Ravens fans playing it safe with low profile in Oakland

Supporters tread lightly on hostile Calif. turf

January 14, 2001|By Brent Jones | Brent Jones,SUN STAFF

OAKLAND, Calif. - Adam Meister is passionate, just not stupid.

Few, if any, Ravens fans have the love Meister has for his hometown team, which plays the Oakland Raiders at 4 p.m. today at Network Associates Coliseum for the right to go to the Super Bowl.

Meister, 24, claims he created the first Ravens Web site. He also says he organized the Silicon Valley Ravens fan club - the only one west of the Mississippi - and more recently spent an exorbitant amount of money for a ticket to today's game (meeting a broker in an alley behind a McDonald's).

His enthusiasm for the Ravens led him to organize "Diaper Day" when the Cleveland Browns visited PSINet Stadium last season; he'd urged fans to bring diapers to show their distaste for Browns fans.

But even Meister will temper himself today. No purple will be visible on his body when he walks through the turnstiles of Oakland's home park, and he plans to remain calm and collected throughout the game.

"I will have Ravens stuff under my jacket," Meister said. "But you have to be smart. If people around me are normal, then I will take off my jacket. But I want to see the game, not get kicked out of the stadium. This is the sports culmination of my life."

Raiders fans have long been known for their hostility toward opposing teams' fans. Some of the stories here are legendary, if somewhat embellished (including one in which a man was reportedly nearly beaten to death after venturing into the south end zone, also known as the Black Hole, wearing an opposing team's jersey).

Ravens coach Brian Billick commented last week about his concern for Ravens fans in Raiders territory.

"If [Ravens fans] are as exuberant as in Tennessee, they won't be in Tampa [site of the Super Bowl], because they won't get out of the stadium alive," Billick said. "I've tried to tell [our fans], you know, low profile here."

They have apparently listened. A large number of Ravens fans milled around the downtown area and the hotels last week in Nashville. Fewer of them are visible here.

So, to make up for what is expected to be a subdued day at the stadium, many Ravens fans who made the cross-country trip planned to meet in a bar across the Bay Bridge in San Francisco last night.

The festivities were to start at 11 p.m. (West Coast time) and serve as a mini-pep rally. With the increase in membership of the Silicon Valley Ravens fan club, which consisted of about five people during the season but has tripled during the playoffs, combined with the out-of-town Ravens fans, Meister expected enough of a crowd to turn the place into a purple palace.

If nothing else, last night's get-together would have served as a haven for Ravens fans who hope to be celebrating a Super Bowl berth by today's end.

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