Trying to identify just five legendary Oakland Raiders tailgaters is almost as impossible as finding a Raiders fan who adores the Kansas City Chiefs. But the purpose of this article is to spotlight five Oakland tailgating legends. So we whittled down a list of numerous worthy candidates. Let the debate begin.
Ever heard of Mark Acasio? Maybe you have. But if you're a hardcore Raiders fan, you definitely recognize Acasio's game-day name – Gorilla Rilla – and his game-day costume. On game day, you'll spot Gorilla Rilla tailgating outside O.Co Coliseum and cheering on the Raiders in the Coliseum's infamous Black Hole section.
"I've been Gorilla for 16 years," Acasio told Raiders.com in September. "I've been out there doing what I've been doing. I love my people and I love my Nation. I'm a fan. I'm a football fan. The only way to show my love and share my love is be what I do best – be a fan."
Acasio is a member of Pro Football's Ultimate Fan Association, a hall of fame for NFL superfans.
This fall, Acasio took his fan fervor to a new level. In front of a crowd of more than 1,000 people in Fresno, he got hitched to another diehard Raiders fan – "Jungle Jane," whose first name is Marilyn. Among those in attendance were several other well-known members of Raider Nation, including Darth Raider, Raider Gloria and Blitz Chick.
Bad Boyz of BBQ
The mouths of some Raiders tailgaters water simply at the mention of the Bad Boyz of BBQ.
Led by "Kingsford Kirk" Bronsord, the Bad Boyz etched their place in Raiders tailgating history in 2010 by beating a San Francisco 49ers team in a cooking competition sponsored by the Food Network. Bronsord's teammates for the cookoff were "Barbeque Bob" Boyd, "Rotisserie Ron," Beth Pigeon, Salvador "Dicing Daddio" Barriga and "Uncle Stan" Blanca.
At every home game, the Bad Boyz of BBQ serve up a similar feast. Anyone who wants to join the tailgating party is asked to donate $25.
"We do not provide alcohol," said Bronsord, a member of Pro Football's Ultimate Fan Association. "You can bring your own, but we aren't about getting drunk and stupid. It's about providing a good time for everyone."
"Raider Ron" Rickard
Ron Rickard has stepped foot in more NFL stadiums than some pro football players. In September at the Coliseum, "Raider Ron" attended his 200th consecutive Raiders game – both home and away.
"It's been a lot of fun now that it has been a streak and all of the props people have given me, all the love they've shown," Rickard, a member of Pro Football's Ultimate Fan Association, told Raiders.com. "Beyond the football game, all the Raider Nation, all the people along the way that I've met … just incredible. The stories that I could tell … just on and on and on. I could write three books; it's just incredible, the people in Raider Nation."
When Rickard hit the 200-game mark, the Bad Boyz of BBQ whipped up a huge, elaborate cake in his honor. Rickard cut into the cake during pregame tailgating.
Rickard "has done something that very few people ever get to do. Today is his 200th consecutive Raider game. That's 12.5 years without missing a Raiders game," Bronsord told Raiders.com on the day of Rickard's 200th game, a 22-14 loss to the San Diego Chargers.
Charles Ybarra's alter ego before, during and after Raiders games is Darth Raider. Ybarra, a member of Pro Football's Ultimate Fan Association, is such a dedicated Raider that he even maintains his own Darth Raider website.
As he describes on the website, Darth Raider dresses in a flowing black cape and black body armor on game day. Darth says he's an "intimidating representation" of the Raider Nation's "commitment to excellence."
"I was once an average pro football fan and a loyal disciple of former NFL commissioner Pete Rozelle," Darth Raider writes on his site. "After many years of supporting mediocre teams, I became disillusioned with his corrupt policies."
It was then, he says, that he turned to Raider Nation and its late leader, Al Davis.
"Rozelle tried to dissuade me, but the dark side proved to be too alluring," Darth Raider says. "I have since become known as the dreaded Darth Raider."
For much of the year, CC Sabathia wears pinstripes as a pitcher for the New York Yankees. But when football season rolls around, Sabathia dons silver and black. The Vallejo native is a lifelong Raiders fan.
In January, the New York Post tagged along as Sabathia tailgated before a Raiders game at the Coliseum. The Yankees star was sporting a Raiders jersey with the No. 52 on the back – the same number he wears as a baseball player.
The Post reported that some of Sabathia's fondest memories of his late father, Corky, involve tailgating at Raiders games.
"Tailgating is like the best for me, I love it," Sabathia told the newspaper. "I get jealous when I'm driving into Yankee Stadium and we're playing like the Red Sox or something and people are tailgating, and you see them throwing the baseball around in the parking lot. I'm like: 'Man, I wish I was tailgating with these guys right now.'"
Check out Tailgate Fan to keep the party going at tailgatefan.cbslocal.com.
John Egan is a freelance writer covering all things San Francisco. His work can be found on Examiner.com.
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