Fans honor Al Davis at Raiders home game

October 16, 2011 7:34:25 PM PDT
Sunday was a solemn, but energetic, day at the Coliseum in Oakland.

There was a stream of Raiders fans wearing silver and black pouring out of the Coliseum by Sunday afternoon, smiling because the Raiders won their first home game since the death of long-time owner and NFL icon Al Davis.

The Raiders' win against the Cleveland Browns was a big boost, not just because Raiders fans celebrate every win, but because Sunday's game held special meaning for the fans who turned out to honor Al Davis.

On Sunday, the Raider Nation showed up with just as much volume as they bring to ever home match. But on this, the first home game since the passing of Al Davis, there is a special difference to the man who led the team for so long.

"Al wanted us to be ourselves, so we're just being ourselves," said Raiders fan 'Godfather' Griz Jones. "We're just being who we already are, and we're going to honor Al in the process."

Davis has been gone for a little more than a week, but on Sunday he was everywhere: From shirts to faces, on posters and even on one fan's torso.

"He's our father," said fan Hugo Gonzales. "It's like, here's our funeral, and we are like sons for him."

One fan drove to the Bay Area from Yakima, Wash. to show his respect for Davis.

"We're showing the whole world, all our friends back at home, how dedicated fans we are," fan Manuel Aguilar said.

Before kickoff, the field was thick with celebration and respect, especially for those who worked for Davis.

"He argued with people, but he respected them," said former Raiders linebacker Ted Hendricks.

Fans respected Davis too by giving him the kind of dedication that touched the former Raiders players assembled on Sunday.

"Even though they've had their odds with him lately, they still support him," Hendricks said. "He's been a part of our lives for a long time," said former Raiders quarterback Jim Plunkett. "I played for him for 10 years. I've worked for him for the last 20-plus years. It's all part of the family."

On the field, Davis' only child Mark welcomed some of the special guests to the game, including Oakland native M. C. Hammer.

"It's hard to believe he's not here," Hammer said. "I mean, I've been coming here since 1970 and he's always been a part of the culture."

For rapper Ice Cube, the news of Davis' death last week hit close to home.

"He knew I was from South Central Los Angeles," Ice Cube said. "He was always talking about the athletes...he was on it from the first day I met him to the last day I seen him."

Just before kickoff, players bowed their heads for likely the quietest moment ever heard at a Raiders game. Even long after the game ended, devoted fans continued to assemble in the parking lot to celebrate the Raiders' victory over the Browns on Sunday.

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