Nothing comes between Joe Shaw and his devotion to the Oakland Raiders. Not even the hair on his head.
Shaw has made a tradition of having his head shaved for the playoffs over the last three years and last Sunday finally came up as the big payday. He was sheared in front of his fellow Carson City Raiders Boosters Club members as they celebrated their team's Super Bowl clinching 41-24 victory against the Tennessee Titans in the AFC Championship game.
"Three years ago I said if the Raiders win the Super Bowl, you guys can shave my head and it's stuck," Shaw said. "The last couple of years, they'd shave my head right before the playoffs and we lost. So this year, I told them to wait until we get to the Super Bowl, then they could shave my head."
The honors were decided with a raffle ticket as part of the Raiders Boosters Club playoff party at Joe Bob's Chicken Roadhouse. And nobody was happier to see the Raiders advance into today's Super Bowl showdown against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers than Shaw, 40, a lifelong Carson City resident.
He sounded just like he belongs in the Raider Nation.
"Everybody thinks I'm losing a bet, but I'm not. I am just a loyal fan from hell," Shaw said. "I love my team. I grew up here, same town, same house, and I've stayed with the same team."
He well remembers the last time the Raiders played in the Super Bowl in 1984.
"That's a flashback," he said, laughing. "I was going through (Army) basic training at Fort Dix in New Jersey in '83. At least I can have a beer this time."
The Raiders were 38-9 victors over the Washington Redskins in that game on Jan. 22, 1984, ironically enough, in Tampa, Fla. The AFC didn't win another Super Bowl until the Denver Broncos in 1998.
"My drill sergeant in basic training was a Redskins fan. He says, I'll bet you 10 pushups for every point the Raiders lose by. We were almost out of basic training and he calls me in his office and does all those pushups. Then he says, 'Don't tell anyone I did this.'"
The 19-year wait makes today all the sweeter for the Raiders fans.
"My bosses, Jim (Chivers) and Larry (Marcom), are both Bronco fans," Shaw said. "We have a running bet, they play each other two times every year, and this year I cleaned up."
And what better matchup than the Raiders against their former coach, John Gruden.
"Al Davis planned this scheme out and I'm glad he did. He got a good deal. Eight million and four draft picks, and now, he's (Gruden) going to come back and he's going to be taunted by his old team. You wait," Shaw said. "Everyone gives Al Davis you know what, but the man's a genius. I don't understand how he does these deals.
"About three weeks ago, I saw that it was going to be possible. No. 1 defense, No. 1 offense, and the MVP quarterback."
So, who's going to win today. There was no need to ask the question.
"Raiders by 10 points, if not more," Shaw said. "Sam Adams, Bill Romanowski -- There's just going to be mayhem.
"And Gannon is going to be back there trading off -- 'Who wants it this time,'" he continued, imitating a quarterback throwing quick short passes."
Shaw is a fan who gives his all for the team. Well, to a point.
"They can't get anymore, they already have my hair. Just don't cut my eyebrows off," he said, laughing. "It grows back, grayer and grayer, each year."
Gray, or is that silver?