Watching the ESPN 30:30 on the LA Raiders and their relation to the “Gangsta Rap” movement brought back a myriad of my memories as a childhood Raider fan.
Director/ narrator O’Shea “Ice Cube” Jackson and I have a common frame of reference age wise. He is only four years older than I. However, where our frame of references diverge involves him being a fan from the LA area, whilst I was a Northern California fan.
My earliest memories are of my dad taking me to games at the Oakland Coliseum. I can’t remember many of the details, but what I can remember was detailed in this earlier post.
This documentary spoke to the broken hearted nine year old who could no longer go see his favorite team play. It also spoke to the teenager inside who was restricted where he could wear Raider gear because of the extraneous drama that built up around the events depicted in the film.
The Raiders early success in Los Angeles was a direct result of the momentum that they carried with them after they abandoned Oakland. Their period of success in LA was brief. They had winning records their first four years in LA (1982-85) then would only see three more winning seasons before returning to Oakland.
One of the interesting moments in the ESPN documentary was the talk of the Raiders losing their mystique and going Hollywood. That culminated in the disaster of a music video they made during the 1986 season which would mark the beginning of a long fall for the team. They ended the ’86 season at 8-8 and would not have a winning season again until 1990.
The end of the “Raider Mystique”
My memories of the 80s Raiders are not the rose colored look that Cube portrayed. They were dark and gritty. They were of a team that was losing whilst I was hearing it from the fans of the red and gold team on the other side of the bay that was winning. They were holding onto a quixotic hope that the Raiders would some how and some way come back to Oakland where they belonged.
It was a well made documentary film, but it brought back many painful moments in my life as a sports fan.