I've never taken light rail to a Panther game, although I have taken it to Time-Warner Cable Arena to watch the Bobcats. Took the train from downtown San Francisco this morning to McAfee Coliseum. The train, and platform outside the stadium, were full of Raiders fans. Most wore jerseys. Only one of the jerseys I saw bore the name of a contempory player. The others bore the names of the legends -- Stabler and Casper and the fellows.
Haven't seen any crazy fans. But some of the Panthers have.
Asked by another reporter if fans here ever threw things onto the field, Muhsin Muhammad said: "Everything but the kitchen sink. And a couple of times I saw the kitchen sink. It was in the end zone."
DeAngelo Williams hasn't played here, but he's envious of the fans attire.
"They have awesome costumes, they really do," he said. "Where do they find this stuff?"
He was serious.
Josh McCown, the Panther quarterback who started nine games for the Raiders last season, said the fans were passionate. Asked to compare them to fans at Bank of America Stadium, McCown said that while Panther fans also are passionate, Oakland fans "express their passion differently," which is a good answer.
He said that while he admires their fervor, it's not for him. Halloween comes once a year, he said, and that's enough.
This is the only NFL city in which I have yet to see a game, and I'm looking forward to it. I don't care about this Raiders team. Neither does the Bay area; the game didn't sell out, a corporate savior did not swoop in to buy the unsold tickets and the game is blacked out on local TV.
If the Raiders play the way they have, the Panthers will run over them, DeAngelo Williams and, I suspect, Jonathan Stewart. The Raiders also will do a terrible job stopping the Panthers from getting to their quarterback, presumably Andrew Walter, who was the Quarterback of the Future (QOTF) before JaMarcus Russell, the current QOTF.
But I do care about the tradition. Kenny Stabler, because of all that he represents, is one of my favorite quarterbacks of all time. The field below me is the field on which Stabler, a guy I had the pleasure of spending time with in Charlotte after he retired, threw those line drive passes while leading the silver and black.
That's enough to make this special.