49ers Fan Skillz Survives Raider Nation
(originally written 8/28/10)
My own personal Cosmo Kramer, Hirday, knew a guy who had two free tickets to tonight’s 49er/Raider preseason slugfest in Oakland, and I was invited along for the fun.
Further accentuating his Kramer-like tendencies, Hirday didn’t bother to get the names or descriptions of the people who were to give us our tickets, meaning we practically wandered the BART parking lot asking all tailgaters “Do you have our tickets?” like the mentally challenged kid from There’s Something About Mary asking “Have you seen my wiener?”
Ultimately we did find them and had a hearty drunken tailgate. I’m not usually one to bond with strangers, but these Raider fans were pretty cool. Not one of them gave me serious crap about my Frank Gore jersey.
But like all good things, the tailgate had to end, and we had to enter the stadium.
I, of course, am a 49er fan. 49er fans are allowed inside the Oakland Coliseum…but hardly welcomed. I didn’t care. Mike Singletary’s philosophy is this: HE WANTS WINNERS. My philosophy is that in the United States, I am free to wear whatever colors I want wherever I want and shouldn’t have to fear for my safety (gang territories excluded).
It’s like this: Prior to his assassination, President Kennedy was warned not to go to Dallas, as he was not popular there. He reasoned that an American president shouldn’t have reservations about visiting an American city, regardless of the hostility. I followed the same logic—hoping it would work out better for me than it did for President Kennedy.
We weren’t sitting in the “Black Hole” area, which any Non-Raider fan with a modicum of sense knows to stay far away from lest you end up minus a couple of teeth. So I felt confident that as long as I was respectful to the Oakland fans and plastered on my phoniest smile when the verbal assaults rained down, everything would be fine.
This was actually the least memorable part of the night, but still a good game. Oakland led early, until the 49ers—off to a sloppy offensive start including a hideous drop by Delanie Walker that bounced off his helmet like a 3-pointer off back iron—got a field goal and punt-return touchdown by this Adams kid I don’t know a lot about, but do now!
I commented all night about how much faster the games seem in person rather than on TV, and nothing backed that up like the play in which new Raider QB Jason Campbell got hurt. I was literally the last person in the stadium to know he was down because my eyes were still trained on #29, to whom Campbell had faked a handoff!
For some reason, TWO carts were sent to retrieve the fallen QB, leading me to wonder if:
The camera, rather than adding 10 pounds to Campbell, actually subtracts about 400
The hit literally split Campbell in two, or
Bruce Gradkowski, Campbell’s replacement, is just that lazy; he needs to be carted ONTO the field.
I never did figure it out, but Campbell’s injury, thankfully for Raider fans, looked worse than it was.
Things went back and forth after that, but my 49ers endured. Brian Westbrook played well in his brief appearance, and Anthony Dixon got a lot of run. The Raiders, though, led 24-20 as the 4th quarter wound down.
By now it was mostly reserves in the game, and David Carr was running for his life on virtually every pass play. The Raider fans were so loud, when Carr called a timeout and walked off the field, his entire offensive line remained in position! At least two 49ers lost their helmets in the 4th quarter. I didn’t think San Fran had a chance. Somehow, though, we made it to the goal line.
As the fanatical Raider fans willed their team on, Dixon was stopped trying for a goal line leap, at which point I again accepted defeat. But not long after, with a little help from instant replay, the 49ers penetrated the goal line just enough for six points, added two more via conversion, and that was the ballgame.
I think this exchange between me and a Raider fan sums up my Section 208 experience perfectly:
(Game goes on)
RAIDER FAN: So, yeah, I love coming to the games. I try to bring my kids out here whenever I can.
ME: That’s cool. That’s gotta be fun for them.
RAIDER FAN: Oh, it is. My son LOVES McFadden, he’s loved him ever since college—
RAIDER FAN (leaping up and pointing at me, punctuating every syllable): YEEEAAAAAHHHH! F--- THE NINERS! NINERS F---N’ SUCK! F----THE-NINERS!!! GET THE F--- OUT OF OAKLAND!!!!
(49ers get the ball back)
RAIDER FAN: …so yeah, I think I’m gonna come out to three or four games this year. How about you?
I knew I was gonna “get it”, and as long as people kept their hands off me, I simply would laugh it off. Too many idiots take the insults personal, but they’re insulting the team, not you. I had a 49er jersey, hat, and cell phone cover. Were the Raiders fans, who outnumbered the Niners fans about 25-to-1, supposed to just ignore that? Of course not, and I expected it.
Sure enough, within two minutes of me taking my seat, the Raider Nation let me have it. Middle fingers, f-bombs, screaming, pointing—but it never got physical or personal. I just smiled and stayed humble, saying things like “They told me I was gonna get it.” When the 49ers scored, I simply sat and clapped politely (through more f-bombs). And nothing ever escalated. It was all about respect—ignoring them or getting in their face would have been monumental disrespect. And disrespecting the Raiders or their fans in THEIR house has been proven harmful to one’s health. When a bud told me via Facebook to not get stabbed, he wasn’t using hyperbole—it HAS happened.
Though I kept my guard up—I’m not STUPID—I ended up getting along just fine with a few of the Raider faithful that surrounded me, including a father/son tandem to my right who even treated us to a beer and Churro! Towards game’s end the dad took his first 420 hit in a decade; five minutes later he was literally running up and down the walkway, urging people to do the Wave the same way a firefighter would urge people to evacuate a burning building. Good times, good times.
