Pump your Brakes Raider Nation… It’s a LOOOONG Season

Captain Jack Rack Levy – Oct 13, 2016

Yes, it was a fantastic feeling of relief… of exuberance… of joy… of ‘Thank God We Beat Those Bastards!!’  Anytime we beat the Garglers (my pet name for the team from San Diego, although you may hear them called Dolts, Chokers or any number of additional insulting nomenclature by members of Raider Nation other than their given and true name of Chargers) it always make me feel so much better than many other victories.  True, winning a divisional game usually gives you that extra ‘Oooooomph!!’ of satisfaction since most of the vitriol we as fans of the Raiders receive is dispensed from fans of those teams in Kansas City, Denver, and (in this case) San Diego. 

In case you’re a bit on the young side of our readership, once upon a time Dan Fouts was the Dolts’ quarterback, as his team and the Raiders would engage in battles with the scoreboard resembling a Bally pinball machine; Fouts and Snake Stabler would pepper their respective foes’ defenses with an onslaught of points.  Post-career, the pudgy Duck from Oregon found his way into a color commentator gig for CBS, where oftentimes he gets to apply his ‘on field expertise’ to games with AFC West participants, including a certain team from Oakland.  It’s no wonder listening to any CBS game where Fouts is on the telecast for a Raiders’ game is more painful to watch than having simultaneous open heart surgery, two root canals and a colonoscopy – all without sedation.  Fouts’ sheer HATRED of Oakland is only slightly masked in his commentary; slightly being the operative word, as infinitesimal is more appropriate. 

More recently, especially when the Raiders were at best respectable and at worst bottom dwellers, Ladainian Tomlinson (I REFUSE to call him ‘L.T.’ as that Hall of Famer was a Linebacker for the Giants) seemed to have career game after career game in touchdowns, total yardage, or some other feat which would embarrass the Raiders.  Following Tomlinson’s departure, the mantle of ‘Greatest Raider Hater’ in Southern California was deftly passed to quarterback (and renowned cry-baby) Phillip Rivers, who for years has given the Raiders fits with prolific passing, many times in winning performances…

… So by both beating Rivers this past Sunday, along with not having Fouts give his commentary on the broadcast were doubly awesome victories for the Silver and Black.  I will say though, being a Philadelphia Phillies fan it was … weird … listening to Tom McCarthy’s play by play, as I enjoy him as the hometown Phillies’ commentator for games.  This past Sunday though, I wanted to string him up myself like many ‘normal’ CBS/FOX/NBC commentators who nearly constantly deride Oakland in their broadcasts.  If I can figure out how to synch a Greg Papa radio broadcast with the network TV feed, I’d be so much happier…

Back to the happiness of this past Sunday’s game, where the Raiders for the second year in a row pulled out a home thriller against the Chargers.  Yeah, I remember missing Christmas Eve festivities last year when our Raiders pulled out an improbable victory in Charles Woodson’s last game in Oakland, thanks to Malcolm Smith, Benson Mayowa, and Seth Roberts amongst others.  I also remember last October’s skirmish, with the Raiders leading in a 37-6 laugher of a game in San Diego heading into the fourth quarter suddenly become a nail-biting, hold on to the armrests of your seat thriller as the Chargers scored 23 unanswered points in the last stanza, losing 37-29.  Honestly, if they would’ve had more time on the clock, I think the Chargers eke out a win.   The Raiders have now won the last three against San Diego, and still hold the advantage in their overall record of 62-50-2 against their Southern California adversaries.

Like I stated in starting this piece, following this past Sunday’s results WE as a group of Raider fans were the happiest we’ve been probably since pre-game for Super Bowl XXXVII… true fans have stayed hopeful each year following the ‘Super Blow’ (SIC) ‘The Shield’ would one day be brought back to prominence, even feeling somewhat accomplished when for two straight years the Raiders didn’t have a LOSING record at 8-8.  In fact, in 2010 when the Raiders were 6-0 in the division, sweeping their AFC West foes but could only muster two wins outside of the division, most fans thought “next year is ours for the taking as AFC West Champs!!”  Talk about ‘Best in the Division’ and having nothing to show for it…

We all know how ‘Next Year’ has not transpired and has been ever elusive, so after shooting out of the gates this year at 4-1, undefeated on the road (including three wins at the 1PM Eastern Start Time), two wins in fantastic comeback fashion, and the first of what hopefully will be 4+ wins in the division. 

So after this win, I’m checking on social media, and I see posts of people looking to book flights for ‘The Big Game in Houston’ (I don’t want to get in trouble for using those words which you have to pay a fee for) in and early February Sunday 2017. 

Yoooooooooooooooooooo Shipmate… Back up and sit the frack down, aiii’iiight?  Who the hell are YOU and how do YOU know about such things?  Listen sonny… the old Salty Pirate here needs to school you on a few things. 

First off, let’s look at some recent history since many of you millennials have a short attention span, although if you’ve continued to read this far and will give me a few more minutes, I applaud your stamina.  Stamina… yeah that’s a word which has been bandied about recently, but I digress…

Case in point: the 2015 Atlanta Falcons.  Remember them? They were the darlings of the league last year as they got out to a 6-1 start (winning their first five games) and many pundits had them penned in for an easy playoff berth.  I mean, how can you screw up a 6-1 start?  Well, they followed those first seven games with a six-game losing streak, bringing them back down to earth at 6-7.  They won their next two (including giving the Panthers their only loss prior to the Super Bowl) before losing their last game… and finishing 8-8 and out of the playoffs.  Gotta love those 8-8 years – not quite winning, but not quite sucking either. 

