Friday, October 20, 2017

Oakland Raiders Classic TNF Win

WR #89 Amari Cooper touchdown catch and run in Raiders 31-30 win over Kansas City Chiefs

It was the best of times, it was the worst of times! A Thursday Night Football (TNF) game in Oakland, between two old AFL rivals (Raiders vs Chiefs) is just what Raider Nation and the Raiders organization needed. The Chiefs played like the conference leading team that they are. The Raiders played like the dominating offensive team they were thought to be at the start of the season. In the end only one could be victorious, though both played their butts off.

It was the best of times for both teams because a short week after a loss gives players no time to dwell on the past game. It was the worst of times for both teams because a short week also means players can't fully heal from aches and injuries sustained in their previous Sunday matchups. 

The game itself was a battle for the ages as the Raiders rediscovered their wide receiver weapon that is Amari Cooper (11 rec / 210 yds / 2 tds). The Raiders not only rediscovered Coop, they dusted off their old arsenal of attacking offensive schemes and knocked the Chiefs defense off their game just enough to win. I knew it on the Raiders first offensive play, an out pass to Coop for about 11 yards and a first down, that the offense had given up the vanilla flavor schemes, at least for one game. That predictable handoff to Marshawn Lynch up the middle early in games was gone.

This game saw Lynch mostly as a decoy; and the Chiefs bit on the play action almost every time. By the time Lynch was thrown out of the game for touching an official during a scrum, Raiders running backs Washington and Richard were giving the offense a spark with spurting runs and catches out of the backfield.

It was fitting to have soulful saxophone player Mike Phillips perform the star spangled banner under the Coliseum lights with a huge, 100 yard flag being held by what I think were military personnel. Also the Raiders 1967 AFC Champion players were introduced before the game to loud, passionate screams from Raiders fans. And you know, as usual, big papa #00 Jim Otto always gets the biggest cheers. So the stage had been set for two legendary pro football rivals, one sporting red devil red, the other angelic white, to take the field and give the screaming barbarians their paid pound of flesh. Neither the players nor the fans disappointed, it was beautiful! And yes, there was a jetfighter flyover.

This game ranks right up there with some of the best Raiders games I've ever seen at the Oakland-Alameda Coliseum. And it wasn't just the electrifying plays on the field; the electric vibe throughout the Coliseum was magnetic and intoxicating for all who were mesmerized after willingly drinking the kool-aid. 

It was what was at stake for the Raiders season that had Raider Nation tense from the get go. A Raiders loss would've definitely been a nail in the coffin for this season and possibly prompted changes in the coaching staff. Instead, the talk is all about the team still in the playoff hunt and looking like a legitimate contender for the crown. Also, with the debut of newly signed linebacker NaVorro Bowman, who was given a thundering ovation during defensive introductions, the night couldn't have had more drama and expectation in the air.

If I could bottle the emotion and passion that touched upon every fan at that game last night, I'd present it to world leaders with a note attached saying "here's the scent of world peace, use it." I swear I saw blacks hugging whites, home foreclosure victims hugging investment bankers, Christians hugging Muslims, Republicans hugging Democrats and Bernie look-a-likes, Israelis hugging Palestinians and crips n bloods flashing truce signs. I stand by what I've been saying for years, a Raiders game is the only place where you can go amongst people of all different backgrounds and walks of life and feel like all of them are your brothers and sisters, period.

Raider Nation is more than just a fanatical fan base for a perceived renegade team; its a living, breathing example of what you get when the concept of unity meets the practice of fellowship. 

It was a rare moment in football and sports that players, coaches and fans live for and can only hope to be a part of. Raiders coach Jack Del Rio kind of touched on what "the excitement of being in that position" is like, during his post-game interview. He had definitely drank the Kool-Aid and did well in giving facts while you could see he was full of the fun that winning a game like this brings. Jack might be one of the best at handling post-game press conferences win, lose or tie.

Hopefully last night's nationally televised Raiders game reminded our country of just how unique and wonderful it's varied culture of citizens are when given a level playing field in life ,where the same rules of conduct and competition apply to all.

