Tuesday, April 3, 2007

Why? John talks about the reasons for this blog. (EXPLICIT CONTENT)

Super Bowl Sunday, 2003. What should be one of the greatest days in my life as a sports fan has started out poorly and is quickly becoming terrible as the game started and goes on. I’ve had more than a few Captain Morgan and Cokes, supplied by our gracious hosts in honor of the “Pirate Bowl,” Raiders vs. Bucs. The Raiders are getting their asses kicked. To make matters worse, my friend Jonathan, whose living room we’re sitting in as we’re watching this debacle, is a Bucs fan. Rich Gannon throws an interception which promptly is returned for a touchdown. Chucky Gruden is shown on the sideline making one of his cute, smug faces for the camera. I desperately turn to my wife of barely six weeks, The Professor, who is wearing one of my Raiders sweatshirts, and say, as nicely as I can, “Can you take off my sweatshirt?” The Professor, who loves me very much, grew up a 49ers fan, but she’s rocking Silver and Black to support me.

“No, why?”

“Aren’t you wearing anything underneath?”

“No, why?” Then the lightbulb goes off. My wife is a beautiful, sensitive, patient woman, and I’ve just crossed the line. “Are you trying to say I’m a jinx or something?”

“Well, it’s just that, well.”

“Goddamit, Johnny. You motherfucker. I KNOW you’re not calling me a jinx.”

I stammer, whine, go to the kitchen mix another drink, and pace back and forth across the tile floor, desperately smoking a cigarette. The Raiders will go on to lose the game, and the final score will not be close. And when I wake up Monday morning, on the couch, freezing, with nothing but my 1980s-era vintage Oakland Raiders sheets to cover myself, and a hangover so bad I’m begging for a Bloody Mary and shotgun, I’m wondering how I ever let myself get so worked up over another stupid game involving the fucking Raiders.

This is not the first time I’ve had to rethink my level of enthusiasm. That was after the AFC Championship game in January 2001. The Raiders were playing at home against the Baltimore Ravens. The Raiders had beaten Miami 27-0 in an old fashioned ass whipping the week before. When Baltimore beat the top-seeded Tennessee Titans, that gave the Raiders home-field advantage for the right to go to the Super Bowl. All week before the championship game, none of my fellow Raiders fan friends could concentrate on anything else. We had all been at the Miami game and we’d all shared in the ecstatic party atmosphere of that victory. I paid $160 for a ticket to the game in the third deck. Before the game, the tail gaiting was spectacular. One guy hired a full mariachi band from Jalisco to come up and play on the back of a flatbed truck. We were so sure the Raiders were going to kick Baltimore’s ass just like we’d kicked Miami’s ass. But it didn’t happen. I had to sit there, stunned, as that sweaty fat fucker Tony Siragusa sat his unshapely, 720lbs-ass on Gannon, separating his shoulder and forcing him to leave the game. Then Shannon Sharpe, taking a break from being the Broncos mascot to whore himself out to the Ravens, took a pass 97 yards for the game’s only as the Ravens won 16-9. Walking out of that stadium felt like somebody close to me had died. I was depressed for the next week. I swore to myself I wouldn’t care that much about a stupid football game ever again. How could the outcome of a contest pitting grown men against each other in which the object was to advance a pig’s organ over some goal line be the cause of such soul-wrenching anxiety?

I really didn’t need this shit.

Then the following season, right after the first game, came 9/11. Like everyone else, I took an inventory of what is and isn’t important in my life, I rearranged my priorities and all that. Football and the Raiders moved way down the list. I still went to games and cheered loudly, but I wasn’t losing any sleep over it. Not until January 19, 2002, anyway. We all saw it. Woodson came on a blitz, hitting Tom Brady and knocking the ball loose. Biekert landed on the ball. I was hosting a party to watch the game, a group of about 12 Raiders fans. We went absolutely buck wild. “Back In Black” by AC/DC was turned on the stereo, everyone was jumping and dancing and yelling because the Raiders had won and amazing victory.

But no, wait just a goddam minute here. If there’s less than two minutes remaining in a half, a league official in the replay booth signals to the on-field referee if he feels a play should be reviewed. In this case, he thought it may have been an incomplete pass attempt; maybe Brady’s arm had been moving forward or something. Then, that son of bitch Walt Coleman, pissed because as a child his mother put food on the table by sucking the syphilitic cocks of French sailors on leave, took out his frustrations on the Raiders by making up some bullshit about a “Tuck Rule,” an obscure, arcane rule that nobody had ever heard of and still cannot properly explain, giving the Patriots the ball and a chance to maybe win the game. They ended up kicking a field goal to tie the game, and went on to win in overtime. Once again, I was left with an empty feeling in the pit of my stomach, wondering how I let myself get so caught up in a stupid game.

Which brings us back to that Super Bowl, which my wife now refers to as “That Night,” and how I once again found myself wondering if it’s worth it. And the last four seasons: Callahan coaching the “Dumbest team in America,” Norv coaching scared, and whatever the fuck it was Art Shell was doing last year with his Rocky Mountain Bed-and-Breakfast offense.

But I still care. And that’s why we’re starting this blog. Maybe Kiffin will bring back some of that feeling from early this decade. That’s all I want, for the Raiders to matter again. Baby steps. This blog will cover it. The posts might be sporadic until training camp, spiking around draft day and picking up during training camp.

Stay tuned.