Be the best fan you can before the Raiders take the field
by ed graney
I live for a 5.0, and have the Oakland Raiders to thank for being deprived of such an exemplary appraisal.
It’s all the fault of the Silver and Black.
It’s the perfect customer rating for Uber, an indication those transporting from one location to another view you as a compliant and courteous sort.
I’m the ideal candidate for such status: pleasant, always on time and at the designated pick-up spot, chatty in a manner that doesn’t offend, never eat or drink in the car, store and grab my own bags, never request a change in temperature.
I work like a dog for that rating.
So while many believe the most significant number in the relocation of the Raiders to Las Vegas is $750 million — the amount of tax subsidy put toward building an NFL stadium off Interstate 15 at Russell Road — I have the toughest time with 4.78.
It’s where my rating has landed following several trips to the East Bay for coverage of minicamps and other football-related events, and there hasn’t been such a journey that didn’t involve at least one Uber conversation along these lines:
Driver: Where are you from?
Me: Las Vegas.
Driver: So you’re the one who stole our football team.
It’s a guilt-by-association badge of which there is no escape, because hell hath no fury like an NFL fan scorned twice by his team relocating to other cities.
Hence, upon accepting my quest to remain a 5.0 has died somewhere in the Bay along with Lord knows what (or who) else, I have concluded it’s best to merely look forward and help Las Vegas fans prepare for the team’s arrival in 2020.
So here’s a guide on how best to be all-in on the Raiders before the the team officially kicks off in Southern Nevada. e team officially kicks off in Southern Nevada.
Sundays are for the Black Hole.
Know it. Learn it. Live it.
The best part about being a Raiders fan is that there are absolutely no limits when it comes to how one dresses for games.
Total lunacy — anarchy? — is not only accepted, but in many ways encouraged.
It’s important to know the NFL hasn’t yet licensed any gear with the phrase, “Las Vegas Raiders,” and won’t do so until the team lands in town, so anything you find on a store shelf or on eBay or Amazon or other internet sites is a knockoff.
When it comes to the really crazy stuff, meaning the weekly Halloween party some Raiders fans throw, understand this: It took up to six hours a day to apply makeup to actors in “Planet of the Apes.” It might take you longer to prepare for a game.
You have popular characters like Gorilla Rilla and Violator and Drea of the Dead and Dr. Death.
It all involves body paint and helmets with horns and shoulder pads and swords and other various, well, really authentic-looking weapons.
So go crazy the next few years as you take in games at home or a local tavern. Be imaginative. Invent your own costume with a Las Vegas theme.
After all, don’t you want to be the talk of your neighborhood when sweeping the driveway dressed in a black jumpsuit with silver-tipped sideburns and a large, spiked chain hanging around your neck instead of a guitar?
The team, after all, is going to need Raider Elvis.
BE THE SMART ONE
Nothing says party animal like the guy or gal who is obsessed with useless trivia.
Between flipping steaks on the barbecue and making sure your guests have full glasses of cheap boxed wine (or is that just at my house?), have some fun throwing out facts about the soon-to-be-new-team-in-town.
For instance …
Did you know Raiders running back Marcus Allen was the first player in NFL history to gain more than 10,000 yards rushing and more than 5,000 yards receiving during his career?
Or … that the Raiders are the only NFL team to win titles in the 1960s, ’70s and ’80s?
Or … by defeating Philadelphia in Super Bowl XV, the Raiders became the first wild-card team ever to win it all?
Or … it’s true owner Mark Davis has been known to fly Southwest, drives a minivan, eats at P.F. Chang’s almost every day and travels 500 miles to have his hair trimmed by the same barber that shaped his bowl-cut look back in college at Chico State.
Then, there is the mother of all Raiders minutiae: the Tuck Rule Game.
It’s important to know Patriots quarterback Tom Brady ranks somewhere between Joseph Stalin and Lucifer in the eyes of most Raiders fans, with the majority of scorn stemming from a January, 2002 AFC divisional playoff game in Foxboro (Mass.) Stadium.
Instant replay: Raiders’ cornerback Charles Woodson sacked Brady, seemingly causing a fumble recovered by Raiders linebacker Greg Biekert and nearly guaranteeing a Raiders’ victory. After reviewing the play, officials determined the play was an incomplete pass and not a fumble under then-NFL rules because Brady attempted to “tuck” the ball back into his body. Final score: Patriots 16, Raiders 13.
In other words, if you’re going to bring up Brady when proving how much you know about the team’s history, have someone protect the china and then duck for cover.
WHERE TO WATCH (AND DRINK)
The challenge over the next few years is for someone to open a bar or redesign a current one, similar to the ultimate Raider hangout Ricky’s Sports Theatre & Grill, not 15 minutes in crawling Bay Area traffic from the Oakland Coliseum.
The chairs are silver. The tablecloths are black. Jerseys of Blanda and Stabler and Plunkett and Atkinson and Villapiano and so many other greats hang from the walls.
You can find NFL games weekly at countless sports bars and books across Las Vegas, but for those catering to a pro-Raiders crowd, begin with these three:
Aces & Ales, 2801 N. Tenaya Way, Las Vegas
Legends Sports Bar & Grill, 5866 Boulder Highway, Las Vegas
Lucy’s Bar & Grill, 3227 Civic Center Drive, North Las Vegas
My guess is none will come close to matching the incredible amount of Raiders history seen at Ricky’s — where glass cases are filled with photos and memorabilia and even the refrigerators are plastered with team logos — but there is time to fix that.
Start with the tablecloths and add from there.
WHAT ABOUT TV AND RADIO?
The Raiders in June announced broadcast deals with KVVU-5 and Beasley Media Group.
The television contract — KVVU, a Fox affiliate — is for the upcoming season through the 2019 campaign. The channel will televise all four preseason games this season.
Fox-5 will only show one regular-season game this season because Fox has rights to NFC teams’ away games.
KLAS-8 will have the chance to air 11 Raiders games, while KSNV-3 will televise three games and ESPN one.
The radio deal — KCYE-FM (102.7) and KDWN-AM (720) will carry all 20 preseason and regular-season games this season — is for two years.
Translation: You can expect the bidding process for such rights from local outlets to begin anew and likely become far more competitive when the Raiders are actually playing here.
No matter what you thought of the $750 million stadium tax issue, it passed and the Raiders are coming.
For sports fans, nothing brings a town closer to national relevancy like housing an NFL team.
Nothing is like being one of 32, a reality whose magnitude of stature can’t be suitably expressed.
You can expect the Raiders to hold a preseason game at Sam Boyd Stadium in 2018 and, given that their lease with the city of Oakland expires in two years, there will be whispers about the team possibly arriving here before 2020.
It’s not the longshot of Conor McGregor beating Floyd Mayweather Jr., but it’s also not something to count on.
So take the next three NFL seasons to learn the most you can about the silver-and-black team headed here and maybe even try out that Raider Elvis costume on Halloween.
If you can’t wait to see Derek Carr and defensive star Khalil Mack and others up close and personal, heed this advice:
When Uber drivers in Oakland ask where you’re from, square your shoulders and with the utmost pride tell them … Des Moines.