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
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
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
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
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
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.