“Raider Fans Are Unique; Outrage Over ESPN Sport Reporter Britt McHenry & a 2nd Incident Emerges; and My Own Run In With a Yahoo Reporter”

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“Raider Fans Are Unique; Outrage Over ESPN Sport Reporter Britt McHenry and a 2nd Incident Emerges; and My Own Run In With a Yahoo Reporter”

Raider fans are always there for each other.

From fundraisers, to support with tragedy, to straight up money. Over the years I’ve seen Raider fans do some amazing things for each other.  It’s just a special thing to be a member of the Oakland Raider family; some people will never understand it.  You may have a team but we have a family.

I remember speaking at a conference back east. I was invited to a fancy buffet and after dinner drink party that night with mostly people from the east coast including many from New York, especially Manhattan.

I’ve dealt with a lot of people from Manhattan and they can be rough.  (In fact this isnt a knock on New Yorkers; this could be anywhere in the U.S. really). I blocked a few on Facebook because they were embarrassingly arrogant and self absorbed.  You are seeing more and more people these days with this, “I’m better than everybody else complex”.  Paris Hilton would be proud.

Anyway, one of the doctors and his young female friends were talking about how amazing it was to be a New York Giants fan and how sophisticated the fans were. They asked me who I followed and I said I was a Raiders fan.   Many laughed and said, “don’t you feel uncomfortable rooting for a team that is so ghetto?”. I asked them what they meant and they said it seemed like most Raider fans were middle to lower class, vulgar and they belonged more in a burger joint than in a nice restaurant.

A lack of confidence has never been a weakness of mine so I laughed and said, “First of all I like a burger sometimes; especially with bacon; and second of all what’s wrong with good hard working people who love their families?”

I was kind of taken aback to be real. Many bragged about how rich they were and one even bragged about the Mercedes he just bought. I said that it was a pretty nice car and another young woman quipped, I have one too. I said, “you have one too?”. She laughed and said, “doesn’t everyone?”.

It made me realize that there really is a class warfare going on in our society. It also reminded me why I’ve always enjoyed the diversity in the Oakland Raiders fan base. No fan base has as many different people than the Oakland Raiders.  It doesn’t matter what color you are, or how much money you have, because we all are on the same team. You may think that’s the norm but it’s not.

I remember also at the convention that one of the nurses that bragged about her Mercedes wanted to get together after the last night of the convention. I told her that I didn’t think it was a good idea for a sophisticated Giants fan from Manhattan to be seen with a ghetto low life Raider fan. She laughed. I didn’t.

I’ve been to many games in many cities and its shocking. In some stadiums you can count the minorities in the stands with two hands.  Many stadiums cater to the rich and they’ve priced out middle class fans and especially poorer ones.

On Monday night I remember being at a store at 11:30 pm. I was exhausted from work and was going in to get some snacks and I saw a woman broken down in an old truck. She had two Raider stickers in the back of her cab.  I could see people avoiding her so they wouldn’t have to help her. No one parked near her. She was near tears and was with a kid. I walked up to her and asked what was the problem and she said her battery was dead. I have a starter in my car (an amazing purchase that everyone should have) and I said I’d start the car. In a few seconds we started her car. When she offered me some money I refused and I smiled and winked and said Raider fans need to stick together.  She just started laughing and said Go Raiders!

As a Raider fan I was taught to respect everyone. Doesn’t matter who they are, what color they are or how much money they have. That’s why yesterdays narcissistic rant by ESPN reporter Britt McHenry berating a tow truck employee was so vile. Funny thing is this wasn’t her first rant and she’s still in her 20’s.  More later.

McHenry is the classic new hire you see at ESPN. She’s a very pretty and educated person, who loves the sound of her own voice and loves getting any and all attention she can get, especially from men.   The classic eye candy that ESPN has gone to. At Fox news I think being blond and pretty is in the job description so they are following suit.  Obviously I’m sure she’s had a lot of breaks and a lot of people helping her along the way.

I remember a local reporter being hired by ESPN. She said instead of being trained on how to do a broadcast or interview, she spent the first two weeks of her employment……GETTING A MAKEOVER!   They dyed her hair blonder and gave her highlights. They told her how to dress and how they were going to do her makeup and she looked different. Much more sexier than she was used to, but it was the NEW ESPN that has shown up in the past 5 years.   Look at all the anchors. Some even wear dresses that you see in clubs.

McHenry I’m sure is used to doing whatever she wants in life. She’s obviously very pretty and these days men practically are holding themselves when they see a pretty girl. Watching men stare down women and lose their minds over a pretty face makes me embarrassed to be a man sometimes.  Women begging for attention and men giving it.  A study last year even showed women who are very pretty or big chested, get better paying jobs.  It’s amazing.  Stay classy.

She is like a lot of tv personalities in that they do google and twitter searches on themselves so they can read what people say about them. Well she read a blog with a young female lawyer who was trying to stick up for women, saying that women should be hired for their talents on television and not their looks. For some reason, the clueless McHenry attacked the woman.   She said she was a model, got a masters in 3 years and was pretty much all that. She again, began to berate the woman saying she was pretty much a jealous low life and that perfect women like Britt did exist.

http://incidentaljustice.blogspot.com/2015/03/i-was-attacked-by-espn-reporter-for.html

Britt McHenry is a part of a big problem at ESPN, sports, and our country. People thinking they are just better than others.   When you think you are better, you lose all compassion for that person.  Britt McHenry was not losing it; she just was showing who she really was. It looked like she left her car there overnight after a date or whatever; and they towed the car.  To bully and cut down another human being acting like you are so much better than she is was atrocious. The second you think you are better than someone, you lose all respect and empathy for them.  Other female reporters are coming out saying McHenry loves to play the,”I’m on ESPN and I’m more important than you are” card an awful lot.

Bill Simmons, the famous reporter stated that the NFL brass and commissioner Roger Goodell lied about the Ray Rice situation. He was right; they did lie. They changed their story 3 times and if it wasn’t for TMZ sports, nothing would have ever happened.

The NFL didn’t like that. A call was made to ESPN and Simmons was suspended for 3 weeks; FOR TELLING THE TRUTH. Britt McHenry was suspended for a week for berating another human being like she was a desperate housewives reality show participant, and the tow company attendant was one of her servants.

ESPN has greatly changed like much of our society unfortunately. The shallowness and pettiness of people is beyond measure.   You see people losing their lives over petty arguments due to adults who can’t control their temper. You see the nastiness online with many vile comments when someone is suicidal and the bullying is still a huge problem online and every where else.

Athletes get passes and excuses from fans for terrible crimes against women because they can play a sport; and celebrities can pretty much do what they want knowing that the courts and society will support them because they are good looking and famous.   It’s sheer madness.

McHenry is a narcissistic bully. She’s gotten by in life due to a pretty face and a killer smile which in today’s society will get you far; very far. That or sex tapes. Ask Kim Kardashian.

I had my run in with a very pretty Yahoo tv sports personality last year. I forget her name but she does the Yahoo fantasy sports.   Sometimes she dresses like she’s going to a club, and once on air I saw her twirling her hair……TWIRLING HER HAIR!

