It’s in the air, and we’re not talking about fall.
It’s Raiders Week, and if not sure what that means, you haven’t been paying attention.
Few things elevate the Charger Nation’s blood pressure like rustling with the Raiders.
Holly Molly, Holly Roller, Holly Black Hole: it’s a game that is part competition, part show and part life-and-death.
Few despised the Raiders like Marty Schottenheimer. When coaching the Chargers, a portion of practice was open to the media. And this week, Raiders Week, it always included his version of ”Marty Bawl.”
“Gentlemen, it’s Raiders Week!’’ he barked at players, loud enough so the press heard his rant. “Do you know what that means? It means if you aren’t ready, they’re going to stick it up your…’’
We won’t finish his sentence. But you get the drift, and that’s why Sunday night’s AFC West tango in Oaktown will be a hoot.
“Anytime you play against a divisional opponent there is that professional hatred that you have for a team,’’ Chargers coach Mike McCoy said.
Oh yeah. But nothing approaches Chargers-Raiders.
Although the Chargers-Chiefs series between those team’s former respective coaches, Bobby Ross and Schottenheimer, were dandies. And when the Chargers-Broncos go arm-in-arm, there’s nothing low key about it.
But the Raiders are in a class by themselves and I’m shocked, too, that “Raiders” and “class” share a sentence.
Those new to Raiders Week are being educated. Quarterback Philip Rivers has an impressive 11-3 mark against Oakland and he doesn’t want some kid messing it up.
“Philip just said something about it,’’ rookie wide receiver Keenan Allen said.
Allen, who attended California, committed a Chargers sin (Cardinals are for Arizona) when pictured in a Raiders lid this offseason. It went viral; Chargers fans went bonkers.
“It’s definitely going to be big for us this week to get this win,’’ Allen said. “First divisional game is like winning two games, so we’re definitely trying to get on top.”
Like any good rivalry, the real action is at the bottom. Where eyes are poked, body parts are squeezed and remember that cheap shot LaDainian Tomlinson absorbed to his ribs while in a Chargers-Raiders scrum?
“Everybody knows it’s Raiders Week; this is a special week here,’’ center Nick Hardwick said. “It gets a little extra special attention. We’re going to go in with a good aggressive attitude, a good fighting spirit and be ready to win again.”
Even if a chunk of the playing surface is brown soil, thanks to the A’s being in the playoffs.
But it don’t mean a thing — this game is about its soul.
“Who cares if it’s dirt or gravel,’’ Hardwick said. “You’re just here to punch the guy in front of you. There’s nothing special about it. If we play harder and tougher than them, we’re going to win.”
Win, lose or brawl, Chargers-Raiders is to be cherished.
Tomlinson was reminiscing on the Mighty 1090 what Raiders Week meant. His voice revealed the game was special then, and now.
“Marty believed if you hit them enough times, they would quit,’’ said Tomlinson, who beat the Raiders 13 straight times. “For most of my career, he was very accurate.’’
Schottenheimer’s aim was nearly as keen as the Black Hole’s citizens. Among my favorite East Bay memories is Tomlinson scoring on a 19-yard run for a 27-21 overtime victory in 2002. That it came in the southern end zone, where the Black Hole resides, made it sweeter.
“All the guys are celebrating and the fans started throwing bottles and anything they could find,’’ Tomlinson said. “It was such a great feeling that we had won a huge game at their stadium and their fans let us know how they felt.’’
Again, with feeling, it’s Raiders Week — enough said.
Jay Paris can be heard talking Chargers football on 1090 AM on Monday and Friday mornings. He’s also the Wednesday morning co-host of “Hacksaw and Company.” He can be reached at [email protected] and followed on Twitter @jparis_sports.