Droppin Ol’School Post – Written on Nov 24, 2003
Minnesota Vikings (6-3) @ OAKLAND RAIDERS (2-7)
And were back!!! We thank you for waiting six weeks since the last State of the Raider Nation and we appreciate any inconvenience this may have caused (thanks for nothing One2Host!).
I am bringing back the SRN this week because there was a special event that took place this weekend besides the big Raider win. Before I let you know what that was, I need to recognize that to me, my wife is THE BEST WIFE IN THE WORLD!!!
Let me explain. My birthday is next month and she surprised me last Saturday night with an early b-day gift. The gift was a day trip to go see the Raiders play the Vikings the following day!!! I was to fly out Sunday morning with a friend of mine (Slammin), see the game, and then return home Sunday night. This was a huge surprise for me as I have never attended an NFL game before, let a lone get the opportunity to see the team that I have eat, slept, and drank for my entire life. I was in shock when she told me the news. At that point I didn’t even care that we have only won 2 games all year and that Rick Mirer would be leading us against the division leading Vikings. My blind giddiness wiped all of that away from my memory. I honestly felt that the Raiders would step it up somehow and play well enough to win.
Here is my running diary of the day: Sunday, November 16, 2003
8:00 a.m. – This is the earliest I have been up on a Sunday in a while. I couldn’t sleep that much last night. I am now faced with the decision, which jersey should I wear C Wood or T Brown? I go with T Brown because it is a home game and I want to fit in.
9:30 a.m. – My buddy, Slammin, picks me up at my house and we head off to the airport. Being that we are both decked out in Raider gear we strike up a conversation with another traveler who lived in Oakland. We talk about who the Raiders are playing and then he asks us if we are going to the game. We proceed to tell him that we are and I can tell that he is jealous. He also confirms the fact that I have a great wife (reoccurring theme of the day). I am getting more and more excited by the second. Even though I am very tired, I cannot sleep on the plane. I even spend time reading the Sky mall catalog. Note to self, look into that hot dog toaster.
12:00 p.m. (PT) – We land in Oakland and walk through the airport to see many other fans who have traveled to attend the game. The number of fans wearing Raider gear is breath taking. Unfortunately where I come from there are tons of Denver Donkey fans. I have never seen so many Raider fans in one place. This is awesome!!!
12:15 p.m. (PT) – We are told that we can take a shuttle straight to Network Associates Coliseum so we are on the search for this shuttle. We find out that we need to purchase a $2 ticket at the kiosk found near the shuttle stop. We find the kiosk and witness every other person getting ripped off a $1 as the “broken” machine fails to recognize every third dollar that is placed into it. The machine counts both of my dollars and the good luck mojo continues to gain momentum.
12:25 p.m. (PT) – The shuttle arrives and as I step up into it, I see that it is packed with Raider fans. Once again, my heart is warmed and I get goose bumps at the very sight. As I walked back to find my seat, a Raider fan in his forties holds out his fist towards me without saying a word. I extend my fist to tap it which results in him nodding his head in the affirmative. No words spoken, but I believe I have just been accepted as one of them, very cool moment. I feel a bond with each of these fans that I have never felt before in my home town. I am beginning to understand more of what the Raider Nation is all about.
12:40 p.m. (PT) – The shuttle arrives at the station and we are now following the hordes of silver and black onto the overpass which takes us across the railroads and into NAC. The whole environment is very Raiders: concrete, chain link fences, complete with barbwire in some spots. My only regret at this point is that we couldn’t arrive earlier and partake of the tailgating. Maybe next time. Did I just say next time? I haven’t been in 30 years but now all of a sudden it has become a reality. I will do this again!
12:45 p.m. (PT) – We work our way around to the South side of the NAC and work our way through the flood of fans trying to get in. Everybody is packed in like sardines as the security measures have obviously slowed down this process. The tailgaters are starting to join us and you begin to hear spontaneous cheers of RAIIIIIIIIDERRRRRRRRS coming out of the blue from different individuals. At first I thought nothing of it but it was a common occurrence as the day progressed. In the midst of much silver and black you would occasionally see a spot of Purple and Yellow. I thought to myself, “Do these people know where they are?” You can’t bring that stuff in here! I said a quick prayer that their families would be comforted with their upcoming loss of a loved one.
