I love the Oakland Raiders. I have been a Raider fan since I was a kid and unlike so many 49er fans, that will never change. I have always loved watching Raider football. I became a season ticket holder when they returned to Oakland in “95”. I owned 2 seats from 1995 to 2005 in the Oakland Coliseum, now just called the “O”. That’s not my favorite name, but whatever.
A little history here on my season ticket holding experience. They called our tickets PSL’s , which was a new terminology at the time. What it meant was “Personal Seat License”. This type of ticketing is now used by quite a few stadiums to raise funds for Stadium upgrades to come, or ones already made. During my time as a PSL owner, I ended up assigned to section 114 in the Oakland Coliseum. This was not a bad location, but this was not were I started out. When I first received my season tickets, I was assigned to section 117. Both sections are on the Raiders side of the stadium and at field level. But section 117 is right on the 50 yard line, above the tunnel where the Raiders enter the field. Having my seats on the 50 yard line was a fantastic experience. What I didn’t know was, this meant I would be sitting next to parents of players, VIP’s, past player and an occasional celebrity. Ricky Henderson, the long time A’s player had seats a couple of rows behind me. I could turn around and see him sitting there with his friends and family. One game, I got to meet Art Thoms, a pro bowl player of the Oakland Raiders, who started as a Raider in 1969. He was also a part of the 1976 Super Bowl XI winning team and had his ring on when I met him. The ring was huge and beautiful and it was such a pleasure to meet him. As it happened, I was sitting with my friend Gene Moore that day, who had worked with Thoms as a High School Football coach. He introduced me and they had a few words about the football season and their work together. I saw more than that, but the faces and names escape me now.
So being in this section had it’s perks. I found myself really enjoying talking with players parents during the game. They were all so proud of there son’s. They would gush over there kids who were on the field playing football for the NFL, not that I blame them. I remember one set of parents very clearly. I met the Mom and Dad of Kerry and Keith Cash. They were twin brothers, both playing in the NFL. Kerry played for Oakland, Keith played for Kansas City. What are the chances of them booth playing for the AFC west. I remember thinking, these parents must be on cloud 9, having twin sons, who both made it to the NFL. It was at a Raiders vs. KC game, that I met the Cash family. I was noticed them yelling their sons names and struck up a conversation. I had to ask them, which team they were rooting for since they had a son on both teams. They said, ” We don’t choose a team in this case, we just root for our sons. We want them both to do well, no matter who wins.” What great parents, I would hope I would be as unbiased. Not sure how well I would handle my son ending up on, let say the Denver Broncos. No, I know, I would just be very proud of him. Would just be in lots of pain, twice a season. But meeting the parents, that’s a side of the NFL you don’t see much of and it was a very enjoyable experience.
The next football season, the Oakland Colosseum realized they had made a mistake in the seating arrangements. People who had paid for expensive seats were sitting in cheap seats, and people who bought cheap seats were in much nicer ones. I was actually were I should have been for the price I paid, but once they restructured the seating, those who had bought there seats first, got first choice. So that next year, 96-97 I was placed in section 113. Definitely not as nice as my old section, but it could have been worse. I was seated around the 20 yard line, on the “Black Hole” side of the stadium, at the field level. Wanting to be a little closer to my old section and not as close to the field, the next season, I put in for a better section. I was informed that I could move if something was available. There was a lot available, but I ended up in section 114. This was closer to the 30 yard line, and a little further from the field, which gave me a better view. Even though I had lost my coveted seats on the 50 yard line, it was still a blast being there. Having those tickets when I did, I got to be there when they won the playoff game that took them to the Super Bowl in 2002. That was so exciting. An incredible, crazy, loud as all get out, party atmosphere. That was it, I figured, it couldn’t get any better. And of course, it didn’t. They played the Tampa Bay Buccaneers the Super Bow, and that spelled their doom. I wish they hadn’t played “Chucky”, they may have had a chance.
I Still loved going to the games and tailgating was a fantastic part of that experience. We had so much fun and so much to eat. Great food, great friends, it just didn’t get any better.
In 2005 the PSL’s expired and I needed to pay for my seating again. Money was scarce and I couldn’t justify the expense. Still wish I had the tickets; I do miss going to the games. I am hoping to attend a couple of games in the not to distant future, the Lord willing. If you’ve never been to a live NFL game, ya gotta go sometime, it is a wild ride and I think you will enjoy the experience. 2012 doesn’t look great so far, but I will always be a Raiders fan. Go Raiders!