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Free Winona and put Raiders’ fans in prison

In this week’s column we ask the question, what kind of a world is it where Winona Ryder goes to prison, but thousands of Oakland Raiders fans are allowed to roam freely? Seriously, I’d like to know. If you’re an Oakland fan, write to me, care of this newspaper (no crayon, please).

The NFL has enacted tough new rules to protect the quarterback this season, but if the league were really serious about this, it would construct Plexiglas hockey partitions along the stands on the visiting sideline at the Network Associates Coliseum. Just take it from San Francisco QB Jeff Garcia, who reported on Sunday that he was subject to all manner of hateful epithets, vile signage and disgusting gestures from Oakland fans during their game — and these were folks who were seated in the (begin italics) good (end italics) seats. One can only imagine what odious bile was being spewed in upper reserved.

“I can’t repeat the stuff they yelled at me,” Garcia said following the game. Well, actually that’s not true. As soon as Jose “Ficklefoot” Cortez booted the game-winning field goal in overtime, Garcia raced to the edge of the stands and repeated every insult in glorious detail, with obscene gestures added at no extra cost. Teammates had to pull him away and lead him to the safety of the locker room.



It was a risky ploy by Garcia, but better than that of the father of 49ers’ center Jeremy Newberry, who chose to sit in the stands and was clocked in the head with a beer bottle for his trouble.

Oh Raiders’ fans, what are we going to do with you? The Coliseum is the only NFL venue where one needs a tetanus shot before attending a game. I myself was once was seated between two fans who featured more sharpened metal points than Knife Week on QVC.




During the game, one may look intimidating with the Darth Vader helmet, spiked shoulder pads and black chain mail leotards, but what about

afterwards? Folks, there is nothing more pathetic than the sight of a fan dressed head to toe in spiked armor sitting at the Coliseum BART station after a loss.

It’s time, I’m afraid, for Raiders’ fans to face some stark reality. I’m sorry to be the one to do this, because generally I have enjoyed the Raiders

over the years. But their fans are out of control. Something has to be done.

Dear Raiders’ fans:

1. Your wild antics are not helping. Garcia said that all the abuse heaped on him by fans on Sunday just made him concentrate harder. Indeed, his

strategy was simply to stay on the field, away from the fans, and it worked — from the middle of the third quarter on, the 49ers had the ball for 45 plays, to 10 for the Raiders.

2. All the general thuggery occurring in the stands serves to keep other fans away. Raiders’ home games are never televised because they are never sold out, and you can thank the guy dressed like a pirate and hooked up to the Heineken IV for that. Should I bring my family to the Raiders’ game, or just lock them in a small room with five or six rabid, angry badgers? There’s little difference.

3. You’re a bad influence on Sebastian Janikowski, who had been a virtual choir boy in college. Look at him now.

4. In the Raiders’ last eight home games, dating to last season, they’re 3-5 — including two straight overtime losses. But they’re 4-4 on the road over that same period. I thought that home field is supposed to be an advantage … silly me.

It’s time for America to enact tough new laws to rein in you Raiders’ fans. It’s for your own good (perhaps the new Republican-led Senate can get

cracking on this first thing in January). Here are some preliminary ideas to crack down on “The Raider Nation.”:

1. No Star Wars themes. From now on, no dressing like Darth Vader, or a storm trooper, or even a Wookiee, although the latter has never come up. If you do so, George Lucas will sue you back to the Stone Age. You’ve been warned.

2. Kids on the sidelines. Remember Dusty Baker’s son, Darren Baker, and how the precocious 3-year-old captured our imagination during the World Series? Well, we propose that NFL players start bringing their kids onto the field. Perhaps, Raiders’ fans, you’ll refrain from lighting that beer cup on fire and throwing it at the players if you know that it might hit a child.

3. Arm the Raiderettes. Forget airline pilots, we have a real crisis at Network Associates, and a dozen or so trained markswomen should turn the tide against unruly fans. And they won’t be shooting bean bag ammunition, my friends.

4. The Dell Computer guy. From now on, every time Raiders’ fans get out of line, the Dell Computer guy (“Dude, you’re getting a Dell!”) gets to be the stadium announcer for one entire quarter — the theory being that an empty stadium is still better than a stadium full of drunken louts.

I have many other ideas, most involving a large mallet and lengthy jail sentences. They are available upon request. Free Winona! Thank you.

— Rick Chandler’s interactive sports column, Capacity Crowd, can be found at NBCSports.com


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