She did a story on a poor young Russian athlete who broke her back and was paralyzed.   The girls friends and family were heartbroken.  During the report for some reason she kept giggling. On twitter people ripped on her and couldn’t believe it. I tweeted her and told her that she just needed to be more professional when telling a sad story; television journalism 101 really. She wrote me back that she was a beautiful person inside and out and that people loved her. She shouldn’t have done that because the twitterverse steam rolled her.

To her credit she apologized for her actions after dozens of people blasted her. She said she realized it was unprofessional and that she needed to think about the stories she was doing and not just read them.   I appreciated her apology but wow; it took people on twitter to teach her that?

Britt McHenry is not going to change. That is who she is. But in my world neither will I. I will continue to respect everyone. One of my famous sayings that I use in speaking is “treat the janitors as good as the CEO’s”. If that is what being a ghetto Raider fan is, then I’m proud to be a part of the hood.

“Bored With the Same Old 1st Round Talk? Let’s Look at NFL PIcks Rounds 2-7 For The Raiders”

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Are you bored with the 100000th, “do the Raiders take White, Cooper or Williams” post? Me too.

Now let’s look outside the box at the later rounds, and the players that I like to possibly help the Oakland Raiders quickly.  The emphasis on wide receiver and defensive end positions are up first.

WIDE RECEIVERS:

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Devin Smith, WR Ohio St. (round 2)

I LOVE Devin Smith and he was born to be a Raider. he has a little swagger to his game and he backs it up. The knock on him is that he’s a little short at 6′ 0″. He has amazing football speed and this guy is a big playmaker who played his best games in the biggest games.

Some of the NFL sites actually have a video of his Michigan St. game highlights which should be a teaching video on how to play college WR. Huge blocks on clutch running plays; over the shoulder catches on third downs and taking hits over the middle. He’s ultra fast with NFL speed. He has that rare talent like Cliff Branch did of not losing speed when he makes cuts.

Rumors in Boston have the Patriots drooling over him and they are thinking of taking him in the first round. If not he should be there for the Raiders for an early 2nd round pick.   Leonard Williams and Smith would be an amazing start to the draft.

He reminds me a lot of ex Carolina Panthers WR Steve Smith, but he’s bigger.  Tough as nails, and a skilled playmaker willing to do anything to win.

Jaelen Strong, WR Arizona St. (Round 1)

This is a well known name for most and if the Raiders trade down; which I doubt they will because they never do; this would be a great pick. Strong has stud pro player written all over him. Some think he’s the best WR in the draft.  I don’t think he’ll be a Raider.

"Georgia vs. Arkansas"

Chris Conley, WR Georgia (Round 4)

A speedster who is a freakish athlete. He’s 6′ 2″ 210 and some feel he needs to add a little bulk and strength. He’s a playmaker that may be a better pro than college player.

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Tre McBride, WR William & Mary (Round 3)

I saw many announcers compare him to Pierre Garcon. He’s got amazing instinct and football savvy and rarely makes mistakes. He plays best under pressure and he is a very smart player. He always got the first down when they needed one. I saw him twice and he was obviously the best player on the field. Fast enough for the pro’s but not a track star. Teams really like him.

NCAA Football: Orange Bowl-Mississippi State vs Georgia Tech

Darren Waller, WR Georgia Tech (4-5 round)

Waller is huge at 6′ 5″ 240 pounds and is a great athlete who ran a 4.45 40 yard dash. The knock on him is no one knows how good he is. Georgia Tech runs the flexbone offense which is a lot like the wishbone; thus they rarely pass. When they did though, Waller thrived. He could be the steal of the draft.

DEFENSIVE LINE:

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Marcus Hardison, DT Arizona St. (3rd round)

I LOVE watching this guy play. He was everywhere. He’s a late bloomer and has been soaring up the ladder in the draft. His numbers last year were ridiculous; 53 tackles, 15 tackles for losses and 10 sacks with 6 forced turnovers. No one in college had those numbers.

He’s big; 6′ 3″ and 310 but he’s quick as a cat. He’s not as strong as his size though and that is the knock on him.   If the Raiders reached and took him in the second round I would still call it a good pick. I think this guys best football is ahead of him and he is just scratching the surface as an inside rusher.

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Alvin Dupree, DE Kentucky (1-2nd Round) 

If you follow college football, you know how good this guy is. Playing in the SEC he still stood out and is a great edge pass rusher that will be better in the pro’s. Kentucky often asked him to drop back in coverage due to the Wildcats bad defense, at 6′ 4″ and 270 lb. and he even did that well.

He’s savvy, and has many different moves. The only knock on him is that he needs to get a little stronger. I think #4 may be too early to take him and he won’t last into the 2nd round so the Raiders may not get the chance to take him.

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Danielle Hunter, DE LSU (2nd round)

Danielle Hunter will be a massive hit or a big miss in my opinion. Is he an NFL combine warrior or a football player.   He is another freakish athlete who wreaked havoc in the SEC with his edge pass rushing skills. He’s long and lean and will have to put on a little weight.

He’s raw but has all the skills to make it as a 3 down defensive end. He caused many hurries and had 14 tackles for losses his last year and played the run very well. His sack numbers are not high but most feel it’s because of the double teams. They also look at the hurries and high tackles for losses. If this guy gets good teaching, he could be special. Reminds me of Jason Pierre-Paul. Will he be Mario Williams, or Vernon Gholston.

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Henry Anderson, DL/DE Stanford (3-4th round)

A tall player at 6′ 6″ and 295 pounds, who has good strength and speed as a pass rusher. He has solid technique as well. The knock on him is that he’s not a freakish athlete like some of the other DE’s but he’s a sleeper. Look for him to do well in the pro’s as do many of the lineman at Stanford.

RUNNING BACK:

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Tevon Coleman, RB Indiana (2nd round)

If the Raiders do draft a running back; which I don’t think they will early on; Coleman would be a stud. He ran for 2000 yards last year and had an amazing 7.5 yards per carry average. He was the Hoosiers offense. Reminds some of Demarco Murray.

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David Cobb, RB Minnesota (3-4th Round)

Cobb is the clone of Marion Barber. Physical, tough, and a good finisher. He’s fast enough to make long runs but isn’t a burner. He was made for the NFL power running game.

TIGHT END:

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Blake Bell, TE Oklahoma (4-5th round)

At Oklahoma, Blake Bell was known for his famous quarterback power runs called the Belldozer. He played quarterback for 2 years but switched to tight end his senior year knowing he couldn’t make it in the NFL as a QB. He’s huge; 6′ 6″ 250 pounds; and is very physical. He’s a good blocker and has great instinct and good hands.   The knock on him is he doesn’t have much experience at tight end but look for his stock to rise.

Offensive Line:

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TCU OT Tayo Fabuluje, G/T TCU (6-7th round)

Try saying this name kids. He is massive; 6′ 6″ 365 pounds. Tayo was born in Nigeria and moved to Texas in high school. He’s only played football in college for two years but wow, was he good at TCU. He demolished people blocking in the run game but needs polish in the passing game.

He’s still raw. The bad rap on him is his lack of experience, weight fluctuations and transferring schools in college 3 times. He is a project that may pay huge dividends for a patient team.

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Andrew Donnal, T Iowa (4-6th round)

Iowa head coach Kirk Ferentz is one of the most popular people with NFL teams and coaches. No one does a better job at teaching offensive line technique than Ferentz and his coaching staff. Donnal played in the shadow of probable top 10 pick, Tackle Brandon Scherff.

