Raider Stag-Nation

Raider Nation has never been known for its moderation, sportsmanship or gentle nature. It’s actually best known for the YouTube video of a San Diego Chargers fan getting stabbed in the stomach with a homemade knife.

That’s why this lifelong Denver Broncos fanatic attended last Sunday’s game wearing a gray Oakland Athletics T-shirt, a black Kings hat and nothing donkey related. The clothes were chosen to be bland, noncommittal and technically truthful, and easily blended into a crowd of football-crazed parolees cut off from their prison meds. I have enough to do without a shiv in my belly.

However, if Sunday’s game was any indication, the usually intimidating crowd at the Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum has been neutered by their team’s mounting losses, as well as the pitiful mania that’s gripped the front office.

The Raiders were always known for being “crazy,” but owner/Swamp Thing Al Davis continues to push the envelope. Last season’s soap opera was amazing (Journalist attacks! Firings! Litigation! Delusional press conferences! More litigation!), but this year’s cycle has featured the team’s head coach sucker-punching one of his assistants. How long before Kristin Cavallari shows up as the bitchy tight end?

On the plus side, the deterioration of Davis’ sanity has resulted in a regeneration of sanity for Raiders fans. A man wearing a backward Broncos hat rode the BART without getting molested or spit upon. At the station, a Raiders fan sincerely wished “good luck” to a Denver fan. One of the ticket scalpers yelled, “Go Broncos, man!”

Were these citizens of Raider Nation or Belgium? The most offensive thing I witnessed all day was a guy giving the finger to an offsides penalty.

It was certainly more offense than Raiders quarterback JaMarcus Russell mustered—his first three possessions resulted in two interceptions, and chants for his backup started early (e.g., “God, I hate you! Grad-kowwwww-skiiiii!”).

The Raiders signed their No. 1 pick Russell to a $60 million contract, despite a hilarious passing inaccuracy that makes him seem like the protagonist in a straight-to-video Necessary Roughness sequel. He’s also built more like an undersized, overweight power forward than an NFL quarterback, which makes me wonder why Geoff Petrie didn’t sign him for $60 million first.

Denver led 13-3 at halftime, and a third quarter Broncos touchdown made the lead unreachable for Oakland’s execrable offense. The only second-half amusement in our section was provided by the arrival of a thoroughly trashed entourage, especially a female Raiders fan sporting the requisite “gangsta skank” couture who fell over a row of seats onto the Coliseum concrete.

A man near us remarked, “I’ve been a season ticket holder for over 40 years, and that’s the most pathetic thing I’ve ever seen.” Amazingly, he was still talking about Russell.

With Denver’s victory sealed, fans left too early for the fourth-quarter alcohol cutoff to have any effect. Ironically, the mass of Raiders fans slowly stumbling towards the BART station was a sobering sight, like a tipsy trail of tears.

One woman in a Raiders beach hat summed up the day: “There’s no hope. No hope!”