When I was five years old I could tell you all about Kenny Stabler, Fred Biletnikoff and Ted Hendricks. When I was ten years old in 1989 I watched an old timer's flag football game featuring the throwback Raiders vs Steelers. After the game I was lost in the crowd while my father was trying to get Stabler's autograph. As Father's day is now upon us I can't help but think back and reflect on my father's impact on my life. As a man and as a Raiders' fan.
I once had a Raiders hat that said, "If you ain't a Raiders Fan, you ain't S**t." My dad had a matching one. I wore it to school in the 5th grade. I was told by my teacher that I couldn't wear it to school due to the cuss word. I remember telling my father. My father's response was, "He's probably a F**king Niners' fan. So my dad put a Raiders' pin over the cuss word and told me to wear it again the next day. I walked into class in the following morning and looked at my teacher expecting to get told I couldn't wear the hat. Instead, he said nice pin. I said, "Are you a 49ers fan?"
A father is a unique person in life. A lot is said about mothers and rightfully so. Single parent homes are routinely managed by mothers. In the context of prisons Hallmark makes a killing on Mother's day but barely registers a profit on Father's day. This is a problem in our society that expands much further than sports. Another topic for another day.
My dad taught me what overtime was, how to throw a spiral and a curve ball. He taught me how to play and love sports. How to win and lose at sports. He taught me was it was like to be a Raiders' fan. To think like a Raider, to act like a Raider and to fight like a Raider. To him, being a Raider meant you worked hard and celebrated harder. To this day, I work as hard as I can only to celebrate the joys of life harder.
Happy Father's day to all you fathers out there. If the relationship with your father is great, relish that and make sure your father knows how much you appreciate him. If the relationship is distant or unstable, be thankful your father at least gave you life and maybe it's time to have a long overdue conversation. My father passed away in 2012. I would give anything to talk to him about Derek Carr and get his take on this upcoming season. More importantly though, just to say thanks. Thanks for being my dad and thanks for raising me up to be a Raider.