Skip to comments.(Raider Nation) NFL Team's Attire Holds Gang Appeal
Posted on 09/02/2007 9:32:53 PM PDT by DogByte6RER
NFL team's attire holds gang appeal
10:00 PM PDT on Saturday, September 1, 2007
By JOHN F. BERRY
SAN BERNARDINO - The Oakland Raiders, a dozen years after fleeing Los Angeles, finished the 2006 regular season with a 2-14 record -- the worst in the NFL.
Despite the teams' embarrassing performance, silver-and-black attired Raider Nation fans significantly outnumber any other sports team appearing daily at the main San Bernardino County courthouse in downtown San Bernardino.
Criminal gang prosecutors are unimpressed.
"Generally speaking, those wearing Raiders gear in Southern California are associated with gangs," said Cheryl Kersey, who leads the hard-core gang prosecution unit for the San Bernardino County district attorney's office.
"Most Southern California gangs have adopted the Raiders, probably 90 percent," Kersey said. "We rarely see other attire from other sports teams."
In her office, Kersey has five black hats confiscated during search warrants involving gangs. She said they are used to train law enforcement on recognizing gang symbols.
One is a Raiders hat doctored to reflect an Inland Empire gang connection. The others are also black with lettering reflecting gang names.
Gangs first pick their colors, then find a team that coincides with them, Kersey said. Black is popular among Hispanic gangs in Southern California, she said.
Raiders gear dominates the courthouse because gang members must adopt the team as their own when they join, she said.
"You pledge loyalty," she said. "No individuals are allowed."
Gang membership dictates the cars members drive, the women they date and the teams they like, Kersey said.
"If they weren't a Raiders fan before joining a gang, they certainly will become one," she said.
Gang prosecutor Doug Poston said the Raiders' bad-boy image -- a pirate with a swashbuckling attitude -- is the attraction.
"It goes back to the westerns," Poston said. "Bad guys wear black."
Both a lawyer for the Oakland Raiders and the president of the only official Inland Empire team booster club said they are aware of criminal gangs co-opting the silver and black.
"It's very frustrating to be identified by a few bad apples representing the whole core," said Patsie Sevier, a Riverside grandmother and president of the Inland Empire Raiders Booster Club. "We get discriminated against -- us legitimate folks."
Sevier, a retired airplane mechanic, said her 200-strong group is treated badly when it travels to visitor stadiums en masse. She said her group is unfairly stereotyped as gang members.
"We take children and grandchildren. They have been taunted by adults," Sevier said. "We set an example. We show that Raider fans are nice."
Sevier said she started her informal club in 1985. She said the Raiders officially recognized her club -- which includes officers, bylaws and planning meetings -- in 1990.
Sevier said illegitimate Raiders fans are easy to spot on game day because they buy cheap seats and wear knock-offs.
"It's mainly the gangs that use fake jerseys," Sevier said. "It's recognizable with folks who pay for the official items."
Jeff Birren, an attorney for the Raiders for 22 years, said the gang stereotype began eroding while the team played in Los Angeles from 1982 to 1994. He described the stigma as a "non-issue."
"At one time, there was that perception that our colors were related to gang involvement," Birren said. "It's dissipated with the passage of time."
Birren said gangs may have adopted the silver-and-black as a favorite team because Oakland Raiders merchandise is abundant and available. He said the team has generally been No. 1 in NFL sales for decades.
A July news release from the Raiders said their merchandise is among the top NFL sellers worldwide. It said the team leads the league in multicultural initiatives, including recently adding Japanese and Tagalog information to its Web site.
"There is something about our mystique, our history, our passion that touches people from all walks of life," Birren said. "We are truly global."
A USC professor said hard-core Raider fans are as loyal as any fan base in sports.
"It's an in-your-face attitude, they revel in it," sports professor David Carter said. "They want to be thought of as hard-to-the-bone. (They're) not going to be drinking chardonnay."
Carter said Raider fans are making statements about themselves when they join Raider Nation -- which explains why the Raiders are still popular in Southern California despite moving back to Oakland before the 1995 season.
"Raider fans see Raider Nation as a way of life," Carter said. "You don't abandon a team just because a team moves."
Rialto truck driver Paul Barajas, 27, wore a Raiders T-shirt to court last week to answer a theft charge.
"I don't care what everybody else thinks," he said. "I wear it even when they're losing."
His mother, Linda Barajas, 60, said none of her six children were in gangs. She said they became Raiders fans when she paid attention to football.
"In our time, they were No. 1," she said. "Those were the old days."
Poston said he was a Raiders fan until they left Los Angeles.
"Despite their abysmal record, they are a legitimate NFL team," he said. "It's unfortunate they're getting a bad rap."
Poston and Kersey said they have season tickets to the San Diego Chargers.
Defendants show a lack of decorum when they wear sports jerseys to court, Poston said.
"Anybody who wears an NFL jersey to court -- whether it's Raiders or not -- is not exactly dressed for success," he said. "I wouldn't wear my Chargers jersey to court."
Moshe Dayan was the Israeli defense Minister during the '67 war and gained world wide prominence as a result of the war.
That was after the design of the Raider logo, which goes back to the early sixties. Probably a coincidence and not a plan.
Perhaps a minor point, but, their patches are on different eyes, Dayan's is on the left eye and Raider's logo is on the right.
Thanks Jack Tatum.
It’s not just the black and silver colors nor the pirate emblem, it’s the thuggish reputation Raider teams have had for 30 years.
How long ago do you think that was filmed?
Nice Raider fans are sort of like nice Muslims. They’re rare and they keep quiet about all the crimes being committed in their name.
Its the illegal alien invasion that is the cause of the problem. The metizos have adopted the Raiders and they see themselves as the raiders.
I would guess before the bad news hit the fan and Vicks was still popular for his atheletic abilities not doomed yet from his private activities.
When college ball arrives there, I'll be done with football.
That interesting probably just irony of Raiders choosing pirate and people get mix up with IDF guy
MAN if you read his history that guy was genius take no crap from nobody
I remember going to LA Coliseum it was scaryyyy
I do remember even if Raiders sucks on the field you could always count on good fights in the stand (sarcastic on)
Raiders fans are so cool.
Thanks for the link to the Heidi Game.
I learned something new today and the write-up on Wiki was very interesting.
I was born in ‘64 so I have no memory of the Heidi Game.