He’s not a great athlete but he is a sound tactician who has good size.   He did not give up a sack his senior season as a starter. Some teams frowned on him because he was not as strong as he should be but he’s worked on that and improved his weight lifting numbers in the NFL combines and looks stronger.   Some want more athleticism but others are very high on Donnal being a pro starter thus the difference in draft position.

Players I’m NOT Into:

Randy Gregory, DE Nebraska (1st Round)

In last years preview I stated how Jadeveon Clowney would not be the second coming everyone thought he’d be. Injuries again happened to him but I still think he’s never going to be a great player in the pro’s. Teams in college realized that if you run right at him, he would stand up and struggle. I think the same about Randy Gregory.

Forget the pot conviction, I’m talking football.   In the last 3 games he played for the Cornhuskers, the defense gave up an unreal 1058 yards rushing; again, that’s just in 3 games! Wisconsin alone ran for 583 yards and had two plays; run off left tackle and run off right tackle. Guess who one of these ends was that they ran through. Gregory is a freakish athlete that the NFL combines LOVE but against the run he’s atrocious at times because he stands up so often. He’s very raw and is a project.

Jameis Winston, QB Florida St. (1st Round)

Winston is a winner for sure but he also plays in a bad conference. One thing the scouts don’t talk about is that Florida St. and Winston struggled a lot last year. If teams took away the run, Winston had problems moving the team when they had to pass. I think Winston is better made for the pro’s because of his accuracy but his immaturity and arrogance at times is a bit much. I’d be afraid of putting my billion dollar corporation in the hands of such a guy.   He may be alright but I don’t see greatness in him.

Owamagbe Odighizuwa, DE/OLB UCLA   (1st/2nd round)

I admit, I’m a baby bear, go Bruins, all that rah rah stuff but I’m also honest. Owamagbe is a physical specimen but he’s also inconsistent. Some games he disappears and that isn’t what first round picks are supposed to do.

Brent Hurley, QB UCLA (3rd Round)

Another Bruin makes the list. He’s an athlete playing QB and he isn’t a pro quarterback. He’s uncomfortable in the pocket and has poor mechanics.

“What Does the Signing of Michael Crabtree Do To the Raiders Draft & What They May Not Be Telling Their Fans”

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“What Does the Signing of Michael Crabtree Do To the Oakland Raiders Draft”

Michael Crabtree was signed by the Raiders for a one year 3 million dollar deal with various incentives.  It makes for an interesting turn in the direction that the Raiders may go.

Raiders Needs:

When the Raiders started the free agency period, these were their top 4 needs:

  1. A fast #1 Wide Receiver
  2. 1-2 pass rushers to fix the 31st ranked pass rush
  3. Run Stopping DL
  4. Run Stopping MLB

So far in free agency the Raiders have solved the #3 and #4 problem by shoring up their run defense.  A fast #1 WR and the 1-2 pass rushers; which were their biggest needs; are still an issue.  That’s a lot to fix in one draft.  Let’s look at the puzzle further to look into what is happening and what may happen.

First the Pro’s; Why Crabtree Makes Sense

I have to be honest; I really like him.  He’s a great talent who hasn’t had his best games I think.  How the Raiders picked DHB over him is still a head scratcher.  (oh those fast 40 times at the NFL combines that Al Davis loved so much).  Crabtree and the 49ers passing game were limited due to their quarterback situation and their philosophy which was a power running, grind them out offense.  He also played last year after a horrendous Achilles heel injury and many think he’s finally healthy.

I’m sure the Raiders see him as a starting WR at a great price.  They also see in him as a player that makes key plays when they are needed as was seen in the 49ers Super Bowl run.  He’s also tough; many felt he wasn’t healthy all year last year but he insisted on playing the entire season.

The Cons: Why Crabtree Doesn’t Make Sense

With Today’s medical advances, coming back from a severe knee injury is doable. Coming back from a severe achilles heel injury as a wide receiver is rough.  Few regain their speed and agility so Crabtree’s true health remains to be seen until he gets on the field.  The Raiders pretty much have the worst pass rush in football and they’ve done nothing to help it.  It was a major reason they won only 3 games.  Why put so much into Wide Receivers when you can’t win in today’s NFL without a pass rush?

Detractors will also point out to his terrible year last year with 10 drops; some pretty bad ones.  It was obvious his head wasn’t in the game at times.  He also was the rumored leak to Deion Sanders talking about the dissension with Jim Harbaugh as coach, which he vehemently denied.

Bad Attitude?:

Others will talk about his bad attitude, but I laugh at that.  Jerry Rice was a diva personified at San Francisco.  Rice told the press Steve Young’s passes were hard to catch and he would never be Joe Montana.  He also went off in the press because he needed more passes thrown to him; even though he led the league in catches.

Terrell Owens played brilliantly while injured in the Super Bowl on the way to throwing his quarterback under the bus.  Dez Bryant’s temper tantrums on the sidelines and off the field dramas are all but forgotten now that he’s one of the best in the NFL.  NFL Wide Receivers are the blond headed cheerleaders that you saw in the movie Bring It On.

What Does This Do To The Draft:

First of all, no, the Raiders are not going to trade down.  Name all the time’s that they have done that. (crickets)

Also, if the Raiders brass said that they hate ice cream, I’d bet a million dollars that they’d be having hot fudge sundaes at Hooters that night.  DON’T BELIEVE WHAT TEAMS SAY!  Name all of the football teams that are going to run to the press and announce their plans and all that they are thinking.  The only ones that lie more than NFL teams are politicians!

If USC defensive lineman Leonard Williams is there, I think the Raiders pick him because their pass rush was atrocious last year but the Raiders have made some crazy choices in the past so nothing is for sure.

Devin Smith the WR out of Ohio St. will be there in the second round (The Patriots are supposedly into him so he may go late first round) and he’s a stud.  A bigger clone of ex Panther great Steve Smith, this guy had his biggest games against the best competition.  Tough as nails, brash and he has track speed.  He has that rare talent of not losing speed when he cuts.  If you look at old clips, Cliff Branch had that rare talent too.  Separation when they cut; I love Smith.

What the Raiders May Not Be Telling the Fans:   

I said it in a previous article; I think the Raiders may have a two year plan but there was NO WAY that they were going to make that public because of all the years of losing.

If they choose a wide receiver #1 this year, I get it.  Next years draft has at least 6 really good pass rushers, and possibly up to 9.  They are young and are on the verge of really getting good.  I can see the Raiders filling in holes this year, and going for broke in the draft and free agency next year to finalize their pass rush.

Can you imagine the outrage on social media if the Reggie McKenzie came out and said we are looking for a 2 year plan to get good?  If you thought people were wild now. In reality though I think they realize they need another good draft and signings to get the team that they envisioned.

Guarded Optimism:

For fans that pick playoffs and Super Bowl for the Raiders every year, they may FINALLY be right, but it may take a year.  I think a .500 season is realistic but thinking you can fix a terrible pass rush with a second or third round draft pick is naive at best.  I think the Raiders had many holes to fill and they’ve done a good job at filling most of them.  I think they are a year away from really filling them in the way that they want to and being a playoff contender.  Until you do it on the field and win, talk is cheap.

