Town Bidness – The Last Game in Oakland

One of the first things I remember about football is #33 at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum. He wore Cardinal and Gold, and he could not be stopped. I was so young that I was sitting on my dad’s shoulders, but I remember how loud it was. I remember how great the game was. USC was getting smashed by UCLA and came back in the fourth quarter to win. My dad lost his shit along with everybody else in the stadium. I was too young to have a dog in the fight, but boy, I liked that #33. Man, he was so fast! Nobody could tackle that guy. I remember how gassed I was when they told me his name…

Marcus Allen.

Marcus Allen??? Wait a minute! My mom and dad had tied the knot a couple of years earlier, and all my mom’s family were named Allen. You know that feeling when you’re a little kid? “That’s my cousin!” Man, you couldn’t tell me shit. Fast forward a couple of years, and I’m standing on my own two feet in the same coliseum, and the Cardinal and Gold #33 was now a Silver and Black #32. Marcus Allen is now the Heisman trophy winning running back for my favorite NFL football team, we just beat the Seahawks, and now we’re on our way to the Super Bowl.

There are all kinds of Raider fans. I’m a Los Angeles one.

In the 80s and early 90s, the Raiders took over Los Angeles. As good as the Lakers were, the impact was different. Laker basketball was glitzy. It was entertainment first and foremost, and the organization presented it that way. Only so many people could fit or afford to be in the Forum, whereas the Coliseum could pack 90,000 plus for pretty cheap. LA gets this Hollywood rap, which is fine and understandable, but the underbelly of the city is as blue-collar as anywhere in the nation. The Raiders fit Los Angeles, the real Los Angeles.

Then came the heartbreak…

The Raiders decided to head back to Oakland and for a good reason. I’m fresh outta High School. This team is ingrained into my childhood. It’s a boy’s love of his favorite team, but more so because of the stamp, they left on the culture of my city. My favorite group was NWA. During that time, the Raider shield made you think about Eazy E and Ice Cube as much as touchdowns. Our Hockey team changed its colors to match. All the Latino homies loved to wear black anyway, so the vibe just fit.

Where the Lakers appealed to Hollywood, the Raiders appealed to Compton, Watts, and East LA. Though I would end up going to more games in Oakland than I did in LA, the decision to move the team was painful to the City of Angels…

So I fully understand the pain I saw in Oakland for the last game at the Coliseum.

We’re the roughest bunch of NFL fans in the country. We are the signature fan base in all of sports. Wherever you are on earth, when you see us, you know exactly who we are. We are Raider nation. Win, lose or draw, we are loud, dangerous, and talking big shit. We are one big worldwide dysfunctional family, always active and always ready for the bullshit. December 15th was different, though. It was different from tailgating to driving out of the parking lot.

More than anything, I ear hustled so many stories about experiences at the Oakland Alameda County Coliseum. Man, that is one shitty place. I was there for an A’s game once, and the toilets backed up. ???? Definitely the worst stadium in the NFL by far. I didn’t care. Nobody cared. We didn’t want any comfort. We aren’t here to sit down. We are here to pillage just for fun. The Nation was having it no other way than leaving the Coliseum for the last time with a win…

And then the Raiders lost.

That’s when everyone remembered the weight of the day. This was it. The tears started flowing. I was zooming and panning through the crowd, and I could see the pain on people’s faces. This team personified this community, and I understood it. I’m from Los Angeles. This has already happened to me. It’s happening to Oakland for the second time. This time the pressure bursts the pipe. The sadness turned to anger as fans began to throw things on the field. Most of the press got the fuck outta there, but I wanted to see it and feel it from the field. I stayed out there until security made me leave. The stadium was still half full…

Then it hit me personally. This is the last time.

As I headed through the tunnel, I passed by Violator, the zebra-faced defacto Raider mascot with the spiked shoulder pads. He was actually giving a retirement speech. I asked him was he really done. The look on his face when he replied, “I’m done,” made me feel like I won’t see him at the games in Las Vegas. I hope it was just emotion and he’ll come around. For whatever reason, I was under the belief that nothing would change other than the stadium and the amenities. The new Black Hole would have the same band of crazies that made it the iconic epicenter of Raider fandom. This was the first time I thought, “Maybe it won’t?”

The Raiders deserve better than the Oakland Coliseum. Enough is enough. Oakland deserves better than the blood of the city packing up and moving away. The sad part is that you can understand all sides involved, and the Raiders have to do what they feel is best for the team. I’m happy my team is coming to me, but Week 15 was not the week to celebrate. The Town was hurting, and I felt like the guy next to the hospital bed that’s just been given a clean bill of health, trying to console the patient. I spoke to fans in the parking lot so that I could get their perspective.

They didn’t care about the city of Oakland’s point. They didn’t care about the Raiders’ point. 

Oakland is hard. The Raiders are a relief. Nothing beats a win, but the experience of being a part of the most excellent fan base in the world on Sunday in the Oakland Coliseum is the preferred way to let off steam, win or lose. Now it’s gone, and it hurts. I wanna tell the city of Oakland to bear with it. Once the feeling subsides, do a little research into what the team has planned for Las Vegas and how easy it will be to support the Raiders in the next state over.

This is a class organization that has always taken care of its own. Oakland is a part of the Raiders as much as Willie Brown or Charles Woodson. The Raiders is Town Bidness and will always be. They’ll never forget Oakland, and I fully expect them to make it easier for Town fans to get to Vegas on Sundays than it will be for anyone else.

Today it doesn’t matter, but this fan base is called The Nation for a reason. The West belongs to us. All of this is Raider country. I’ve been to  Charger games, Niner games, and even Saints games and Jet games, etc. We take the fuck over, you understand? All over this country, we take over. We’ve got some new threads coming to Las Vegas, and it’s a gift to all of us. Once the emotions subside and Gruden and Mayock deliver us one more ground-breaking draft, I fully expect to see these same frowns upside down in Allegiant Stadium next season.

Giving that Town Bidness to the Chiefs, Broncos, and Chargers. We will always be Raider Nation. Wherever we play.

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Last Game in Oakland...

Photography by Terrance Quaites