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WHAT IT MEANS TO BE A RACINE RAIDER

Joe Mooney, one of the saviors of the Racine Raiders in 1986 and the past-President of the Board of Directors, gives a speech every few years at the annual team banquet. We have provided both a written transcript of the speech below. You can also listen to an MP3 of the speech that he provided at the 2008 team banquet.

What it means to be a Raider - 2008 version (MP3, 8 minutes, 1.5 MB)
by Joe Mooney, Team Founder and past-President

Raiders President and co-founder Joe MooneyBeing a Racine Raider means playing the game that you love in front of your hometown fans, your family and your friends and still feeling the love regardless of the outcome of the game.

It means coming into your first day of camp with visions of an NFL career dancing in your head and then comfortably and confidently finding your true place in the football world. It means never giving up on that dream to play in the NFL, but not allowing it to interfere with your fun either.

It means feeling excited the very first time that you put on your uniform, step on the turf at Historic Horlick Field and hear Jon Petit, our announcer, call your name as a Racine Raider.

It means playing along side of some of the greatest warriors that you’ll ever meet. Men who will watch your back knowing that you are watching theirs. Men you’ll stand shoulder to shoulder with against anyone who challenges you on any given night. Men who, even when they are fatigued and down to their last play, will gladly give you their best last play knowing that you’d do the same for them. It’s a brotherhood that few outsiders can grasp.

It means following in the footsteps of legendary Raider players like Jim and John May, Tony Lombardo, Ron Hart, Wally Rhone, Dave Poisl, Dan Dragan, Reggie ‘The Flea’ Johnson, Bob Milkie, Charlie Bliss, Adam Walker, Les White, Terry Converse, Mike Willkomm, Scott Smith, Bryan Jennings Sr., Greg Fictum, James Mathews, Phil Micech and of course, John Mamerow.

It means wearing a uniform that look exactly like your teammate’s; with no names across the back designating you as an individual in a team game. Imprinted just with the number that you will remember for the rest of your life.

It means rubbing a little dirt on your soreness and getting back into the game to show support for your teammates. It means sweating through grueling practices, twice a week (yes, we do practice twice a week) It means coming to practice and games even though you are hurt and can’t make it on the field. There are other ways that Raiders can help each other.

It means getting your butt to the gym for your workout even on those cold winter days when you’d much rather be resting in your warm house eating pizza, drinking a beer and watching ESPN. It takes that kind of dedication for this to work.

It means stuffing three huge football players and all of their equipment into one cramped hotel room on road trips. Three guys, two beds, you can see the problem here. We usually try to insert one rookie into this mix. That kind of helps to takes the suspense out of who sleeps where.

It means missing the occasional work day on a Saturday or a Sunday to play in exotic places like Gary Indiana, Kalamazoo Michigan, Fredonia Wisconsin, anywhere in Iowa, Detroit Michigan, Minneapolis Minnesota, Kokomo Indiana, Algonquin Illinois and of course, that very popular resort location of Mooseheart Illinois home of the Kane County Eagles.

It means playing for coaches who, like you, give up a lot of family and free time to make sure that you are prepared each and every week. Coaches who will certainly match your time in the gym against their time in front of a video screen watching game films on a minute to minute basis.

Being a Racine Raider means playing for successful head coaches who also happened to be great men and excellent leaders. Coaches like Bob Milke, Jordan Kopac, Harry Gilbert, Pete Bock, Warren Greco, Jim Thompson, Larry Benjamin, Terry Converse and now John Mamerow. Coaches who have honesty, integrity and who live the Raider mystic.

It means playing in front of the greatest fans in all of minor league football each and every home game. Fans who have the pride of ownership in this team. You have seen many of these fans traveling to road games to watch their team and, at times, they have out numbered the home crowd. Some of these fans have been here since the 50’s and 60’s. And, being a Raider also means that you don’t have to stand on the east sidelines like the visiting teams do and have deal with those, also famous, fans.

It means you’ll go to the tent after the Alumni game and strike up a conversation with a man in his seventies who, like you, strapped up his cleats and played the game for the sake of pride in the Raiders. Only he played way back in the 50’s or the 60s. Look into his eyes when he talks; you’ll see what Raider Tradition is.

It means making a big hit or a big block and then coming to the sidelines and getting that loving swat on the helmet from your coaches and teammates and then looking up into the stands and seeing your family and friends jumping up and down with pride and excitement for you. They’ll be wearing a Raider jersey with your number on it, pointing at you and making sure that everyone around them saw what you just did.

It means believing in your teammates even when behind by 14 points with 1:55 left in the game like we were against the Michigan Admirals. Watching Dan Navotny, the coaches and a team that just wouldn’t give up, work the 2 minute drill to perfection and bring Racine one of the most exciting victories in our storied history. No one on that field quit that night.

It means playing the game that you cherish so dearly and playing it for millions -------- of memories.

It means being able to take your helmet off and getting down on one knee after a game so that you can meet eye to eye with a group of 4’ tall fans who are grinning from ear to ear with pride just to be standing next to you. It’s giving up a chin strap or a wrist band to another enchanted fan, or smiling for a photo op with another. To be honest, it means being able to watch the fans flock to Wilbert after a game; he is their Brett Favre or Gilbert Brown.

To some outsiders, your success as a Raider is predicated on the number of championship rings that adorn your fingers. The real measure of your success here in Racine however, is how you are remembered when you step off of the field for the final time. Did you give it your all? Did you earn their respect? Were you proud to be called a Raider?

What you accomplished last season and what you’ll accomplish this season certainly will be your memories of the future. How great these memories are -------- is completely up to you. The onus will be on each of you in the off season to begin your preparation for 2008. We know how close we were to winning the National Championship in 2007. We all believe that we could have and should have been National Champions for an unprecedented 8th time.

As an organization we try not to put too much pressure on ourselves. All that we have asked of new head coach John Mamerow is to bring us another National Championship. That’s it. No pressure. All that will be asked of you is that you do your part to let the tradition live on. ‘Cause that’s what it means --- to be a Raider.

 

 

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