Keith Smith -- Crusader Raider & Super Fan
Pati McGaffigan is among a number of Oakland Raiders super fans who add excitement and delight to attending Raiders games.
Having grown up in Hawaii and now living in San Diego, I am often asked, "How did you become a Raiders fan?" As I was born at Oakland Naval Hospital, I could have said, "I was born this way," but the Raiders were simply a bright star on the horizon in 1953.
As a kid, my Pops insisted I learn how to survive. He taught me how to fish, hunt and camp. An athlete himself, I remember we would watch sporting events together; baseball, football and boxing matches and I would always pick the boxer wearing black. Around 1967, I asked Pops, "Why do you root for the Cowboys?" His response was, "I was born in Dallas."
That year the Raiders finished 13-1 and I fell under the spell of Jim Otto, Pete Banaszak, Daryle Lamonica and Freddie Biletnikoff, to name a few. When The Snake joined the Raiders in 1970, I was a feisty teenager and smitten. After watching Kenny lead the team, I knew that if we were down by 12, just give us 90 seconds and we would win the game. Fast forward to the Holy Roller game in San Diego -- I was there!
Two beautiful daughters are fans as well; Danielle is a die-hard Raiders fan, and Nicholle a Chargers fan. My four grandchildren love my character and call me when they catch a glimpse of their Tutu (G-ma in Hawaiian) on TV. And here's a shout-out to my little dog, Honey Girl, who is also a Raiders fan!
During The MaskaRaider's first appearance, I remember being called Maleficent; the funny thing is I never knew who Maleficent was until the movie came out years later. At the recent Cardinals preseason game, a lovely little girl said to her mom, "I didn't know Maleficent was a Raiders fan." How appropriate and now she does.
My character came to life in 2007 and started with a black and silver mask I picked up in Hawaii. I found my hat and horns shortly after that and then all bets were off. A little black dress, player patches showing the pride I hold in my heart for the Legends and future legends, a little bling here, a little bling there, bling bling everywhere! Transitioning into character, start to finish, takes roughly two and a half hours and those 10 a.m. games are tough. If I get that rogue eyelash or dressing out-of-order, add another 20-30 minutes. The payoff -- seeing the joy (and sometimes fear [evil laugh!]) in the eyes of the children and the smiles from Raiders fans across the country, from Seattle to New York City and Hawaii.
My hat is off to all super fans for your dedication, passion and hard work. And much love to my Raiders sister, Mystic Raider, as my partner in all things black and silver.