Everyone knows the importance of fans, or the 12th man, but too often people jump ship in times of trouble. Last Sunday was the definition of trouble, and a time where the 12th man needed to step up.
Even though Jason Campbell wasn’t listed one of the NFL’s top 10 Quarterbacks, he was 4-2 as a starter before Hue Jackson swayed the “powers that be” to bring retired Carson Palmer on board. From the beginning Jackson told people that he was going to keep his starter at quarterback last Sunday as a surprise so the Chiefs wouldn’t have an edge. This plan backfired, to say the least. Jackson now knows that when you try to keep something like this a “surprise,” chances are your team will play like they are surprised too.
Part of the poor performance was due to Darren McFadden exiting the game with a foot injury; an unpleasant surprise. The plan had been to rely heavily on McFadden regardless of who the quarterback was. Kyle Boller is a backup and Palmer was sitting on his couch (yes, “Couch” Hue) watching the Raiders-Browns game one week prior. No one expected either of these men to have stellar passing games. The offensive line didn’t help matters by letting Palmer get pummeled on his first play back. Some of his interceptions can be attributed to his receivers, but the blame is on him since he is the new team leader.
Now is the time for the 12th man to step up to the plate. Everyone saw what happened last week in Detroit when Lions fans disappeared and the Falcons were able to run their no-huddle offense. While the fans may not think they’re important, they are in fact an important part of the team. Few things will electrify a team more than a roaring crowd and support system.
This isn’t to say that mistakes should be ignored, but as a part of the Raider Nation, one of the most well-known fan bases in all of sports, there’s no need to boo the team and tweet obscenities at the players. In hard times Raider Nation should band together and cheer on the team they love. If you have gripes with play calling, passing, defense, etc. voice them, but do it constructively so as to make the team better, not tear them down.
The Raider Nation is not made up of Eagles fans, it’s made up of Raiders fans who love the status of “12th man” and cheer in the spirit of Mr. Davis. Even he would grab a man’s helmet and tell him what he did wrong, but at the end of the day, he’d try to fix it.
The Raiders have a crucial game coming up after the bye week, so there is no better time to be a strong 12th man. Remember when the Raiders were responsible for the Heidi Rule; when the Raiders scored two touchdowns against the ’68 Jets to win the game in a matter of minutes? There’s always hope; there’s always a chance. Your job, as 12th man, and a member of the Nation is to hold strong and cheer on the team, no matter what.