Sep 15, 2013; Oakland, CA, USA; Oakland Raiders fullback Marcel Reece (45) leaps into the black hole of fans after scoring a touchdown against the Jacksonville Jaguars during the first quarter at Coliseum. Mandatory Credit: Kelley L Cox-USA TODAY Sports

Thank You Raider Nation

I am a proud member of our great nation, the Raider Nation.  I have been a member since 1972, and I have enjoyed interacting with all Raiders fans over my 41 years of life.  On Sunday, September 15, I attended the home opener for the Oakland Raiders, and I was happy to meet some new friends.  Fate is a funny thing, because my day didn’t start like I had planned it, but it ended better than expected.

I wanted to leave my house at 6:00 AM, but my wife and I didn’t actually get going until 8:20 AM.  Why, well let’s just say that I’m a good husband and I understand when to push to get out of the house and when to just let things slide.  Obviously it was one of those slide moments.  It’s about a 2 1/2 hour drive to from my house, and the drive was pretty uneventful with the exception of the occasional driver who wants to do 55 miles per hour in the fast lane.  God grant me the strength to accept the things I cannot change…  Yes folks, the Serenity Prayer comes in handy every now and again for me.

As I turned off of Hegenberger Road toward the south parking lot of coliseum, I was met with a wall of vehicles.  As I feared, the sellout crowd meant that we would have to park in the overflow parking lot.  Why, well let’s just say we didn’t get there early enough.  Oh well, such is life.

Still, once we parked, my wife and I noticed the people preparing their tailgate next to us.  A husband and wife from Fresno, CA, who had brought their beautiful daughters.  Both little girls were decked out in Oakland Raiders garb, and there were three chairs placed on the ground underneath the ez-up umbrella.  The three chairs were for his wife and daughters, and he handled the barbecue.  A good man always serves his family.  In true Raider fashion, we introduced ourselves, and I began a lengthy conversation about the Raiders with the husband.  Not long after, we were taking pictures with them, laughing, joking, and enjoying the pre-game festivities.

Then, my wife and I headed to the stadium and our seats.  Once inside, and while waiting for my wife again, I observed #25-Fred Biletnikoff pass by me with his entourage of security guards, and I said, “Hello Mr. Biletnikoff.”  To which he replied, “Hello,” and he nodded in my direction.  This was pretty exciting for me, because I watched him play on television as a little kid, and he was one of my childhood heroes.

Opening day in OaklandOnce we found our seats, we again mixed it up with fans from all over California.  There were people from Northern California, the Central Valley, the Coast, and Southern California.  Everybody was excited for the 2013 season, and the atmosphere was electric.  When the American Flag was unveiled by our Military Soldiers, the proud Raider Nation saluted in honor of the United States, the men and women who have fought and died for us, and those who are keeping the peace now.

It was a wonderful day full of good things, and the Oakland Raiders sealed the good day with a victory.  The crowd roared with emotion and the Raiders chant could be heard from miles and miles around (RAIDERS!).  As my wife and I exited the stadium, we met up with Fernando Maestas and his wife.  Fernando is one of the Co-Hosts for the Just Blog Baby podcast, and he will soon be writing for JBB as well.  This was the first time I had met him face to face, and it was good to put a face to a voice.  Of course, we discussed the game and some new ideas for JBB.  I can’t wait until Fernando begins to unveil the videos he is going to exclusively do for JBB and Raider Nation.

Before leaving the stadium, we once again said goodbye to our friends from Fresno, CA, and we watched as the husband carried his youngest daughter in his arms.  She had fallen asleep in all the commotion and excitement.  Who says Raiders games aren’t a family event?  Obviously other teams fans.

So I just wanted to say “Thank You” to Raider Nation for another wonderful game at Coliseum.  We helped cheer our team to victory, and, as always, the stadium crowd never fails to provide entertainment to those in attendance.  Please, if you had a similar experience or a different one, feel free to comment on this post and let us know how your opening day experience went.  If you got to meet a Raiders legend or saw one up close, tell us your story, and it may make it into my next fan post.  Go Raiders!

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