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Las Vegan Flies Flag for Raider Nation

Las Vegan Flies Flag for Raider Nation

When the Raiders announced their relocation to Las Vegas, many around the country questioned if the team had any fans in Las Vegas. Let us introduce you to a proud Las Vegan and hardcore member of Raider Nation Leon Hamner.

The last time the Raiders and Chiefs squared off, longtime Las Vegan Leon Hamner “nearly jumped out of my clothes.”

A fan of the Silver and Black for a mere quarter of a century, Hamner wears his loyalty to Raider Nation on his sleeve.

And his truck.

With the Raiders, it’s not just about the football. It’s about family and sticking together and being one. That’s what I see the Raiders as. – Las Vegas Raider Fan Leon Hamner

Las Vegans might even unwittingly know of the 41-year-old former security worker and not realize it. He quarterbacks the fully-loaded 2005 Ford Explorer Sport Trac pickup that’s been turning heads throughout the Valley.

“It felt like a Christmas present,” Hamner said of official word the Raiders would become his hometown team in 2020. “Learning the Raiders were coming here was like a dream come true for me.”

In turn, Hamner put the pedal to the metal with production of a traveling shrine to trumpet the move.

Leon Hammer Las Vegas Raiders Report

Leon Hamner and his kids, Jonathan, 10, and Jennifer, 7, live and breathe Raiders football.

Born in Florida and an Idaho resident for a time, Hamner started watching football in the early 1990s in Texas, where his dad had turned him on to pro wrestling. Soon, Raider greats such as Howie Long and Marcus Allen KO’d Andre the Giant and Hulk Hogan in Hamner’s mind.

“As I got older and older, I started watching professional football and then saw the Raiders play and liked the colors, the symbol, everything about the team,” he said.

Hamner grew especially fond of the Raiders following Oakland’s 31-30 Week 7 victory that came after time had expired. The nationally televised Oct. 19 game almost certainly will provide the most memorable finish of the 2017.

Like the team’s $1.9 billion stadium construction off Russell Road, Hamner’s tribute truck remains a work in progress. Black rims, steering wheel and seat covers — you name it – are in his plans to complement the project he began about three years ago. He shifted into full gear upon the team’s announcement of its move here. His next major addition, he hopes, will be a black camper shell to enhance the overall viewing experience for family, friends and fellow fans.

“I can’t wait for the tailgating,” he said. “At first, I thought maybe too much detail, paint, too many stickers, too much stuff, would overdo it, but with the Raiders you can never overdo it,” he said.

Now the subject of cheers, snapshots and honking cars, Hamner confesses there’s been a fair share of “Raiders suck,” commentary, too.

“It’s a fun project,” he said. “When I started it, I didn’t think I’d get near the reaction I’ve gotten.”

Leon Hammer Las Vegas Raiders Report

Hammer’s Ford truck is a work in progress as he adds more Raiders decals to show his pride in the team.

Hamner said he’s anxious to visit the recently-opened Raider Image team store at Town Square to complete his shrine to the team. The store carries a wide selection of official team products, including jerseys, headwear, accessories and apparel. Hamner said he isn’t sure which player’s jersey he’d choose to wear.

“I’m not a fan of anyone specific,” he said. “I just watch the entire team. I just yell and get mad until we win. If we don’t win, I don’t give up on the team.”

Raider Nation undoubtedly experienced some defections following four straight losses that dropped Oakland from first to last in the AFC West. The Raiders have since ascended to a share of the division lead, making victory in Sunday’s rivalry game at Kansas City essential for a return to the playoffs.

Hamner said he would stand strong behind the team regardless of the outcome – maybe even add some large silver and black flags to the back of the cab.

“With the Raiders, it’s not just about the football,” he said. “It’s about family and sticking together and being one. That’s what I see the Raiders as.”

Former longtime Las Vegas Review-Journal Sports Editor Jim Fossum brings nearly 40 years of award-winning experience covering virtually every facet of print and digital journalism to Las Vegas Raiders Report. Fossum is the site's senior columnist and Editor-in-Chief Emeritus. Recently retired, the 1980 Northern Arizona University graduate began his 25-year Review-Journal career in January 1981 as tennis, golf and football beat writer. He was lead writer for the annual Alan King/Caesars Palace Tennis Classic, featuring Jimmy Connors, John McEnroe and Bjorn Borg; all three of Las Vegas’ major professional golf tour stops as a longtime member of the Golf Writers Association of America; and the celebrated “Randall Cunningham Era” of UNLV football. Also a copy editor and page designer who became R-J sports editor at age 33 shortly after covering UNLV in the 1991 Final Four, Fossum was named Nevada Sportswriter of the Year in 1998 by the National Sportscasters and Sportswriters Association. Winner of numerous writing awards from the Nevada Press Association, his reporting experience includes ringside coverage of several of boxing’s most anticipated world championship prize fights, including the highlight of his career -- the September 1981 world welterweight title bout between Thomas Hearns and Sugar Ray Leonard at Caesars Palace. Hall of Famers Arnold Palmer, Jack Nicklaus and Larry Bird are among the many superstars he has interviewed, in addition to helping document the careers of Las Vegans Andre Agassi and Greg Maddux. Honored with numerous community service awards from local charitable organizations such as the Muscular Dystrophy Association and the American Cancer Society, Fossum was cited in the late 1990s by the Southern Nevada Sports Hall of Fame for his contributions to local athletics. A longtime member of the Associated Press Sports Editors (APSE), he helped oversee the organization’s annual West Regional Convention for several years at various Las Vegas Strip resorts. He helped recruit APSE’s national convention to the MGM Grand in 2006 after annually attending weeklong seminars at many of the country’s largest and most respected major dailies. In 2005, he was honored with Lake Havasu High School’s Distinguished Alumni Award and delivered his alma mater’s Class of 2006 commencement speech 30 years after graduating. Review-Journal sports editor for 16 years, Fossum retired to the Oregon Coast at age 48 in January 2006. Most recently, he was founder/publisher/editor of OregonCoastSports.com (previously SportsLincolnCounty.com), an independent website dedicated to area youth. He also worked at two weekly community newspapers (Newport News-Times and Lincoln City News Guard) as section editor, reporter, photographer and page designer.

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