Raiders.com's Levi Edwards: Congratulations, Denean! What's the personal connection you have with the city of Las Vegas?
Vaughn: I first came to Las Vegas as a tourist in 2000. I was visiting a friend whose husband had been relocated to the city for work. She picked me up from the airport at night and drove me down the strip. From the screams of the riders on the roller coaster at New York, New York, to the melodic Fountains at Bellagio, to the volcano and waterfall show at the Mirage, I was hopelessly captivated.
I love to travel, and of all the cities I have visited, Las Vegas remains my favorite! Since 2000, I have returned to Las Vegas every year (most years I have visited twice). I most enjoy the endless entertainment of the city—from the shows to the shopping, to the live bands and the beautiful mountain views, Vegas has it all! Above all the cool things to see and do in this town, what I most love are the people in Las Vegas. I moved to Las Vegas from the Midwest in 2017, and between the relationships I have formed and the excitement in the city, I feel like I am on vacation every day of my life.
What was your reaction when you found out the Raiders nominated you for NFL Fan of the Year?
As an educator, I dedicated my life to uplifting young people. Like so many teachers and principals, I thought nothing of coming out of my own pocket to buy school supplies for my students. I have always saved enough to purchase special things for my kids whose families could not afford to pay for field trips or buy extras for their birthdays or holidays. The decision to bring young people to Raiders games was a natural extension of my relationship with families who lack the means to provide such entertainment experiences for their children.
On one hand, I did not feel that recognition was warranted for bringing young people to Allegiant Stadium for Raiders games. It has always been second nature to help youngsters in every way I could. On the other hand, it is a great honor to be recognized as the NFL nominee for Fan of the Year. I was both thrilled and humbled when I learned I had been selected. I accept this honor on behalf of all educators, including teachers, counselors, principals, secretaries, cafeteria workers, custodians, bus drivers — all those who have dedicated their lives to the uplifting young people!
What is your favorite thing about the Raiders organization and its fanbase?
What I most like about the historic Oakland Raiders is that the franchise has a unique identity that is set apart from the other 31 NFL teams. The Raiders have cultivated a style that is all their own.
The Las Vegas Raiders' current venues (Allegiant Stadium and the corporate headquarters/practice facility) are beautiful, state-of-the-art facilities. Allegiant Stadium is a striking addition to the skyline on the Las Vegas strip. Allegiant Stadium, like its surrounding structures, is an architectural work of art and adds to the majesty of the strip.
Raiders fans set the example for ALL other NFL fans on how to rep their team on game days. Their over-the-top, game day gear reflects Raiders fans' creative spirit and demonstrates their devotion to their team. Las Vegas does everything on a grand scale, so it is fitting that the Raiders organization and fans now call Las Vegas home.
What is the earliest Raider memory that comes to mind for you?
The Madden-Stabler era stands out for me. The relationship between the two legends and the dominance of the lefty quarterback form the basis of my earliest experience watching the Raiders games. Of course, I always looked forward to the times when the camera panned into the stands to show the Raiders fans. As a kid, I distinctly remember looking forward to Raiders games, specifically to see what everybody was wearing!
Who is on your Raider Mount Rushmore?
Bo Jackson, Marcus Allen, Kenny Stabler and Maxx Crosby.
(Although I have followed Nelson Agholor's career through his years at USC. He and I have the same birthday. He'd be my fifth if there were five Presidents on the mountain. I look forward to seeing Hall of Fame level plays from him).