This was a game Al Davis would have loved … well, I’m not going to get into all of that. Because I don’t care about that. The Oakland Raiders have won more football games this year than they did all last season.
My father cursed me with this love for the Raiders.
He was chronically ill and died at 60 several years ago, but one of my last poignant and non-illness related memories with him was watching that awful Super Bowl against the Bucs.
It was the longest time him and I went without speaking, and the longest I’d seen him go without a cigarette. We were totally stunned.
My father and I both came to Bakersfield in search of redemption. My father, despite many charms, was a born loser with a heart of gold. He related to the John Matuszak Raiders … the “Mr. Davis/Just Win, Baby” Raiders who wouldn’t judge him or the rest of my family for their DUI’s, professional failures, and just plain bad luck. Because after all, there was hope that they’d just win in the end.
Bakersfield would be the place where my father would die, and it broke my heart. But that pain would be mended by a marriage, professional successes, and the birth of three children.
None of those children have known Sundays to be happy. Football dominates their father’s life from Friday afternoon to Sunday night, and Sundays have generally been an early night full of sullenness from me.
It seems though, that it’s time for a change. And once again, Bakersfield is the nexus for change in my own life.
I wish my father was here; I wish he could see that once again Bakersfield — this dusty blue collar town — has once again delivered our family line from evil. This time, in the form of a quarterback. The younger brother of former Texans (and Bakersfield’s Stockdale High School) QB David Carr, and former QB of Bakersfield Christian High School himself, Derek Carr has reinvigorated our one common bond: He has returned the vaunted “vertical game” to the Oakland Raiders, and the only thing I’m sad about is that my father isn’t here to see it.
Red Sox fans exhausted me with their “I wish my Dad was here to see it” stories, so this will be the only time I’ll mention it, but the Raiders’ decade-long streak of pathetic play completely disintegrated the one common bond I had with my father and a side of the family that was no stranger to losses.
And now it’s back … my children have an opportunity to never know the pain and frustration of cheering for a total dumpster fire of a team. This can be the same source of pride — regardless of life circumstances — that it was for my father, and I, and my uncles, before the debacle against the Bucs.
This may seem hasty to many, but it won’t seem hasty to true Raider fans. Cue the Autumn Wind. We are back, baby.