"Going to Oakland and quieting the Raider Nation is what it's all about in my book. That place is nuts," says veteran San Diego Chargers quarterback Doug Flutie.
"I love beating the Raiders," seconds Chargers defensive end Marcellus Wiley.
"Yeah, Oakland is one of the most anticipated games we play," says Steelers coach Cowher. "Their reputation precedes them, and beating the Raiders always carries a little more importance."
"The Raiders are everyone's rivals, no question," says Dolphins linebacker Zach Thomas.
Lincoln Kennedy, one of those beloved Raiders, sums up the intensity he feels each week: "When you're a Raider, you know everyone's gunning for you. That's exactly what I want as a professional - your absolute best effort every play," the hulking offensive lineman explains. "I'm not sure if it's our crowd, our great history, or just our reputation. Quite frankly, it's all of that and maybe something else. Whatever, it's a challenge I really love."
What's the most dreaded place to play in the NFL? We asked 25 players for their opinions on this touchy matter, and the winner - or loser, as the case may be - is Network Associate Coliseum in Oakland. Not that Oakland is a bad town. Actually, it's quite nice. But if you happen upon this stadium on Sundays during the fall, the Raider Nation transforms a rather pedestrian setting into a pit of hell for opponents.
"There's nothing like the Raider Nation," says Raiders offensive lineman Lincoln Kennedy. "You love the Nation as an athlete. These people are devoted to the silver and black and that makes you play all the harder for them. They rock the place each home game. It's pretty crazy. At times, they're so loud and so out of control that we have to settle them down because we can't even hear Rich [Gannon] call the signals."