The Silver and Black Salute Their Newest Hall of Famer
Has there ever been two colors more closely associated with a team than silver and black? I don’t think so. Just like when you hear a TV play-by-play announcer proclaim, “That kid is going to Canton,” you understand he means the Hall of Fame. Well, when you hear a reference to the “Silver and Black,” you know too, it can only mean one thing, “the Raiders,” or as their legendary Hall of Fame owner Al Davis would say “Tha Raydas.”
In addition to having uniquely identifiable colors – which by the way, the numbers once included a thin gold trim around them – the team has one of the most loyal fan bases in the NFL, the “infamous” Raider Nation.
Yes, I know, they can be, well let’s just say, a little scary at times. But in reality, underneath all that face paint and the metal-studded jerseys are fans who absolutely revere the Raiders, their mystique and winning tradition. “Just win baby,” and a “Commitment to Excellence,” aren’t just Al Davis Raiderisms. They are the Raider Nation’s Mission Statement.
I recently had the pleasure of participating in a special tribute to Raiders Hall of Fame quarterback Kenny Stabler. It was during halftime of the Raiders’ September 18th home opener against the Atlanta Falcons. On hand were Kenny’s three daughters, Kendra Moyes, Alexa Stabler-Adams and Marissa Stabler, his grandson Jack and Kenny’s longtime companion Kim Bush. They were joined on the field by eight Raiders Hall of Famers: Dave Casper, John Madden, Ray Guy, Mike Haynes, Willie Brown, Art Shell, Ted Hendricks, and Jim Otto as we presented the daughters the Hall of Fame Gold Crest that is on the Gold Jackets worn only by Hall of Famers. It was a moving homage to a deserving Raiders great.
Ordinarily, halftime is, well let’s face it, the time fans usually get up to visit the concession stands or, more urgently, the restroom. Not so on this day. This wasn’t just any halftime. There was no marching band or a popstar lip-syncing a familiar song. This was a tribute to “The Snake.” And the Raider Nation stayed and stood and cheered as if he was there orchestrating one more game-winning drive.
What made it even more special is that Madden was there. The Hall of Fame coach, who was selected by Kenny’s daughters to be their father’s Hall of Fame presenter, was unable to travel to Canton in August for the Enshrinement Ceremonies due to hip replacement surgery. Had he been able, he would have been on stage with Kenny’s grandsons Jack and Justin Moyes to unveil their grandfather’s bronzed likeness. But this time, a still-healing Madden wasn’t going to let a new hip stop him. After some stirring words of praise and some typical Madden humor, the Raiders legend unveiled his fellow Hall of Famer’s bronzed bust as the Raider Nation bellowed its approval.
In a way, the ceremonial unveiling may actually have been more impactful in the Oakland-Alameda County Stadium than on the Hall of Fame stage. After all, this was Kenny’s stage. It was the very field upon which he and his teammates played and Madden coached. And, it was in front of the much appreciated Raiders fan base.
Now, I’m not foolish enough to proclaim any team’s fan base as the best or most loyal. Remember “fan” comes from the word “fanatic.” And that’s what most of us fans are. But I can tell you this, I honestly cannot recall ever hearing the word “family” used as often by Hall of Famers when referring to the fans as I did over the course of that weekend. It was a feeling too, that wasn’t lost on the Stabler daughters. Each repeatedly reminisced of and acknowledged the special feelings and appreciation they had for the Raiders organization and the Raider Nation. A fitting tribute within a fitting tribute.
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