“I want YOU to play quarterback for my football team.” (source: riverfronttimes.com)
I’m about to say something many of you will find abhorrent: I sort of respect Raiders fans.
That’s not to say I like them, or that I like the Raiders. I grew up just like all of you; I know the score. The Raiders are our enemies. They always have been. People might hate the Broncos more right now, but our real rival is Oakland. It always has been, and for anyone born before 1990 it always will be.
I grew up hating the Raiders with a passion. There was a kid at my grade school who rooted for the Raiders and I hated him too. I would go to that game at Arrowhead every year and scream my head off when KC Wolf would belly flop on the faux-armored goon at midfield. My Chiefs pride was at its highest when we’d beat them. And Marty owned those fools in the 90s. Those were good times.
More after the jump
Things have changed, and my feelings have changed accordingly. It’s not often two rival organizations become laughingstocks at the same time. Their descent may have started a year or two before ours, but the Raiders have also had more recent success. If you were to ask the average fan to list the most embarrassing teams of the last five years, yeah, the Raiders would have to be tops on virtually everyone’s list. But the Chiefs would be right behind them. Lest ye forget, Herm Edwards went through a 2-23 stretch, and he never shut his mouth or admitted culpability the whole time. For three years the face of our franchise had two looks: confusion and false mirth. People were laughing at us, I promise you.
We of all people should have some sense of how hard it must’ve been for Raiders fans these last few years. We’ve been living a pretty similar reality. We complained about Carl Peterson’s draft picks. I can’t imagine what I would’ve done if I’d been forced to watch Al Davis operate in April. The Heyward-Bey pick alone probably would’ve given me a heart attack (unlike our awesome Tin Man pick). So when I see those fans still putting on armor and doing their whole shtick, I don’t know, I sort of respect it. Would you wear armor to a stadium to watch a team quarterbacked by Jamarcus Russell? Thats a tough sell, I don’t care who you are.
I grew up hating on these people, but I’m no longer sure how valid that is. I live in Brooklyn and watch Chiefs games at a bar full of transplants, so I’m in contact with a wide variety of fans every week. Oakland fans are far from the worst. After the San Francisco win I got an unexpected pat on the back. It was the local Raiders fanatic. A small, smiley guy who mainly keeps to himself. He didn’t gush like a drunk idiot. He gave me a small nod and said it was nice to see us back and that he looked forward to playing us. Now, after a couple impressive wins from his squad, I can honestly say I feel the same way. I feel a certain kinship with Raiders fans, as weird as that sounds. I see them in their armor and think they’re not so very different from me in my headdress. If another AFC West team has to threaten us, I’m glad its them.
There are Raiders trolls on here from time to time, and sure, they disgust me. Any troll disgusts me. But check out the comments in this post from new AA staffer Victor yesterday. Several Raiders comments there, and none of them offended me in the least. That thread was full of two groups of people who obviously didn’t like each other, but still knew how to act like reasonable human beings. It’d be nice to see more of that on the internet.
Make no mistake, we have our trolls too. There are some truly militant homers up in Chiefs Nation. I’ve seen them in action for years, and its embarrassing. They make the rest of us look bad. One of the main reasons I started writing about the Chiefs was to combat that nonsense. When you come into contact with opposing fans, you’re essentially an ambassador of KC. People will judge Kansas City by the way you act. So be cool, people. For the love of god please be cool.
As for Raiders fans, these days I give them the chance to be cool, too. Sometimes they surprise you. We can never truly like each other, but we can show grudging respect. I for one am happy we seem to be rebounding at the same time. Let Rivers and Tebow play in the cellar together. Now those are people I hate.