People also need to keep in mind that rookie wide receivers usually struggle some in their first year.  It takes time for them to evolve, even in today’s pass happy world where defenses can’t touch them.

In today’s NFL especially, if you don’t have a pass rush, you can’t win.  No way will you get to the next level if you can’t rush the quarterback and stop the run.  The run defense looks fixed but the pass rush still needs to be addressed.  Fans may need to have a little more patience for the Raiders to become a playoff team again though.  We’ll know for sure after the post draft signings what the team looks like.  It should be fun to watch.

     

“The Passing of an Oakland Raider’s Legend; Defensive Icon Charlie Sumner Dies; Tom Flores Comments”

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“They handed us our asses on a tray and the tray was bent.”

Washington Quarterback Joe Theisman after Super Bowl XVIII loss to the Raiders 38-9.

 

Official Statement of the Oakland Raiders on the passing of Charlie Sumner.

“The Raiders are deeply saddened by the news of Charlie Sumner’s passing. Charlie was an esteemed part of the Raider family and was instrumental in some of the Silver and Black’s greatest triumphs. Our deepest sympathies are with Charlie’s Family at this time”.

“I remember Matt Millen going ballistic yelling at Charlie not to take him out because they couldn’t handle him. Two minutes later I look over and Matt is hoisting up Charlie screaming with joy.”

Raider Coach Tom Flores

 

Here is a great video showing Matt Millen lifting Charlie Sumner.  NFL films also doing a quick tribute to the Raiders Super Bowl team

http://www.raiders.com/news/article-1/Raiders-Statement-on-Passing-of-Charlie-Sumner/095ae53c-c10a-4650-b740-2469f29e35a4

 

“Charlie had a great overview of the whole picture.   He worked on drills and techniques, but his overall input on game day was what I thought was most impressive.  He was unique in that he could find a weakness in an offense and attack it.  He gave players the opportunity to succeed and the hopes were that they’d get it done.  Players loved to play for him and they knew they’d always be supported and prepared.”

Raiders Coach Tom Flores

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Howie Long and Ted Hendricks thanked him in their Hall of Fame acceptance speeches. Raider coaches and players swore by him, and the NFL hated to go against him. Al Davis and Ron Wolf smiled whenever they talked about him.

Another icon in the family of the Oakland Raiders is gone with the passing this weekend of the great Charlie Sumner at the age of 84. His son Colin announced that he had passed away in Maui due to complications from Gall Bladder surgery.  He was a player and a coach who like Ron Wolf always wanted to stay in the background.

In my sports writing, I always try to honor and respect those successful people that many of us may not know.   I think for the most part, Oakland Raider fans do too. I LOVED getting dozens of direct messages on twitter from young Raider fans thanking me for telling them about Ron Wolf. Wolf is now in the hall of fame. I hope that I can do that for Charlie Sumner as well.

The word great is thrown around way too much these days. In regards to true greatness, the Mt. Rushmore of Oakland Raiders leadership was one of the greatest in the history of the game.   You had John Madden; the ultimate motivator and players coach. You had Charlie Sumner, a genius in game management and game preparation. There was Ron Wolf, who was probably the greatest evaluator of talent in the history of the NFL. Then you had Al Davis, the amazing leader who demanded excellence and loyalty, and is in the top 5 most important figures in NFL history.  Three hall of famers and another with hall of fame talent.

Al Davis and Ron Wolf said it constantly in regards to their defensive philosophy; the quarterback must go down and go down hard. Charlie Sumner was more than happy to accommodate them.

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The offensive players in most Super Bowls get all of the attention but in reality if you look at the Raiders 3 Super Bowl wins, their defenses dominated and harassed some great offensive teams and quarterbacks. For two of those Super Bowls; and for many years; the leader of the defense was the great Charlie Sumner.

Sumner started his coaching career when Al Davis came to Oakland in 1963.   He began as the defensive backs coach.   He then went to Pittsburgh and was one of the coaches that helped start the Steel Curtain era. He was fast becoming a hot commodity in coaching and the lowly New England Patriots called him to run their defense.

Within 2 years the Patriots defense greatly improved and they had their first non losing season in 8 years. Within 3 years of Sumner arriving, the Patriots were in the playoffs for the first time in over a decade and they lost a controversial game in Oakland against the Raiders. Mike Haynes who became a star with New England, has given a lot of credit to Charlie Sumner helping him to become a good player. The Patriots were big and physical.

He returned to Oakland and he continued to show a cerebral approach off the field, and a physical one on it. He helped lead an amazing run in 1980 that lead to a Super Bowl win; the first Super Bowl title for any Wild Card team.

At times the Raiders offense struggled that year and the defense kept them in the games that they did. It was during a high scoring era with the San Diego Chargers “Air Coryell” attack leading the way with an electric and explosive offense. The Raiders found ways to win though.

In the playoffs the Raiders stunned the NFL by beating the upstart Cleveland Browns “Cardiac Kids” in a frigid game 14-12. The game was saved by an amazing interception by Mike Davis. “River City” Sam Rutigliano was the Cleveland Browns coach and he was known for taking risks. Sumner had anticipated this and had the defensive backfield play up; ready for the pass; just in case the Browns decided to throw the ball.

The next week the Raiders stunned the NFL again by beating the heavily favored San Diego Chargers 34-27 in San Diego, in what is probably the Chargers greatest team in their proud history. The Raiders seemed destined to win early. On their first drive Jim Plunkett threw a probable interception that bounced off a Chargers players hands and right into the hands of Raiders tight end Raymond Chester who happily coasted to a 65 yard touchdown. The Raiders defense held the mighty Chargers to only 3 fourth quarter points for a 34-27 win.

In the Super Bowl against Philadelphia, the Raiders again were an underdog by 4 points against a very physical Eagles team that had dominated the Raiders and quarterback Jim Plunkett earlier in the year with a 10-7 victory in the city of brotherly love.

In the Super Bowl, the offense was good but the defense was better. Sumner began mixing occasional blitzes and putting pressure on Eagles quarterback Ron Jaworski. The Raiders pass rush made Ron Jaworski rush many throws and the vaunted Eagles running game with Wilbert Montgomery was stifled to an amazing 69 total yards as a team.

Rod Martin had the greatest defensive game in the history of the Super Bowl with 3 amazing interceptions. Charlie Sumner’s defense was so dominating, the Raiders won 27-10 with Plunkett only completing 13 passes in 21 attempts. Two touchdowns to Cliff Branch sealed the win.

Charlie Sumner’s shining moment was in Super Bowl XVIII. The Raiders were playing the highest scoring offense in the history of the NFL up to that time in Washington. The Raiders had lost to them @ RFK Stadium in week 5 by a score of 37-35 in a classic thriller.

Washington was first listed as an amazing 10 point favorite and many said the Super Bowl was actually played the week before. They had beaten Joe Montana and the San Francisco 49ers @ RFK to win the NFC title game. Most felt they would handle the Raiders fairly easily and if they did, they would be the GREATEST team in football history.

Charlie Sumner changed up his tactics in the Super Bowl and went after quarterback Joe Theisman. The Raiders would get an amazing 6 sacks during the game, including 3 in the fourth quarter. Washington’s brilliant rushing attack with Joe Washington and John Riggins running behind the famous “hogs” was grounded and held to 2.8 yards per rush.  No one ever dominated Washington’s offensive line the way the Raiders did.

