There isn’t a period in my life that I can recall not detesting the Raiders. LA or Oakland, I never liked them. As a die-hard Chiefs fan – with one of the best rivalries in pro football – not only am I not allowed to like them, my guy won’t allow me to like them.
Black & silver? Lame. The bad boys of football? Weak. A storied franchise? Man, we WERE the reason there is an AFC. So, when I heard that Las Vegas was getting a pro team, and that it was the Raiders, I was a bit taken back. That is, until I realized that I love it. And oh, do I love it.
Vegas is an unusual city. For a kid born and raised in a small town in Ohio, with roots and family from Kansas City, Missouri, Vegas was very both different and difficult for me to grow up within. It’s somehow both this beautiful suburb and this bustling, thriving city, cuddled up together in a harmoniously manner that most don’t expect. After all, we’re all supposed to live in a casino or resort, am I right? But somehow Las Vegas merges city life and suburbia in a seamless flow, and it’s a glorious experience for anyone who lives here or once called Vegas home.
Living here for the past twenty-five plus years, I’ve always felt Vegas needed pro teams. Maybe needed is not strong enough; Vegas DESERVED pro teams. Loyal, passionate fans that live and die with the teams that these now-locals supported in their previous cities is easily something that can channeled into this transplant town forging itself into a united community. But, alas, Vegas was never given that chance. Well, until the Golden Knights came knocking and, true-to-form, Vegas kicked in the door and made the Stanley Cup Finals in the inaugural season (go Knights, go)! As we witnessed with last year’s hockey season, that passion was a full mast and took over Vegas in a manner no one outside the city expected.
So why on earth would I excited that the Raiders are coming to town? It doesn’t make sense, does it?
Vegas deserves this team. This city has earned a professional football team, even if it is a transplant team with a fanbase that has a less-than-stellar history, because Vegas has a less-than-stellar reputation, as well. Vegas deserves a team that doesn’t fit into traditional spaces because Vegas does not fit in traditional spaces; we succeed despite every measure that says we should not. The Raiders have never conformed to anyone or anything, and neither has Las Vegas. That’s what seemingly makes this an ideal fit.
Just looking at the financials, this is a huge win for the city. It’s both a tourist and a local draw, the stadium will skyrocket UNLV’s football team into the next level (I’m calling it now: 2-3 years playing in the new stadium and the big 12 comes knocking on The Rebel’s door), and Vegas will finally be looked at as a legitimate town, even if we never cared to be one in the first place.
But looking beyond that measure, just as with the Knights, the loyalists can now see their teams play in Las Vegas. Steelers fans, Dolphins fans, or even Chiefs fans can now see their teams play by simply driving a few miles as opposed to flying to another city. And these fans will buy tickets and go to games to see their teams.
Gone will be the days of fights in the stands (I’ve heard the discussions of the straight-to-jail for fighting rumors from city officials), and security and our incredible Metro officers will be standing guard. For possibly the first time in the Raiders history, families will attend games without fear.
Sure, I’ll cheer on the Raiders directly – I’ll cheer on Las Vegas when they are not playing my Chiefs – but they’ll also have my respect and my support. Like most residents here, I adore my city and I will stand with it. Knights fever has been amazing, but I fully expect the Raiders mania to sweep the valley like a dust storm.
by Maverick Medcalf