This is a life-story presented to me in an email by a good friend of mine, Mark Taylor. Mark has a lot of football knowledge, and, in my opinion, he is a go-to person for me to bounce ideas off of. I asked him to tell me the story of his “Silver and Black Life” as he was growing up, when he started liking the Oakland Raiders, and his opinion of their chances in 2013 and for the upcoming Monday Night Football game against the Denver Broncos. Here is Mark’s story:
First, let me qualify what I am about to pontificate with an appropriate disclaimer and dossier. I am not a pro football or Oakland Raiders guru. I claim to possess no expert inside information from the NFL, the Raiders, or anyone else. I never played professional or even college football. In fact, I was only an average athlete in high school myself. What I am however, is an avid sports fan with a particular insatiable love for the game of football. I loved it from the moment I was introduced to it in my buddy’s backyard when I promptly got knocked on my behind by his big brother and hit the ground so hard it made my teeth rattle….but, without knowing exactly how or why, I had, “made the block”, and was praised for springing my buddy for a touchdown. I was smitten by my new true love and have spent the rest of my life with it listed as my favorite pastime.
Over the years I have played the game in backyards, front yards, side yards, empty lots, open fields, school yards, beaches, and regular football fields. I played two hand touch, flag, tackle, and even a version of the game that looked closer to a cross between rugby, wrestling, and football that we called brawler. I played in high school of course, and even played in a full pad tackle game for a charity event as an adult. After running out of sufficient size and athletic ability to compete at the next level, I truly missed that physical connection with the sport. So after my boys got big enough, I began volunteering and coaching as they then began to enjoy the sport. I spent the next 20 years coaching Pop Warner and High School football to satisfy my need to participate.
Of course, I also began studying the game at a young age. When I was a kid, we had a black and white TV that got three channels, and I was not the one who got to choose the channel. Unfortunately my parents were not football fans. I took advantage of my uncles who liked to watch the college bowl games and would watch with them during the holidays. I remember the hype and excitement of the “Bowl” games, especially the Cotton Bowl and the Sugar Bowl. I became an Arkansas Razorback fan the year they went undefeated, 1964, and watched the Game of the Century in 1969, when they lost 15-14 to the dreaded Longhorns. Occasionally my dad would watch pro football on a Sunday, if nothing else was on and mom was out shopping. During those times I was glued to my dad’s side.