Amy Bledsoe and Doug Anderson meet former Raiders offensive lineman Lincoln Kennedy.
The Raiders fan base is global. It's national. The team arrives in every city with a throng of fans waiting at the hotel. Seeing and appreciating the fans worldwide used to be limited to road trips. Now, the Raiders and the players are able to connect with fans of the Silver and Black on a daily basis through social media.
The Raiders Twitter account got to know Amy Bledsoe (@kcirishbabe) over a year ago when she tweeted about being a diehard Raiders fan in Oakland's rival city Kansas City. Every week during the season, the Chiefs have "Red Friday." And every Friday, Bledsoe would rock her Raiders jersey proudly.
It turns out her passion for the Raiders came from her fiancé, Doug Anderson (@TinyStonehenge), who works for a local KC radio station and goes by the radio name of Doug Tatum. Born and raised in Kansas City, he has been a Raiders fan since birth thanks to his father.
"It all began with my dad," explained Anderson. "He was born and raised in the Kansas City area. He was a Kansas City A's fan. They moved to Oakland and he kind of felt betrayed by the city. So, he said, 'Well, I'm not going to cheer for your football now because your baseball team moved to Oakland, so I'm going to be an Oakland Raiders fan.' And then it kind of snowballed when he was in Vietnam and he was watching the games over there. He was in his troop and some guys from Kansas City were Chiefs fans and if you don't like the Chiefs, you kind of have to like the Raiders."
Anderson's dad shared his passion for the Raiders with his two sons. Anderson then passed it along to Bledsoe. "Her family isn't big football people, but she knew a very long time ago that if she was going to fit in with the Andersons, she would have to become a Raiders fan," said Anderson. "She's definitely taken it in stride and led us to some interesting events and interesting life experiences."
Being a Raiders fan in Kansas City isn't exactly popular, but Anderson and Bledsoe don't care. "You just take it in stride and it's just one of those things that you're still proud of it even though you live in Kansas City. It's good to be different," said Bledsoe.
"It's almost like a badge of honor wearing the shield, wearing the Silver and Black in Kansas City in enemy territory," added Anderson. "You know you're going to get looked at. You know you're going to get talked to, but you still puff out your chest a little bit. You feel proud to wear the Silver and Black even as a fan. Something about it is just cool. It's cool to be different. It's cool to root for the rival team in the rival city."
Surrounded by Chiefs fans, the two have taken to Twitter to connect with their favorite team. "That's the cool part because being in Kansas City, we don't get to enjoy the perks of being in Oakland and being in the Bay Area and celebrating with other Raiders fans, so I think the interaction on Twitter with the players has given us a piece of them here in the area," said Bledsoe. "I think social media has been that really big influence on celebrating and becoming Raiders fans because you get to connect with them and feel as though they're just right down the road or 30 minutes away at the stadium."
Using social media has helped bring Anderson and Bledsoe closer to the team and to Raider Nation. "Being able to talk to the players, you don't feel as isolated," said Anderson. "We're Kansas City. We love everything about this town. We're Royals fans. We love the art, the architecture, the barbeque. We love everything about Kansas City except for the Kansas City Chiefs. Having that ability to connect with the team you love so much is so rewarding and fulfilling. It's special. There are no words to describe being able to have that connection. Thanks to the Internet and social media, we don't feel as isolated anymore."
The Raiders are a big part of the couple's life. "We're going to name our first son Davis," said Anderson. "And [Amy] came up with that on her own. She came up with Davis and I love it; we're going to run with it."
They want to name their first son Davis because to them the Raiders are family. "As silly as it sounds, I feel like the Raiders are part of my family because that's all I've ever known my entire life," said Anderson. "I would be shunned from my family if I wore a 49ers shirt or a Chiefs shirt or a Broncos shirt. I see the Raiders shield and I think of Oakland, I think of Al Davis. That's family to me. It's tradition. I think of the Raiders and I think of my dad and my brother. It all comes back to family."