Saturday, December 23, 2006

Cliff Branch Hooks a Brotha Up!

The final Raiders home game left little to look forward to come next season. Check that, WR Ronald Curry and RB Justin Fargas had productive games, but the team as a whole with Andrew Walter at quarterback looked just what they are, 2-13. We loyal fans sucked it up while watching KC take one at our house. Most of us will be back next season to cheer on the silver and black once again. Win, Lose or know the motto.

I can at least delight in meeting a Raider Legend today. I met the man who once wore #21 for the Raiders and helped them win three Super Bowls.

WR Cliff Branch was at the Raiders Tailgate Tent before the game signing autographs and I just so happened to be wearing my #21 Branch jersey (white). When I asked CLiff to just hook me up with something nice on the back of my Jersey it almost began in disaster. Not only did the silver pen he was using run out, but he'd began the spelling of my name incorrectly, as many people do. So Cliff being the kind gentleman he is got a better writing pen then said "Tell you what, why not take off the Jersey and let me hook it up for you on a flat surface." The Jersey was off my back and in Cliff's hands quicker than you could say "Touchdown Raiders." And true to his word Cliff hooked my Jersey up with the following:

While Cliff was doctoring up my Jersey I had a fun conversation with another ole skool Oakland Raider. His name was Ted Kwalick and he'd grown up and played college football in Pennsylvania (Penn State). When I mentioned to them both that I was a 70's child watching football and my favorite player at the time was Bob Hayes, Cliff immediately referred to Hayes as "Bullit", his nickname, as we went on to discuss the speedy olympic gold medalist. I complimented Cliff by saying how Bullit just outran everybody on the defense but I remembered Cliff running the short routes and getting the tough yards as well as the bombs. Cliff didn't say anything but the smile it bought to his face told me that I'd given him an early xmas gift. Proof that recognition and appreciation for athletic accomplishments is truly what the players played for back in the day.

When Cliff handed me back the Jersey and saw my face light up with appreciation we both just stood there and enjoyed the moment as if old buddies exchanging xmas gifts. I believe we'd both somehow shared gifts with each other in the way of our exchange of mutual respect and friendship. We shook hands as Cliff wished me and my family a wonderful Merry Xmas, then threw in a joke about getting caught under the miseltoe. And throughout the day when fans asked where I got the Jersey I'd mention not only how I met Cliff at the tailgate tent but just how cool and respectable a person he is. One fan went on to tell me just how cool Cliff was when he and his wife met him one time. The fan said about Cliff all the things I'd just seen in the man. He's truly a Legend and I'm honored to have a Jersey and Game Day memory of him to hold on to.

Cliff did such a good job with his penmanship that at least two fans thought I'd bought my Jersey that way and wanted to know where they could get one. Now that I think about it that could have been the alcohol in them that caused the confusion. Either way, I learned just how well respected and admired #21, former Raider CLiff Branch was and still remains to Raider fans. I can't tell you how many times I heard a fan shout out "Branch" as I walked by. And I always turned and acknowledged that I was representin not just a Raider wide receiver, but a Raider Legend. I feel I reprented Cliff well today. So well I even ate my barbecue like a gentleman for fear of having a few red splats soak into my newly autographed white Jersey.

Now comes the big decision. Do I frame the autographed jersey and hang it up on my Wall of Fame or just retire it for the winter until next football season? Guess I'll find out come next season. For now, as I type out this proud Raider memory, I'll enjoy hanging it up at home, looking at every detail of Cliff's generous personalized autograph and telling the story over and over again to family and friends. The story of how former Raider WR Cliff Branch hooked a brotha up with a xmas gift like no other. Thanks Cliff Branch for being the man you are and the Legend you'll always be to us loyal Raider Fans.

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Conspired Against Yet Again

Congratulations Derrick Burgess on your Pro Bowl Selection. HOWEVER:

The NFL Conspiracy against the Raiders is alive and well in 2006. How the hell do you explain Shane Lechler not getting a Pro Bowl nod? How about Nnamdi Asomugha's seven interceptions, tied for third in the AFC? Even Warren Sapp with 8 sacks this season should've been considered for nothing less than a reserve role in the Pro Bowl. The Raiders may rank 32nd in offense but our defense has ranked #1 against the pass. I know the voting is based on fans, players and coaches ballots but as in Presidential elections of late, there's a hole in the machinery and the integrity of the selections has been compromised.

