Football players often use hyperbole to talk about the game they play. When it comes to the once-every-four-years encounter between the 49ers and Raiders, Oakland defensive lineman Justin Tuck used a term that hopefully won’t apply literally to the fans of the respective teams.
“I think the best thing for us now is to turn all of our attention and our focus to what lies ahead, and that’s this bloodbath that I think we’re about to have against the 49ers,” Tuck said earlier this week, via Scott Bair of CSNBayArea.com. “Big rivalry game. Everybody in this area has been waiting for this game for a long time. I think that’s the best thing that could have happened after a loss like that, is to have this type of game where all of your attention has to be focused on the 49ers going forward.”
They’ve been waiting a long time for the game because the 49ers and Raiders no longer play in the preseason. And they no longer play in the preseason because, all too often, something a lot like a bloodbath happened between the fans of the two teams.
The fans of the Raiders and 49ers haven’t been able to get along, with enough violence among them to prompt two teams that are as close as they can be to each other without sharing a stadium to not play each other until they have to under the NFL’s scheduling formula. The tipping point came in 2011, when the game between the two teams featured fights in the stands, a beating in a restroom, and a pair of shootings in a parking lot.
Here’s hoping that the fans behave on Sunday in Oakland, and that there’s more than enough security present to prevent Tuck’s colorful language from becoming prophetic.