With the passing of Buffalo Bills superfan Ezra Castro AKA Pancho Billa, the NFL fandom was reminded just how fragile life can be. Fans and players of all teams came together to mourn a man that loved his team, family, & everyone that came in contact with him.
Thirty nine years is not enough for most people, but in those years Ezra gave a lifetime worth of kindness and love. After every kind act shown to him, Ezra was shocked & often humbled at the kindness that people gave him. He never got that people thought he was a big deal and downplayed his importance. In a social media world where the need for attention and self importance is the norm, Ezra was a regular guy and a breath of fresh air.
When Greg Dresko and I did our podcast with Ezra, it was obvious he did not feel good but he rarely cancelled anything. Even on his bad days he would do interviews with a smile. After our podcast I created a prayer night for him that Greg & I promoted. Literally thousands of people got involved praying for Pancho and all of those battling cancer. We did a second one not too long ago that was also greatly supported. People really cared and it was inspiring.
Buffalo was the perfect team for Ezra. It is a team that is set back in the time of the old AFL. A team that has not yet been ruined by the greed of NFL owners who’s only loyalty is to the money they can make. They have an old stadium, the second lowest ticket prices in the NFL, and a raucous loyal fan base. While everyone else changed, Buffalo didn’t. It is a special place.
With fancy, expensive stadiums pricing out many fans, the Bills are stuck in a wonderful time warp that allows for a foundation that continues to come to the games year after year. A loyal following that braves bitter cold and wind to support their Bills. From Jack Kemp to Joe Ferguson, to Jim Kelly to Andre Reed, the Bills rich tradition is steeped in a blue collar us against the world mentality. What an amazing place.
I don’t think any fan base or team other than Buffalo could have survived losing 4 Super Bowls while still coming back with dignity and grace. Through all of the jokes and taunting, winning 4 conference championships is still among one of the greatest achievements in NFL history & they are very proud of it.
Ezra & the Spirit of Buffalo:
In true Buffalo Bill spirit, Pancho Billa battled until the end. Just like Steve Tasker making an amazing play in a Super Bowl that had long been lost, Ezra never gave up. Adversity was what Ezra faced each day after being diagnosed with stage 4 cancer. Even in his darkest days he would show a positive, caring spirit that inspired so many. We DM’d each other on Twitter and his last message to me was a smiling emoji with a halo over his head. He knew. He also though remained positive asking people to never quit praying for a miracle. Giving up was never an option.
In reality the biggest gift Pancho Billa gave to people was the way he handled his illness. Even with social media bringing out the worst in people, he showed a spirit of pride and kindness that touched so many. He remained positive at the worst of times inspiring us all to not take ourselves too seriously. In a world where many get angry at the drop of a hat, he showed a calm passion and compassion for others during his fight.
The Power of NFL Fans:
Ezra reminded NFL fans everywhere that we are not gang members or part of a football militia that should hate anything not affiliated with our teams. He showed that in reality we are all on the same team of life and that football is a fun outlet & family to belong to. Happiness, health & supporting each other during the best and worst of times is what life is about. We all saw how our hearts are more powerful than any owners money or new stadium. It’s about the fans and the amazing relationships that we create from being fans. The simplest of things.
How I’ll Remember Ezra & You:
What I’ll remember most about Ezra, was how he brought everyone together. For a moment in time fans in New England and Oakland were on the same team. Dallas and Philly fans prayed for a miracle together and people began to realize all of the petty arguments and hate was not what being a fan was about. It’s a willingness to help when hope is hard to find, and being there to support and love someone during great times as well as their darkest hour.
Many of you have really touched me with your sincerity and compassion and I’m very proud of everyone. Your kindness touched Ezra and helped him and his family get through such an unspeakable tragedy. As much of a gift people felt Pancho was, he felt the same about you. He brought out the best in all of us and it sure felt good.
