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Raiders still have deep roots in SoCal

8/13/2014

OXNARD, Calif. -- This, to borrow an old line, used to be the Oakland Raiders' playground. Or, at least, their training camp ground.

The Raiders, who called Los Angeles home from 1982 through 1994, worked out their summer kinks on this field, which Jerry Jones has turned into a Jerry World West, of sorts. So no, Raiders owner Mark Davis did not neccesarrily have any flashbacks or anything like that when his team took the field for the first of two joint practices with the Dallas Cowboys on Tuesday afternoon. He had to have heard, though, the chants of "Bring them back! Bring them back! Bring them back!" before even the stretching began in front of an announced and lively crowd of 8,326.

"I’m kind of surprised it was 3-to-1 Raider fans to Cowboy fans," Davis said.

"Fantastic."

Of course, it’s no secret the Raiders are in need of a new home. Though Davis has said he wants to stay in Oakland, he has been linked to San Antonio -- when asked if he spoke with Jones about the Alamo City, Davis said abruptly, "No." -- and Los Angeles remains an intriguing possibility.

Before practice, Magic Johnson hung out in the Raiders VIP tent, alongside the likes of former L.A. Raiders Jay Schroeder, franchise sack leader Greg Townsend and Jerry Robinson. Johnson was a regular at Raiders game at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum and has also come to games in Oakland.

"Al Davis came to all our championship games," with the Lakers, Johnson told ESPNLA 710 AM radio. "I was a Raider season ticket holder. I’m a Raider diehard.

"Al used to be in his all-white (outfit). That was so cool. He watched every Finals we had. What was so cool back in the day, we all hung out together -- Marcus Allen, Howie Long -- we hung out with them; they hung out with us. We came to see their games; they came to see our games. I’m just hoping, in the next two years or so we can finally get a team back to Los Angeles."

Pressed on the Raiders returning, Johnson laughed.

"I would love that," he said. "San Antonio? Come on. The Spurs?

"Mark knows there’s only one place he can go -- that’s L.A. San Antonio? Come on now. Come on."

Regardless, the Raiders' fan base gave them a home advantage, so to speak, for the practice.

"What a hell of an atmosphere to practice football in," said coach Dennis Allen. "That’s what Raider Nation is really all about, man. That was awesome to see those guys come out and support us like that. It almost felt like, at times, that I had to quiet the crowd down just so we could get some plays off. It was a great atmosphere.

"We’ve got a lot of support, not only in the Oakland area but Southern California and really across the country. It was great that Raider Nation came out today to support us and watch us practice. I think they got a good show."

Though no one was condoning the two brawls with the Cowboys, the Raiders were not shying away from them, either. Not with the support they felt from the pro-Raiders crowd.

"It was humbling," said fullback Marcel Reece, "and a reality check for the new guys who thought they knew what Raider Nation was all about."