s
s
Sections
We don't just cover the North Bay. We live here.
Did You Know? In the first 10 days of the North Bay fire, nearly 1.5 million people used their mobile devices to visit our sites.
Already a subscriber?
iPhone
Wow! You read a lot!
Reading enhances confidence, empathy, decision-making, and overall life satisfaction. Keep it up! Subscribe.
Already a subscriber?
iPhone
Oops, you're out of free articles.
Until next month, you can always look over someone's shoulder at the coffee shop.
Already a subscriber?
iPhone
We don't just cover the North Bay. We live here.
Did You Know? In the first 10 days of the North Bay fire, we posted 390 stories about the fire. And they were shared nearly 137,000 times.
Already a subscriber?
iPhone
Supporting the community that supports us.
Obviously you value quality local journalism. Thank you.
Already a subscriber?
iPhone
Oops, you're out of free articles.
We miss you already! (Subscriptions start at just 99 cents.)
Already a subscriber?
iPhone

Never saw it coming, what he said. Not at all. This was an interview about one man’s love and heartbreak for the Oakland Raiders. Not that David Carrillo had to say much. His office is a shrine to the team, with the 70 Raiders pictures hanging from the four walls surrounding the nine Raiders coffee mugs and drinking glasses, the five Raiders helmets, the four Raiders clocks, the two pair of infant Raiders baby shoes. All that was missing was a Raiders partridge in a Raiders pear tree.

Carrillo, a Cloverdale resident since 1987 who works as a material control manager for an air-brake manufacturer, had been filling his sentences with phrases like “they are like a family to me” and “they are an extension of who I am.” Tears were in his eyes. He was clutching the words before they came out, weighing their import. He was setting himself up for the courage to say the horrible, the unspeakable, the so incredibly tragic.

“My dad killed my mom when I was four months old,” Carrillo said.

The sentence hung silently in the air, inviting no response. Not like one could say, “And who’s your favorite Raider?”

Carrillo, 51, had his 22-year-old son, Isaac, with him. Both had moist eyes. The office walls disappeared. There was just That Sentence floating between us. Without saying so, I was begging David to say something. Anything. He did.

“That mother’s love,” Carrillo said, “I never had it.”

That family love, he never had it.

His dad went to prison, did his time, and was released. Killed again, went back again. Released again. The pattern repeated one more time and this time his father never left prison. He passed away a few years ago. Carrillo, 51, made a sour-apple face when asked if he had communicated with his father. Carrillo was sent from San Jose to Fresno to live with his grandparents. Emmet and Elma did their best to ease his pain, but sometimes it wasn’t enough.

“I’d hear a kid say he got into a fight with his mother because she was such a b----,” Carrillo said. “It would hit me really hard.”

His temperature would boil. Didn’t the kid know how lucky he was to have a mother? Carrillo would complete that question with a punch or two. “The last time, I was 15,” he said.

That’s when the Oakland Raiders came into his life. That’s when David Carrillo found someone to love. It was the ’70s. The Raiders were wild and reckless and daring and Carrillo plugged his emotions into the team, hard-wired he was to every injustice they suffered, every mountaintop they scaled.

The Raiders were his second skin. Carrillo felt good because they felt good. Every time they won, Carrillo took another step away from loneliness. The Raiders were outside the norm, not part of the good ol’ boy NFL owner network. That made them even more appealing to Carrillo. With no mother and a felon for a father, Carrillo had been outside the norm ever since he could remember.

“My passion (for the Raiders) definitely stemmed from that,” Carrillo said.

Carrillo poured his love into the Raiders. He’d take his annual vacation and go to the Raiders’ training camp in Napa. As a season ticket holder when they returned from Los Angeles in 1995, Carrillo’s favorite Raider is Marcus Allen. Carrillo thinks so much of the retired Hall of Fame running back that he named his four dogs and two birds “Marcus.” Of course, the dogs didn’t all exist at the same time. When one pit bull Marcus died, he was replaced by another pit bull Marcus (there was a Rottweiler in there). Same with the parakeet and cockatiel.

“I wanted to name one of my kids Marcus,” said Carrillo, who has five children, “but my wife wouldn’t let me.”

Among the 70 pictures, 25 are autographed. Some have a more special meaning than others — like the one former Cardinal Newman star Jerry Robinson signed for Carrillo. About 20 years ago, Carrillo’s car refused to start in a parking lot in front of an Albertson’s. Robinson came over and asked Carrillo if he would like a battery jump. Carrillo is convinced Robinson came over because Raiders stickers were plastered all over his car. Maybe his license plate gave it away — ME R8R.

And then March 27 happened. The NFL announced it approved the Raiders’ move to Las Vegas. On his office computer, Carrillo read the announcement. He stared at the screen. And then he went outside and cried. For 15 minutes, he guesses, he cried.

“I was numb,” he said. “It was surreal. I was hurt. I was angry. I felt betrayed by Mark Davis.”

He also felt offended. Days before the announcement, Carrillo received an email from the Raiders. He was offered the chance to renew his season tickets. Of course, his seats, 18 and 19 in Row 34, Section 110, were going to cost more. In 2016, it was $1,220 for a pair. In 2017, it would cost $1,640.

“The Raiders hadn’t raised their ticket prices in years,” Carrillo said. “With them possibly moving to Vegas, I knew it was a risk. I knew that. If I paid all at once, I would get playoff benefits. I paid them. I rolled the dice.”

Then the announcement. “I know where that money is going now,” he said. “It’s going into Mark Davis’ pockets. We’re not stupid!”

Davis, however, was treating this season ticket holder as stupid. Carrillo recently received another Raiders email — send us $100 and you’ll be considered for tickets in the new Las Vegas stadium that has yet to be built. Steam was tooting out his ears.

“That 100 bucks doesn’t guarantee you anything,” Carrillo said. His voice is loud now. It’s breaking a bit. The family he expended so much time and emotion was leaving him.

“I don’t know what to do with this emotion,” he said. “I have no release.”

How about a scream? Would that help?

“Not at all,” Carrillo said.

And if Mark Davis walked through your office door?

“I’m not a violent person,” Carrillo said, “but I’d deck him, to be honest with you.”

It’s not just that the Raiders gave him something to love, something to fill up the hole in his heart.

“When they played in Super Bowl XI, I was 11. When they played in Super Bowl XV, I was 15. Super Bowl XVIII, I was 18. Super Bowl XXXVII, I was 37. I can’t get away from it even if I tried.”

So when I asked Carrillo if he would be going to Vegas to see the Raiders, I might as well have asked him if he would take a bite from this tasty banana slug sandwich. He just shook his head.

“What really hurts,” said Carrillo, as his eyes became red and wet again, “is that Isaac won’t see them as I saw them for so many years as an adult. He loves the Raiders as much as I do. He’s not going to get that.”

Isaac and David Carrillo were looking at each other, tears streaking down their faces. I tried to meter down the emotion.

David and Julia are in their 34th year of marriage. They have five healthy children. They are an anchor in the community. People come by just to look at his office décor. He is well thought of by upper management. He has so much going for him.

“This is like losing a brother, or losing a sister, or losing a wife,” he said.

David Carrillo didn’t say it so I’ll say it for him. It’s like losing a mother.

To other people, that statement would be considered hyperbole.

To contact Bob Padecky, email him at bobpadecky@gmail.com.

Show Comment