How to Keep His Legacy Alive:
If you really want to keep his legacy alive, lets be like him. Give as much as you can to others and show kindness with a calm spirit. As Ezra once said, “don’t bring flowers to my funeral. I hate flowers. Bring backpacks full of school supplies for kids”. Think of others first, and show love and appreciation and support to one another. Most of all do it without judgement or opinion. Love completely without complete understanding. What an amazing legacy that would be. And nothing would be more pleasing to the great Pancho Billa.
The NFL draft has always been fascinating to me. It’s an amazing thing to see how teams choose who they want to create the foundation of their team. It’s not a coincidence though that with the greatness of the Raiders of the 1960’s into early 1980’s, most of their drafts were excellent getting at least 2 good starters in many drafts. Director of Player Personnel Ron Wolf was a key element of these drafts and he is now in the HOF. As John Madden said, “Al listened to only one person and that was Ron Wolf”.
To establish a great team you have to have excellent drafts. Back in the day, a guy that could scout and pick out a good player was worth their weight in gold. A recent ESPN study showed just how bad the NFL teams of today draft, especially missing on so many QB’s that it’s ruined some franchises for years. In the olden days they relied on game films and occasional interviews with the players and their coaches. Now they over analyze and see things that aren’t there and refuse to see things that are. Paralysis by analysis. If you look at something long enough you begin to see flaws.
For now though, and look to the draft picks that did work out well often leading to wins and championships.
#5: 1974 Draft:
1st Henry Lawrence T
2nd Dave Casper TE
3rd Mark Van Eeghen
4th Morris Bradshaw
Henry Lawrence was a pillar in the OL for 13 years for the Raiders with much of it being as a starter. He has 3 Super Bowl rings and in the last 2 Raider titles he was a starting tackle. Dave Casper is a HOF player and was one of the best all around tight ends in history. With his tough and physical blocking and his amazing hands; Casper, Biletnikoff, Cliff Branch, and Ken Stabler made one of the greatest passing combinations of all time.
Mark Van Eeghen took over for Marv Hubbard and could do it all. He wasn’t fast, but he was amazing at following his blockers and soon became one of the best all around RB’s in the NFL. A great pass catcher, Mark also was a key pass protector for his ability to pick up blitzing LB’s. Even though he ran for over 1,000 yards in the 1976 season, Oakland’s game plan was for Mark to be the lead blocker for most of the game and the speedy Clarence Davis (who ran for 516 yards the same year) would get the bulk of the carries against an older Minnesota Vikings team. The plan worked to perfection as Mark had an amazing game blocking and Davis ran 16 times for 137 yards. Van Eeghen ran for 73 yards and the Raiders rushed for 266 yards which is still the 3rd highest Super Bowl rushing game in history. You wonder if players of today would sacrifice like that.
In the 4th Round the Raiders got WR Morris Bradshaw who became a key member of their special teams unit for 8 years. He also was a part time starter with his best year being 1978 when he caught 40 passes for 552 yards.
#4: 1972 Draft:
1st Mike Siani WR
2nd John Vella OL
4th Cliff Branch WR
4th Dave Dalby OL
7th Alonzo “Skip” Thomas DB
To be honest you could interchange the #4 and #3 drafts and still have winners. What a problem to have. Mike Siani was a poor man’s Fred Biletnikoff and while he never lived up to his #1 status, he was a vital contributor in the Raiders passing game with many key pass catches in important games. John Vella and Dave Dalby were part of what many consider the greatest offensive line of all time. Their size and toughness wore opponents down. Dr. Death Skip Thomas was a key member of the famous “Soul Patrol” that many feel is the greatest defensive backfield in NFL history.
Cliff Branch will eventually get into the Hall of Fame but he remains one of the greatest deep threats the NFL has ever seen. During a talk show Raiders great Ken Stabler said, “I had a great offensive line, Casper, Biletnikoff who caught anything and Cliff Branch who could outrun half of the cars in the parking lot”. This amazing draft class is just another reason why the Raiders were so dominating.