Al Davis hated to blitz but Sumner brought the very rare cornerback blitz as a constant weapon.  He had surprised teams in the post season with it.   Davis had one rule; if it works and you win, then I’ll stay out of it.  He did.

Late in the first half of the Super Bowl, Washington called time out.   They had the ball deep in their own territory. To the amazement of an unhappy and very angry Matt Millen, Charlie Sumner replaced him with backup linebacker Jack Squirek who was good against the pass. Sumner remembered in week 5 that Joe Theisman ran a screen to Joe Washington in the same part of the field late in the half. It went for a long pass play that lead to a late touchdown.

Sumner told Squirek that he was sure that they would run a screen and he told him to shadow running back Joe Washington who was the best pass catching running back in the NFL. Then he grabbed him and said, “Don’t drop the interception”. In true Super Bowl lore, it happened exactly the way Sumner said it would. Theisman lofted a pass to Washington and Squirek jumped in front of the pass and scored a touchdown to put the Raiders up 21-3 at halftime. Matt Millen lost it and grabbed Charlie Sumner and lifted him up in the air screaming with happiness.

Amazingly the Raiders held the greatest offense in history at that time to ZERO points in the final 24 minutes of the game for a 38-9 demolition of the supposed GREATEST team in NFL history.

Charlie Sumner was the greatest defensive mind to ever lead the Oakland Raiders. His defenses were designed to rush the quarterback and stop the run which is a huge key to any team that wants to win the Super Bowl. He was a big part of the success of the Oakland Raiders dynasty and will always hold a rightful place as a key player in the greatness of the Oakland Raiders.

“The State of the Oakland Raiders Defense Right Now, and How to Make it Great”

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Al Davis and Ron Wolf created a two and a half decade dynasty with 3 key factors that they always tried to obtain; a tough, physical running game; a downfield passing attack that could score anywhere on the field; and a philosophy where the opponents quarterback must go down, and go down hard.

If you look at the history of the Raiders, one thing is greatly overlooked and underappreciated; their pass rush.

In the 3 Super Bowl victories, the Raiders defense gave up only 3 touchdowns in 12 quarters.  Their defensive line dominated the line of scrimmage and harassed some great quarterbacks in Fran Tarekenton, Ron Jaworski and Joe Theisman into making some terrible mistakes.  They also stopped the rushing game of all 3 teams along the way.

When the Raiders played Washington, Washington was the highest scoring offense in the history of the game.  They were a 9 point favorite over the Raiders and many felt if they defeated Oakland, they were the greatest team in the history of the NFL.

A stud defensive front 4 can carry your team.  Ask the Arizona Cardinals, 49ers during the Harbaugh days, and the Seattle Seahawks.  The Giants beat the patriots twice in the Super Bowl on the backs of their defensive line and a great running game, and when the Patriots figured out how to limit the Seahawks pass rush in the Super Bowl last year, Tom Brady carved the best defensive backfield in the NFL for over 300 yards.

If you can rush the passer without blitzing, you then can have 7 players covering the pass while 4 rushers are making life terrible for opponents quarterbacks.  In 12 years, that is a key element that has been missing from the Oakland Raiders and it has hurt them greatly.  After the quarterback, the pass rush and ability to stop the run is the most important part of your football team.

Some teams and even fans think draft picks are the elixir of life; they are sacred and cherished.  That’s not true.  A young woman on twitter direct messaged me and said, “I’m a new fan to football and I wan’t to know why draft picks are so important”.

It is a question that many fans; and even teams forget the answer to.  Draft picks are important because you want to get a young player that will help your team for at least the next 3-4 years.  The higher the draft pick, the more help he should give.

That’s why it makes PERFECT sense to do a trade with the New Orleans Saints for defensive end Cameron Jordan using a draft pick.  Jordan is 25, and has 28 sacks in 3 years.  If the Raiders drafted a high draft pick with those stats, they’d be jumping up for joy. Add Jordan and Leonard Williams and now you have a really good front 7 and your team can stay in any game.

Defensive Line: Justin Tuck, Justin Ellis, Dan Williams, Benson Mayowa 

The Raiders did a much needed overhaul to their DL which was awful at times last year.  Gone are Lamarr Woodley, CJ Wilson, Antonio Smith, and Pat Sims.  They ranked 31st in the NFL in sacks and had trouble stopping the run which are the two things you have to conquer to win in the NFL.

Dan Williams was a GREAT signing.  He was an anchor for a studly defensive line at Arizona and was a key run stopper.  He gets double teamed often and it helps to release LB’s to make tackles.  Look for Williams and Ellis to compliment each other nicely.

Justin Tuck had a disappointing year and it remains to be seen what he has left in the tank.  The Raiders still desperately need 1-2 pass rushers or they will struggle.

Outlook:

It’s unclear now.  We will have to wait until after the draft to see what the Raiders do to shore up their bad pass rush.  Look for a trade to occur as well for a defensive end.

Sleeper Solution:

Trading for New Orleans Saints DE Cameron Jordan would be a great move.

When everyone was debating whether to draft wide receivers Kevin White or Amari Cooper, I’ve been one of the lone voices that said I still think the Titans are going to either pick Oregon QB Marcus Mariotta or they will trade down with a team that wants him.

In that case USC DL Leonard Williams will drop into the Raiders lap.  It’s a scary thought because in the last 12 years MANY good players have dropped into the Raiders lap just to see them instead make a crazy pick that doesn’t work out.  My friends still laugh at me and remember me falling on the floor pretending to pass out when the Raiders DIDN’T pick Aaron Rodgers.  (Don’t get me started on Raiders draft history).

If the Raiders draft a WR in the first round, I LOVE Danielle Hunter, the defensive end out of LSU as a second round pick.  He reminds me a lot of the New York Giants Jason Pierre-Paul.  He’s a freakish athlete who had 14 tackles for losses his last year.  And that was with him not being the starter the first 4 games.  With some pollish and a little more weight, this could be a great player.  In the games I watched him he just looked like a star waiting to happen.  This is a special player in my eyes.

Dante Fowler and UCLA’s Owa Odighizuwa are talked about as possible draft choices but to be honest both are weak at consistently rushing the quarterback.  Jordan is a need for sure.

Defensive Backs: Charles Woodson, DJ Hayden, TJ Carrie, Keith McGill, Nate Allen, James Dockery, Larry Asante, Brandian Ross, Jonathan Dowling, Neiko Thorpe, Taiwan Jones, Jansen Watson, Ras-I Dowling, Chance Casey 

If you don’t have a pass rush, even the best defensive backs will struggle.  The Raiders had no pass rush last year and their DB’s aren’t the best so you know how that worked out.

There has been a revolving door with several players coming into the Raider fold as DB’s.  So far there are more questions than answers.

At cornerback, this is it for DJ Hayden.  Between injuries and poor play, he’s been a disappointment.  With the Raiders passing up on stud DL Star Lotulelei; who is playing in Carolina’s great defense; to draft Hayden, it’s hard to watch him struggle.  He seems to be a great athlete with little football instinct.  This will be his make or break year.  TJ Carrie has good instinct and is more promising.  He did well at times and the hopes are that he will continue to improve.