It wouldn’t be a Raider/Niner game without fisticuffs, now would it?
The first fight I saw was in section 206 to our right and behind us. (having forgotten my camera in my car, I could only snap 2 MP cell phone pix) Typical stuff; a Raider fan and 49er fan had too much to drink and started to shove each other. OPD swooped in from ABOVE somehow and put a quick stop to things, hauling at least one guy off in cuffs as another Raider fan removed his coat in anticipation of throwing punches.
Fight #2 came just as halftime started; I was in a food line just outside of my section when another Raider fan and Niner fan began the whole “I challenge you to a duel” tough-guy posturing, spouting phrases more appropriate for a Crip and Blood confrontation. These guys never got within 15 feet of each other, and OPD handled it swiftly as well.
The third incident wasn’t really a fight, at least not that I could tell. What I DID see was an OPD officer about 6’5” removing a 5’5” female 49er fan by the nape, not unlike the way you’d remove a stray animal. I was right there with a grand photo-op—but was holding a hot dog in one hand and my drink in the other. With nowhere to set them down. DAMN!
The 4th incident was told to me by a Raider fan to my left who’d gone to get beer; he saw a scuffle in the same area of the 2nd incident.
Since every time I left my seat Raider fans would yell at me things like “F--- you, Niners fan!” or “The f---n gay ass 49ers SUCK!!” looking me right in the face when they did it, I’m guessing that’s what led to these, uh, disagreements, and the participants were not as sober as I was. Guys, I have a clean criminal record. One of the dumbest ways to besmirch it is over a football game. I love the 49ers as much as the next guy—but not enough to go to jail like these clowns. Eight hooligans out of 50K isn’t bad at all.
Though I handled the fans aptly, I DID error by not bringing a jacket/sweatshirt for when the weather turned cold. But I was hardly the only one…
As a leg man, trust me I love it when the ladies sport their little cut-off shorts and skirts. That said, it’s hard to understand why SO many of them would wear them to an event they know won’t be finished until WELL after sunset. This is not Alaska. We do not have 23 hours of sunlight in the summer.
One poor girl, who I hate to mention cuz she was one of the sparse 49er supporters, made that mistake. In the 4th quarter, as I returned from a pee break, there she was, huddled in a corner frantically rubbing her bare legs and sandaled feet in a desperate attempt to fend off frostbite (by then it was 9pm and about 40 degrees). It was a good outfit at 6:15 when the game started; not so three hours later. This girl was shaking so much, it was hard to tell if she was cold or had just been mugged.
After the game, the tunnel to BART was jam-packed with bodies, like a stadium full of people trying to fit down a funnel. That meant a delay getting home. Helping kill time was a Raider fan named Dan, who clearly didn’t mind the Raiders’ high alcohol prices if you catch my drift.
Dan approached me, politely and with a friendly tone, and began the following conversation (no, I’m not making this up.)
DAN: Hi. I’m Dan. I just want to tell you that you suck. Your team sucks, your stadium sucks, and you suck. Why you’d wanna wear that jersey—I don’t know. You should be a Raider fan. Cuz you guys just suck, that’s all it is.
(I decided to play along, mostly so I could continue standing next to Dan’s hot stoner girlfriend)
ME: Wow. I didn’t know. Thanks for telling me, Dan. I’m glad I found out from you, rather than eight games into the season when my hopes were up.
DAN: Oh, no, no problem. It’s not to be mean, you just needed to know that you sucked.
We actually spent about 10 full minutes repeating some variation of that exchange; totally worth it because A) MAN that stoner girl was hot—and NICE, and B) I had Dan believing that Hirday and I were rappers. How I kept a straight face through that tale is nothing short of a miracle.
THE BART FIASCO
When we finally DID make it to BART, the ride was a smooth one until we got to…OUR STOP (Pleasant Hill). For reasons that went unexplained, the train was not able to stop there and instead took us miles up to the Concord station. There we were instructed to catch a southbound train back to Pleasant Hill. Which wouldn’t have been quite so bad if it wasn’t…so…c-c-c-o-o-o-l-l-l-d-d-d.
In the three minutes between trains, I ended up just as miserable as the girl at the Coliseum. Even my SOUL got cold. How do you know your soul is cold? When even people in your thoughts are shivering, that’s how.
The train finally came and scuttled us toward Pleasant Hill. The asshole operator, for SOME reason, kept accelerating and stopping the train before he’d let us off! It could not have possibly been necessary, and we were starting to get pissed at what felt like deliberate teasing to a bunch of tired people. “Okay, guys, here we are at your stop NOOOOPE, we’re gonna move up about 20 feet.” That happened about four times before the doors actually opened. I was beginning to wonder if Dan and his 0.15 BAC was at the controls.
I’ll conclude with this: Remember on Scrubs when J.D. literally couldn’t see women who were wearing wedding rings? I think when I was in a committed relationship I literally couldn’t see attractive women at all, because MY WORD they were out in full force tonight like I can’t ever recall anywhere. One of them, a fellow 49er fan, actually gave me a hug and cheek kiss just because of my 49er jersey! And Hirday actually warned me to NOT wear it. All in all, great times at the ol’ Coliseum, and GO NINERS!!!