Tuesday, Oct. 2, 2018 | 6:40 p.m.
Around 400 Metro Police officers and staff lined up Tuesday to interact with players from the Golden Knights and the Oakland Raiders.
The meet and greet, which marked the first time the two teams coordinated players to appear at the same event, was put on to show the sports teams’ support for first responders, coinciding with the one-year mark of the Oct. 1 mass shootings. In addition to meeting the players, Metro employees were served lunch and received swag from the teams.
Despite the massive turnout by staff at Metro headquarters — where six Golden Knights players, three Raiders players, both teams' cheer squads and Chance the mascot posed for photos and signed autographs — the players said it should have been the other way around.
“They’re (Metro) the heroes,” said Deryk Engelland, Golden Knights defenseman. “We’re just playing a game … we’re just grateful to be able to come down here and meet these guys as well.”
Despite not calling Las Vegas home until 2020 when their 65,000-seat stadium is complete, Raiders players are very aware of what the first responders mean to the community, especially following last year’s attack.
“(They’re) Vegas’ heroes, you know, Vegas Strong,” said Marquel Lee, linebacker for the Raiders. “We support the movement in our new town here coming up. We’re glad to be here.”
Metro employees from various area commands were thankful to get out of work or come in on their day off to take part in the festivities. After a trying year and going through the somber one-year anniversary of the shooting Monday, the excitement was much needed.
“Between the Knights and the Raiders, it’s just been great that both teams are uniting the city so everybody has something to cheer for,” said Robert Chavez, Metro Police officer. “Over the last year, the way the Knights have supported us has been great. We support them and they support us; it’s amazing.”
Despite becoming a huge Knights fan like the majority of the valley last year, Chavez couldn’t stop grinning from meeting the Raiders in attendance. Growing up a lifelong fan of the silver and black, he said the team is doing it right by getting out in the community ahead of their arrival.
“That’s the way to do it. Prior to getting here, get to know the people,” he said. “Hopefully they can try to convert some fans here from other teams to join the Raider Nation. But it’s awesome to support two great teams.”
Engelland, who lived in Las Vegas before the joining the Golden Knights, knows how the city had been waiting for the arrival of major pro sports. That said, he still couldn’t believe an event was held featuring two major league pro sports teams that will soon both represent the valley.
“It’s amazing,” he said. “I’m looking forward to them getting here and watching some games.”