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  1. #1
    RamWraith's Avatar
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    Entering the 'black hole'

    By Jim Thomas
    ST. LOUIS POST-DISPATCH
    12/17/2006



    OAKLAND, Calif. The bus will pull up, past the Hell's Angels in the parking lot. As the Rams pile off the bus, 50 to 100 Raiders fans will finish their hot dogs, put down their beverages, and "greet" the Rams with obscene words and gestures.

    When the Rams walk on the field for pregame activities, it will be Halloween in December. Painted faces, ornamental horns and spikes, tattoos. ... And those are just the women. Fans from age 7 to 70 will greet the visitors with what former Mizzou coach Dan Devine once called "half of the peace sign." And one other thing, look out for the beer, uh, "falling" from the stands.

    Welcome to the stadium now known as McAfee Coliseum, home of the Oakland Raiders. The silver-and-black's winning tradition is a mere memory these days. The Raiders have enjoyed only four winning seasons, and earned just three playoff berths since the end of the 1993 campaign. (Although one of them resulted in a Super Bowl appearance.)

    Even so, the only tradition still going strong is the wacky fans, in the place known as the "Black Hole."



    "I have some pretty funny stories from my younger years," Rams linebacker Isaiah Kacyvenski said.

    Almost all of which, Kacvyenski added, are not suitable for publication in a family newspaper.

    "For a young player, I could see how it could be intimidating going in there," Kacyvenski said.

    One of those young players, Rams running back Steven Jackson, doesn't plan on being intimidated. But he does plan on being prepared.

    "I'm going to leave my helmet on on the sideline," Jackson said.

    So he's heard about the beverage tossing?

    "I did hear that story," Jackson said, laughing.

    It is here that the Raiders and Rams franchises that called Los Angeles home as recently as 1994 will attempt to salvage something from highly disappointing seasons. At 5-8, the Rams have won only one game since Oct. 8.

    Win or lose, there's a good chance they will be eliminated from contention for postseason play by Sunday night.

    As for the Raiders, the only thing they're in contention for is the No. 1 overall pick in the 2007 draft. At 2-11, Oakland opened the season with five straight losses, managed to beat visiting Arizona and Pittsburgh in late October, and then proceeded to lose their next six.

    Mr. Positive, Rams coach Scott Linehan, hasn't conceded anything regarding postseason play.

    "Until someone tells me any different, we're still playing for everything," he said. "Stranger things happen and we're going to play it out that way."

    But even some of his remarks were tinged with realism as the practice week progressed.

    "It's very important for our team to improve this week and overcome a tough game (against Chicago)," Linehan said. "We're finding out a lot about ourselves. We're still finding out a lot about the players and people within this organization, and how we're handling these tough times. Because we see brighter days ahead."

    If they haven't already, some Rams will play themselves off the roster in the final three weeks. Others, such as center Brett Romberg and linebacker-safety Jon Alston, are auditioning for the future.

    At age 27, Romberg is expected to make his first NFL start Sunday, with Richie Incognito sliding over from center to right guard in place of injured Adam Timmerman.

    Alston, a rookie from Stanford, hasn't played this season despite his third-round draft status. Linehan may have him cover kicks against Oakland.

    Auditions or not, this isn't an exhibition. Oakland will come after the Rams with the No. 6-ranked defense in the NFL. Even through all the losses, the Raiders' defense has kept them in most games. And if the Rams get into predictable passing situations, Oakland defensive end Derrick Burgess and defensive tackle Warren Sapp may add fresh bruises to Marc Bulger's collection.

    Beaten to a near pulp against Chicago, the Rams quarterback still had an ugly bruise on his leg Friday.

    The last time the Rams played Oakland marked Bulger's first start as an NFL quarterback.

    "It was the most nervous I've ever been for a game," Bulger said. "Marshall (Faulk) was in the huddle, Isaac (Bruce) and Torry (Holt), all those guys. It was still around the Greatest Show on Turf times. Kurt (Warner) had just gotten hurt two weeks prior to that. I was just trying to go in and fit in. It was just kind of weird being in that huddle with those guys."

    But there's no need to be nervous Sunday. And the only weird thing in McAfee will be some of the fans. So as Raiders owner Al Davis used to say, the only thing to do is: "Just win, baby."


  2. #2
    laram0's Avatar
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    Re: Entering the 'black hole'

    Quote Originally Posted by RamWraith View Post
    By Jim Thomas
    ST. LOUIS POST-DISPATCH
    12/17/2006



    OAKLAND, Calif. The bus will pull up, past the Hell's Angels in the parking lot. As the Rams pile off the bus, 50 to 100 Raiders fans will finish their hot dogs, put down their beverages, and "greet" the Rams with obscene words and gestures.

    When the Rams walk on the field for pregame activities, it will be Halloween in December. Painted faces, ornamental horns and spikes, tattoos. ... And those are just the women. Fans from age 7 to 70 will greet the visitors with what former Mizzou coach Dan Devine once called "half of the peace sign." And one other thing, look out for the beer, uh, "falling" from the stands.

    Welcome to the stadium now known as McAfee Coliseum, home of the Oakland Raiders. The silver-and-black's winning tradition is a mere memory these days. The Raiders have enjoyed only four winning seasons, and earned just three playoff berths since the end of the 1993 campaign. (Although one of them resulted in a Super Bowl appearance.)

    Even so, the only tradition still going strong is the wacky fans, in the place known as the "Black Hole."



    "I have some pretty funny stories from my younger years," Rams linebacker Isaiah Kacyvenski said.

    Almost all of which, Kacvyenski added, are not suitable for publication in a family newspaper.

    "For a young player, I could see how it could be intimidating going in there," Kacyvenski said.

    One of those young players, Rams running back Steven Jackson, doesn't plan on being intimidated. But he does plan on being prepared.

    "I'm going to leave my helmet on on the sideline," Jackson said.

    So he's heard about the beverage tossing?

    "I did hear that story," Jackson said, laughing.
    Intimidating ?? Please, I say, bring it on!!! The antics of the Raider fans should fire up our RAMS, period.

  3. #3
    jkramsfan's Avatar
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    Re: Entering the 'black hole'

    it sounds like a lot of the same people i work with.

  4. #4
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    Re: Entering the 'black hole'

    Quote Originally Posted by jkramsfan View Post
    it sounds like a lot of the same people i work with.
    sounds like the wonderful students from my high school! Great to know!


    Always and Forever a fan of the St. Louis Rams

  5. #5
    GSOT is offline Registered User
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    Re: Entering the 'black hole'

    I heard attendence is really down for the Raiders this year having a few blackouts... NOT blackholes

  6. #6
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    Re: Entering the 'black hole'

    does anyone know which is worse,watching a game in philadelphia or oakland if you are rooting for the opposing team ?

  7. #7
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    Re: Entering the 'black hole'

    Quote Originally Posted by GSOT View Post
    I heard attendence is really down for the Raiders this year having a few blackouts... NOT blackholes
    It is, I just checked the listings, hoping I would be able to watch it on TVU, but no dice. Hopefully it will be on SOP Cast.
    JUST WIN ONE FOR THE FANS


    "HIT HARD, HIT FAST, AND HIT OFTEN"
    Adm. William "Bull" Halsey

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