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Bernie Mraz and his mom at a Raiders tailgate.
The season of 2002 was my favorite moment as a Raiders fan for one main reason - my late mother. Let me preface this by saying, my immediate family has been Raiders Fans since 1969. My mother, Yuriko, was a Japanese woman being 5' tall, maybe 100 oounds soaking wet with a personality that could light up a room. She was a die-hard Raider Fan and she knew more about football than some of the men in our family. She lived and died with the Raiders, as did I, and when the Raiders came back to Oakland, you thought that she won the lottery.

I am a season ticket holder and I would take my mother to two to three games a year. She was a nice little Japanese lady on the outside, but was a fiery yelling fan inside the Coliseum. When she had liver cancer back in the early '90s, the doctor said she had maybe six months to live. My mother would say, "I'm not ready to go, I'll go when I'm ready to go! No doctor is going to dictate my life." My mother believed in the Raider motto "Just Win Baby." My mother beat that cancer and lived for another 10 years.

The season of 2002 was special to a lot of Raider Fans being that we made it to the Super Bowl. My mother told me in the beginning of that year that she was expecting a wonderful season and that we'd be pleased with the results. I never heard her say this before, but I assumed it was the usual Raider spirit she exhibits. Needless to say, we had a great season and the playoffs were unforgettable. My mother always came to our fan-club tailgate and was a fixture there with many fans.

After we beat Tennessee for the AFC Title, my mother was probably the loudest. On the way home, she wasn't talking loud (which was unusual) but was peaceful. She thanked me for taking her to the games, and I kept reminding her that it wouldn't be the same without her. My daughter Brittany and her friend were still talking in the car and were excited about the wild game. The car was peaceful in the front, loud in the back.

My mother passed away seven months after that game. She was terminally ill but never told anyone about it. Typical Mom, never wanting to worry anybody. A week before she passed away, she told me she had no regrets and I still thought she was going to be fine. A few friends who tailgated with us were in tears after hearing the news. But I'll never forget that last season with her, doing what she loved most.

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