#3: 1977 Draft:
2nd Mike Davis
4th Mickey Marvin
5th Lester Hayes
5th Jeff Barnes
8th Terry Robiskie
12th Rod Martin
Maybe this draft didn’t have the iconic talent of other drafts, but it definitely filled a lot of holes with excellent players. Mike Davis was a key member at safety and his interception against the Cleveland Browns in the playoffs helped propel the Raiders to eventually win a Super Bowl. Mickey Marvin was an excellent OL for years. Lester Hayes started out slow, but eventually became one of the best cover corners in the game and should be in the HOF. Jeff Barnes and Rod Martin were excellent LB’s that helped the Raiders shore up their defense after the Villapiano, Willie Hall and Monte Johnson era. Terry Robiskie was a great special teams player and backup RB.
#2: 1971 Draft:
1st Jack Tatum DB
2nd Phil Villapiano LB
4th Clarence Davis
5th Bob Moore
12th Horace Jones
“They changed the rules because of Tatum and Atkinson”, said HOF QB Fran Tarkenton on San Francisco’s KNBR radio. “The 5 yard chuck rule was created because of them and the other Raiders DB’s because the WR’s literally could not get off of the line against them. They were so physically imposing and strong.”
Jack Tatum hit harder than any DB in history and should no doubt be in the HOF. Phil Villapiano said, “Tatum’s shots just sounded different. His hits sounded like a car wreck”. George Atkinson added, “I once saw Jack hit Denver’s Riley Odoms so hard that I thought he killed him. It sounded like a car wreck”. He was a star at Ohio St. where Woody Hayes loved his hard hitting style and instinct to be where he needed to be, and he brought that to the Oakland Raiders. Jack’s timing was unmatched. If it wasn’t for the Darryl Stingley hit, Tatum would already be in the HOF. RIP to both of them.
A huge get was Phil Villapiano. Supposedly an undersized LB out of Bowling Green, most teams had him as being too small. Almost everyone had him as a possible 3rd round pick, but most had him going into the 4th round. The Raiders; who were the only team that would not share information with other teams; picked him in the second round. They knew that Phil was really 225 and not the 210 that everyone else said he was. Villapiano became a key element shoring up their back 7 on defense. He could tackle and stop the run, and with his lateral speed and timing he was a great pass defender. There are many that feel Phil should be in the HOF as well. His personality and fun spirit is classic Raider. The below video shows Phil Villapiano leading the Raiders on and off the field.
Clarence Davis was a fast and clutch player. His catch in the famous “Sea of Hands” game and his amazing performances in post season including his 137 yards rushing in the Super Bowl win against Minnesota are immortalized. Bob Moore was a solid NFL back up tight end and Horace Jones was an important defensive starter for four of the 5 years he played for the Raiders.
#1: 1968 Draft:
2nd Ken Stabler QB
3rd Art Shell T
4th Charlie Smith RB
7th George Atkinson DB
11th Marv Hubbard
Now finally the greatest draft in Oakland Raiders history, the 1968 draft. If you can draft 2 quality starters in your draft, usually your draft is considered pretty good. Draft 5 key starters and 2 Hall of Famer’s and I’d say your draft was awesome.
In 1967 the Raiders drafted HOF guard Gene Upshaw who would help anchor an amazing offensive line. In 1968, they chose other big pieces that would lay a foundation for their success in the 1970’s.
This draft was the key to the Raiders success in the 60’s and 70’s and this draft topped them all. They now had one of the greatest QB’s in history in Ken Stabler, and another HOF player on the OL in Art Shell. With Charlie Smith and Marv Hubbard they had a set of starting RB’s that could run and catch the ball. All 4 players were big parts of the success of the Raiders in the 1970’s and late 1960’s.
Then oh by the way add 7th round pick George Atkinson who was considered too small to be a full time safety. What teams didn’t get is that Atkinson was as tough as nails, hit like a ton of bricks, had a bad attitude on the field and was as fast as lightning. Early in his career he was a great kick returner on both punts and kickoffs and held records for a number of years in the return game. He was also the voice of the famous “Soul Patrol” defensive backfield.