12:50 p.m. (PT) – We find ourselves in the stadium and see some of the Raiders practicing on the field. Wow, I am speechless. I have no speech. Please give me a moment, I think I have something in my eye.
12:55 p.m. (PT) – Slammin and I are sitting on the 5th row now less! We are up close and personal with the fans, the players, and the Raiderettes for that matter. Originally I only saw about 12 Raiderettes. Then they disappeared only to reappear with another set of twelve. Before too long, there are about 48 of them lined up near the Black Hole. They are multiplying faster than the fem-bots on Austin Powers. As I am sitting there in my seat, listening to AC/DC and as the occasional “F the Vikings” floats down from the crowd, my buddy mentions to me that our wives and families are in church right about now. Given our surroundings I replied, “this is pretty close.”
1:00 p.m. (PT) – I just spotted the Darth Raider fan in the Black Hole, the police are watching that area very closely and it seems that the fans have a great rapport with them, shaking hands and what not. There are two Viking fans located right in the middle of the Black Hole and I can’t help but wonder how they got those tickets. Does someone in the Black Hole buy and sell these seats on eBay just to torment the opponent? They are decked out head to toe in Viking paraphernalia and I am starting to wonder how long they will survive there.
The Vikings (or as some of the fans call them, the Vi Queens) emerge from the locker room and Daunte leads a group of them right over to the Black Hole. Daunte proceeds to stop and smash the Raider logo in the end zone just to taunt them. I felt as if lightning was going to strike him dead in his tracks. I am suddenly not a Daunte supporter anymore. How dare he disrespect us like that. “WE MUST PROTECT THIS HOUSE!!!”
A fan in our section suddenly emerges as the leader / cheerleader, I will call him Juan. Juan weighs about 250+ and is very loud. He spots a couple of Viking fans (an older couple) in our section and proceeds to chew them out, in a fun loving Raider Nation kind of way. He didn’t threaten them by any means but he did let them know that they were not welcomed, it was hilarious. I still don’t think Juan had purchased a seat in our section but he was in fact part of us. He had earned our respect, he was our leader.
1:10 p.m. (PT) – The announcer begins to play “Autumn Wind” and I am really getting chills at this point. He states, “There are 31 teams in the NFL… and then there are… the OAKLAND RAIDERS!!” The crowd loses it and the RAIIIIIIIIDERRRRRRRRS chants are becoming more frequent. We are ready for the kickoff!
As we prepare to kickoff, Juan is trying to hype the crowd but fails to realize that the kicking team has started down the field. The crowd points and yells at him to turn around and he then recognizes that he has screwed up. The Vikings return the kickoff to the Raiders 44 yard line and a bit of reality creeps in that I haven’t remotely thought of in the last 24 hours, we are not that good right now and we could lose this game.
On the first play of the game, Bennett gains a few yards on the ground. On the second play of the game, Daunte throws and out pass to Philip “SHOWTIME” Buchanon that he takes down the sideline and into the end zone!!! I have no idea who he was throwing to but I didn’t care. I started to go crazy along with my buddy and the other Raider fans. Again I get the feeling that today will be different. This turn of events also reveals that I have a Vikings fan directly behind me. I will call him Barry. Barry is disappointed with this play but still feels confident in the Vikings ability to come back. He is very complimentary of the Stadium, Fans, etc. In his words, “This is much more exciting than the ‘Dome.” The Raiders are ahead 7 – 0.
This time the Raiders stop the Vikings at their 13 yard line. Several plays later, Rod Woodson recovered a fumble by Burleson. Philip was also involved in this takeaway as well. The good luck mojo is in high gear at this point.
We proceed with our new game plan of Wheatley, smash it down your throat ball, which I am a fan of right now. However, Fargas gets tripped up on what would be a 22 yard gain and fumbles it back to the Vikings at their 38 yard line.
The Vikings moved down the field and attempted a 39 yard field goal. From my seat, I couldn’t tell if the ball was good or not so I relied on the fans of the Black Hole who jumped up and started celebrating. At that point, I knew the kick was wide.
A couple of more Wheatley runs ensued, followed up by a 16 yard pass to Santiago (the current TE of choice). Then I was able to check off one of the things on my “see in this life” list, I saw Tim Brown catch a 25 yard pass. However, on the next play, Crockett fumbled the ball back to the Vikings on their 29 to end the first quarter. The turnovers are coming fast and furious right now. At least we have turned ours into points so far. The Vikings must have heard my thoughts and drove it down to convert the field goal this time. Raiders 7 – Vikings 3.
