DeAndre Washington

Why jumping into Black Hole is so unforgettable for Raiders players

Why jumping into Black Hole is so unforgettable for Raiders players

Raiders running back Jalen Richard drifted into the left flat and caught a screen pass from quarterback Derek Carr a few yards from pay dirt. Three receivers were engaged and blocking well before him, allowing Richard to squiggle through traffic and into Oakland Coliseum’s southern end zone.

It was a big moment for the 2016 Raiders, looking to enhance playoff positioning with a Week 16 home win over Indianapolis. It was a big moment for Richard, an undrafted rookie who found himself a major contributor in a playoff push. He didn’t stop to celebrate with his teammates. No way, not after his first touchdown in the East Bay.

There was tradition to uphold. Richard made a beeline for the Black Hole.

“It was definitely planned,” Richard said. “I thought they looked like they were turnt up. Everybody was faded and having a blast. I knew I had to do it.”

It’s a rite of passage for Raiders skill players fortunate enough to score near a notoriously rabid fan section.

“Sometimes I plan on it, and other times it just happens,” Raiders running back DeAndre Washington said. “Once you get in the end zone, your adrenaline is going and you’ve got 60,000 people screaming for you to come get that love. They always embrace you. It’s one hell of a feeling. I would advise anybody who scores to try it at least once."

Jumping into the Black Hole isn’t new. Running back Napoleon Kaufman was first to do it in the mid-1990s -- the Raiders moved back to Oakland in 1995 -- as the Black Hole was established and growing in size and notoriety.

The tradition grew from there and has become commonplace when the Raiders break into the southern end zone. There’s one more guaranteed chance to do so Sunday against Jacksonville, the final Raiders game at Oakland Coliseum and maybe the Black Hole's last hurrah.

It’s not just rushers and receivers who can get in on the act.

Quarterback Jeff George took the leap in 1997. Edge rusher Khalil Mack and linebacker Sio Moore have partied in the crowd. Even 340-pound left tackle Donald Penn jumped into the Black Hole after scoring a big-man touchdown.

Former All-Pro fullback Marcel Reece never missed a chance to party with the fans who unwaveringly supported the Raiders during some lean years.

“Jumping in the Black Hole and celebrating with those fans, those loyalists, those people who bleed silver and black just like you do, it’s like being at Thanksgiving dinner with your family,” Reece said. “It’s that feeling where, no matter what else is going on, nothing else matters but that moment right there.

"The fact that you scored and gave them a reason to cheer is a feeling that’s like nothing else.”

There is some technique to it. You need a head of steam and decent hops to get over the stadium wall and into the crowd. It’s decently low, but folks have tried to get into the Black Hole and missed. It’s also important to jump up, turn around and go in backwards. The leap of faith will be rewarded by fans ready to catch you.

“You need a little bounce or you’ll get embarrassed,” Raiders running back DeAndre Washington said. “I’ve seen a few guys miss the leap, so you’ve got to be ready to get vertical. Even if you don’t make it, the fans will pull you up. You might get a little beer on you, but that’s part of the experience.”

There’s another aspect of the experience first-timers don’t expect. Getting in is easy. Getting out is another matter.

“Sometimes they don’t like to let you go,” Washington said. “And, if you get in there with the ball, it’s going to be a fight for sure. You have to protect it like you were still running.”

[RELATED: Sunday marks end of an era for longtime Black Hole residents]

The experience doesn’t last long. Teammates come running up quick, with offensive linemen ready to pull scorers out of the abyss. Beer stains come with it, but it’s a unique part of the Raiders playing experience.

“It’s like you’re a part of the Black Hole for a split second,” Richard said. “You jump up there and you just feed off of their energy. It’s pretty awesome.”

NFL rumors: Raiders could trade Jalen Richard or DeAndre Washington

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USATSI

NFL rumors: Raiders could trade Jalen Richard or DeAndre Washington

The Raiders already have been active before Tuesday's NFL trade deadline. Oakland sent cornerback Gareon Conley to Houston on Monday for a third-round draft pick, and general manager Mike Mayock likely isn't done making moves.

While the Raiders reportedly are interested in acquiring Jets wide receiver Robby Anderson, the Silver and Black also could continue to sell. NFL Media's Ian Rapoport listed Raiders running backs Jalen Richard and DeAndre Washington on Sunday as players who could be on the move.

Rookie running back Josh Jacobs has been carrying the load for the Raiders going into Sunday's matchup against the Texans. Jacobs has rushed for 554 yards on 109 carries. He is averaging 5.1 yards per carry, 92.3 rushing yards per game and has scored four touchdowns on the ground. 

Behind him, Richard and Washington haven't given opposing defenses too much to worry about. 

Washington, the Raiders' fifth-round pick from 2016, has 29 carries for 103 yards rushing and one touchdown. Richard is averaging more yards per carry than Washington -- 4.2 compared to 3.6 -- but has carried the ball only 13 times for 54 yards. 

Richard was a significant threat in the Raiders' passing game last season, but that is far from true one year later. He hauled in 68 receptions for 607 yards in 2018. This season, he has just nine receptions for 40 yards. 

[RELATED: AB agrees to give fan refund for buying his Raiders jersey]

Washington, known much more for his contributions carrying the ball than catching it, actually has more receiving yards than Richard this year. He one eight receptions for 65 yards. 

Jacobs is going nowhere, but one of his backups soon could be with a new team.

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Andre Iguodala thoroughly enjoyed Klay Thompson's halftime appearance

Andre Iguodala thoroughly enjoyed Klay Thompson's halftime appearance

There weren't many positives to take away from the Warriors' season opener. As they unveiled the brand new Chase Center in San Francisco, the Dubs were dropped by the Clippers, 141-122

At least there was a Klay Thompson sighting, though.

The Warriors' injured shooting guard addressed the crowd before the first regular-season game at the new arena. He also joined the TNT crew at halftime. 

Former Warriors swingman Andre Iguodala couldn't get enough of Klay's appearance. 

[RELATED: Iguodala retiring with Warriors 'virtual lock,' Stein says]

Even though he currently is on the Grizzlies after the Warriors traded him this past offseason, Iguodala is watching Golden State and the rest of the NBA from afar. The 2015 NBA Finals MVP is waiting for Memphis to either trade him or negotiate a contract buyout.

For now, though, Iguodala is playing the role of spectator. Clearly, he's keeping his eyes on his former teammates.