I hate to allow the conspiracy to overshadow the Pro Bowl selection of Derrick Burgess, but even his 11 sacks only guaranteed him a reserve role. I tell you its time the NFL just come clean and admit to their unfair treament of the Raiders since the AFL-NFL merger. Every single player who's come from another team to the Raiders says they've seen questionable treatment of unfairness from the league while playing as a Raider. Though not all subscribe to the Conspiracy Theory, many have smelled a rat lurking in decisions that effect the Raiders in one way or another.

Again back to Shane Lechler, currently the #1 ranked punter in the AFC, he was out voted by the buffalo bills Brian Moorman, ranked #7 in the AFC. Does it have to do with buffalo having a 7-7 record and the raiders 2-12? I watched footage of Shane Lechler punting on I think it was "Behind The Shield." They showed Shane's leg in slow motion. His follow-thru on his punts are a thing of beauty, poetry in motion. Any athlete or person with artistic abilities has to appreciate the way Lechler's Leg swings down and lifts the football up into the heavens. Its like watching a ballet. Unfortunately those that conspire are all too biased against the Raiders to admit the obvious. If they can conspire to keep Ray Guy (former Oakland Raider Punting Great) from being inducted into the Hall of Fame, then they can conspire to keep Lechler out of away from the Pro Bowl in Honolulu come 2007.

Yes football fans, the Conspiracy against the Raiders is alive and well. It doesn't excuse the Raiders poor performance this season, but it sure as hell is good to know we ain't making this stuff up. Just watch the next Shane Lechler punt and you be the judge. Or better yet, find some interview footage of those democratic Florida voters from the 2000 Presidential election and tell me if you believe them when they say something has run afoul in some of the voting precincts. Again, if it looks like a duck and sounds like a's probably a damn duck.

How To Hack A Voting Machine

See why "Numbers Just Don't Add Up"

Sunday, December 17, 2006

Longest Tenured Raiders Fan Passes

Twice before the start of today's game against the St. Louis Rams, the public announcer asked for moments of silence. The first was for American Football League visionary Lamar Hunt, owner of the Kansas City Chiefs, who passed away this weekend. Though Al Davis and Lamar Hunt had their differences, Al respected the man for all he'd accomplished in building a football league.

With a semi-quiet crowd the announcer began his second request for silence as a tribute to Oakland Raiders equipment man George 'Run Run' Jones. A hush blanketed the coliseum followed by applause. Run run has been with the Raiders since 1963 and he died doing what he loves best, working for the Raiders. The news of Run Run passing was a shock to us fans. Earlier before the game there was a tribute to Run Run Jones at the Black Hole Tailgate which recognized Run Run as one of us. Meaning, he was as fanatical about the Raiders as any Raider Nation fan.

After the moment of silence for Run Run I remained standing and clapping in his honor, then realized that this might be the first game I've attended without Run Run on the sideline. I'm sure I wasn't the only one in the stadium with thoughts of missing Run Run Jones. In Art Shell's postgame radio interview he confirmed that Run Run listed his home address as the Raiders complex. And he was known for saying he had the largest house in California.

For a 77 year old man, Run Run had the excitement and exhuberance of a child when it came to Raiders football. I only met Run Run one time and yes he was wearing all his rings at the time. Thanks for showing us what true loyalty to a team is Run Run. If Run Run had to pass on, it was a blessing to him that he passed while doing the one thing he loved doing all these years; being a Raider in the place he called home.

George 'Run Run' Jones (#33), We the Raider Nation Salute YOU.

Friday, December 15, 2006

Golden State Warriors Entertaining Night

I treated myself to a Golden State Warriors basketball game tonight and boy was it worth every penny. When I heard that the Houston Rockets with Yao Ming would be in town for their only game in Oakland this season, I couldn't resist. I guess you could say Yao fever hit me. Arriving at Oracle Arena (Oakland Coliseum West) I saw that I wasn't the only one looking to get a glimpse of 7ft6in Yao. And Yao did not disappoint, putting up 38pts and playing better than I knew he could.

But the show belonged to Baron Davis (34pts) and the Warriors. A game that seemed to have a life all its own ended with a rousing 10 seconds of tension and elation as Baron sunk a three pointer with 1.2 seconds left to lift the Warriors over the Rockets 109-107. Though Yao had won the battle, Baron won the war.