After a short drive, the Raiders were forced to punt and Shane gets it down to the Vikings 10 yard line. Napoleon Harris bursts through the line and forces Daunte to fumble the ball which we recover on the one-yard line. We all know what this means, Crockett Time! He punched it in to give the Raiders a 14 – 3 lead with 8:22 left in the second quarter!
Later on in the second quarter the Vikings attempted a 45 yard field goal which missed as well. Viking fan Barry is starting to get a little more upset with his team. The first half ends, Raiders 14 – Vikings 3. That first half just flew by.
My buddy and I get up to get something to eat. We end up spending $4.50 for a Stadium dog and another $4.50 for a 32 ounce soda. I didn’t even care. By the way, I know why the Raiders are connected with the Steroid abuse. That was the thickest hot dog I have ever seen! We ended up buying some souvenirs for the family as well.
To start the second half, the Raiders quickly put points on the board after several carries by Wheatley and Crockett. Seven plays and 74 yards later, a Wheatley 2-yard touchdown put the Raiders 21-3 over the Vikings. This is our day, I can feel it! The losing streak will end here and I will be a part of it! It doesn’t get any better than this (in regards to being a fan that is).
Later on, Philip intercepts Daunte again in their end zone on a 3rd down and 20 play. The catch was great but if he would have knocked it down instead, we would of had the ball near the forty rather than the 20. I like Philip’s enthusiasm but I think he is too cocky at times. That selfishness has caused some trouble in the past and I expect that it will continue to do so unless he turns it into confidence instead of show boating. Don’t get me wrong, I love show boating. One of my favorite players of all time is Deion Sanders but when you make crucial mistakes, it comes off as fake. By the way, Barry is now calling for the heads of Daunte and Tice. He wants Gus in the game now!
After we cannot move the ball, the Vikings move it down to the 11 yard line. On the next play, Daunte runs it in to cut the lead to 21 – 10.
On the Raiders next drive, Doug Jolley catches a 25 yard pass along the sideline. Jerry Rice finally gets into the game with a 20 yard reception. However, Sebass misses a 52 yard field goal attempt.
As the Vikings drive downfield, Chris Cooper recovers another Viking fumble but we were not able to do anything with it and end up punting it back to them.
Philip proceeds to get burned twice by Campbell for 81 yards including a touchdown which brings the Vikings to within 3, 21 – 18, with 8:28 left in the game. Time is going by so fast and it is starting to get more intense.
Wheatley then rushes for 24 yards and Porter catches two balls for 48 yards on the next drive. They decide to go for it on fourth down and the unbelievable happens. Tim Brown drops a pass in the end zone. From my seat I couldn’t see what exactly happened. I saw that Tim was wide open and then I saw Rick make the throw. I thought it was a TD for sure but the players were not celebrating. Many of the fans were so I was very confused as the defense trotted onto the field. Doubt started to creep back in. The good luck mojo was slowing down but I still thought that we would pull this out somehow.
The Vikings began their drive at the 4 yard line and after two incomplete passes (Daunte was off a lot today), Rod saves the day with a game turning interception. This man makes some of the biggest plays! It is amazing. The play was reviewed but not overturned, it was Raider ball. RAIIIIIIIIDERRRRRRRRS!!!
A carry by Wheatley was followed up with an insane, dare I say, Elway-like dive for Mirer. Rick launched himself high up in the air and is then hit which spins his body completely around like a helicopter. This run set up a 2 yard Crockett touchdown and a 10 point lead, 28 – 18. The Vikings closed their efforts with several incomplete passes and the Raiders took a knee to win the game 28 – 18!!!
The rest of the day is pretty much a blur. We got back to the airport, chatted it up with more Raider fans, and tried to get some rest on the flight home. As we pulled into the driveway, my wife was still awake and wanted a complete rundown of the day. After talking for a couple of hours I hit the sack.
I want to thank all of the Raider fans who were in attendance that day as well as all of you who were not. I didn’t know what to expect coming into today but I felt at home with all of you and I thank you for letting me be a part of it. This was an experience that I will never forget and one that I hope to recreate in the future. I will forever bleed silver and black no matter what the record or circumstances. This is the STATE OF THE RAIDER NATION!