So there you have it. These are the 5 greatest draft classes in Raiders history. The hope of all fans is that their favorite teams draft choices will reach their full potential and step up to be great players. In the following years we will find out how the draft choices of the new millennium rank. History shows us that if you consistently draft poorly, you will eventually erode your foundation and have to start over. If you excel in the draft, you create a winning team for years to come. When the Raiders had great drafts, they succeeded and were the winningest franchise in U.S. sports. When they didn’t, they failed and struggled breaking records for futility. Here’s to a future of great draft picks and great success to this amazing franchise.
Friends used to ask who do you want on a podcast or even to just have a beer with. The 4 people remain the same. Ken Stabler, Bill King, John Madden, and Phil Villapiano. Today I’m writing about one of the most popular Raider players of all time, and one of my dad’s favorites in Phil Villapiano. “Foo” was a Raider from the start.
From Day One:
When Phil Villapiano was drafted, most teams had him going in the 3rd or 4th round. The Raiders drafted him in the 2nd round out of Bowling Green which was a surprise to some. Many teams had Villapiano listed at only 210 pounds, being too small to play linebacker. Back then there was no NFL combines or official weigh ins, so most teams would share information with each other to save money and time. The Raiders refused to share information.
What the Raiders knew about Villapiano was that he was legitimately 225 pounds. He was an instinctive player who loved to hit. His speed laterally was excellent and a big part of his game. He could play every down and had great feel in pass coverage. In the same draft Oakland selected Jack Tatum, Clarence Davis, and backup tight end Bob Moore. With Tatum and Villapiano, they had 2 hard hitters to go with another that loved contact in George Atkinson. The Raiders added Skip “Dr. Death” Thomas in the following draft and their back 7 was as physical and skilled as any in the history of the game.
The Raiders offenses were awesome but most forget that in 3 Super Bowl wins the Raiders only gave up 33 points and had three great QB’s in Fran Tarkenton, Ron Jaworski & Joe Theismann running for their lives most of the time. In fact all 4 teams in last years AFC and NFC Championship games were in the top 5 scoring defenses in the entire NFL. It isn’t sexy but defense still wins championships.
Phil’s Coming Out Party:
In week 3 of the 1971 season, rookie Villapiano was thrown into the fire and he had to start due to injuries at linebacker. Phil had an amazing game on national television against the Browns in front of 84,000 screaming Cleveland fans. To the dismay of every fan outside of Oakland, Howard Cosell raved about Phil during the Raiders 34-20 win, making him a household name over night and announce another weapon for the hated Oakland Raiders.
A Key Member of the Raiders Defense:
Phil soon became a mainstay in the Raiders physical style of play. He could cover all parts of the field, and his violent play was just what the Raiders wanted. In front of the famous “Soul Patrol” and behind an aggressive and relentless defensive line, Monte Johnson, Ted Hendricks, Willie Hall, and Villapiano manned one of the more underrated LB crews and defenses in the NFL. Al Davis and Ron Wolf’s motto for their defense was one thing; the QB must go down, and go down hard. Raider fans loved seeing Villapiano slowly and methodically hitting his arm pad on the line of scrimmage letting opponents know that he was coming and he was going to hit somebody.
(A video showing the brutality of the Raiders defense and Phil Villapiano’s team “activities”)
The renegade Raiders were by far the king of bay area sports and they capped off their success in 1976 with a dominating performance in Super Bowl 11 with a win over the Minnesota Vikings, 32-14. There were some sweaty palms at the start of the game though. The Raiders took the opening kickoff and went down the field but kicker Errol Mann missed a 29 yard field goal. Later in the 1st, Viking great Fred McNeil blocked a Ray Guy punt for Guy’s first blocked punt in his career. Minnesota recovered it on the Raiders 3 yard line and Raider fans began to worry. On third down, Villapiano forced a fumble from RB Brent McClanahan which fellow LB Willie Hall recovered and the Raiders went on a long drive for a short FG. Phil’s key play changed the momentum of the game.
