Raiders fans are some of the most passionate fans in sports. They’re a colorful group. Members of the Raider Nation cheer loudly and wear silver and black outfits, but some of the most devoted Raiders fans take their fandom a step further dressing up in eccentric and intimidating costumes on game day. Many die-hard fans, especially in the famous fan section of the Oakland Coliseum known as the Black Hole, have created alter egos for their characters.
Ray Perez a.k.a. Dr. Death (Photo: Matthias Clamer/ESPN The Magazine – Edited by Raiders Italia)
Raiders Italia had the privilege to interview some of the most notorious Raiders fans. Today we are pleased to introduce you to Ray Perez, also known as Dr. Death.
(NOTA: la versione in lingua italiana dell’intervista la trovate in questa pagina)
Raiders Italia: Who is Dr. Death in the “real life”?
Ray Perez: My name is Raymond Perez Jr.
RI: How old are you, where do you live and what do you do for a living?
RP: I’m 29 years old born and raised in West Sacramento, raised on the island of Guam during my summers with my paternal grandparents. Graduated from Sacramento State with my Degree in Communications and I have a Public Relations background.
RI: When did you start dressing up as Dr. Death?
RP: I’ve always dressed up in face paint since I was a kid about 8 or 9 years old but I officially started dressing up as Dr. Death when I was about 21 years old.
RI: Why did you choose the name Dr. Death?
RP: I was watching ESPN when Jack Tatum passed away. They talked about the Soul Patrol and when I saw highlights of Skip Thomas I thought “Damn that dude was a bad ass”. Since then the name stuck.
RI: Given your strong passion for Raiders, did you ever have Dr. Death take on Ray’s place in real life?
RP: Interesting you ask this. One or the other never replaced the other, I was all in one. Dr. Death doesn’t define Ray but exemplifies who I am as a person. Even in my local community, people who didn’t know anything about football or the Raiders know I’m Dr. Death but not just because the way I dress but because of the causes I have taken on; not just from trying to save the Raiders but from the many charitable causes I was part of.
Ray Perez a.k.a. Dr. Death (Photo: Ray Perez)
RI: Can you explain what makes the Black Hole so special?
RP: Trying to describe this feeling in words doesn’t do the Black Hole justice. The Black Hole is an area of hard core fans that come from various backgrounds but share one common element, we are passionate misfits that take on our persona of renegades and being rowdy. If you’re an opposing fan, you hate coming to the Black Hole. It’s a sensational feeling you will NEVER get anywhere else.
RI: Is there another fan base that can be considered at the same level of the Raider Nation?
RP: There is nothing like the Raider Nation or let alone the Black Hole respectively. I’ve traveled to different stadiums and met different passionate fans; we are not better or worse, we are just different from other fan bases. The only other fan base that I think could be similar but I haven’t experienced it personally is Philadelphia. The stories I’ve heard from Philly is something else.
RI: The Raiders have received approval from the National Football League to relocate the franchise from Oakland to Las Vegas. For the second time Oakland will lose his football team. We feel for the Oakland’s fans, we understand the emotional implications of this move, but looking at this from afar it seemed that the Raiders had no choice, that it was impossible to find a viable solution in Oakland. We know you don’t agree with this line of thought. What’s your take on this?
RP: What I think? To put it bluntly this is the shittiest cop out by the Raiders organization. We don’t elect politicians to build multi billion dollar stadiums, we elect them to run the police departments and libraries. The City of Oakland doesn’t own the Raiders, Mark Davis does. In the last 30 years Oakland has gone through a plethora of politicians but one variable remained the same, the Davis family. In the last 5 years the City of Oakland has offered 3 different developers (Forest City, Colony Capital, and as of late Fortress Investment) and with that 2 proposals. How many proposals have the Raiders submitted to Oakland? ZERO. There’s a contention that the NFL wanted all 120 acres; ok where is their formal proposal to the city of Oakland outlining their plan to develop the Coliseum property if they were sold the Coliseum property at a fair market rate? The NFL NEVER gave a proposal; it’s pure hyperbole and crap. I implore ANY ONE to prove me wrong and show me this alleged formal proposal by the NFL to the City of Oakland and I’ll tweet it out myself.
