Photo Credit: Terrance Quaites Franchise Sports Media

WWJD #6- Part 5 – The Las Vegas Raiders – The New Raider Nation

Full disclosure, I am a Green Bay Packers fan. I own stock in the team and make no apologies about it. But I have said that if God came down and said, “It’s the Packers or your family,” I would be a Raiders fan. I had told my friends this as well as Las Vegas Raiders owner Mark Davis and team president Marc Badain at the NFL owners meetings in Phoenix, Arizona, when the NFL announced that the Raiders were approved to move to Las Vegas. At that point, Davis looked at me with a smile and said “You’re a member of the Raiders family now and forever Joe!” 

Photo Credit: SilverAndBlackToday

The reason I said that I would roll with the Raiders is because of Raider Nation. Growing up in the greater Los Angeles area in the ’80s and early ’90s, I would go to the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum on Sunday’s with my step-dad to watch the LA Raiders play. Marcus Allen, Bo Jackson, Tim Brown, Mervin Fernandez, Willie Gault, Todd Christiansen, Howie Long, Greg Townsand, and Eddie Anderson were fun to watch. It’s the undying love, loyalty, and passion for the Silver and Black, coupled with what the late Al Davis meant for minorities, women, and the game of football in general always attracted me to the Raiders.

When I started reporting on the possible relocation to Las Vegas, I was called everything under the sun. I was a liar, a plagiarizer, and a hack. I was also a godsend and a fantastic human being, depending on whether or not they wanted the team to stay in Oakland or move to Las Vegas.

TQ was there throughout the process, and we would discuss everything. There were times I was getting information from sources while we were out and about or just hanging. He saw the amount of time, effort and work it took, as well as the effect it had on me personally. I received threats, had memes created, and people make up lies about me and what I reported because it didn’t fit their agenda.

It also allowed me to make some great friends, meet good some people and feel the passion of Raider Nation. I then fully understood just how much love and loyalty they have for their team. I appreciated the hurt and pain of some while at the same time understood those feeling joy and excitement for the possible move to Sin City. I went on podcasts, and national radio shows where the hosts wanted them to stay in the Bay, and I did my best to remain unbiased and report only the facts, whether they wanted to believe it or not.

When the NFL approved the relocation,  it was bittersweet for me. While I was excited for my city getting one of the most iconic teams in professional sports, I felt for those wanting them to stay in Oakland. There were Raiders super fans that came to the Biltmore Hotel for the vote to show their displeasure to the NFL and Mark Davis. They went on Periscope and others on TV to voice their disappointment and renounce their allegiance to the team. At one point, Davis saw one in the lobby and said to come to the Raider headquarters so they can have a conversation.

That night I was asked to come to a table where Raiders officials, including Davis and Badain, were sitting. We talked for a few minutes, and I looked at Mark Davis in his eye and told him, “I think your dad would be proud of you. Today you accomplished something he always wanted and desired.” Davis smiled ear to ear with pride brimming from him. “Thank you, Joe; you don’t know how much that means to me,” he said. We shared a few more private conversations before I left to go to my room for the night.

One of the things that stood out to me throughout our conversation was how he wanted to make sure Raiders fans worldwide knew that Allegiant Stadium would be their new palace. The new home of the Silver and Black that they can be proud of and the crown jewel and the hub for Raider Nation. He talked about how he wanted the same passion and home-field advantage the Raiders had in Oakland, but without the stadium issues that came with it. Davis felt the team, and the fans deserved a state-of-the-art stadium.

What does this mean for those who feel they will be priced out of Allegiant Stadium? I don’t think that will be an issue, but I also believe that some of the familiar faces won’t be there. The Raiders and City of Las Vegas officials don’t want some of the issues that have been synonymous with Raider Nation (which I believe is overblown and quite frankly happen at every stadium). But perception is reality, and the Raiders want to keep the tradition, home-field advantage, and passion from fans while also having a family-friendly environment that is safe and allows fans to have a great experience.

Photo Credit: Terrance Quaites Franchise Sports Media

Do they want fans who have supported them for decades to change? No. But they do want to welcome new fans to Raider Nation and help them grow their passion and love for the Silver and Black. With Allegiant Stadium having everything a fan could want and more at their disposal for an NFL game, they want the same intensity and passion that the original Black Hole had in Oakland. Is this asking a lot? I don’t believe so.

The Raiders and their iconic colors and brand travel as well, if not better, than any fanbase in the NFL. Why wouldn’t they show up to their new palace to make sure that Josh Jacobs, Clelin Ferrell, Maxx Crosby, Jonathan Abram, and Co. like they do to opposing cities to help the Raiders impose their will on their opponents? The Raiders are banking on it, and I know ten home games a year (excluding playoff games) the Nation will be there rooting their asses off for THEIR team in THEIR stadium.

Is it a “new Raider Nation?” No, but it’s going to be a lot of new members in this stadium. This is just the way Al envisioned it when he tried and failed to get new Raiders stadiums in Los Angeles and Oakland. The same way Mark envisioned when he made the successful deal with the State of Nevada to get the funding for Allegiant Stadium.

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Joe Arrigo

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