Sunday, July 28, 2013

Reporting From The Bar At Raiders Training Camp

This was my first experience at an NFL training camp. I have always wanted to go and watch the local teams practice......the 49ers in Rocklin and Stockton in the 80's and 90's.....the Raiders in Napa. Never got around to doing it.
Tonight I thought about going to the Napa Valley Marriott Resort and Spa, where the Raiders stay. I figured go to the bar and check things out. See if any NFL people were milling around. I read Peter King from Sports Illustrated was going to visit during his annual training camp tour. I tweeted him saying I was hoping to run into him at the hotel grounds. By the time I got there, he was probably long gone.
So a friend and I walk to the bar for a drink. We take a seat at the bar, and sitting next to us is the owner and managing general partner of the Oakland Raiders Mark Davis. Al's son. He's just sitting there reading the Napa Valley Register having an iced tea and an appetizer. People all over the bar are saying nice things to him, wishing him and the team well for the upcoming season.
One well lubricated man said he was a season ticket holder since 1965, back when the Raiders played at Frank Youell Field. Youell Field was named after an undertaker in Oakland.
Mr. Davis shook hands, posed for pictures and interacted with the fans. He seemed like a very nice guy. People are approaching him as he is eating his dinner.
As my friend and I were finishing our drinks, Mr. Davis was finishing his dinner. It was then that I told him my family loves the Raiders and appreciated what Al Davis did for Mexicans to succeed in the NFL. He said it wasn't a matter of race, it was that they were the right people for the job. I'm of course talking about Tom Flores and Jim Plunkett.
It's shame both men are not in the Hall of Fame.
He posed for a picture with me. I shook his hand and wished the team well for the year.
I just might root for the Raiders after this encounter. Ugh, maybe.
What a chance encounter. I was just hoping to meet or see some of the NFL's movers and shakers. I met THE mover and shaker for the local team! In the next week or so I plan to snoop around the training complex. There is a large black fence surrounding Redwood Middle School where the team trains at. Maybe I'll see a football thrown through the air, or hear the crack of shoulder pads, or hear SeaBass or Chris Kluwe kick or punt a football.

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