There is no place like Mc Afee Coliseum on a Sunday Afternoon in the Autumn. The “Concrete Jungle,” which it has been named by the devout fans. This stadium plays home to the Oakland Raiders. It is mostly associated with dark, and gloomy days. But only the people that gather here understand the joy that each Sunday brings.

Long before the game is even close to starting, the parking lots around the ballpark serve as backyards, only to those here early enough to take them. There will be entire families sitting in the back of there vehicles, drinking, cooking, and talking about what is going to happen within the next four hours. Beyond the outer walls of the stadium the air is filled with a rich bar-b-cue aroma, from patrons cooking everything from hot-dogs, to T-bone steaks. The smell has its own flavor, and is almost strong enough to taste. As you are walking through the parking lot at 10 am, you will see how close this fan base is. People will often open their grill and ice-chest to you, as long as you are wearing the colors; black and silver.

Around game-time, as you begin walking through the tall grey tunnels on the way to your seat, you will notice the wide variety of ethnicity. From Whites, to Blacks, some Latinos, and Asians. A crowd made up of all walks of life, and diplomatic status. There will be doctors, teachers, policemen, truck drivers, and even some ex-convicts, who all come together, to form the strongest fan base in the National Football League. This has become widely accepted as the Raider Nation.

It takes a gathering of seventy thousand plus fans, who turn the dark hallowed hallways, into a mysterious form of housing for the rowdiest fans in the league. The devotion, along with pride and swagger is apparent as you see people pouring into the stands, by the thousands. For the next several minutes, the only thing you will hear, are the fans screaming, “RAI… DERS,” the pausing in between is to allow the echo to fade away. While the players are being introduced, the entire place erupts into a roar that is unfamiliar to human sound. This sound cannot be categorized, because it is simply too loud. As certain chants start, you can almost watch the sound swarm the stadium in seconds. Encompassed by the growing roar, the stadium will quickly change from a cheer of joy, into a furious booing in no time flat. Usually when the decibels increase, is when you will see the display of excitement on faces throughout the stands.

During the Intermissions, many fans will rush to the concession stands immediately, grabbing whatever is possible in fifteen minutes. As these manic Raider fans pile up into the oversized bathrooms that reek of urine, they are now chanting, and making friends in their brief visit with the fans to either side of them. Back at the snack shack, the fans who do not need more beer are spilling whatever more they just bought all over the history stained concrete they are walking on, which soon forms into a golden resin once it dries up. Polluting the air with an unpleasant booze stench, that seems to linger throughout the stadium. Leaving the only fresh air left to breathe in the smoking section of the park. As you gracefully make your way through the congested lines for food and beer, towards the smoking area, you will catch a strong whiff of some Marijuana. Most Raider fans that choose to smoke somehow form their own mini huddle close to the outskirts of the upper deck where they are smoking the grass, it even gets smoked in the bleachers at times. The odor of the Coliseum will never leave your memory, even months after you have left.

Within fifteen minutes after the first half, this new breed of animals, now seem to be more intoxicated than most people have ever been, in there entire life. It takes about two hours or so, until the majority of the crowd is under the heavy spell of alcohol, a nice game of football, has now turned into a chaotic uprising to any opposing fans. If you wear the blue and orange into Oakland, I may suggest hiding it under your black sweater. These drunken fans are no longer watching for the fun, it is more about life and death. There is too much history embedded into the concrete walls, for any one Broncos fan to uphold. The pride associated with the Raiders organization, is more than history about the game. There is a distinct way of life in Oakland, and it’s, “live by the shield, die by the shield.” This is where the best teams of the seventies played, and dominated, and just by walking into the stadium you can somewhat feel the energy this place brings.

When and if you ever happen to have a chance to visit McAfee Coliseum, I would strongly encourage you to visit. It is a place similar to Disneyland, in how, once you’ve been there, the thing you keep asking yourself, is when I will be able to go back.

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