Raiders fans tailgate 'until the casket drops' at potential Coliseum finale

Jessica Kleinschmidt
NBC Sports BayArea

Raiders fans tailgate 'until the casket drops' at potential Coliseum finale originally appeared on

OAKLAND -- The wet, frigid temperatures combined to make the perfect setting for what possibly could be the final Raiders game at Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum.

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"It's really sad," Erin Kahle of Sacramento said before pointing to her husband, who admitted he'd probably cry Monday night as the Raiders hosted the Denver Broncos.

"Please let the Raiders play in Oakland for one more year," she begged aloud of owner Mark Davis. And she was endearing about it. It made you want to call Davis yourself and let him know.

I just wanted to hug her.

While walking around the tailgating areas, you had to remind yourself this could be a final game -- or the fans had to remind you. You didn't get the impression the end could be near. That was apparent in the smiling faces that still found a way to celebrate despite the fact the Silver and Black entered Monday's game with a 3-11 record.

"We do this until the casket drops."

Shine, from Tule Lake, California, has been a Raiders fan his entire life. He's 48 now and says he has no problem driving five hours to watch his favorite team play. He also admits he's a bit sad.

"It's bittersweet, you know," he said. "If it's over, it's over -- but you can't take our heart from us. We're always going to be standing here."

Upon asking him if he had the chance to say anything to Mark Davis, Shine simply said he had nothing bad to say about him. He understands it's a business.

"He has to do what he has to do to keep the legacy alive," Shine said. "I applaud him if he wants to go over [to Vegas] and I hope everything works out over there. But I love it here -- this is home to me."

Another group of tailgaters had been at the Coliseum since 7 that morning. They said even though they were away from their families on Christmas Eve, they wanted to come out and support the team.

They each took turns saying how much "it sucks," but they really wanted to "go hard one last time."

You could tell this was a group that did this every Sunday, or any other day the Raiders hosted a game. They were a family -- one that even invited me to join them once I was done making my rounds.

I'll be honest with you, I wasn't sure what to expect walking into the tailgate that my friends and family told me would be scary. But there wasn't one thing to be scared of, and I certainly sympathized with those who call the Coliseum home. The place they would spend hours upon hours prepping for -- cheering on a team that has struggled to put tallies in the win column.

They wanted to ask Davis what he was doing and tell him to stay in the Bay.

[RELATED: Raiders fans share their top moments at the Coliseum]

Each person had seen something. Whether it was a memory from a tailgate or another rainy day in which the players were covered in mud and sloshed around on the field. 

To say these individuals are diehards is an understatement. I've never heard more "until the day I die" when talking about an organization. And they said it so fluidly and with such ease.

That's what makes a fan. That's what makes these individuals coming back for more.

We don't know where the Raiders will end up next year yet. But even when they're in Vegas, these fans still will support their team, whether in person or in spirit.

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