(Phil is even clutch during a fun time at the 2009 Biletnikoff Celebrity Golf Tournament)
The Wild Days In Oakland:
Along with their amazing winning ways, Oakland also lead the league in having fun. The Raiders off the field craziness was unequalled, with Phil Villapiano being the unofficial ring leader of all of the antics. The stories of the Raiders training camp days in Santa Rosa are of legend. So many fans enjoyed spending time with players at North Bay hotspots and one of their favorites to party with was Villapiano and Ken Stabler.
(Phil’s interview on his foundation to save the Jersey Shore after hurricane Sandy)
He would set up activities and games to break the monotony of training camp. And as many players have said, cheating was not only encouraged but a necessity. Players drank with fans, outcasts, and anyone else that was considered part of the Raider family. Hells Angels and the Black Panthers would befriend some Raiders, and even a few shady figures would emerge. While most celebrities loved glamorous teams like the Cowboys, actors like James Garner became friends with the Raiders of the 70’s along with owner Al Davis.
From paying a woman to run naked across the practice field, to setting a small fire to stop the monotony of training camp, the pranks were wild and Phil was usually the instigator. Phil once even helped put on a wedding at one of the restaurants with some of the Raiders helping with the direction and officiating of the nuptials. After passing the hat around they helped the couple go on a honeymoon. Of course the wedding was bogus, and to this day no one knew if the couple ever found out they really weren’t married.
Phil & the Raiders Legacy:
I fought with some old time NFL fans and writers last year who tried to downplay how good the Raiders were. We all know how I love facts so I was loaded for bear. Daryle Lamonica was 38-4-1 in his first 43 starts for Oakland. Ken Stabler was 50-11-1 in his first 62 starts and the Raiders were 18-1-1 in their first 20 Monday night football games. No offense, but if Derek Carr and the Raiders had those stats today, with the fervor of social media, they would be erecting statues for them.
The Facts About The Raiders & the 1970’s:
The Raiders won more games than any other team in the NFL in the 1970’s, the greatest decade in NFL history. During the 1970-75 dynasty of the Miami Dolphins, the Raiders were 4-2 against the mighty Dolphins including 2-1 in the playoffs. Against the Pittsburgh Steelers of the 1970’s, the Raiders were the only team with success owning a 6-5 record. They were 2-3 against Pittsburgh in the playoffs but one of those wins was the Immaculate Reception, and another was the 16-10 loss in Pittsburgh, where “somehow” outside the hash-marks the field had become completely frozen after the Steelers groundskeepers allegedly watered it down in the frigid cold of a Pennsylvania winter day. One of the few players Pittsburgh Hall of Famer Mel Blount struggled with was Cliff Branch. Al Davis got in an argument, yelling at Pete Rozelle before the game on the field saying how this now limited Cliff Branch’s speed. And they say the Raiders cheated!
In an online contest created by the NFL on their website, the 1976 Raiders were voted the greatest team in NFL history by over 5.2 million fans.
Phil was a big part of all this success. In fact most felt the Raiders were better in 1977 but Phil and OL John Vella had season ending injuries. The beat up Raiders were never healthy for the rest of the decade. Eventually he was traded to Buffalo not long after he made comments that the Raiders needed to stay in Oakland. He said that he never felt those comments got Al Davis mad, but Phil is a nicer guy than I am and I’m not so sure.
Phil is Just as Good Off the Field:
First off, congratulations to Phil who just won the Jersey Shore’s greatest Sports Personality in the last 50 years! We hope that this is not the last HOF he gets into. Again, please go to his Facebook page to support his Hall of Fame run.
When I first worked for the Muscular Dystrophy Foundation in honor of my cousin Celestina, I was so happy to see Phil Villapiano being such a huge contributor for them. Phil has lent himself to many charities and he is beloved by fans and organizations alike. Phil is in various Hall of Fames and his other charities include saving the Jersey Shore after hurricane Sandy and MDA & ALS.
