Saturday, May 28, 2022

Raiders’ Black Hole fan section co-founder Rob Rivera dies from COVID-19 complications

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One of the co-founders of the then-Oakland Raiders’ Black Hole fan section, Rob Rivera died from COVID-19 complications on Tuesday, per ESPN. Rivera — who founded the Black Hole in 1995 and began attending Raiders games with 18 other members in 1996 — was in his 50s. 

The Black Hole was located in sections 104-107 of the Oakland Coliseum’s southern end zone, but since the team’s 2020 move to Las Vegas it now resides in Allegiant Stadium’s southern end zone. Fans in the Black Hole are known for their menacing costumes and rowdy behavior. 

Radio host J.T. The Brick, whose real name is John Tournour, reminded his listeners how valuable Rivera was to Raiders fandom after the news of his death broke. 

“He is arguably the most important fan in Raiders history, building and growing the Black Hole in Oakland,” Tournour said on the air. “There’s a lot of guys who put on a costume, and no slight to them, but he was so proud of the Black Hole. He lived it.”

Rivera drew inspiration for the Black Hole from watching the Cleveland Browns’ Dawg Pound fan section on TV in the 90s, but told ESPN in 2019 he wanted to “do it on rabies.” 

The Black Hole has gone global since its humble beginnings in Oakland Coliseum’s section 105 a quarter century ago. Chapters of the Black Hole can now be found everywhere from Australia to Germany to Mexico.

Fans have seen the Raiders play at Allegiant Stadium only once — a captivating 33-27 overtime victory over the Baltimore Ravens in the 2021 season opener.

“The sad thing is he never got a chance to come to Vegas to see a game. He had plans to come out later this season and sit in my seats,” Tournour said. “But he passed away because of this awful pandemic, which should get everyone’s attention. If it can happen to Black Hole Rob, it can happen to anyone.”

Tournour is hosting a Rivera tribute show on Raider Nation Radio from 9-noon ET on Wednesday. 

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