RI: The team will play at least two more season in Oakland. Do you think that they will sell out every home game or the stands will be half empty?
RP: Of course they’ll sell out every game. Raider fans have gone through 14 years of losing, this fan base is desperate to experience a Super Bowl caliber team. Not to mention the dynamics to going to games and buying season tickets will be dramatically different once the Raiders move to Las Vegas.
RI: After the move was approved in March, Mark Davis offered to refund Raiders fans if they felt they didn’t want to keep their season tickets. Did you applied for this refund? Do you know how many in the Black Hole have?
RP: I got my refund immediately. I know several people that either got their refund or still bought their tickets and plan on reselling them on the secondary market to the opposing fans.
RI: With the team’s move to Las Vegas now official, will the Black Hole vanish?
RP: The Black Hole will NEVER BE THE SAME, NEVER. You can NEVER replicate what you had in Oakland. As far as the banner going to Las Vegas, that is up to the Black Hole president Rob Rivera.
RI: A coalition of Oakland Raiders fans and community officials have recently retained Attorney James W. Quinn (here the press release). What do you want to accomplish?
RP: Oakland Raider fans and the community of Oakland are not done fighting. We have retained with the help of donations, renowned attorney Jim Quinn. The Raider name was born in Oakland (Al Davis didn’t take over until a few years later) and we believe it should stay here. If Mark wants to take his football operations and call himself the Las Vegas Gamblers go right on ahead. The Raiders and Oakland are our culture we won’t stop fighting.
Eric Hochstadt, Councilmember Noel Gallo, James Quinn and Ray “Dr. Death” Perez. (Photo: Ray Perez)
RP: Oakland was screwed over by Mark Davis and the NFL. Instead of arguing over it in the court of public opinion we’ve retained the nation’s best attorney to prove it in the court of law. For the record attorneys don’t just take cases for a money grab, racking up loses loses them credibility and money in the long term. We’re Oakland, the city of under dogs.
RI: Should you not succeed in keeping the Raiders’ name in Oakland will you still be a fan?
RP: Absolutely not. I don’t know what Sin City Raiders is, I don’t relate to that. I only know about being a misfit and a renegade from the Oakland Raiders.
RI: Are you in touch with the other representatives of the Black Hole? What do you think of their choice to keep supporting the team? What do they think of your choice?
RP: It’s been the off season so I haven’t really had the chance to talk to friends from the Black Hole. Whatever people decide to do with their fandom, money or passion is their choice. I don’t walk a day in their shoes and they will never walk a day in mine, it’s not my place to judge anyone or anything. For the most part some disagree with me but they respect me, some feel the exact same way I do; disrespected and can’t stand Mark Davis and what the Raiders have become and now symbolize; disloyalty. There are passionate fans from around the country I’ve had the honor of meeting that have compassion for us here who just lost our beloved Raiders. The only thing I can do I respect what other people choose to do with their fandom. I’m only responsible for myself and what I have done as an Oakland Raider.
Oakland Raiders fan Ray Perez (Dr. Death) reacts before the game against the Philadelphia Eagles at O.co Coliseum on November 3, 2013. (Photo: Kirby Lee/USA TODAY Sports)
RI: Even if you decided to stop following the team we are sure that memories cannot be cancelled. What is your fondest Raiders-related memory?
RP: Ha man, the fondest memories is walking through the diverse culture of people and the smoke coming from the bbq’s and the variety of music from hip hop, rap, country, Mexican music and rock and meeting new friends and hugging friends I’ve known for years and seeing young children and our future generations, was a memory I experienced every home game you can never put a price tag on.
RI: Who was your favorite player?
RP: My favorite player growing up I remember always being proud he was a Raider because he wasn’t flamboyant he just played; Touchdown Timmy Brown, Mr. Raider.
RI: Thank you very much for your time, Ray! We love your passion and we really appreciate you sharing your thoughts with us.