Tuesday, October 17, 2017

NaVorro Bowman Dressed In Silver & Black

#53 Now Protecting The Shield

Former 49ers middle linebacker NaVorro Bowman has signed with the Raiders. It might be a too little too late addition to our defense, but at least our sometimes questionable GM (Reggie McKenzie) didn't sleep on filling a Raiders need.  Bowman brings 7 years of experience and a huge chip on his shoulder. If nothing else he'll help in the development of our young linebacker corps.

The Raiders are facing the division leading Kansas City Chiefs this Thursday night. The silver & black are coming off another loss that featured a toothless offensive game plan. Is it possible they'll use Bowman as a fullback to block for Beast Mode? Anything should be possible when trying to spice up our offensive playbook. We're 2-4 heading into this game. Its all hands on deck if we want to salvage any chances of having a successful season. A Chiefs win will all but bury the Raiders playoff chances. A Raiders win might just awaken a beast that's been hibernating through four games.

Come'on Raiders Coaches and Players; we have a defining moment approaching for Raider Nation. Show us you haven't given up on the team. Show us you're willing to give everything you have to protect our house. Show us that you're capable of sending Andy Reid and the Chiefs back to KC with a second loss in five days. Show us a dog that can still hunt.

Just Show Us!

Saturday, October 07, 2017

Rest In Peace - Connie Hawkins

He was the basketball player who brought New York City float and flair street-ball to the NBA. Though his early professional career was marred and delayed by a point-shaving scandal that he had nothing to do with, Connie Hawkins made it to the pros and left his mark on the game.

I have his autobiography on my book shelf, "Foul!: The Connie Hawkins Story by David Wolf." I set it down after a few chapters because of the sadness of Connie's early life of poverty and being bullied.  I remember skipping through to the chapters about the scandal and found more sadness, so I set it aside again.

Now with "The Hawk's" passing I feel I owe it to myself and the humble legend to delve into his autobiography and not let up until I've come to know the high's of Hawk's career and life.  I do know that he was a Harlem Globetrotter for a while, that's a life highlight. He also was inducted into the NBA Hall of Fame, definitely a highlight.

Too think that Julius Erving, "Dr. J.," might of modeled his signature slam dunk after The Hawk's ball-palming style of attacking the basket is definitely a highlight for him.
Connie Hawkins, one of the best players to ever play the game. A Basketball Legend, from the playgrounds of NYC to the Arena's of professional sports. The Hawk will be remembered.

Career highlights and awards
Career ABA and NBA statistics
Points11,528 (18.7 ppg)
Rebounds5,450 (8.8 rpg)
Assists2,556 (4.1 apg)
Stats at
Basketball Hall of Fame as player

Connie Hawkins; A Victim of Injustice

Monday, October 02, 2017

Another Moment of Silence (Gun Laws)

Gun Violence....

While listening to sports talk radio last night I was made aware of the mass shooting that took place at an outdoor country music concert in Las Vegas, not far from the proposed new Raiders stadium location.

I immediately turned on the television and saw incredible phone footage of people at the concert running in terror while loud, staccato, popping sounds can be heard. I mean it was Loud!Surprised that anyone could hold a camera phone so steady as shots are being fired all around them, I realized its just a sign of the times. I realized also that the lone gunman taking lives with an assault weapon is just a sign of the laws in our times here in America. 

I know it might not feel like the appropriate time to address the laws still needed to govern access to guns and ammunition, but for those who lost their lives yesterday and their loved ones, the time is way too late. I am not an advocate for a gun free country, I am not knowledgeable of the differences in the various assault rifles and machine guns and such. I am just a law abiding citizen who asks myself every time there's a mass shooting like this, Why and How can we prevent this from happening again. 

It's hard for me to believe that Gun Lobbyists throughout the United States value doing business in guns and ammunition, more than they do the lives of innocent American citizens. Don't they see the footage from these sad incidents? If guns don't kill people, the angry, mentally unstable people with Guns kill people. Or possibly the laws allowing angry and mentally unstable people access to Guns. So what's the common denominator? Guns Kill People!