Last time I considered watching a Warriors game it was like making a dental appointment. In anticipation of the pain to come I'd waited until the last minute (last game of season) to see them play and the actual game was true to the pain I'd envisioned. But this game tonight was no such thing, and Baron Davis's surrounding cast might have been the difference.

For the folks who don't know, there's a young star with mad game in the line-up for the Warriors these days. His name is Monta Ellis, he wears number 8 and he's about 18 months removed from playing at Lanier HS (Jackson, MS). Did I say how nasty he is? He's got a game that appears so smooth and seasoned for such a young player. A team player who isn't afraid to take his shots.

The big suprise for me tonight was the 80% attendance of asian fans that showed up. Wow, I didn't know the asian culture loved basketball so much. Young, old and a few prenatal, the asian community came out in full force to support the Warriors as well as get a glimpse of their homeland superstar Yao Ming.

One other hightlight of the evening was the moment of silence for the late great Paul Azirin, who at 78 years old passed away in his sleep Tuesday night. The announcer reminded the crowd that Paul, a hall of famer, was chosen one of the NBA's 50 greatest players of all time at the NBA 50th anniversary ceremony held during the 1996 all-star game.

As good as young Monta Ellis is predicted to become, It is Baron Davis who wears the Warriors leadership crown. Because when the game is on the line and you need someone to step up and make a play, Baron delivers. He did it tonight in BD fashion and looked good doing it. The 2006 version of Baron Davis is slimmed down, muscle tight and more upbeat than ever. Hopefully his newly styled conditioning will see him less on the injured list and more on the court leading the Warriors to that long awaited playoff birth that's been so elusive and unreachable these last 13 years.

I will be attending another Warriors game or two before seasons end. Who knows, dare I say playoffs?

Other moments:

-Adonal Foyle articulated a warm thank you and happy holidays to all Warriors fans.

-During the teams' instroduction they came onto the court with gifts for the excitedly lucky kids lined up on the court.

-The Warrior Cheerleaders. What can I say. Sure they look young and shake their booty more than show any real gymnastic type ability. Sure some are underdeveloped below the waist and supersized above it, but me complain? I say put a few dancing poles at midcourt and let'em have a go at an adults only show. I'm a good tipper. Go Warriors!

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Welcome Back to Silver&Black Doug Gabriel

Whatever the reason the New England Patriots cut former Raiders WR Doug Gabriel, we in Oaktown ain't complaining. Actually, we're slapping our thighs and stomping our feet celebrating his return to the Raiders. And we get to keep the fifth round draft pick acquired from the cheating bums of tuck-rule lore in the process. In a season that's given Raider Nation little to cheer about, this is a high-five moment.

I've always seen Doug Gabriel as a talent just waiting for his chance to shine. Now with Moss injured and Porter still "Shell-Shocked", a youthful receiving corps of Ronald Curry and Doug Gabriel will get their chance at glory this weekend. Curry showed some of his spark last week as the leading receiver in a losing effort against the Bengals. Hopefully newly promoted offensive coordinator John Shoop can find the best way to utilize Gabriel's skills.

Again, welcome back home Doug. Welcome back to a team and coach who'll give you a chance to show what you're made of, both the good and the bad. There's always room for second chances in the Raider Nation. Screw New England.

Monday, December 04, 2006

Buckle Up NFL teams - Speed Kills

Faster than a speeding bullet. More powerful than a locomotive. Able to leap small buildings in a single bound. Look, up in the endzone, its Reggie Bush. Again!

Yes folks, he's arrived. RB Reggie Bush showcased his many talents against the SF 49ers yesterday in a New Orleans Saints 34-10 romp. If you weren't around to see the likes of Gayle Sayers, O.J. Simpson, Walter Payton or Barry Sanders, its okay. There's a new superhero of football and he's just down right nasty. He's already stamped his signature on cutback running and leaving tacklers grasping at air. Try catching highlights of his punishment of the 49ers on on-demand NFL. Reggie said he personally took his agression out on the 49ers when angered over his former USC teams' loss to UCLA the day before. The 49ers claim their loss was due more to missed tackles than the heroics of Reggie Bush. I guess if I were faked out of my jock strap or bulldozed over for a touchdown I'd blame bad technique too. But when its Reggie Bush doing it to you it somehow seems silly to blame it on technique doesn't it? I mean, we all saw the 4 touchdown highlights on espn. Just what technique were the 49ers implying? the I got'em, I got'em, I got'em, I ain't got'em technique is what it looked like to me.

