Are Raiders fans really bad guys?
"It really is entirely a misperception," says Amy Trask, the Raiders chief executive. "The reality is the Coliseum is a very nice environment to watch a game. If you walk through the sections, as I do, you literally see everyone from babies to elderly grandparents."
Or how about this from the Raiders Take:
I'll never forget attending my first Raiders game after the team returned to Oakland. The Coliseum lot was nearly full and we were having a tough time finding a parking spot, until some dude jumped out and waved us down. He and his buddies promptly cleared their barbecue and chairs out of the way so we could park. That's the kind of neighborly Raiders fan story you read in the media every day, isn't it?
There are some good Raiders fans. Just like Morgan Freeman's character in Shawshank Redemption, there is good surrounded by evil. It is a shame for some fans like the Raiders take and other serious fans that they are grouped together with the hooligans and thugs often linked with the group. But the Raiders fans sure like to have it both ways, don’t they? Sure, some become indignant when the national media calls Raiders fans ruffians. Yet most Raiders fans enjoy the rough and tumble image and even go out of their way to perpetuate the stereotype. Just look at a recent “Ask a Raiders Fan feature” where we asked a fan what the Black Hole dresses up for on Halloween:
"You know what's funny? You would never say this to one of their faces. They'd stomp the shit out of you and you know that. So therefore, you’re going on the Internet talking all sorts of ignorant shit."
This is all the media's fault, right? Again, there are good Raiders fans, but the stereotype exists for a reason. San Francisco Chronicle columnist CW Nevius wrote an interesting piece recently about Raiders fans killing the team's bottom line by keeping people away from the stadium.
Nevis has had his own problem with Raiders fans: Several years ago I drove my wife's new car to a game. Some fans recognized me as a reporter and gave me what I thought was a good-natured ribbing. When I came back, the car had been trashed to the tune of over $2,000.
Is that just an isolated incident? Oakland Police Lt. David Kozicki said that police arrests at Raiders game were down from 70 to about half that—meaning that 35 people still get arrested at each Raiders game. Of course, that number might reflect a half-empty stadium. Raiders fans have avoid the Coliseum like it was hosting a screening of the movie Crossroads. And it is because this type of behavior still exists.
We were at the first Raiders game back in Oakland. A Chargers fan made the mistake of flying up to see the game. As the Raiders victory became inevitable, the Chargers fan walked out of his seat—after being pelted by debris—and was confronted in the walkway by a Raiders fan who resembled Kevin Nash. The bully backhanded the man's Chargers hat down about six rows and finally let him pass. I scooped up the hat and raced to find the Chargers fan, but he was long gone.
But the reputation is not.
It was Ice-T that best talked about attending a Raiders game in his song, Colors. "You ain't my set, you ain't my friend. Wear the wrong colors, your life can end."
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