Keith McGill had a couple of good moments but for the most part he was a little overwhelmed.  The Raiders like his size and potential.  He needs more experience and they hope he can improve.  They have a lot of young, inexperienced players as back ups in the defensive backfield.

Charles Woodsen comes back for one more year.  He played with a lot of heart last year and played well.  At 27 ex-Philadelphia Eagle safety Nate Allen is a great compliment.  Allen won’t wow you with highlights but he’s very good and a player that you can count on.

Charles Woodsen is great at stopping the run and this will allow him to concentrate on that.  Allen can play deep middle where he can use his good instinct and ball hawking skills to protect the deep routes.  I like this group but the Raiders don’t have a lot behind them.

Outlook:  

The Raiders have a lot of question marks with their DB’s and time will tell what will happen.  They have a lot of young players and I don’t think they will stand pat.  The Raiders can’t help but draft DB’s and I see them doing that again.

Sleeper Solution:

None.  The starters are pretty much already chosen so the depth will be the big question.

Linebackers:   Sio Moore, Khalil Mack, Curtis Lofton, Malcolm Smith, Miles Burris, Ray-Ray Armstrong, Bojay Filimoeatu, Spencer Hadley and Justin Jackson

If Sio Moore stays healthy; and that’s a big IF; this is a top 5 linebacking core.  Fans give all the credit to Mack but Sio Moore is the key to this defense.  Lofton is mature and is a great leader and he will help Moore and Mack mature.  The Raiders were noticeably better when Sio Moore played and he is a great blitzer and playmaker.

At 28, Curtis Lofton is a tackling machine.  He might be the best run stopping middle LB in the NFL.  In his rookie year in 2008, he had 94 tackles; Khalil Mack had 75.  Last year Lofton had 144 tackles.  With Lofton and Dan Williams, running up the middle won’t be easy.  Both are not real threats in the passing game, but the Raiders signed LB and past Super Bowl MVP Malcolm Smith from the Seahawks for passing downs.  He’s a great pass defender but not very good against the run.

Outlook:

I love this group.  Sio Moore has to stay healthy though.  Add Mack and Curtis Lofton and now you have a great group.  Most think Smith is pretty much insurance if Moore gets hurt.

Sleeper Solution:

None.  This is a solid group.

If the Raiders can pick up a couple of pass rushers, now you have something to work with.  If your front 7 is physical and can rush the passer and stop the run, you can somewhat hide your cornerbacks.  Reggie McKenzie did well in signing Williams, Lofton and Allen and this group will be fun to watch next year.  I look for the defense to be the heart of this team and much of the Raiders success will depend on them.

“What The Oakland Raiders Look Like Right Now, and What Moves Can Help Them Improve Quickly”

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It’s been a good off season so far for the Oakland Raiders.  The Raiders still have much work to do though with their two most pressing needs; a fast #1 wide receiver and 1-2 good pass rushers still worrying many.

The first half of the off season is free agency and the draft and post draft signings are the second half.  Until the post NFL draft signings, you really don’t know what your team has as far as talent.

People are also finding out rumors as an adult are pretty much the same as those when we were kids; false.  Teams often leak lies to fool the media and other teams to get them off the track of what they really wanted to do.  Mike Silver gave up on the Raiders a long time ago realizing at times that the Raiders were playing the media like a fiddle.

Al Davis literally never said anything and sports writers would tell people who the Raiders were going to pick getting information from their “insiders” when in reality they had no clue.  All of these “insiders” that think they know what is going on are often pawns for the most part.  Why in the world would billion dollar corporations leak information to tell their competitors what they are going to do and what they want.  If they do that, all their leverage is lost.  The NFL and their owners may be greedy and narcissistic at times, but they aren’t stupid.  Again, it’s fun for fans but take it with a grain of salt.

Everyone for months had the Raiders taking a wide receiver for their first draft pick but I’ve CONSTANTLY disagreed.  I think there is no way that the Tennessee Titans are NOT taking a quarterback or at least trading down to a team that want’s a quarterback; namely Oregon QB Marcus Mariotta.

With that happening, all around good player DL Leonard Williams will be available and the Raiders HAVE to take him.  Their pass rush might be the worst in the NFL and they need 2 pass rushers.

I think in the free agency sector, none of the pass rushers that are left are really worth much money and they are not going to help very much.  With the release of DL Antonio Smith, I think the Raiders are looking to make a trade soon by freeing up a little more cap space.  A really good defensive end in New Orleans, Cameron Jordan has been rumored by some teams including the Raiders.  He’s young and his 28 sacks in 3 years is going to help some team a lot.

I personally felt that the Raiders should have a 2 year plan.  They had a lot of holes to fill and you can’t do it in just one off season.

Today, lets first look at the Offense and how each position looks as of now, and how it can be improved.

Quarterback:  Derek Carr, Matt McGloin, Christian Ponder

Even with so many internet people trying to stir the pot, Derek Carr is the Raiders starting quarterback for the 2015-16 season.  He showed a lot of potential and with hard work and improvement, the Raiders hope that he will turn into a good NFL quarterback for years to come.  He HAS to audible a lot more to help out the run game and he needs to handle a pass rush better, but overall, he survived the rookie season with a good grade for the most part.  The Raiders were anemic on offense on the road and that obviously has to improve.

Matt McGloin is an adequate backup.  The Raiders dropped Matt Schaub and added Christian Ponder.  People scratched their heads when the Vikings picked him in the first round and he never panned out.  He was benched several times at Florida St. for poor play but lets face it; if you are tall with a big arm, the NFL will always have a home for you.  Raiders offensive coordinator Bill Musgrave was the coordinator for the Vikings so that is the connection to Ponder.  Ponders best play was handing off to Adrian Peterson in sprint draws.

Outlook:

Lets just say like most teams the Raiders hope their starter Derek Carr stays very, very healthy.

Sleeper Solutions:  

None.  Unless you can put Ken Stabler in a time machine, this should be the depth chart at Quarterback.

Running Back:  Latavius Murray, Roy Helu, Trent Richardson, George Atkinson III, Jamize Olawale

Gone are Darren McFadden and Maurice Jones-Drew.  The Raiders added 3rd down specialist Roy Helu, and much maligned Trent Richardson.

Helu is a very good third down back who can also carry the load on occasion.  He lead the NFL in yards per touch on third down and is a great pass catcher.  He is tough and durable and is a good signing.

After his rookie season teams found out Richardson has little to no vision and is a straight ahead runner.  In college he could run over people, but in the pro’s not so much.  Anything they can get out of him will make the Raiders happy.

Latavius Murray showed flashes of brilliance last year.  He’s big and fast, which is what Raiders OC Musgrave likes.  He must prove he can stay healthy though.

Marcel Reece was vastly underused last year and the hopes are that he will get 10-15 touches a game at an H-back or tight end position.  George Atkinson Jr. and Jamize Olawale are probably the odd men out.

The fullback used to be such a powerful weapon and now the NFL just wants them to block.  The Raiders need to use Reece more like an 80’s or 90’s full back and not just be a follower and do what all the other teams are doing.

Outlook:

Helu is a solid third down back and the hopes are that Murray can carry the load and stay healthy.  Anything Richardson can give is the berries and the hopes are that Marcel Reece will get more touches.