Please, when you get a chance catch Reggie Bush's 74 yard catch/run. Oh yeah, he can catch alright. And man is he fast. Former saints LB Pat Swilling, who played two seasons with Barry Sanders, says he's as good as Barry and probably a step faster.

Again, combine the cutbacks of Gayle Sayers, the acceleration of OJ Simpson, the sweetness of Walter Payton, the agility of Barry Sanders and the speed of Bo Jackson and you have a Reggie Bush. The 49ers really shouldn't feel too bad, they're just the first of many to come of teams who will deny they had a problem with stopping Reggie Bush. Kinda like someone with an alcohol, drug or gambling problem who just can't stop. When you can't handle the truth you sometimes fabricate an excuse. But in football there's the tale of the tape, and the tape don't lie! Roll'em - Reggie Bushwhacks 49ers Highlight

Win Lose or Tie!

by William E. Henley

OUT of the night that covers me,
Black as the Pit from pole to pole,
I thank whatever gods may be
For my unconquerable soul.

In the fell clutch of circumstance
I have not winced nor cried aloud.
Under the bludgeonings of chance
My head is bloody, but unbowed.

Beyond this place of wrath and tears
Looms but the Horror of the shade,
And yet the menace of the years
Finds and shall find me unafraid.

It matters not how strait the gate,
How charged with punishments the scroll
I am the master of my fate:
I am the captain of my soul.

With my Oakland Raiders capturing the worse record of any NFL team this season at 2-10, I still enjoyed a cool sunny day out at the Coliseum. The real Raider Fans showed up to wear their colors and support their team through turbulent times. How turbulent are these times? Read any newspaper this coming morning and I'm sure you'll hear. In the meantime let me tell you why real fans continue to come out to the games and what keeps us coming back each weekend.

A big part of the game experience is tailgating. Seeing and greeting other fans you've grown to love over time. The comraderie that comes with having a single team goal is what makes any season worth the investment of your time. Fantasy football is just a fantasy, but this thing that makes us "Brothers-in-arms" is real. When tailgating before the game there's nothing but optimism about our team's chances on this day. Especially today when we face the just as lowly Houston Texans, a game we knew going in that we'd win. Unfortunately, nobody told our offense how lowly Houston was and we played them as if they were the vaunted Chicago Bears D-fense.

Sporting my newly purchased Cliff Branch Throwback Jersey, white with black 21 numbering, I strolled into the coliseum feeling like King motherfuc@ing Midas. I just knew the day would turn out golden for the Raiders. Full of barbecued tri-tip steak, yams and a few beers I was definitely ready to see the Raiders feast on the Texans for our third win of the season. Well, as you already know that didn't happen, but suprisingly I and many other fans, continued to enjoy our day together. I guess maybe theres a bit of pirate in all of us. When things go bad and the battle seems lost, drink, be merry and live to fight another day. That is if the ship doesn't go down to the bottom of the sea.

Well, enough rambling about having fun while losing. Nobody can truly enjoy losing in sports. There's no real lesson from losing other than learning how to pick yourself up and try to better yourself. Somehow we'll find a way to put a dominant team in silver and black back on the gridiron again. From where we currently sit in the standings the task may seem insurmountable. But the Raiders organization and us fans who support them have been a resilient bunch throughout the years. Not only will we survive, for this too shall pass, but we'll eventually thrive again as one of the elite teams in the NFL. "My head is bloody, but unbowed" -Invictus!

Friday, December 01, 2006

Gator Bait!


Thanks to the great highway of fast internet update information, an audio clip of our infamous "crackhead" alligator victim has been found. The thing I found most disturbing though was not the victims screams or the concerned neighbor's reportage, but the nonchalant inquiry and instruction of the 911 dispatcher.

Listen to 911 Audio of reported Alligator Attack

Amsterdam Curbs Prostitution 'Windows'

Kammers te huur” means “Rooms for rent”

You know times are changing when Amersterdam, known for its legal red-light district, begins downsizing sex worker windows. Depending on which article you read, the reason for the downsize ranges from crime, to money laundering, to financial. Whatever the reason, the 800-year-old district will continue as Amsterdam's biggest tourist attraction, with the hashish dens running a close second. And here in California we're stuck in legal battles over medicinal marijuana. Pleaaassse!!!


Here's a weblink to Amsterdam's Red Light District for those more curious. Its titled "Window Shopping, Amsterdam Style." Amsterdam is a beautiful city.