The amazing thing is Jared Staszewski never saw the Raiders win a Super Bowl.
Never saw Ken Stabler play quarterback.
Never witnessed Art Shell and Gene Upshaw blotting out the right side of the opponents’ defensive line.
He’s 22 years old. It was enough to watch from Pennsylvania as a teenager and watch the Rich Gannon-Jon Gruden Raiders win a couple of AFC West titles before giving way to Bill Callahan’s conference champions in 2002.
The Raiders like to say they’re global. They at least made it to Erie.
Stasewski’s never even been to California, but somehow silver and black permeated his being and now he’s organizing a drive which led to www.messagetoal.com and a bill for a billboard at I-880 North at High Street at the Coliseum, with a plea for Al Davis to call for a general manager.
If he’d have sat with my dad as I did and watched the Raiders drive the length of the field to beat the Dolphins in the Sea of Hands (and not been afflicted with becoming a sportswriter), no telling what he’d do.
I’m too much of a skeptic to think the plea of Staszewski’s grassroots plea will do any good. Colleague Monte Poole, in his Wednesday column for Bay Area News Group papers, obviously feels the same way.
I may be older and jaded, but it’s hard not to to applaud the effort. The plea and press release were made with obvious passion for the team as well as respect, not to mention their own pocketbooks.
When I talked to Staszewski this afternoon, he stressed the story wasn’t about him. He said along with another Raider fan who wishes to remain anonymous and is currently living in Mexico organized the effort. He claims 21,000 signatures, is looking for 50,000, and said nearly $2,000 of the $5,000 cost has been raised for the billboard. (A credit line was received to pay for it). The Raiders have spawned a vast network of Internet message boards and fan sites, with www.raideroutlawz.com playing a role in promoting the effort.
Recent efforts at Raiders games, according to Staszewski, secured donations ranging from a dollar to $200.
The billboard will probably be up a month, approximately when the season ends, in full view of those heading I-880 North and those rubberneckers heading south. Staszewski, who saw his last Raiders game in Week 3 last season in Buffalo, hopes to attend his first Raiders home game against the Ravens in the finale.
By that time, the number of signatures on the petition may outnumber fans in the seats.