Can a man carry fire in his bosom and his clothes not be burned? Or can one walk upon hot coals and his feet not be scorched? So is he who goes in to his neighbor's wife; none who touches her will go unpunished.
- Proverbs, Jewish, Old Testament (B.C. 1000?-200?)
When you think of the voices of Southern California sports, in your heart and mind you hear the voices of the immortal Chick Hearn, who made every Lakers game fun to tune into and coined more phrases than anyone in the history of the NBA, and you think of maybe the most friendly and beloved voice in all of sportscasting in Vin Scully. In much of the same way, there are two and only two voices that come to mind when you think of the voices of sportswriting in Southern California: Jim Murray, who may have been the most humblest man who ever won the Pulitzer Prize, and the irreverant and sardonic wit of Bill Plaschke. Plaschke brings an edge to a So. Cal. sports scene often denigrated by the East Coast press as being vapid and bandwagoning.
From his sports columns at the LA Times, to his outlandish and brilliant appearances on the Jim Rome Radio Show, Plaschke has definitely earned his place as one of the four great voices in LA sports from my time as a fan. But allow me to fit the Raider fan stereotype as I say this, “Fuck you, Mr. Plaschke – fuck you and your Raider hating take on the Raiders coming back to LA.”
It almost boggles the mind to imagine that the second biggest sports market in America has been without NFL franchise for 16 years now. Commenting on the fact that after all these years, a new stadium for LA finally looks like a reality, with room for two teams to come play in LA, Plaschke says:
There is a group out there who could ruin all of this.
There is a group who could show up at Farmers Field dressed in havoc, bearing chaos and portending dread.
They are not neighborhood protesters, they are the sort that neighborhoods protest against. They are not environmentalists or economists, but, quite the opposite, they tear up the grass and take your money.
Hey, Oakland Raiders, if you are reading this, can you heed but one word from one man who was among many who celebrated in the summer of 1995 when you finally dragged your hack-and-silver act out of town?
I remember the Raiders time in LA as a magical time for the city when black, brown and white were united together in their love for the Silver and Black. Ice Cube’s Straight Outta LA was a beautiful testament to what that team meant to the city. Was the Coliseum a scary place to visit when you were rooting for the wrong team? Yes. Was it a great place for the city to come together in rooting for the Raiders? Without a doubt.
As Plaschke mentions in his article, the Raiders are the only team ever to bring a Super Bowl Championship to the city of Los Angeles and it was something special, something apart from the championships the Lakers and Dodgers have brought home, for Plaschke to say he was “one man who was among many” celebrating the Raiders moving back to Oakland, your memories of “many” is a lot fewer than I remember.
This may still feel like a Raiders town, but, with a gleaming new stadium and dignified new hopes, this is a town that can no longer support the Raiders.
It feels like a Raiders town, because it is still a Raiders town. Sixteen years gone by and still the whole of So. Cal. loves their Raiders far more than any team that could ever try to pretend to be the next football team of Los Angeles.
The atmosphere got so ugly, “Raider Fan” became a euphemism for every rogue and rascal in town. Somebody cut you off in traffic? Raider Fan. Somebody talking too loud in the movie theater? Raider Fan. The recent spate of violence at Dodger Stadium? Who else? Everybody blamed it on Raider Fan.
You’re out of your mind, Plaschke. I don’t remember anyone mentioning a Raider team that had departed sixteen years ago when it came to the mindless beating of a Giants fan at Dodger stadium. If anything, it just went to show you that even the Dodgers, the most storied steam LA history, could have it’s own share of gangbanging idiots showing up to a game just the same as any other team in the city.
The moniker is often unfair, of course, because 95% of Raiders fans are just good football fans who simply like to wear foreboding colors. But perception became reality, and the Raiders did little to distance themselves from it.
As angry as the rest of the article made me, I have to love you for bringing the perspective that maybe only one in twenty Raiders fans could be classified as a bunch of hooligans and thugs, and it’s true, the vast majority of Raiders fans you’ll ever meet love the game and love their team. You may have even been charitable in calling it 95% of them, but I love my Raider brethren.
. . . the Los Angeles Raiders can never again happen. Just don’t, baby.
Yeah, because just what LA needs is another Clippers, another team who started in LA, thought they could reinvent themselves as a unique identity down in San Diego, only to find the grass wasn’t greener and return home as a joke of a franchise, which will be exactly what the return of the Chargers will be met with here in LA.
The Chargers are not going to be adopted by the rest of Southern Calfornia. They are a joke to the rest of us and no one north of San Diego is going to embrace them. I can promise you that. The only bright spot in the return of the Chargers to LA will be seeing all of those Dodger-hating San Diego fans having to root not just for the LA Lakers, but the LA Chargers as well. You know what? Bring ’em on, the thought of all those San Diego fans having to root for the Los Angeles Chargers makes me laugh as I type this, so bring ’em on.
But as far as the Raiders are concerned, as much as I enjoy the road trip up to Oakland, they’re coming, Mr. Plaschke, and you’re going to cover them, because the Raiders will once again be the only team to bring the NFL Championship back to our beloved city.