Unless you plan on spending the upcoming NFL season in Tijuana on a tequila shot binge, you will be constantly reminded throughout every Raider game that this is the team's 50th season. To get a jump on the anniversary proceedings, the Team of the Decades has launched Raiders50thSeason.com, an on line pictures and video shrine with footage going back to the team's inception in the early 1960's.
And while I am sure the Raiders will take every opportunity this year to sell you things adorned with that "50 Seasons" logo, Raiders50thSeason.com offers a generous ton of content for free. This site really is a fantastic time-killer for any Raider enthusiast.
If you're at all new to the team -- and honestly, who among us has been alive and rooting for the Raiders every year since 1960 -- then this site really does offer some retro Raider gold.
The Intro page, admittedly, really sucks. It doesn't fit onto your screen in either Firefox or Explorer, and you have to scroll across and down when you shouldn't. And the sound can't be shut off on that page, so you're going to hear Greg Papa whether you like it or not. Designing a web page intro screen may be one capacity in which the game has truly passed Al Davis and his top minions.
But there are highly-recommended components to this site, like the Raider Video Player. There is game footage going back to 1968. Seeing those guys when they were still allowed to chuck the football into the stands after scoring a touchdown really gives you goosebumps. Honestly, No Fun League, is it really so bad for a player to throw a football into the stands?
Plus, you get to hear the original game calls from guys like Bud Foster and John Facenda ("Aaand the Oakland Coliseum... turned into an enawwwmous love-in... cawwwwlled the 'Heidi Bowwwl'"). The narrator of these videos still sounds really upset about NBC cutting away from the game in the Heidi Bowl.
The Photo Gallery is really something else, too. You get to see Al Davis when he was a spry youngster who dressed like a normal person. You get to see those old helmets where every player had a tiny "placekicker" face mask, and the lineman's' helmets are all scratched up to hell. You get to see the old Oakland Coliseum field where they had Raider shields on every yard-line marker. You get to see how stupid those Oilers and Broncos looked in their uniforms of yesteryear.
Encouragingly, there is very little mention of the Los Angeles era. Well done, Raider webmaster, well done.
In a perfect world, every NFL team would offer its fans such a treasury of pictures and video commemorating the entirety of their history. Of course, in a perfect world every team would have as much of a legacy as the Raiders. But they just don't, baby.
Joe Kukura is a freelance writer who was still pooping his Pampers when Willie Brown ran a Fran Tarkenton interception back 75 yards for a touchdown to win Super Bowl XI.