OAKLAND -- A charged-up Raider Nation encountered a beefed-up NFL security system for Monday night's season opener against the San Diego Chargers at O.co Coliseum.
And the end result was longer lines and tested patience for the sellout crowd but no obvious signs of fan rebellion. This season the NFL is requiring all teams to have a metal detection system in place at all entry gates. Raiders fans were encouraged to arrive two hours before kickoff to account for the extra security. Fans had to empty their pockets, have their bags searched and walk through a metal detector.
Clearly the enthusiasm for the opener trumped any inconvenience factor. Fans seemed to understand that all it takes is one disturbed fan to ruin everything.
"I think it's a really good idea, especially with the recent events in Colorado, and things like that going on," Sonia Louie of Sacramento said of the airport-style security. "You can never be too safe. Even thinking about 9-11, we're so close to that (anniversary date) also."
"It gives you somewhat of a peace of mind," Tommy McDonald of Madera said of the added security.
Monday's arriving crowd swelled to a throng as it converged on the stadium's north entrance about an hour before kickoff. Fans chanted "Raid-ers! Raid-ers!" and exchanged high-fives as they patiently awaited the screening.
"I have mixed views on it," said Kristina Hillman of Oakland of the new security system
"But when you're going to have such a large group of people. ... People are going to be drinking. People are going to be acting up. People take their teams very seriously. ... Drugs and alcohol, and all sorts of things can happen."
Raiders CEO Amy Trask said the Raiders' high-tech security system was phased in last year but this is the first year of full implementation. She said the Coliseum is the NFL's only stadium fully equipped with magnetometer security services at every entrance, and unlike at the airport you don't have to take off your belt, unless it's too gaudy, or shoes before you pass through.
Jeff Miller, the head of league security, said he's worked with Trask and the Raiders over the last four years, and "they've really done a good job of responding to fan-conduct-related recommendations" that the league has made, he said.
"One of the first games I worked when I came to the league was here, on a Monday night (in 2008), and it was a tough situation," Miller said. "I'll tell you what, each year they've made tremendous improvement and it's turned around significantly. A lot of that has to do with the assistance we get from the fans."
Even still, Trask asked the team's passionate fans to plan ahead on opening night.
"What we've explained to our fans: Look, the lines may be long if you all come at the same time," Trask said. "If 64,000 people showed up at the airport to get on some big old plane that carries 64,000 passengers, and they all arrive at the security lines at the same time there's going to be long lines."
Most of the fans didn't seem to mind the extra precautions.
"I think it's a good idea just because it's safer. That's the bottom line," said Art Gonzalez of Sacramento.