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September 12, 2008

We Are a Part of a Raider Nation

No one is writing the real story of what happened last Monday night in Oakland Coliseum. Yes, the Raiders lost on national television, 41-14, against their oldest, most-bitter rivals in the season opener at home before a capacity crowd of 63,000. Yes, their 23-year-old quarterback JaMarcus Russell was coddled by management, never getting a chance to let fly with his $60-million arm. Yes, it will be another losing season with the youngest coach in the NFL, who went 4-12 last year. But no, this was not a defeat. Because you cannot defeat congenital losers. Even in defeat, losers don't lose; their identity is only reaffirmed. Let it be said loud and clear that, now more than ever, America is a Raider Nation, and we are all Raiders!

Simply examine the facts:

•America's Misery Index (inflation plus unemployment) is at its highest point since 1990. The Raiders' Misery Index is also at historic highs.

Al Davis
•An old, white guy completely out of touch with reality has run the Raiders for 40 years now. Owner Al Davis is the Raiders' Dick Cheney.

Forty-five fans were arrested, 115 were ejected, and dozens tased by police Sunday in the most-violent spectacle on either coast I've ever seen. Women punched Alameda sheriff deputies and the cops swore they'd press charges. A Broncos fan got tossed down three flights of stairs, and then arrested— for his own safety.

Going to a Raiders game for the first time is equivalent to the experience of an immigrant arriving in the United States. Your relatives warn you to be careful, wear the right colors, and not make any weird gestures, or you will get stabbed. This is not an overstatement. We lock up more people per capita than anywhere else in the world, and have more ex-cons. While other crimes are decreasing, random violence is on the rise.

•There was a moment, early in the game, when the shine was still on the apple, when we all Believed. And we yelled so loud in unison, the Broncos couldn't call their play, and gave up the drive and punted. It felt magical and perfect and totally unifying: 63,000 fans yelling "Fuck you!" and the Broncos offense skittering off the field in response. America was started and staffed by such raiders, rakes, and vagabonds. Saying "fuck you" to authority is our national character.

But once the game started slipping away, and we thought we might lose, we gave up and turned on one another for entertainment. Something tells me that if we could only have stayed united, we could've willed our shit team to victory through sheer faith. If every time the score got worse, we only got louder, more excited and more resolute, maybe, just maybe, it could've been different.

But we can only be Raiders. We can only be a Raider Nation.

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