Yeah Captain, but I don’t really care about the NFC… I’m an AFC fan!

Ok Shipmate, let me bring it a little closer for you… the 2009 Denver Donkeys… errrrr… Broncos under the tutelage of young offensive ‘genius’ Josh McDaniels.  Boy oh boy, those Donkeys were going all the way for the first time since Ol’ Horseface Elway helicoptered his way to back to back Super Bowl wins.  Yeah, those Donkeys were the shiznit, rolling out to a 6-0 record, then lost their next four; won their next two before losing their last four to finish 8-8 and no playoffs.  McDaniels was gone the next year after going 3-9 which included a videotaping scandal.  Hmmmmmm… Guess where the Wunderkind was employed prior to his stint in Donkeyland… mumbling Bill Belichick possibly hired him for some reason other than to keep Brady’s balls slightly underinflated… or something…

But Captain, the hell with the Donkos… we’re talking about THE RAIDERS, YO!!

Ok there Verne, let’s talk about the Raiders… in crushing terms I know all about since I had to live them from my postings overseas… let’s go back to the fun-loving year of 1988 with the Raiders 6-2 in the AFC West (sweeping Denver, KC and San Diego) as the Captain spent his days in the wonderful Philippines as a young swab living the life of… well… fun loving youth, let’s put it that way.  The Raiders needed only one win their last two weeks to squeak into the playoffs as a Wild Card team.  No such luck though, as the Raiders went to Buffalo and left with an “L,” and followed that with a home loss to the Seahawks in Los Angeles in the last game of the season, as those birds from the Northwest completed THEIR sweep of the Raiders.  ((Sigh)) 7-9 and no playoffs.  Oh, by the way youngsters, the Seahawks used to play in the AFC West… further lessons given with advance notice for those wishing to sound somewhat intelligent with regard to Raiders’ history…

But how about we reminisce about something not as long ago… maybe something that happened in the lifetime of some youngsters here – let’s go back to 1995 when the Captain was again overseas, this time in jolly old England in the heyday of the WLAF – look that league up kids.  The Raiders were led by the plucky, former Super Bowl winning quarterback Jeff Hostetler, who everyone knew would lead the Raiders back to the Promised Land after what had been a mediocre stretch of years for the Silver and Black.  Hoss in fact won the Raiders’ last playoff game in Los Angeles, beating the hated Broncos 42-24 in 1993, throwing for 294yards and three touchdowns.   It was just a matter of time until the Raiders would again be hoisting the Lombardi. 

The Raiders jumped out to an 8-2 record in 1995, only losing in overtime in a tight game in Kansas City, while being blanked in Denver 27-0 on a Monday Nighter I stayed up for waaaaaaay too long in spite of the result (remember England is 5-6 hours ahead of the Eastern Time Zone depending on the time of year).  Then came November… and the Dallas Cowboys coming into the L.A. Coliseum for what most media pundits called a possible ‘Super Bowl Preview.’

Well, the Cowboys did THEIR part on their road to the post-season, bringing a dominant defense which only could’ve been stopped by some of the … well… residents outside the stadium.  Hoss was injured during the game, and the Raiders looked around for someone to take up the slack.  Unfortunately for the Raiders, the QB cupboard was nearly bare as they could only trot out 40-year old Vince Evans – who was their BEST option, and 24-year old neophyte Billy Joe Hobert.  Other injuries to key players sealed the fate of the Silver and Black not going to any ‘Playoff Parties’ that year as they lost their last six games and finished 8-8.  I honestly believe had Hoss been available all year, the Raiders would’ve made the Super Bowl… but we’ll never know. 

So there you have it Raider Nation, as hopefully the Captain has at least made you realize you ENJOY the wins… keeping the youthful exuberance in mind.  We’re a YOUNG and UPCOMING team, and we’ll be a threat for several years to come if the Raiders keep progressing on the path they’ve embarked upon since the senseless contracts were jettisoned, the drafting of a stalwart core of players to go along with the addition of talented yet young free agents, and you have the recipe for success for the next decade. 

The old saying of playing ‘One Game At A Time’ is never more appropriate here.  The goal is ALWAYS winning the Super Bowl – but it’s a step by step process.   First you have to win games within your division, obviously more than you lose.  Then you gotta get that monkey off your back and have a record BETTER THAN .500.  Then you go to the playoffs if all goes well… but let’s go out and win against the Chiefs first… win two straight at home first… win four in a row first… win more away games in humid, hostile Florida first… then go out and play those Donkeys in a Sunday Night treat for all first. 

In October I’ll see you in Jacksonville on the 22nd and 23rd… I’ll see you in Tampa on the 28th through 30th… and I’ll see you out in Oakland November 4th-6th at all events that weekend.  Let’s chat about ‘The Greatness Of The Raiders’… as the future is finally NOW… but pump those brakes friends.  It indeed is a LOOOONG season ahead of us, and I want to enjoy the ride with all the sights and sounds around me, don’t you?  YAAAAAARRRRRRRRGGGGGGGHHHHHHH!!!

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