If you’re a fan of the Oakland Raiders, you should probably stop reading this right now.
Actually don’t – I think that we need to have a talk. It’s come time to sit down, despite our love for teams from different sides of the Bay, and come to the harsh realization that has been staring all of us in the face for quite some time now.
Our teams don’t care about us.
I’ll get to your Silver and Black in a bit, but as a San Francisco 49ers fan – somebody who was essentially the product of the growth explosion that happens nine months in a region where a team won the Super Bowl – I can’t help but shake my head when I see not only the product that is being put out on the field, but the disdain that the ownership seems to have for its fan base.
No, I’m not being overly sensitive.
It seems, at least to me, like as soon as they got that shiny new stadium down there in Santa Clara they stopped caring about, well, everything else. They let the coach – as prickly as he may have been – that essentially rescued the franchise walk, and allowed the entire roster to implode in the process.
Earlier this week the Los Angeles Rams fired Jeff Fisher for his abysmal season, and they’ve won three more games than the 49ers have. Yet Chip Kelly still remains – with a roster devoid of talent steering a ship that has no sense of direction.
And it’s in stark contrast to what’s happening over in Oakland right now. Despite playing in the worst professional sports stadium in the United States, and being the only NFL team left that still has to deal with sliding across crushed brick for the first month of its season, the Raiders are almost assuredly going to the playoffs.
And with a roster loaded with young talent, it looks like this is anything but the flash-in-the-pan that Oakland is famous for.
But as Raider fans pack the stadium, as they have always done, to watch their team win, Owner Mark Davis seems deadset on moving the team to Las Vegas and leaving the decades of support and admiration behind without a second thought.
In essence, they’re doing exactly what the 49ers did – they used the team to raise its stock and they left the city that they’re associated with to secure a better home.
Granted, the 49ers only went to Santa Clara, but the point is that they left San Francisco for a place that’s sunny and warm safe. That’s not any 49ers game that I remember as a kid – creeping down Third Street to avoid the freeway gridlock and staring out my window at one of the last great “interesting” neighborhoods left in The City.
Maybe I’m a bit spoiled because I’ve had the San Francisco Giants to fall back on – a franchise that did the right thing and only leaned on the city for a friendly permitting process and some easements and improvements that made their Pac Bell Park Stadium site, which has since renovated an entire section of the city and turned the surrounding area into a fast growing, workable neighborhood. They did so without the kind of graft and public corruption that we’re willing to accept if our beloved boys remain in town.
But I haven’t been to a 49ers game at Levi’s Stadium since the move, and haven’t purchased a single item of team-branded clothing either. It kills me not to be able to put my son in a 49ers jersey, but maybe teaching him something about the true meaning of loyalty – where both sides of an arrangement have an obligation to the other – is far more important in the long run.
Normally I would just say stop going to games like I did, but in your case I don’t think it’s going to matter – empty seats will only hasten the decision to pull the plug on the faithful fans that now have something to have faith in.
I don’t envy you Raiders fans, but I have to say that I understand.
But if they do leave, and you continue to support the team – “they have flights to Vegas out of Stockton” – I hope you realize that you’re supporting everything that’s wrong with sports today.
This isn’t about loyalty.
It’s about money.
And believe me – making the decision that somebody else’s greed isn’t as important as your dignity is a great one to make.
A forklift operator late Wednesday night at a warehouse in Manteca Industrial Park apparently misjudged his angle and put the heavy steel bar right through a container holding hydrochloric acid.
And 330 gallons of it poured out onto the floor.
In the subsequent fallout, an entire section of Manteca was closed to traffic, both Manteca High School and Lincoln Elementary School were closed for the day out of fear that wind would carry the toxic fumes towards kids, and one helluva clean-up was executed to contain the mess.
And I can totally see how it happened because I was the unlucky schlep who did the same thing.
Granted, mine was a pallet full of Bud Light cans and not a container full of acid, but the way that it happened was likely the same back in the days before I learned that work of that nature wasn’t something that came naturally to me.
After high school and while attending junior college, I worked for two years at a local grocery store chain. And as part of my duties, I occasionally had to clean up the back of the store, bale cardboard, take out empty pallets of milk crates and move things that were simply too heavy to move with a hand truck.
So I used the forklift. Which I wasn’t technically authorized to do.
Now, I had been trained on it by one of the senior guys, and I admit that I had gotten pretty handy with it. It was always away from customers, and I never did anything unsafe or stupid.
Until I did.
When you’re standing up, it’s hard to see when the forks themselves are all the way down on the ground, so when I went to go park the forklift in the pallet of beer where it always sat, I just cruised straight ahead like I owned the joint and didn’t realize anything was wrong until I heard the sound of exploding aluminum.
And I then smelled beer. A whole ton of beer.
In the ensuing clean up, I had to get somebody who knew what they were doing to move the pallet above it, and I had to manually move all the 30-packs on top to get to the ones I ruined. And that was while wading ankle deep in cheap warm beer.
So, I understand it.
And truthfully, I’m really fortunate that my only mistake involved budget swill and not something that forced a shelter order for several city blocks.
Because I applied at the place that this happened at before I got hired at the grocery store.
The way I see it, that company avoided this sort of mishap for about 14 years.