Raiders/Leafs Nations Synonymous

By HOWARD BERGER

SAN FRANCISCO (Dec. 22) — Black and silver or blue and white, they are kindred spirits. Both are “Nations” and both have suffered for many a year. Neither places a condition on its love for team.

I found that out yesterday in Oakland. Not that it was surprising. The Raiders of the National Football League long ago established an iron–clad foothold on the east side of San Francisco Bay. Super Bowl championships after the 1976, 1980 and 1983 seasons (and a loss to Tampa Bay after the 2001 schedule) ensured such a following. But, I figured an embarrassing 2–12 season might have claimed some enthusiasm for yesterday’s home finale against the Buffalo Bills at Oakland Coliseum. Without question, I figured wrong. Very wrong.

Either blame or credit alcohol.

Raider fan knows how to dull the pain. That was evident outside the Coliseum among lunch–time tail–gaters and inside the venerable stadium among denizens that stood and pointed simultaneously toward the goal–line upon every Oakland first down. The revelry in the wake of a 26–24 triumph over the upset–prone Bills seemed a tad hyperbolic for a team winning its third of 15 games. But, nothing so trivial as a lost season can dissuade followers of the black and silver. And, no person has an arm strong enough to heave a football jersey pitch–ward in disgust.     

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MY VIEW FROM SEC. 317, ROW 10 YESTERDAY AT THE OAKLAND COLISEUM.

Fans of the Maple Leafs are more prone to pain management.

The longest championship drought in hockey stimulates a culture of impending doom yet unqualified and habitual devotion prevails. My son wore his Leafs Winter Classic jersey to the football game yesterday, generating an unbroken stream of cat–calls and high–five’s — the latter mostly from Buffalo supporters that traveled cross–continent to watch the Bills blow a playoff spot for the 15th consecutive season. Losing apparently has no bounds at either end of the Queen Elizabeth Way.

Here was football Sunday in Oakland, courtesy my trusty NIKON:

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EXIT FROM INTERSTATE–880, THE NIMITZ FREEWAY.

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FUN TAIL–GATING ?? WITH RAIDER FANS — PARTICULARLY “KEN STABLER” (A.K.A. FRANK ROBINSON), WHO FERRIES A CANADIAN FLAG TO GAMES AT THE OAKLAND COLISEUM.

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EAST FACADE OF THE COLISEUM — HOME OF THE RAIDERS AND BASEBALL OAKLAND A’s.

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WHILE A BOEING–747 CRUISED HIGH ABOVE THE COLISEUM, A GOOD–NATURED COP FROM THE SHERRIF’S DEPARTMENT ALLOWED ME TO PHOTOGRAPH HIS SHOULDER–PATCH.

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ORACLE ARENA SITS ADJACENT TO THE COLISEUM AND IS HOME TO THE GOLDEN STATE WARRIORS — THE NBA’s BEST TEAM A QUARTER–WAY THROUGH THE 2014–15 SEASON. FROM 1967 TO 1976, IT WAS ALSO HOME TO THE OAKLAND/CALIFORNIA GOLDEN SEALS OF THE NHL.

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FRONT COVER OF SUNDAY’S BUFFALO–OAKLAND PROGRAM.

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RAIDERS WARM UP AT SOUTH END OF THE OAKLAND COLISEUM.

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MID–FIELD LOGO OF THE HOME TEAM.

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OAKLAND RUNNING BACK LATAVIUS MURRAY (28) RIPPED OFF SOME LONG GAINS.

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IT WAS A MISERABLE AFTERNOON FOR QUARTERBACK KYLE ORTON (18) AND THE BILLS FOUNDERING OFFENSE. ANOTHER PLAYOFF–LESS SEASON RESULTED FROM THE LOSS.

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OAKLAND’S MARQUETTE KING UNLEASHES A FIRST–QUARTER PUNT.

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COCK YOUR HEAD, IF YOU MUST.

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PARKING LOT ‘A’ AT THE COLISEUM WAS FILLED THREE HOURS BEFORE GAME TIME WITH TENTS, HIBACHIS, HAMBURGERS AND GALLONS OF BEER.

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SHANE AND MOI AT HALFTIME AS METLIFE BLIMP HOVERS OVER THE COLISEUM.

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THE WINTER SUN LOW IN HORIZON OVER ORACLE ARENA.

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PRIOR TO EVERY RAIDERS GAME, A CAULDRON IN THE SOUTHEAST CORNER OF THE OAKLAND COLISEUM IS LIT IN MEMORY OF THE CLUB’S LEGENDARY OWNER, AL DAVIS.

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ROOKIE DEREK CARR (4) DROVE OAKLAND TO DECISIVE POINTS ?? IN THE FOURTH QUARTER.

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IT WAS A LONG AFTERNOON FOR BILLS’ COACH DOUG MARRONE.

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DUSKY SKY ABOVE THE COLISEUM LATE IN SUNDAY’S GAME.

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TEAMS MEET ON THE FIELD AFTER THE FINAL GUN.

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IT’S LIGHTS OUT ON THE BUFFALO BILLS FOR A 15th CONSECUTIVE SEASON.

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HAPPY OAKLAND FANS WALK PAST ORACLE ARENA AFTER THE GAME.

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DO YOU KNOW THE WAY TO SAN JOSE?

GOOD MONDAY MORNING FROM SAN FRANCISCO

Northward views of Telegraph Hill and the ubiquitous morning fog from my 27th–floor hotel balcony in the Chinatown district.

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THE 210–FOOT COIT TOWER ?? SOARS ABOVE TELEGRAPH HILL.

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3 comments on “Raiders/Leafs Nations Synonymous

  1. Hi Howard, Enjoying your California writings. Catching that Bills loss in Oakland might have been as hard to watch in person as on television. The Bills like Leafs have a hard path to follow to get to playoffs. This was worsened for me this week with that loss and watching player they should have picked(Andy Dalton- formerly of TCU- winner of 2011 Rose Bowl)in 2011 help clinch his fourth straight playoff berth- by beating up on a decent Denver Bronco team!

  2. Hello Howard
    Frankie the crazy Canuck is a good friend of mine and hails from Georgetown Ontario. The last time the Raiders won he sent me a picture of the Canadian flag draped over the scoreboard. Keep on keeping on Frankie. Thanks for picking him out Mr. Berger.

    Doug M

  3. Great Job covering Raiders and spreading the good word that we are not that Bad of Fans and how passionate our fanbase is. Kinda like leaf fans

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