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Fans enjoy rivalry with Raiders

Discussion in 'San Diego Chargers Hall of Champions' started by robdog, Dec 2, 2005.

  1. robdog

    robdog Code Monkey Staff Member Administrator

    Jun 29, 2009
    Source: <a href="http://www.chargers.com/news/headline_detail.cfm?news_key=2448" target="_blank">Chargers.com</a>

    <img src="http://bolttalk.com/images/raiderfans01.jpg" alt="Raider Fans" />

    By Steve Karges

    On week six of the National Football League's 2005 season, "Greatness" was on display at McAfee Coliseum in Oakland, California.

    "The Greatness of the Raiders" and "The Team of the Decades" are slogans frequently used by the Raiders, but on this beautiful autumn afternoon in the East Bay, greatness played for the visiting team and wore a lightning bolt on his helmet.

    Since the city of Oakland was granted a franchise in the old America Football League in 1960, Raider fans have witnessed many memorable games including the "Heidi" game, the "Holy Roller" and the "Immaculate Reception." During the past 45 years, the Raiders have been known for their legendary players like George Blanda, Gene Upshaw, Art Shell and Marcus Allen who accomplished extraordinary feats on the gridiron including three Super Bowl Championships.

    Earlier this season, in their first of two annual meetings, the San Diego Chargers dominated the Raiders, 27-14, in Oakland, and in front of the "Raider Nation," some of the NFL's most passionate and colorful fans. This game became one for the ages, as Greatness, a.k.a., Chargers' Pro Bowl running back LaDainian Tomlinson added his name to the NFL's record books once again. L.T. will be remembered with Lance Alworth, Ron Mix, Dan Fouts, Kellen Winslow and Charlie Joiner as one of the Chargers' and NFL's all-time greats.

    Tomlinson played a role in each of San Diego's three touchdowns, all of which were scored in the first half. What is remarkable about this feat was that each TD was achieved in different ways.

    Tomlinson's first score came on a 35 yard reception from QB Drew Brees. His second touchdown was a seven yard run and the third was a four yard pass from L.T. to tight end Justin Peelle. L.T. became only the fifth player to rush, receive and pass for a TD in the same game during the Super Bowl era (1966-present).

    Tomlinson's first two touchdowns against the Raiders were scored in the south end zone at McAfee Coliseum, which is where the feared "Black Hole" is located. The Black Hole is a designated area of field level seats where the most loyal, vocal and intimidating Raider fans are located during home games. It is not a place for the weak and timid.

    The Black Hole represents the best and the worst of Raider fans. These are the Oakland Raider fans---the originals, the passionate, the tattooed "blue collar" fans that are the heart and soul of the worldwide Raider Nation. When asked the difference between Oakland and Los Angeles Raider fans, one man in the Hole shouted, "We don't have cell phones!" Another another man added, "We eat red meat!" The Raider Nation would have it no other way!

    Like the Biblical story of the Prodigal Son, the Oakland fans waited for their missing team to return home one day. Their patience paid off. Oakland Raider fans refer to the team's 15 seasons in Los Angeles (1980-94) as "the dark years." When the Raiders moved back to Oakland in 1995, the same loyal fans they had abandoned 15 years earlier were waiting for their team's return with open arms.

    The atmosphere in the Black Hole might be compared to a Hell's Angels' rally, a San Quentin reunion or a Halloween party gone askew. The beverage of choice is a cold dark brew (no wine sippers here) and the Raiders' faithful are required to wear black shirts in the Hole. Many come to the games with their faces painted silver and black. Others dress up in black costumes that range from frightening, to bizarre, to comical.

    The Raiders' tradition is passed from one generation to another. On this October Sunday, thousands of black, white, and silver jerseys could be seen, with the most prominent being #18 for WR Randy Moss, which was modeled by fourth generation Raider fans. Many of these offspring were born and raised into families that preached the team's doctrines, chanted team slogans and embraced "The Raider Image." When one lady was asked when she became a Raiders fan she replied, "In the womb!"

    Tomlinson's first quarter touchdowns in the south end zone completely silenced the Raider Nation and put security and emergency personal inside the Coliseum on high alert. If any player in the NFL personifies Oakland's "Commitment to Excellence" slogan it is the Chargers' premier running back, LaDainian Tomlinson.

    Tailgating is a long held tradition among the Raider faithful in the East Bay. These dedicated fans eat, drink and talk Raiders' football (past and present) until game time. The rap music is loud, the grills are smoking, and the beer is flowing. The Raider Nation is one big happy family.

    "Just Win Baby" is the mantra for the Raider Nation and is available on t-shirts in 11 different languages. The Raider Nation has spread to all 50 states and around the world. The Raiders have more than 60 fan clubs worldwide. On the internet, one can find hundreds of web sites and blogs solely dedicated to the Silver and Black.

    During his five seasons in the NFL, LaDainian Tomlinson has experienced his share of abuse from fans in the Black Hole, but on this day, the Raider Nation hurled something else in his direction – respect.

    "My first few times coming here they were really on me," Tomlinson said after the game. "Now it's kind of more ‘L.T. don't do us too bad.' It's a mutual respect. It's not as harsh as it used to be. Plus, I think some of them fans are fantasy owners, too."

    "Just hand the ball to L.T., baby!" A new Chargers' slogan?

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