The Pioneer

Silver and black leaving Oakland, not my life

Photo Courtesy of Jack Nealy

Photo Courtesy of Jack Nealy

Bryon Pointer,
Contributor

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Last November, I decided to join my family tradition of getting an Oakland Raiders tattoo and I must say, of all the different Raider tattoos my family has, mine is the most unique. Instead of the traditional Raider with the two swords crossing from the top, I replaced it with a pirate skull equipped with two swords crossing from the bottom. Outlining the Raider is the quote made famous by former owner Al Davis “commitment to excellence.”

The love my family has for the Raiders is permanent, literally.

We carry the Raider symbol with us everywhere we go, in different shapes and sizes. It gives us a sense of entitlement to the team and our city, Oakland. My family’s tattoos are permanent; however, the team’s homebase in Oakland is not.

With a landslide 31-1 vote, NFL owners concluded last month that the Raiders franchise will officially move to Las Vegas. Sad to say, the Raiders will no longer be the face of Oakland.

“The opportunity to build a world-class stadium in the entertainment capital of the world is one opportunity that will give us the ability to reach that greatness,” Mark Davis, the principal owner of the Raiders franchise said in a press conference on March 27.  

But where does this leave the culture and unity of Oakland?

We have always been loyal, devoted and resilient fans. Regardless of the dumb trades, the horrible draft picks and the bad decisions, Raider nation has been present and proud of its team.

The team made huge progress last season. They had a winning record for the first time since 2002 and ended the season 12-4. With young and new talent added to the team, the Raiders were back in their old glory. Just when we began to succeed, the NFL took it all from us, and it is highly hurtful and disappointing.

The Raiders are as much a part of our identity as the clothes we wear, the way we speak, and even the way we uphold ourselves. The distinct black color even holds value and significance to our family, our city and its history. All of this seems almost irrelevant because the Raiders will no longer be a representation of Oakland.

My family and I have been and always will be strong believers in the “commitment to excellence” mantra.

We stand by it. We strive for greatness with everything we do. From school, to work, to family the Raiders proved to us what perseverance truly is. Although they are still here for the time being, it seems as if they’re already gone. Like a little piece of the realm and culture is being relinquished from its citizens.

For some, the Raiders are just a football team, but for me and my family, the Oakland Raiders represent much more. They stand for the fight against struggle. Our tattoos are a constant reminder of who we are and what it means to be a Raider. For me specifically, the team conjures up the struggles that people of color here in the Bay Area face. From police harassment and violence to poverty and unemployment, the Raiders pose as a sign to stand and fight the power.

Without that beacon of hope to represent the city and Bay Area, what does the city have left?

But as true Raider fans, we will support the team, even in Las Vegas, as difficult as that may seem. We will stand by our home team and make plenty of noise when we do. Through this last season here in Oakland and beyond, we will root and cheer the Raiders on.

Who knows, maybe they will surprise the world and win another Super Bowl victory. All seems possible with hometown free agent running back Marshawn Lynch creeping around the Raider practices lately.

There may be hope yet for the Oakland Raiders.

My Oakland Raider tattoo may fade away, my team may go astray, but my love for the Raiders will forever stay.

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