In this continuing segment, “Ask an Oakland Raiders Fan,” Just Blog Baby had the pleasure of interviewing a good friend of mine, and former co-worker, Mark Taylor. Mark is a person who I deeply respect, and he is more like a mentor or father to me than just a friend. He has been there for me in my darkest hour, and I will always be there for him.
Mark is one of the most loyal, dedicated, and die-hard fans that I have ever known. Mark is in his 50’s, and he has told me some Raiders stories from his past that I only dream of experiencing. He has been a Oakland Raiders fan since 1968, when he was 9 years old. His dad’s friend took him to his first Raiders game and he was hooked ever since. Mark has been a season ticket holder since 2004, and he religiously attends home games with his family and friends.
Mark lives in the foothills of Northern California, about 10 minutes from my house. On occasion, Mark and I drive to Fairfield, CA, to meet up with friends. During the drive there and back, we spend about two to three hours discussing the Raiders team, off-season moves, and the coaching staff.
Mark answered the following questions for me, and these were his responses:
1. How well do you think the Oakland Raiders will perform in 2013? Discuss.
Answer- “I don’t know, but I’m hoping they’ll do well enough to make the playoffs. I really can’t predict it, because the Raiders have made too many changes. Maybe an 8-8 season, but, due to the changes, it’s too hard to make any kind of educated prediction.”
2. What is your favorite off-season move that was made by the Oakland Raiders? Explain.
Answer- “Picking up undrafted rookie wide receiver Conner Vernon. Vernon looks like he can demonstrate a long, deep, threat for the Raiders. He has good hands and an aggressive style of play. He will develop consistency in the passing game which will help the Raiders open up the running game. The corners, safeties, and linebackers will have to respect Vernon’s hands. Since the defense will have to play back on him, it will create running lanes for McFadden. All McFadden needs is a lane, and he will be gone.”
3. Can Denarius Moore become an elite receiver? If so, what must he do to become one?
Answer- “Any of the Raiders players are skilled enough to become an elite player. In order for Moore to become elite, he will need to sell out more often. He needs to be aggressive and develop consistency. If Moore can’t do that, he will be a good trade for the Raiders to give away to another team.”
Answer- “Wow, there are so many. It would have to be Ken Stabler. He represented the epitome of the Raiders philosophy, their style of play, and he constantly displayed the Raiders mystique. He was a bad boy who didn’t conform to the conservative athletic standard, but he’d come out every week and kick your butt, sometimes with a hang-over.”
5. What is your favorite Oakland Raiders memory, and what is a typical tailgate party like for you at home games?
Answer- “My favorite memory would have to be when I met Darren McFadden. I am a die-hard Arkansas Razorbacks fan, too, and I got to attend the Raiders training camp on August 11, 2008. There, I was introduced to Darren McFadden, and I was able to get his autograph and I posed in a photograph with him wearing my Arkansas Razorbacks hat and Oakland Raiders shirt.”
“My friends and family and I will typically tailgate at the BART station parking lot in El Cerritos, CA. We will set-up our table and chairs, have our carnitas, Pepsi’s, chips and salsa, and we will listen to the pre-game show. Then, we will hop on the BART train and get to the game about an hour before kick-off. The big parties are reserved for the away game celebrations we have at home.”
Tailgating can be conducted wherever and whenever necessary. The BART station isn’t a bad idea, because Mark can avoid a lot of the unnecessary cluster of vehicles making their way out of the coliseum parking lot. Look on the bright side of things Mark, now we have an Arkansas Razorback for a quarterback (Tyler Wilson).
I would like to extend my thanks to Mark Taylor for taking the time out of his busy “chicken coup” building schedule to conduct this interview. Again, if any of Raider Nation would like a chance to answer a few questions themselves, please contact me via email. I will be continuing this segment through July 25th (The start of training camp).