The Oakland Raiders are not in the playoffs, but that does not mean the playoffs are irrelevant for a Raiders fan. I live in Oakland California, home of the Raiders, and as a result I cannot help but be inundated with San Francisco 49ers news. It’s part of living in the Bay Area, you always hear about all Bay teams even if you are not a fan.
So when the Niners are in the playoffs, I love going to SF to see the games because I love being in the atmosphere of excitement and celebration. But after going to Niner bars the past few years, yesterday I switched it up. I still went to San Francisco, but this time I went to a Seahawks bar.
My experience could not have been more different.
My thoughts and feelings on the San Francisco 49ers
Before I get into my experience last night, I wanted to explain my feelings on the Niners. As a kid growing up in Oakland, the Niners were the only NFL team in the Bay Area. The Raiders were still in Los Angeles and even though I was a Raiders fan due to my family and their history in Oakland, I did not hate the Niners.
They were the only game in town, everyone talked about them because it was during the glory years and their rivals were the Dallas Cowboys (how could you NOT hate Dallas?) and the Green Bay Packers (why are those idiots wearing cheese on their heads?). So while I did not follow them closely or count myself as a fan, I did root for them in the playoffs. At the time, I had no reason not to.
That all changed when the Raiders moved back to Oakland. My feelings remained the same, but suddenly I found myself constantly bombarded with Niners fans taking shots at me and my team. It had never happened before, but their presence back in Oakland suddenly caused Niners fans to take aim at me and my team without any provocation on my part.
This has been the way Niners fans have treated me consistently ever since then. As a result, I have gone from a Raiders fan as a child who enjoyed seeing success across the Bay to someone who cannot stand the Niners or most of their fan base.
Their recent run of success has only solidified my hatred of the team and the majority of its fan base (Disclaimer: I have lots of Niners fans who are GREAT. Love them to death and would never include them in the members of the fan base I hate which is why I say most, and not all of the Niner fan base).
As I noted before, I love watching NFL playoffs in San Francisco. The atmosphere and excitement in sports is one hell of a drug and I love it. I even tried to fly to Seattle for the game so I could be around the electric atmosphere. But over the past two years, I have been assaulted numerous times by Niners fans without any cause. When I watch the game, I am completely respectful. I do not cheer loudly for the other team or against the Niners. I normally watch the game and talk about it as a fan of football with who ever is around me.
Every time I have made Niner friends and had fun talking to them. But every time I have also had terrible experiences with Niners fans. This year alone I have had four different people come up and shove me for no reason then dare me to hit them because they have five guys who will beat me up if I do. I’ve had two people pour drinks on my jersey for no reason at all. I’ve had people take my Raiders hat and throw it across the room multiple times. Never once had I done anything to deserve this other than wear clothes with a Raiders logo.
For this reason, I decided to go to a Seahawks bar in San Francisco this time.
My experience with the 12th man
I was a bit apprehensive heading to the Seahawks bar (Danny Coyles in lower Haight). After all, the Raiders and Seahawks were once rivals in the AFC West and given how Niners fans talk about Seahawks fans you’d think they were barbarians who ate raw meat and clobbered women over the head with clubs.
When I stepped into the insanely crowded bar (at 11am btw), I was immediately hugged by a Seahawks fan who yelled “RAIDERS!”. I made my way back to the table my friends were at and received nothing but high fives, pats on the back and talk of how much respect I had earned by wearing a Tim Brown jersey. At one point I even had a few Seahawks fans chanting “RAIDERS!” with me.
That all makes sense. Common enemies breeds friendships. What I was not ready for was the enthusiasm of Seahawks fans.
No one sat the entire game. Every positive play resulted in excitement normally reserved for winning the lottery. I counted at least seven different chants/call backs that EVERYONE in the bar was familiar with and everyone in the bar participated in and they knew their history and the game well.
I was there with the people I have my Raiders season tickets with and throughout the game we consistently remarked to each other “You know, they aren’t as knowledgeable or passionate as the Raider Nation, but damn if this isn’t the closest I’ve ever seen.”
Fact is, the Seahawks fan base earned a ton of respect from this Raiders fan yesterday. I have never witnessed Niners fans with the enthusiasm and passion that I saw in Seattle fans yesterday. Again, let us be clear here. They still are not Raiders fans, but they are certainly a fan base that deserves respect.
Well, until the Raiders travel up to Seattle next season that is….