I want to see professional football return to Los Angeles.
But then, sometime Wednesday morning, I broke out in a cold sweat and began pondering a problem, “What if it’s the Raiders?”
It got me thinking about broken down Winnebagos parked in ritzy Diamond Bar and Walnut neighborhoods; grungy bikers up and down Grand Avenue and Diamond Bar Boulevard, drunken orgies, beatings and empty bottles of Jack Daniels lining gutters on peaceful streets with names like Quail Summit or Snow Creek Drive.
I remember a tailgate party a few years back outside the Oakland Coliseum just before a game between the Raiders and the Buccaneers. Guys riding Harleys and Indians rumbled down Hegenberger Road and 66th Street, waving flags and shouting.
I can only imagine the shivers that course up and down the spines of the Casper Milquetoasts and other timid souls who came to Diamond Bar and Walnut seeking refuge from the madness of the big city.
Then came the visions of fans of all ethnicities clad in silver and black tossing back Mad Dog 20/20, Old English or Colt .45 malt liquors, bumping hip hop at full volume and generally terrorizing anyone wearing Steelers or Chargers or Broncos gear.
Actually, I remember covering a game back in 1990 at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum where Raiders fans nearly beat a Steelers fan to death.
The hapless victim had been circling the stadium waving a GameDay program emblazoned with the Steelers three-diamond logo and shouting “Steelers! Steelers!”
When a guy from Agoura Hills was hauled into court and charged with assault, his attorney blamed the Raiders.
The attorney wasn’t alone, Hunter S. Thompson once described Darth Vader as a “punk compared to (Raider owner) Al Davis.”
In any event, the Raiders blamed beer and shut off booze sales the next week when the team played Seattle. LAPD officers patrolled the Coliseum armed with binoculars and ultimately kept the peace.
The next time I saw the Steelers and Raiders it was in Oakland. I was sitting in the end zone seats affectionately referred to as “Black Hole.” I sat behind “Darth Raider” and pretty near a guy wearing a grim reaper outfit and skull mask.
Some idiot with long blond hair and a day job sat in front of all of us. He took to waiving the Steelers trademark “Terrible Towel” in a ritual reminiscent of a suicidal matador surrounded by angry bulls.
“Fool,” I thought. I’m pretty sure he was beaten in the parking lot after the Steelers won 29-10.
Perhaps my apprehension is misguided.
“You also have to take into consideration its Oakland,” Industry Sheriff’s Sgt. Thomas Watson said. “It’s not San Francisco and not the city of Industry. If it’s the Raiders who come here, especially with the kind of pressure they are going to be under, they are going to be taking great pains to fit in the community.”
Whew. So much for that.
I can root for the Cardinals in peace on Super Sunday.