Last Friday at the Raiders’ preseason home opener against the Motown Lions, that wonderful sense of rebirth that permeates the start of a fresh NFL season filled the O.co Coliseum also known as The Original House of Pain.
There were some new things added since last year. Some were cosmetic: posters on the walls of the press elevators. Some were functional: new HD TVs in the press box. Others were imaginary: me having my own personal Raiderettes to throw rose petals on the ground wherever I set foot.
The powers that be cordoned off the dugouts for certain people to sit and watch the game on the field–part of some sponsorship deal. That might be great for those fans, but it was not so great for the photographers who have used the dugouts for years to stow their gear during the game.
In their second exhibition contest, the Raiders pulled off a miraculous last-minute win that would be thrilling if only it didn’t matter about as much as a win playing Madden football does.
Don’t get me wrong, the Raiders started slow – it was startling how easy the Lions scored. So, finding a way to win can serve as a team confidence builder even if many of the players will be long forgotten come October or November.
Now, I am not a Raider conspiracy theorist who believes that the NFL and its referees are in cahoots to screw over my team. Still, when we consistently get refs that miss obvious calls such as the vicious, illegal helmet to helmet hit that in fact knocked the helmet off of Raider tight end Scott Simonson, I am closer to believing in an NFL Illuminati and fashioning a protective aluminum foil hat to guard against them scanning my brain.
But I also witnessed something Friday that is as rare as a Kansas City Chief’s playoff victory: the refs jobbing the other team. The Raiders needed to get to the 30-yard line for a first down and were stopped at the 28, maybe the 29 tops.
Inexplicably, the refs called it a first down. Then, a Detroit instant replay challenged failed.
The Lions got Raiderized.
This old school hard rocker was pleased that my fellow Raider fans picked Led Zeppelin’s “Kashmir” in the Pandora Challenge during a TV timeout. It pitted the tune against “Sweet Emotion” by Aerosmith and “Satisfaction” by The Rolling Stones and the crowd voted by roaring their approval for each as they were announced.
I’m sure the fact the first Led Zeppelin album’s cover featured a depiction of the Hindenburg disaster doesn’t mean anything. Does it?
Reach Fairfeld Raider fanalist–part fan, part journalist Tony Wade at [email protected]