Sleeper Solution:

If the Raiders do draft a running back I would LOVE for them to take David Cobb from the Minnesota Gophers in the 3rd or 4th round.  He is built exactly like Marion Barber and he’s a load.  At 5’ 11” and 235, he won’t run off 80 yarders but he’s powerful and tough, somewhat elusive and is a work horse who finishes runs.  He has some speed and 54% of his yards came after the first contact which is pretty amazing.  He was made for the NFL power running game.

Wide Receiver:  James Jones, Rod Streater, Andre Holmes, Brice Butler, Kenbrell Thompkins, Seth Roberts

James Jones is a solid #2 WR and is a good red zone target.  Rod Streater is an average WR and I’m not getting why Kenbrell Thompkins gets so much playing time.  He has never been very productive in the NFL.

Andre Holmes needs to step up and achieve success instead of just having loads of potential. The wild card is Brice Butler.  He needs to get on the field.  His 47 yard touchdown catch and run against San Diego showed eye popping speed.

Outlook: 

The Raiders obviously still need a #1 wide receiver and they will for sure draft one.  Butler and Holmes have to get the bulk of the playing time after Jones.  This group has potential.  I’m not going to add to the thousands of posts on Kevin White and Amari Cooper.

Sleeper Solution: 

I still think the Titans are going to draft a quarterback and I see USC DL Leonard Williams being there at #4.  If he is and I’m the Raiders, I take Williams in a New York minute.  Without a pass rush the Raiders don’t win anything.

I then turn around in the second round and get the speed merchant big time playmaking wide receiver Devin Smith out of Ohio St. who should be there in the early second round.  He makes big plays at the biggest times and he is unique in that he doesn’t break stride or lose speed when he is going after a ball.  A guy named Cliff Branch had that same talent.

You now have Smith, Jones, Holmes and Butler.  Now you got the start of something.  Three speed burners and a great red zone target.  Not bad.

If the Raiders draft White or Cooper because Williams isn’t there, then I still get that too.  In the 2016 draft there are 6-8 really good possible first round pass rushers with possibly more to show up on the board.

Offensive Line:    Donald Penn, Gabe Jackson, Rodney Hudson, Khalif Barnes, Austin Howard

With the addition of Center Rodney Hudson, the Raiders have the makings of a really good OL.  Gabe Jackson is all they thought he would be and the OL protected Derek Carr well against the pass.  Donald Penn is solid at Tackle but he will be 32 next year and with it being a contract year he may not stay.

The Run game was blamed on the OL but when you have a quarterback that doesn’t audible, and play calling that would make Woody Hayes and Bo Schembechler scratch their heads, you are not going to run the ball successfully. They were more conservative than Ronald Reagan in a red state.

The hopes are that with a more experienced quarterback, much better play calling and with more downfield weapons, the Raiders will have a much better running game.

Outlook:

Khalif Barnes was inconsistent last year.  Look for the Raiders to get another OL either in the later rounds of the draft or in free agency.

Sleeper Solution: 

None; unless they get an OL in the later rounds for depth, these will be the starters for the Raiders.

Tight EndMychal Rivera, Nick Kasa, Brian Leonhardt, Scott Simonson, Lee Smith

No one will mistake the Raiders tight ends for Dave Casper, Raymond Chester or Todd Christensen.  They definitely need some help.

Mychal Rivera was solid, but they didn’t throw to him much.  His blocking did improve and he can be a weapon.  Other than Rivera, there really isn’t any other pass catching threat.

The Raiders signed Lee Smith from the Buffalo Bills.  He is a big, brash run blocking tight end with very limited pass catching skills.

Outlook: 

I think eventually the Raiders may sign a veteran.

Sleeper Solution:

Zach Miller could also be an option.  He wasn’t used very well by the Seahawks.  He is 29 and was cut by Seattle for a failed physical last month.  Supposedly he’s able to pass one now and Tom Brady and the Patriot’s love his game and are quietly talking to him.

Marcel Reece would be perfect as a tight end in passing situations.  Reece is too talented to not give him the ball.

That’s a look at the offense of the Oakland Raiders.  Tomorrow we will take a look at the defense which has some very good additions.

“Remembering Three Young Raiders, Gone Too Soon”

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History is so important.  The smartest people I know have great knowledge of history.  We need to never forget and remember that our history lays the foundation for us all, and that we should learn about it and learn from it.  I thought about that today.  Today marks the 20th anniversary of the great Tejano singing star Selena’s passing.  She touched millions with her spirit and her amazing heart and talent.

What does that have to do with football?  Well it reminded me of the great loss that is felt when someone in their prime passes away.  Unfortunately death has been a cruel mistress in our large family, and in reality the pain never goes away, it just gets a little easier to tolerate. The Oakland Raiders have known pain; a great deal of it.

I wanted to write about three young lives that were lost to the Oakland Raiders far too soon.  I hope that all Raider fans; young and old; will remember and appreciate their lives and their part in creating the history of the Oakland Raiders. Eric Turner

Eric Turner, CB.  9/28/1968 to 5/28/2000

Charles Woodsen would look at Eric Turners photo before he would go on the field.  Ray Lewis as a young linebacker said that he loved watching Eric Turner play. Eric Turner was a Southern California legend.  A great player and leader.  He starred at Ventura High School and UCLA.  He was a hard hitting playmaking safety that at times seemed to be everywhere. E-Rock was the second overall pick in the 1991 draft going to the Cleveland Browns.  Still the highest draft pick for a defensive back in the modern era of the NFL.

He soon became an all pro for Cleveland and for the Baltimore Ravens when they moved. The Raiders picked up Turner later in his career and he still played well, but he was not the same Eric Turner.

When Turner played though the Raiders winning % was shockingly near 80% and he became a fan favorite.  He could still make plays.  He complained about an ulcer to many but towards the end of his life he lost a lot of weight.  When he took a leave of absence in 1999, he would not disclose his illness to his friends or the press.  Like some selfless people, he just didn’t want to be a burden.

In May of 2000 many people were worried about him but he stated in the press that he was not gravely ill.  Two weeks later, a stunned NFL world heard the news that Turner was gone.  He was only 31 years old.  It sent a shockwave throughout the NFL.

To have someone so young and physical to be gone so quickly.  Rumors swirled but in the end, he died of intestinal cancer that was just found too late.  Many believed he played with cancer during the last part of his career.  It remains a sad ending for a good man and a great player.  His leadership and his selfless mentoring will never be forgotten by those who played with him.

leon bender

Leon Bender, DL;  8/8/1975 to 5/30/1998;

Leon Bender’s family were Raider fans so they were thrilled when he was chosen by the Raiders in the 2nd round of the 1998 NFL draft.  Along with first round choice Charles Woodsen, the Raiders felt they had immediately upgraded their defense.  He was the type of player Jon Gruden loved;   passionate, athletic, and always hard working.  He had a great attitude and was constantly trying to please his coaches.  He was fun loving and always had a smile on his face. Leon was still somewhat raw but most scouts said the same thing; the sky is the limit.  In regards to Bender, at worst he would be a good NFL player for 7-10 years.  At best?  Who knows.

The Raiders were looking forward to Bender teaming up with USC’s Darrell Russell on the defensive line.  He was big, athletic and had a big motor.  It wasn’t meant to be though.  Bender died before playing for the Raiders and Russell was soon out of the league due to failed drug tests. Bender was one of the key contributors to the resurgence of the Washington St. Cougars football team.  He helped them reach the Rose Bowl for the first time in 67 years, with quarterback Ryan Leaf leading the way.  The excitement in the Palouse had never been higher.

