December 11, 2009
By Tony Wade – The Lighter Side of the Black Hole

The Raiders’ thrilling victory Sunday over the Pittsburgh Squealers is what I love about sports. A team that has been a bottom dweller in recent years faced the defending Super Bowl champions in their house and came in as two touchdown underdogs.

Playing for nothing but pride, they summoned the heart to get the job done through immense obstacles. Sylvester Stallone made millions repeating that storyline in films, but on Sunday it was for real.

After yelling myself hoarse when Raider starting quarterback Bruce Gradkowski hit Louis Murphy with a TD pass with seconds left, I was stunned to think that at next Sunday’s home game, there may very well be Raider Fans wearing number 5’s jersey. Heck, If I wasn’t sitting in the press box, I might be one of them.

The thought that I would be wanting to wear the jersey of the guy I saw back in training camp in July who I had only vaguely heard of, seems almost as inconceivable as me defiling myself by donning a Chief, Charger or Bronco one. Almost.

I made the mistake of not listening to Greg Papa call the game on the Raiders flagship radio station KSFO 560 while watching the TV broadcast. Instead I listened to the annoying announcing crew of Greg Gumball and Dan Dierdork who drove me crazy.

At one point they started talking about the fact that The Who (or the half that’s left of them) will be performing at the Super Bowl next year and then started listing and critiquing songs by the English band. If I get a hankerin’ for some amateur rock critics, I’ll read the lame customer reviews on, thank you very much.

Gradkowski has established himself as a fiery competitor and a leader. The only thing is he needs is a manageable nickname. This Raider team has many (J Russ, Sea Bass, D Mac, and DHB to name a few) and since I hope to be saying his name a lot, a less cumbersome one would be cool.

But what? Bee Gee? Grad Ski? The old standby which has worked for The Boss for years is Bruuuuuuuuuuuuuuce! but then I’d expect offensive tackle Cornell Green as the big man to not only block but take an occasional sax solo.

The exultant joy of the Raider victory was sweetened when I later watched the Niners comedy of errors in a game they should have won. “Fumblin’” Frankie Gore returning to his “oopsie” ways and the botched, unnecessary reverse on the punt return were chucklelicious.

But the best part was when tight end Vernon Davis made the highly questionable (and ultimately unsuccessful) decision to attempt to be the first NFL player to catch a touchdown pass with his face.

The sweet taste of a Raider victory has soured the following week as they have not been able to put together two wins in a row all season. This Sunday the Washington Native Americans (I refuse to be UN-PC and use their racist mascot name—although it did trigger in me the memory of an old auto repair shop in Vallejo called “Honest Engine” whose name was way UN-PC but kinda clever).

A local angle is that their starting running back just may be Fairfield
native Quinton Ganther. I’d wish him luck but he’s wearing the wrong colors. Plus he went to Fairfield High and I went to Armijo. Unlike the basketball uniform I wore back in the 80’s at Armijowhich I have and is now a napkin, there are some things you just don’t outgrow.

Toys for Tots and…

Raider Nationals, if you are coming to the game Sunday, the annual Toys for Tots drive is going on that day. United States Marines will be stationed at the West Side Plaza near the BART entrance at Gates A, B, C, and D, and will collect toys before and after the game.

There is also a concurrent drive that day called “Jerseys for Journalists” where you can donate a new Grad Ski number 5 black home jersey (authentic only not the cheap knock off) to…well, me.

~ by Sactown Raider Boosters on December 11, 2009.

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