube.

The day was event packed. With the recent passing of team owner Al Davis, the Oakland Tribune reported that it was important to the Raider organization that the stadium be filled and blacked-out in a tribute to Davis. Complimentary tickets were given to season ticket holders for their guests.

Raider fans – quite a few of them – came ready and rowdy. Cleveland fans bold enough to represent their team were vigorously heckled. One was even physically removed by a Raider fan. With police protection everywhere, there still were numerous fights.

“This is every home game,” said one fan, spying the baffled look on my face.

“You get used to it. It fuels the players. If they see we’ll fight for them, they’ll fight for the win. It’s every man for himself in the black hole. No one comes to a Raider game ‘repping’ their team. Don’t disrespect us. Especially not today.”

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