I am so sorry for those victims and their families who've been affected by this senseless violence. You are all in my prayers. I urge all Americans to research what political persons and/or political groups are upholding not the right to bear arms, but the right to sell arms and ammunition of mass destruction on American soil. Then consider why any politician or any patriotic American would even consider voting against a law that bans such destructive weapons. The fact that Nevada has some of the most relaxed gun laws in the country should not give us reason to write this most recent mass shooting off as just another shooting in a gun friendly state. 

If I have the choice of possibly saving one human life by helping laws to ban automatic weapons get passed, I'd choose to back laws banning those weapons every time. And if I had to come up with a profile of the type of person(s) or groups that would turn down a law that bans the selling of such weapons I'd give these character traits (but keep in mind I'm not an expert profiler):

weapons manufacture owners and their investors and lawyers, business partners with financial interests in the sale of weapons and ammunition, terrorists, anti-Americans, government politicians (campaign donors), war profiteers, weapons special interest groups (lobbyists) paramilitary groups (U.S.).

Here's a "Dear America" letter written after this most recent mass shooting. It is not a feel good letter nor is it a letter of apology or sympathy. It's a wake up call letter for American citizens. I thought the letter a bit harsh and insensitive about violence and mass shootings. I didn't wanna hear or feel the pain and guilt that truth sometimes delivers. But I read it and reluctantly have to agree with it's theme of how crazy to think these kinds of mass shootings will ever stop without laws to ban and/or make it more difficult to obtain such weapons. The author is foreign.

Dear America: The Las Vegas shooting was not a tragedy; it's a sickness.
by British Journalist Susie Boniface aka Fleet Street Fox

Sunday, October 01, 2017

Come-To-Jesus Time for Raiders Coaching

Is the nation's Commander-in-Chief running the Raiders now or what?  Come'on Man!

The Oakland Raiders Offense has looked offensive in their past two losses. Why is that? Coaching, you think?

Sure the players on the field must execute, but the game plan they're executing has to outsmart and out maneuver the opposing team game plan, and that's just not occurring. This definitely falls on the coaching staff. Watching the Raiders makes me feel like the team is getting sabotaged from within. Yeah, I said it, from the Oakland Bay Area I said it!

You mean to tell me the Juice Got Loose today and my Raiders can't get outta Denver with a frickin' win?

The Raiders have talent on offense and defense, but it takes talented coaches to legislate plays, packages and personnel placement on the field. The team is not good enough to dominate opponents one on one. They must play smart, shifty, matchup creative football. The defense has shown that they can carry their load, the offense needs to find their groove and pull their weight. 

Why not use your big fullback (Jamize Olawale) to open holes for Marshawn Lynch? Why not scheme double tight end power play now and then. Show something to the opposing defense that makes them say "hey, this isn't a predictable Raiders scheme." Why not just go Andy Reid mis-direction plays on opponents to slow down their defense?

Offensive weapons cannot take advantage of a defense if they're dictating every play before the ball is snapped. They're making the defenses they face look like Nostra-Frickin-Damus! I know its football and the same offensive plays can be found in all 32 NFL team playbooks, but talented coaches know how to poker face plays so the opponent can't ANTICIPATE what's coming.

Teams aren't only anticipating what the Raiders offense is running, they're DICTATING what the Raiders offense can run by honing in on every TELL from the silver & black scheme.

And the sad part is the Raiders offense knows the opposing defense knows exactly what play is coming; and that's why we're seeing a Raiders offense looking defeated and out of sorts on every play, regardless of down and distance. Defenses aren't even looking for Marshawn to catch a screen or swing pass, they know when and where he's gonna run the ball. They also know exactly where Carr's drop back spot for passing the ball is, and they're collapsing the pocket right to that spot.

It's all around frustration for the Oakland Raiders and if the coaching staff continues to feed the players vanilla game plans, expect the injuries to mount, the losses to pile up and the opponents to show no respect for what was predicted to be a juggernaut offense.

