Raider Nation: interview with John Silva a.k.a. El Cucuy

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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John Silva a.k.a. El Cucuy (Photo: Cary Edmondson/USA TODAY Sports – 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 John Silva, also known as El Cucuy

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

Raiders Italia: Who is El Cucuy in the “real life”?

John Silva: In real life El Cucuy is a 38 year old from San Jose living in Oakley. Aside from dressing up at Raiders games I’m a full time single parent of 1 son and work at Costco. Aside from working and being a father I put a good amount of time into stock trades and investments.

RI: When did you start dressing up as El Cucuy?

JS: I started dressing up in 2012. Most people don’t know this but my first appearance was actually at a Raider Nation take over of the San Jose Sabercats Arena football game. I chose the smaller event because of my social anxiety disorder. Knowing that most of the people around me were all people I’ve been tailgating with made me a lot more comfortable dressing up.

RI: How long does it take to become El Cucuy?

JS: You’d think over the years the amount of time would decrease in getting ready. It’s actually the exact opposite. Over the years my artist (who is also my aunt) has added some really intense detail to my face painting. Sometimes she makes little tweaks or adjustments to make sure I look as good as possible. Not including driving time it can take between 2.5-4 hours to get ready for a game.

RI: Given your strong passion for Raiders, did you ever have El Cucuy take on John’s place in real life?

JS: With or without the paint I’m the same person so my character has never taken my place in real life.

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John Silva a.k.a. El Cucuy (Photo: John Silva)

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

JS: The Black Hole is a special place because it’s so close to the field. Everyone is standing the entire game and you can just feel the energy and passion down there.

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

JS: I can’t really speak for other fan bases because I haven’t been there to experience what they feel. All I know is that Raider Nation is more than just love for the Raiders and I wouldn’t want to experience anything less.

RI: What is your fondest Raiders-related memory?

JS: Fondest Raider memory, off the field definitely the day I met Jim Otto for the first time… Mr. double 0 himself. Never did I ever imagine that I’d get a conversation with a legend. On the field recent memory had to be the 0-10 Raiders beating the Chiefs and Carr getting the first win of his career.

RI: Who is your favorite player?

JS: My favorite player has to be Jack Tatum. He played the game the way it’s supposed to be played. Hit hard and don’t apologize for your game play.

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

JS: My friends and family are extremely supportive of my passion. As I mentioned earlier my aunt paints my face. There’s times where she’s up at 4am to make sure I’m ready in time to tailgate. My parents and my son record the games to see if they catch me on TV.

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?

JS: As far as the Raiders not being able to get a deal done in Oakland who knows? I believe anything is possible and why give yourself a headache trying over something you have no control over.

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?

JS: I paid my season tickets in full and when the Raiders offered refunds for those who already paid I did not request a refund. In fact I picked up 2 more tickets for the season.

I don’t know of anyone who actually requested a refund. But to the person who did request a refund that allowed me to get 2 more seats thank you.

RI: Will you still be a fan of the Raiders? Will you travel to Las Vegas?

JS: Of course I’ll still be a fan, I placed my deposit for Vegas tickets less than 5 mins after I received a notification that we can place deposits. I’ll attend as many games as my budget will allow me to while in Vegas.

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El Cucuy and Storm Raider at the Coliseum (Photo by Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images)

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?

JS: I’m sure there’s clashes with other fans. I choose not to be part of that. Nothing wrong with a little fun and games but to get into it with opposing team fans is not what I’m into. The way I see it the players don’t get into clashes with other players off the field so why would some who doesn’t get paid (us fans) get into it with other non paid fans?

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

JS: I still think it’s early to have judgment on Reggie’s draft picks. Yes of course Carr, Mack, and Cooper were all great picks. When you draft high there’s a chance to draft a bust or a player who is often injured. I’ll wait until I see Joseph play a full season and how this year’s players work out over the next 2-3 years before I have an opinion on the quality of Reggie’s drafting.

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

JS: My expecting for 2017 is for the Raiders to be in every game. It’s a tough schedule and you never know what’s going to happen. I’d be more surprised if the Raiders went 12-4 than if they finished 10-6.

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

JS: The strength of this team is obviously in the offensive line. A strong OL leads to a strong running game and that opens up the passing game. All around I’m happy with the offense. Biggest area for concern is the middle linebacker position. A middle linebacker should be the defensive version of a quarterback being able to recognize what’s going on. Can you imagine an offense without a QB? Things could get ugly.

RI: Marshawn Lynch came out of retirement to play for his hometown Raiders. what are your thoughts about this? Will the running game improve with him in the backfield?

JS: My thoughts on Lynch coming out of retirement? That’s a whole lot of love. How many players get a chance to play for the town and the team they love? You can’t put a price tag on that. That’s a genuine love right there. With the #1 ranked offensive line in football you have to expect big things out of this running game.

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

JS: I feel Jack Del Rio can definitely be the guy to take the Raiders to the Super Bowl. He’s got the experience and control of the locker room to keep the team in line.

RI: Anything to add?

JS: Lastly I’ve lost 150 lbs and working on my blog going over my weight loss journey. Anyone who would like to check it out http://cucuyonline.blogspot.com

RI: Thank you very much for your time, John!

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