James Jones, a.k.a. Raiderfan Jones
James Jones, a.k.a. Raiderfan Jones, is among a number of Oakland Raiders super fans who add excitement and delight to attending Raiders games.
My name is James Jones, a.k.a. Raiderfan Jones, and I am a Raiders fan. Better yet, I'm a member of the World Wide Raider Nation! And this is my story of how and why I became a fan.
My father was a die-hard football fan when as I was growing up. I remember seeing his football memorabilia throughout the house, watching him and his friends getting ready for the games, taking their binoculars and camelback flasks full of liquor. Back then it seemed like going to football games was just another thing my dad did - kind of like fishing or BBQ'n at the park.
Then I got my chance to really discover football. It was in the fall of 1976 and I had just moved to Oakland from Los Angeles (back then, home of the Rams). I was never a fan of the Rams, I never went to any of the games, that I remember. Funny, too, because I lived within walking distance to the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum. Back then, to me, it was just football and nothing exciting. But now here in Oakland I saw my friends wearing shiny satin coats with this logo that was kind of mysterious. It wasn't an animal or letter or anything that other teams had, just something different. I was a quiet kid back then, doing things like drawing and collecting things. So, I decided I would collect Raiders stuff, just because I liked drawing the logo.
In 2008 I found myself back at the stadium, wanting to be back in the middle of Raiders football. My very first game back I remember meeting Oaktown Pirate walking through the snack bar area. I asked if I could take a picture with him, we exchanged a few words and I went on my way. The following year I was desperate to go to games and tailgate but I didn't know many people that did those things, so I went to social media.
A friend suggested I contact someone she knew who tailgates and that I could connect with them and I did. It was the best decision I ever made when it came to my Raiders!
This lady said sure, come to our tailgate and I'll introduce you to everyone. That person was Catherine Wirth, who we affectionately call "KK" or "Hardcore," depending on your experiences with her. (LOL).
Everyone seemed to have nicknames except me, so KK started calling me Jonesy. I liked it and started introducing myself as that. Then I wanted to show my Raiders pride so I took it a step further and so the name Raiderfan Jones was born. While tailgating, I met Oaktown Pirate for a second time, as well as other Super Fans, such as Gorilla Rilla, Afro and Senor. Pirate and I grew to be good friends. I got to know the man behind the Pirate, Azel Wendell Grasty, Sr. I sure do miss Azel - one of the good ones gone too soon, rest in peace.
Soon after I met one of the biggest die-hard Raiders fans around, Rachel Tobey Brown. Rachel, recently inducted into the 2016 Pro Football's Ultimate Fan Association (PFUFA), has had a huge influence on me becoming a Season Ticket Member. Plus she gave me the nickname that so many now associate with my catering business. She told me the name Raiderfan Jones was too much for her to say so she started calling me "RFJ." I loved it and today it's the name of my catering business, RFJ'S BBQ and Soul Food.
I started my catering business because of the love that my friends and family members had for my cooking, especially once I started cooking for them at tailgates. I would prep and BBQ ribs as my contribution to the tailgate. The idea to start catering hit me when I cooked at our Annual Raider Nation Bonfire in Southern California one year. The event brought Raiders fans from all over the country together to meet-and-greet during the off season. Lots of them had heard about my BBQ skills through word of mouth and social media. I was just there doing what I do, until people started lining up at my grill wanting to "buy" my food! I wasn't prepared for that but the compliments I received and the smiles on their faces led me to start my dream of cooking for others.
I would like to end by adding that while attending a Raider games and Raider-related functions that I've also met the love of my life. She too is a Raider fan, and Season Ticket holder. Her name is Maritza "Raider Ritza" Maldonado. She shares the same passion for the Raiders that I do and with her never-ending help and dedication I've been able to get RFJ'S Catering to the next level. The business and personal relationships that we've formed while attending Raider games are "For Life" as we say in The Nation. Just like our team, we continue to grow and succeed and we're very excited about what the future holds for both us and the Raider Nation as a whole.
Today, in addition to being in the catering business and holding a full-time job, I am also a member of the Bad Boyz of BBQ Tailgate Party, owned by another PFUFA member, Kirk Bronsord. You can find us at every home game, grilling away for hundreds of football fans. Bad Boyz is known as the biggest, continuous tailgate at Raiders home games. It's an amazing feeling to know that every Sunday, when there's a home game during football season, I get to meld my two passions together - I get to throw down good eats on the grill and then watch my Raiders play while sitting in The Black Hole. Being a Raiders fan has enhanced my life in so many good ways and has opened up opportunities I may have closed my eyes to in the past. Now you know my Raiders story. See you at our next home game.