Come'on "Riverboat Jack (del Rio)," put on your poker face, step up your game so those you're leading into battle can step up there's. There's still time in the season to turn this thing around. Look at what you have in your staff and players and most importantly, in yourself. Be the change you wish to see in your team!

Just Win Baby! 

Thursday, September 21, 2017

The Street of the Sun

Miguel laughed. "The senorita enquires about you, Fidel. You, with your sixteen years, have accomplished something which none of the young caballeros of Havana have been able to do. Do you know how many there are in this city who would give anything to have the senorita notice them? Come, greet her, boy, for she is not in the habit of doing such things."

"You embarrass me, Miguel," she fluttered her fan, "and I am sure you equally embarrass your friend. How can he greet me before he is introduced to me. You are lacking in manners not to have presented him?"

"Present Fidel? Margerita, are you serious?"

"And why not?"

Miguel shook his head.

"Aye de mi? I can see you are not a Cuban. Had you been Cuban, you would have taken one look at Fidel - that would have been enough - and had I presented him to you you would have been shocked."

"Stop talking in riddles, or I shall become angry with you. I see a handsome young lad who accompanies you in your coach. I take him for a friend of yours and I would naturally suppose you would introduce us."

Miguel winked at Fidel but spoke to Margerita. "Fidel may be a friend of mine and yet he is not a friend. It just happens that I bought him a few days ago. Look closely, my dear, can't you see he is not white? He is a slave. Therefore I could not possibly introduce you to him or him to you for, according to our custom here in Cuba, it would be like introducing you to one of the horses that pull our coach."

"I can't believe it. The boy is not black. I always thought all slaves were black."

Miguel motioned to Fidel to move nearer and the boy dropped on one knee on the bottom of the coach. Miguel loosened the neckband of his shirt and pulled coat and shirt down, revealing the boy's bare shoulder. "Look? Now will you believe?"

Her face whitened. "I see a scar. No, it is not a scar. Valgame dios? He's been branded."

"Of course, all slaves are."

"But why did you do this to him?"

"Look more closely, my dear. The Santiago arms are two falcons; this is a lion rampant. The brand is not of my doing. He was branded when I bought him."

"Is that true, Fidel?" Margerita's unbelief almost made her doubt Miguel.

"Por supuesto, senorita. I was branded before don Miguel bought me."

"Yes, Margerita, he's a slave and he belongs to me. I bought him only a few days ago in the Mercado. As a matter of fact, I bought two slaves and Fidel is one of them."

"What sort of a country is this where one buys a human being with money?"

"Just like one buys a dog or a horse or a cow. Exactly. You see, although I am an exception, Cubans do not consider a boy like Fidel human. In the eyes of the world he's an animal - a little higher in breeding than a horse or a dog because he has the ability to reason and to express himself but an animal nonetheless. This I do not subscribe to. Yet, despite my feelings in the matter, the other day I entered Solano's market as casually as I might go to my tailors to buy a new suit or to the jewellers to buy a snuff box. I went there to make a purchase of a man. It was not the first time, of course, because previously I have bought field hands - blacks often straight from Africa whom I purchased as I would an animal by looking at their teeth and the sleekness of their skins.

"But this time it was different. I went to buy a servant to replace our aging major domo and I ended up by buying two - the fellow Antonio and this Fidel here. Fidel looks up to Antonio as though he were a god. I must confess I myself was impressed with the fellow - he's good looking, intelligent and well educated and I would defy anybody to detect the slightest taint of Negro blood in the man. In fact," Miguel was almost apologetic, "Having been in prison, his skin was even whiter than mine which had been exposed to the sun. Do you know, as I considered his purchase, something strange happened to me."

"What?" Margerita asked.

"For one fleeting moment, I felt that I was for sale and he was buying me. I do not know what came over me but it was such a revulsion that I was tempted to free every slave I owned. Then my grandmother and I decided to do exactly that and from now on the Santiago family will employ only free labour."

Margerita placed her hand over Miguel's. Her fingers closed tightly around his. She glanced across at Fidel but his cheerful grin denoted nothing but happiness. She was near to tears but they seemed wasted.

