The Raider Appeal Worldwide: Europe's obsession with the Oakland Raiders
Eliott Howes – Aug 6, 2012
It was August 5th 2012 in London, England. The day “the fastest man on earth” Usain Bolt wins the 100m title in an Olympic Record time of 9.63 seconds ahead of fellow Jamaican Yohan Blake and American Justin Gatlin. Such a huge world sporting event which was watched by millions all over the world but this wasn’t the only thing that caught my eye in London that day. I decided to take a trip to a shopping mall which is located a few miles from the Olympic Stadium and what I found was the source of a growing “trend” in Europe. A whole section in a sports department store with Oakland Raiders attire, and there are also Raiders sections in many other sports stores throughout Europe too. Well that’s surely normal in Europe for there to be NFL merchandise? Well no, it’s not. There were no t-shirts, jerseys or snapbacks for any of the other 31 NFL franchises in these stores.
This is staggering due to the fact that the Raiders have not won the Super Bowl since 1983 or even made the playoffs since 2002. So surely the current demand for Patriots, Packers and Giants attire would be far greater than the demand for Raiders attire. I investigated into why there is this new obsession with the Oakland Raiders in Europe.
On the streets of London, the beaches of Barcelona and at football games in Europe, the Raiders logo can be seen quite often and this really amazed me. Being a Raider all of my life I began to question why so many people are wearing Raiders attire in Europe. The one thing most of those I saw had in common was that they were all relatively young (16-25 years of age, both male and female). So what is the reason for Europe’s obsession with the Oakland Raiders?
The Oakland Raiders drafted London-born Defensive End Jack Crawford in the 5th round of the 2012 NFL Draft. That may have got many promising football players in Europe excited and hopeful of one day playing for the Raiders but this isn’t the reason. The current reason isn’t even football related! Europe’s obsession with the Oakland Raiders is directly linked to Europe’s obsession with US Hip Hop. It is not new that rappers are wearing Raiders hats and jerseys in their music videos but recently it has begun to influence Europeans. The Oakland Raiders brand has been sold to Europe purely by its image. With sports broadcasters televising more and more NFL games every year, the audience in Europe is growing rapidly. With success on the football field the franchises image will attract many new members of the Raider Nation.
Already in Europe there are many thousands of Oakland Raiders who fell in love with the sport and the Raiders in the 70’s and 80’s. During days where we enjoyed destroying anyone who stood in front of us and won three Super Bowls. So this is not new! The European NFL fan is in no way less educated than the average American fan. Studies show that European Raiders have a larger brain than a Bronco, Chief and Charger combined (This was my study based on the Broncos, Chiefs and Chargers I know who are clueless about football).
I caught up with members of the Raider Nation in Europe and spoke to Stuart Holden who is from the UK. He is one of the diehard Raiders who watches every game from over 5,000 miles away. Stuart has been a Raider since the 80’s, falling in love with the team he first watched play on UK television. He continued to follow the Raiders and attended his first game in Oakland during the 2004 season. He instantly “felt welcomed into the Raider family” and that his love for the team is heightened by the fact that “Raider fans are so passionate when we win and also when we lose”. He has since spent $3000 travelling to Oakland to watch the Raiders and enjoys the closeness of the Raider Nation on Twitter.
We are all proud to be Raiders; and there is only one nation, the Raider Nation. Silver and Black runs through each and every one of our veins, and from wherever we watch the game, we stand united. There have been dull times in the past but this is our year, we will make the playoffs for the first time since 2002.
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