Sunday, July 12, 2015

Nine-N-Seven: Story of A Foreign Born Fan

I got a story to tell. It's about a man who came to this beautiful, sports filled country of ours from India about a decade ago.  He came here on one of those foreign visas to work in a much sought after, highly paid technology industry job, with hopes of someday owning a cutting edge computer software company himself. 

This modern day technological man from India considered himself a brain of higher intelligence with extraordinary calculating capabilities. He'd missed the " Boom" that swept through the Bay Area like an autumn wind in the late 90's.  He vowed not to be left out of the millionaires club when the next technical gold rush struck in California.  

So in 2005 this busted and dusty entrepreneur with a taste for mathematics and computers came to the Bay Area and made good.  He didn't become a Bill Gates or Steve Jobs; not yet anyway, he's still young.  But what our modern man from India did become was something better. Something that outlasts both fame and fortune.

On one sunny autumn morning he found himself with a few silicon valley co-workers, setting up grills, folding tables and canopies at the Oakland Coliseum in preparation for his first ever NFL gameday experience. Mind you our mathematical brain hadn't the time, money or desire to attend such nonsensical sports activities back in India, much less here in America.  Here in America he had targeted for himself what he thought were much higher goals.  Why waste his time watching not real football (soccer), but American Football, a game played by barbarians with small brains and little intelligence.  He felt any man who'd risk the brain trauma caused by repetitive blows to the head is as intelligent as a donkey and need be pitied not praised and cheered.

But he'd finally consented to the invitation of one co-worker, an American, who'd organized a company outing to an American Football experience for those foreign visa workers curious about what all the hype and hoopla surrounding the game of football was all about.  That co-worker was Larry.  Raider Larry to be precise. And what the mild-mannered visa holders didn't know, couldn't have known, was that once outside the confines of the technological office environment, Larry the troubleshooting networks router whiz, transformed into something almost unrecognizable with a passion for any and all things silver and black.

Raider Larry loves everything Raiders.  His father is an Ol'skool Raiders fan from Oakland. He was born and bred on the silver and black mystique.  Raider Larry is too young to remember the Glory Days of Stabler and Biletnikoff, but he knew every highlight reel and playoff victory the two had ever helped produce on the field, and more.  

Raider Larry is what you call a 24/7 sports fan. He lives and breathes it, and since fantasy football was born, he bets it, with much success.  He's starting up a Fantasy Football website for this coming season. Get at it!

The Oakland Raiders to fans like Raider Larry are more than just another American sports team; they're the team God created to bring all mankind together to celebrate the brotherhood and excellence of life while vanquishing all would be pretenders. In a world of pretenders and make-believers, it takes being a Raiders fan to understand all that lies beneath the mask.

To hear Raider Larry explain it, we all have that beastly primal man hidden deep down inside the depths of our being. Sunday football allows that beast to come out of the dark and feed and frolic in the sun. Feed the beast, let him dance and sing praises of his favorite team and you'll find at the end of the day a tamed man, ready to face the challenges that life brings.

With all the football wisdom that Raider Larry bestowed on our man from India that day, along with the food, drink and beautiful women tailgating in silver and black, nothing would impress our man more than watching the harmonic convergence of players and fans as the players ran out of the tunnel onto the field. 

This introduction of Silver and Black players, starters for that day's game, was like nothing he'd seen or experienced in his short time on earth.  The adulation the fans showered on their team, a losing team to this point of the season, was incredible. And the players returned the fan love with passionate demonstrations of strutting, fist pumping and chest thrusting. Our man from India thought at that moment that if these players were the numbnut Philistines he'd envisioned, then their opponent for that day better bring more than just a slingshot, much more.

Through four hard fought quarters of football our man of India barely sat in his seat.  He cheered, he laughed and he growled along with Raider Nation as the Raiders toughed out a marginal victory on the field. Our man considers that day his second birth. Something inside him snapped on that day, throwing all his complicated calculations about life and happiness into a spin. For after that day our man understood that its the fight inside the man that makes him great, what he gathers materially is just conquered booty.  

Our man had been initiated into a culture that protected and looked after its own.  A culture that is like no other simply because it includes all; rich, poor, christian, muslim, black, white, american, foreigner. The Raider Nation is a culture that welcomes anybody who's ever felt like there's more to life than just the ins and outs of everyday life. The mere struggle for survival is the manna that brings out our passion for life.  And we live for our brothers as much as for ourselves.

Its a brotherhood, a fellowship to be exact.  And when out with your brothers, frolicking in the sun, its okay to be you.

So this story is in honor of you Nine-N-Seven.  You came to America, you saw the many cultures and interests and you chose.  You chose the Oakland Raiders as your team. You became a brother to my brother. In predicting each season, since your inauguration season, that the raiders would go 9-7, you've earned that nickname, Nine-N-Seven.  And as Raider Larry told you, you can't predict a record greater than 9-7 until the Raiders go at least 9-7. Got me Nine-N-Seven?

I, the teller of this tale, should've been nicknamed "it's our year" for the many seasons I've stated such.  You know, this is Our Year!  It was as good telling your story as it was hearing it from Raider Larry, Nine-N-Seven.  Look forward to seeing you at a tailgate party and calculating the odds of the Raiders making the playoffs this coming season.  

Strength in Numbers, Nine-N-Seven, Strength in Numbers.

Win Lose or Tie

Next week I'll share with you the tailgating interview of a former Somali Pirate who's made it to these shores of the free and brave and now swears allegiance to the Oakland Raiders.  I kid you not.

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