"How pitiful?" She had been deeply moved by Miguel's words. "I shall be proud of you if you do free your slaves."

"But all Cuba will hate me," he shrugged his shoulders. "Well, let them. We Santiagos are a law unto ourselves."

The mask that formed the Quesada's face showed signs of coming to life. It started to move, like plaster cracking and the thin line of her lips parted sufficiently to allow the words to come out. Her eyes, steely blue, were fastened on Miguel.

"Am I right in believing senor, that these unfortunates are all of them persons of colour?"

Miguel nodded. "Yes, everyone held in slavery or sold in slavery has coloured blood. Even a single drop of Negro blood damns a man to servitude. All issue of female slaves in turn become slaves. Now this boy here," he pointed to Fidel, "I would judge to be a quadroon. That is, he has three-quarters white blood and from his looks I would imagine that some of it came from some Scandinavian, a sailor perhaps, whose blond hair has shown up in this lad. Negro blood is always on the distaff side, you know. Although the gentlemen of Cuba have been strict at drawing the line between white and coloured in public, they have always had a fondness for crossing the colour line behind the closed shutters of their bedrooms. Therefore we have many here in Cuba which you might not easily recognize as coloured. Some of them can boast noble blood in their veins. This Antonio that I bought - his mother was an octoroon girl and his father the Duke of Ramar. So, you see he is just one-sixteenth or possibly one-thirty-second coloured."

"The Duke  of  Ramar?' The senora was impressed. "You mean.....?"

"I mean that my slave is the natural son of the Duke. Through his father he is related to half the kings of Europe but according to Cuban law, he is as black as any black bruto newly arrived from Africa with a stick in his nose."

The senora sniffed. It was apparent that she did not credit the mingling of blue blood with black. In recomposing her mask, she narrowed her lips and then retreated behind the facade of what she fondly imagined to be aristocratic snobbishness.

Margerita leaned over and patted Fidel's hand. "Stop talking about slaves. You embarrass the boy and in truth you embarrass me."

But Fidel was not embarrassed. He was far too happy. That his feelings should even be considered was a new experience to him. Previously nobody had ever noticed his existence as a person. Now he was dressed in silk and velvet, riding in the Santiago coach alongside the master whom he worshipped as a god and the most beautiful woman he had ever seen, who had patted him on his hand.

"The senorita must not distress herself over me. Truly, I had rather be a slave to don Miguel than be Governor of Cuba. You see senorita, Antonio and I are together and we love him." He reached over for Miguel's hand and carried it to his lips.

Miguel drew his hand away quickly and gave Fidel a slap. "The boy's an actor, Margerita, a born actor. He loves to dramatize himself. You should have seen the show he put on at Solano's to get me to buy him. He knows how to play on one's sympathies. See how he has affected you. I think I'll send the beggar to Spain and put him on the stage. All his swooning and posturing. But in spite of it all, he's a good boy."

Margerita settled back in the corner of the coach and Miguel found her hand hidden under the folds of her skirt. Fidel, who had never been out of the city before, stared out the window and the senora looked blankly at the passing landscape, so different from the pinched grey-greenness of Spain. The coach had left the city far behind and was now well on its way to Marianao, beyond which lay the finca.

Note: Miguel comes up with the idea to give Fidel to Margerita for her protection from night thieves. Margerita says she would love to have Fidel but that she does not believe in keeping slaves. Margerita says she'll accept Fidel on one condition, that if he belong to her he be free. You shall belong only to yourself she says. She has the coach pull over and performs a type of knighting ceremony with a sword to make Fidel's freedom official and gives him a gentlemen's last name. Margerita chooses to name Fidel, Fidel Dorado, Fidel meaning faithful and Dorado meaning golden as in his hair, eyes and silk suit color. Fidel the Golden.

pgs 96-103
The Street of the Sun by Lance Horner
author of Mandingo

Thursday, August 31, 2017

Raiders Championship Season is upon Us

Carr, Coop & Mack are Back!  And they've added something special that should put all worries of past seasons on the rack; Beast Mode is now wearing Silver & Black!

Oakland Raiders - Just Win Baby!