Raider Nation: interview with Charles Ybarra a.k.a. Darth Raider

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.

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Charles Ybarra a.k.a. Darth Raider (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 Charles Ybarra, also known as Darth Raider

(NOTA: la versione in lingua italiana dell’intervista la trovate in questa pagina)

Raiders Italia: Who is Darth Raider in the “real life”?

Charles Ybarra: An Apple QA Engineer. I’ve been testing things such as Video games, Toys and apps for over 20 years. Apple is the peak of a pursuit of happiness! I’m also a big geek when it comes to Sci Fi, Comics and a sports nut. I love to work out like I’m trying to make the team every year (:

RI: How old are you and where do you live?

CY: 44 – when 900 years old you reach look as good you will not hmmm? (Yoda)
I live in Manteca, CA but will soon live in The Bay again in July to be closer to my job.

RI: When did you start dressing up as Darth Raider?

CY: A long time ago… In a galaxy far, far away… Er.. 1995… more than 20 years ago. I took over the duties of “Dark Raider Mike” an honorable man who dressed in the late 70s.

RI: Why did you choose the Darth Vader character?

CY: I chose Darth Raider because it was popular costume in the 70s found by Dark Raider Mike. He loved Star Wars, his Raider family and the grittiness of the legendary players. I still see him at our Tailgate and thank him for his approval. Love you, Dark Raider Mike!

RI: How long does it take to become Darth Raider?

CY: Not that long – 10-15 minutes tops (: Glad I don’t do make up!

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Charles Ybarra a.k.a. Darth Raider (Photo: Matthias Clamer/ESPN The Magazine – Edited by Raiders Italia)

RI: Given your strong passion for Raiders, did you ever have Darth Raider take on Charles’s place in real life?

CY: Hmm… I get ENERGETIC when it comes to Sports, in general (Watching OR Playing) I can be aggressive, loud, obnoxious and lit up like a Christmas tree… that sums up the Sith Lord.

RI: Can you explain what makes the Black Hole so special?

CY: They’re the most original, loyal, loud, angry, awesome, eccentric, tough and loving bunch people want to meet. They may look fierce on TV, but I’ve had the pleasure of meeting many of these kind souls, and nothing compares to their passion. That all being said, I’m located on the North side of the stadium – “The Dark Side.” The entire Coliseum has been labeled as “The Black Hole” too – it’s cool(:

RI: Is there another fan base that can be considered at the same level of the Raider Nation?

CY: If there is, I haven’t run across them.

RI: With the team’s move to Las Vegas now official, will the Black Hole vanish?

CY: We’ll see. I’d rather focus on the now.

RI: What is your fondest Raiders-related memory?

CY: After years of waiting, we finally won the 02-03 AFC Championship. I remember Tim Brown putting his head into his hands and was crying. I remember all of the players jumping up and down, hugging each other as the crowd cheered beautifully until their throats gave out.

RI: Who is your favorite player?

CY: That’s a tough one. I’ll say Jim Otto… Lincoln Kennedy is rising to the top though (he attends Tailgates!!!)

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Leonard, Charles and Ron Ybarra (Photo: Ron Ybarra)

RI: What do your family and friends think of your passion?

CY: My brother Leonard puts on a tailgate party before every game. The site is found here: thedarksidetailgate.com. So I “think” they like me! My family couldn’t possibly be prouder. This actually all comes from my Father – he was born and raised in Oakland.

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. What’s your take on this?

CY: This puts me and fellow others in a tough situation. I blame the NFL, the Politicians of Oakland and our Owner for the relocation. I understand people are angry, hurt and willing to quit… But I’ll still be on “The Dark Side” for the players. It’s not like they had any choice in the matter either…

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?

CY: The most passionate will be there. I foresee sellouts.

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?

CY: Fuck no.

RI: Do you know how many in the Black Hole have?

CY: I know two out of hundreds that will not be attending this season. I respect their opinions/ decisions as they respect mine.

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Oakland Raiders fans El Cucuy and Darth Vader in the parking lot tail gating before the game played on Nov. 3, 2013 against the Philadelphia Eagles at O.co Coliseum. (Photo: Robert Stanton/USA TODAY Sports)

RI: Will you still be a fan of the Raiders?

CY: Yes. I’ve lived for 44 years as a Raider fan. It’s hard to imagine me being anything else. I’ve also waited a lifetime for this QB and crew. It’d be a shame to bail now!!

RI: A coalition of Oakland Raiders fans and community officials have recently retained Attorney James W. Quinn (here the press release). Are you involved? What do you think about it?

CY: I’m not involved in the suit, but wish them all the best. I would love the city to retain the name, but only if a team was already in place. For now, I’ll enjoy enjoy my “Oakland Raiders” for as long as I can. I encourage everyone to do the same. If we’re going to go out, we might as well go out roaring, passionate and honored with the “O” sign held high one last fucking time.

RI: Will you travel to Las Vegas?

CY: Yes.

RI: Here in Italy there are often clashes between opposing fans, especially in soccer. Have you ever had any of these problems during Football matches?

CY: I’ve been caught up in a few shouting matches with Niner fans and some Cleveland fans, but nothing really brutal. Maybe they’re afraid of the Lightsaber…

RI: Are you happy with McKenzie’s choices in the last Draft?

CY: Well, he’s being doing a great job THIS far so I must respect our GM’s decisions. I still have no idea what we’re doing at Middle Linebacker.

RI: What are your expectations for the 2017 season? What can this team achieve?

CY: A Super Bowl win – plain and simple.

RI: What are, in your opinion, the strengths and weaknesses of the team? What are the remaining holes on the Raiders?

CY: We are LAST in sacks. Our secondary unit can give up way too many yards. Our Defensive Run Stoppers can use an upgrade. I believe Reggie addressed some of that in the Draft and in Free Agency. Strength? Have you seen our Offense lately? I believe Marshawn still has enough in the tank to be effective. We were one of the best Offenses in the NFL last year. Hopefully, we can continue being dominant in the years ahead.

RI: Marshawn Lynch came out of retirement to play for his hometown Raiders. what are your thoughts about this?

CY: This means more to the city of Oakland than anything. He is already perceived as a natural born leader and is the one of the main faces of the Organization. He also does great community work and is a great family man. It will be a great honor to watch him behind one this most fierce offensive lines in the NFL.

RI: Will the running game improve with him in the backfield?

CY: I can’t see why not?!?

RI: Is Jack Del Rio the coach who can lead the Raiders to a Super Bowl win?

CY: If you listen to the guy as much as I do, observe his philosophy and hear him in the locker room after games you’ll know he is the man responsible for bringing greatness back to our team. Sky and Space is the limit!

RI: Anything to add?

CY: Grazie for your interest! It’s a great honor to be interview by a beautiful county such as yours! It’s a great feeling knowing that our team is honored and recognized throughout the World! Much Respect!

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