The Raiders were very excited to add Leon to their roster but sadly he died of an epileptic disorder at the friend of his agents house.  He was found in the bathroom.  An ambulance was called and efforts to revive him failed.  He was 22 years old.  No alcohol or drugs were found in his system and no foul play was suspected.  Bender had been treated for epilepsy since childhood but it had been under control for the most part for years.

Benders lifestyle reminds me of the present Raiders QB Derek Carr.  Bender was married with a child and had a loving spiritual family.  He volunteered at times at a drug rehab wanting to help others.  Two weeks before his death, the Raiders paid Bender his 1.2 million dollar signing bonus which his family got.

His mother Antoinette and his cousin Brantley attended the AFC championship game against the Tennessee Titans in Oakland.  When the public address announcer called the starting line-ups, they sobbed uncontrollably.  On Super Bowl Sunday, Antoinette didn’t watch the game of her Raiders; instead she visited Leon’s grave to say how proud she was of him. . stacey toran

Stacey Toran, Safety;  10/11/1961 to 8/5/1989;

Stacey Toran was a long shot to make the NFL.  He was a 6th round pick for the Raiders in the 1984 draft.  Al Davis saw in him though a great deal of toughness and athleticism and was excited to get him at that low of a draft choice.  He would be a project that would soon pay dividends and Al Davis called him the steal of the draft.

Toran started out slow but after 3-4 years he started to show a grit and toughness that was needed in the Raiders defensive backfield. The Raiders were changing their scheme to an attacking style of defense and that suited the physical Toran just fine.  He was now entrenched as a starter and big things were expected of him.

Toran was an amazing athlete and a born leader.  He had great size for a safety too; 6’ 2” 205.  He was a high school basketball and football all American and in the semi finals of the state basketball championship at Broad Ripple High School, he hit a 57 foot shot to win the game at the buzzer, eventually leading them to the title. He was the captain of both his high school football and basketball team.  He soon went to Notre Dame and was a tough, hard nosed player that greatly improved the Notre Dame defense.  At Notre Dame he was the co-captain of the team and an All American.  The NFL combines felt he wasn’t fast enough to play in the NFL but Al Davis didn’t agree.  People were excited about what the future held for Stacey.

At approximately 11:30 pm on the night of Saturday, August 5th, 1989, Toran lost control of his 1984 BMW on Glencoe Avenue near Marina del Rey; a block from his home. An officer at the scene said the car jumped a curb and struck a tree, flipping over several times. Toran was ejected from the vehicle, struck his body and head on the pavement and was pronounced dead at the scene.

Later it was found out that his blood alcohol level was .32.  Stacey Toran was only 27 years old. Al Davis was devastated.  He said that Stacey was going to be a major part of their defensive scheme that year and he called him a friend and a great Raider.

Below is a list of prominent Raiders that are no longer with us in body, but always in spirit.  I hope that Raider fans of all ages never forget the contributions that these men made to the greatness that is the Oakland Raiders, and that they will keep their families and friends always in their thoughts and prayers.

Once a Raider, always a Raider. Rest in peace.

Thomas Howard, linebacker, 2006-10: Died November 18, 2013, age 30 (auto accident).

Todd Christensen, tight end, 1979-88: Died November 13, 2013, age 57 (liver surgery complications).

Errol Mann, kicker, 1976-78: Died April 11, 2013, age 71 (unknown).

Demetrius Davis, tight end, 1990 draft pick: Died December 15, 2012, age 45 (heart attack).

Tom Keating, defensive tackle, 1966-1972: Died August 31, 2012, age 69 (prostate cancer).

Ben Davidson, defensive end, 1964-1971: Died July 2, 2012, age 72 (prostate cancer).

Chester McGlockton, defensive tackle, 1992-1997: Died November 30, 2011, age 42 (heart attack).

Al Davis, coach/owner, 1963-2011: Died October 8, 2011, age 82 (natural causes).

Charles “Bubba” Smith, defensive end, 1973-74: Died August 3, 2011, age 66 (natural causes).

Alonzo “Skip” Thomas, cornerback, 1972-77: Died July 24, 2011, age 61 (heart attack).

George Blanda, quarterback/kicker, 1967-1975: Died September 27, 2010, age 83 (unknown/natural causes).

Jack Tatum, safety, 1971-1979: Died July 27, 2010, age 61 (heart attack).

Elijah Alexander, linebacker, 2000-2001: Died March 24, 2010, age 39 (bone marrow cancer).

Marquis Cooper, linebacker, 2008: Lost at sea March 1, 2009, and presumed dead March 6, 2009, age 26 (boating accident).

Brad Van Pelt, linebacker, 1984-1985: Died Feb. 17, 2009, age 57 (heart attack).

Gene Upshaw, guard, 1967-1981: Died Aug. 20, 2008, age 63 (pancreatic cancer).

Curtis Whitley, center, 1997: Died May 11, 2008, age 39 (unknown/natural causes).

Jimmy Warren, cornerback, 1970-74, 1977: Died August 9, 2006, age 67 (unknown).

Darrell Russell, defensive tackle, 1997-2001: Died Dec. 15, 2005, age 29 (auto accident).

Scott Whittaker, offensive tackle, 1997: Died Dec. 2, 2003, age 29 (auto accident).

Dave Dalby, center, 1972-1985: Died Aug. 30, 2002, age 51 (auto accident).

Dwayne O’Steen, defensive back, 1980-1981: Died Sept. 15, 2001, age 46 (heart attack).

Neal Colzie, defensive back, 1975-1978: Died Aug. 19, 2001, age 47 (heart attack).

Bo Roberson, wide receiver, 1962-1965: Died April 19, 2001, age 65 (unknown).

Dan Turk, center, 1989-1996: Died Dec. 23, 2000, age 38 (testicular cancer).

Eric Turner, safety, 1997-1999: Died May 28, 2000, age 31 (abdominal cancer).

Eldridge Dickey, quarterback/wide receiver, 1968-1971: Died May 22, 2000, age 54 (stroke).

Tim Hall, running back, 1996-1997: Died Sept. 30, 1998, age 24 (drive-by shooting).

Leon Bender, defensive tackle, 1998 draft pick: Died May 30, 1998, age 22 (epileptic incident).

Bob Chandler, wide receiver, 1980-1982: Died Jan. 15, 1995, age 45 (lung cancer).

Dave Waymer, safety, 1992: Died April 30, 1993, age 34 (drug-related heart attack).

Mike Wise, defensive lineman, 1986-1990: Died Aug. 22, 1992, age 28 (suicide).

Lyle Alzado, defensive lineman, 1982-1985: Died May 14, 1992, age 43 (brain cancer).

Stacey Toran, safety, 1984-1988: Died Aug. 5, 1989, age 27 (auto accident).

John Matuszak, defensive lineman, 1976-1982: Died June 17, 1989, age 38 (heart failure).

Roger Hagberg, fullback/tight end, 1965-1969: Died April 15, 1970, age 31 (auto accident)

Thank you to the Silver and Black Report for the Memorial Wall.  You can follow them here @ http://oak.scout.com/

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