I am here to address the rumors. They have become so persistent and pervasive that I can no longer ignore them. Let me be as clear as I possibly can be: If the Raiders move to Los Angeles, I will not follow them there. Or probably not. I mean, never say never, right?
Yes, it is true that I grew up in the Sacramento Valley a passionate, obstinate, conspiracy-theorizing Raiders fan. It is true that the Immaculate Reception is more or less my first football memory, and that I still joyfully remember the honor of signing running back Charlie Smith’s cast at a charity basketball game, and that when the Raiders beat the Eagles in Super Bowl XV, three of us went to school early and wallpapered the halls of Marysville High with boastful hand-lettered placards and photocopied newspaper headlines, as if there were a single Eagles fan to torment at that institution of learning.
It is true that the Raiders turned their backs on Oakland and moved to L.A. in 1982. It is also true that I turned my back on NorCal and moved to L.A. in 1982, but I will swear with my left palm on a copy of “They Call Me Assassin” that both of us were simply seeking greater economic opportunities, and that the moves were not necessarily related.
Yes, it is also true that during my sophomore year at UCLA I got a job in the photo department of the Creative Services Division of NFL Properties, and that one of the great perks of this job, besides free coffee and a managing editor who had boob cups and boob pens and boob statuettes all over his desk, was access to tickets for Raiders home games at the Los Angeles Coliseum. It is true that I attended these games faithfully, and that I occasionally booed John Elway and Dave Krieg, and that I owned Los Angeles Raiders caps just like the ones NWA wore, though I was supposed to be a neutral representative of the National Football League.
It is true that the Raiders turned their backs on L.A. and moved back to Oakland in 1995, and it is true, I admit, that I moved from L.A. to Napa Valley in February of 1996. But let’s be reasonable. For my wife and I it was a quality-of-life move based on our desire to have our first baby breathe clean air, not to help the Raiders usher in what promised to be a Return to Greatness, shaped by the hands of Mike White and Joe Bugel.
To suggest that I would move to Beaumont, Texas, if my childhood team moved there first is ludicrous. I believe I put such allegations to rest when I covered the Raiders full-time for the Press Democrat from 2003 to 2007. The Raiders despised me just as much as they despised any other writer in those years, and I certainly didn’t cut them any slack in print (which, if you think about it, would have been pretty hard to pull off between 2003 and 2007).
My beat coverage revealed the truth – that while I went to sleep under a wool Raiders blanket as a child, those years are long gone, and I know make rational, adult decisions and sleep under an IKEA duvet like everyone else.
So yes, the Raiders are making noise about once again reversing the course of their titanic, if you can pardon the adjective, ship of state and heading back to the Southland, perhaps to share a stadium with the Chargers across the freeway from the moorings of the Goodyear Blimp. Once and for all, that does not mean I’ll be going south, too.
I just happen to have an interest in San Pedro real estate listings.