He also has bravely offered his brain to CTE research as well. Players like Jim Plunkett and George Atkinson have discussed the issue and the struggles they are having, and Phil also has done several interviews on the effects that football has had on his body.
Phil joins the ranks of so many special Raider players. Their love of life, football and their fellow man is both inspiring and endearing. Born in Long Branch, New Jersey and raised in Asbury Park, Phil has left his mark on many hearts around the country. He has seen pain and tragedy but through it all he lives life with joy and a smile. Graduating from Bowling Green and making a name on the national scene in Oakland, he is more than a college icon, former NFL Rookie of the Year, 2 time all NFL player, or 5 time all AFC player. A lot more.
I was once asked on a podcast why the Raiders players relationship with the fans was so special because they said they just didn’t understand it. I said, “Most people look at the players as celebrity athletes. It’s their team. Even though I was too little to understand anything, in Oakland the Raiders were not celebrities but they were considered family. The players were underpaid so many worked, played and were socially active with the fans. They also genuinely enjoyed and cared for each other, and the players were a part of the community. From Al Davis who the NFL and most owners hated; to the great Bill King who the networks and the Warriors took off of tv for looking like the Devil; neither they, the players or the fans really fit in anywhere. Except in Oakland”.
“They worked hard and played hard and loved their families. They were outcasts and throw aways that made sense to no one. The players were always too old, wild, or too slow or not big enough. Al Davis would see their heart and take them in. Then you put them all together with an East Bay attitude under an overcast, grey sky in Oakland on a crisp fall day, and together they all made sense. They won and they dominated. The pride; the winning; the diversity in race and religion; it was the best relationship in sports. No stadium was louder, no bond stronger”.
From New Jersey to California, Phil has never lost who he was and who was there for the ride. His loyalty and love for fans and family is contagious. And anyone that could put a smile on my mom and dad’s face has my loyalty.
(The Amazing run of the Raiders; The Rebels of Oakland)
They say never meet your heroes, and when I first started my medical business in the bay area, I was able to meet some A-List athletes and celebrities that I admired. Most were ok, but a couple turned out to be arrogant, self absorbed and just plain strange and it hurt. Raider fans are lucky because for the most part they are never disappointed. Meet Lester Hayes or Jim Otto or Phil Villapiano, and they will have you leaving with a smile. Phil is a fan favorite due to his whit, love of life, and passionate heart. He’s never really received the credit he deserved on the field, but let’s be real, many Raiders haven’t. People forget the east coast media dominated sports at the time. I’m sorry but waiting this long for Cliff Branch, Lester Hayes, Jack Tatum and Phil Villapiano is unacceptable and I’ve told the NFL writers as such. (Don’t get me started on Ken Stabler). Phil is already in our HOF and I hope Phil truly knows just how special he is to the bay area.
So if you are having a rough day, open your favorite adult beverage and go on youtube and enjoy the Super Bowl and championship games all over again. Check out Phil’s interviews that will leave you inspired and always laughing. Reminisce about the players and friends and family that you shared these amazing times with. Remember loved ones that are no longer with us that you shared so much with and who started your journey as a Raider fan. The Sea of Hands; The Holy Roller; the Ghost to the Post; the Heidi Game; and all that winning. For me, every time I watch these videos and see the feelings of joy in the fans and the players, it’s as exciting as the Klondike, flying over the Atlantic, or the story of the White Whale.
How innocent were those days….how rich we are to have known them.
There are many other players that didn’t make the list but these are the stories that I found and they are quite disturbing. Some of you will remember these names, but some stories I’ve never heard of. Let’s get into the sad darkness of these individuals lives & tales of evil.
#10 Billy Cannon: (Oilers 1960-63, Raiders 1964-69, Chiefs 1970)
This player makes the list for the uniqueness of his crime. One of the greatest players of his generation, Billy Cannon could do it all. When #1 LSU played #3 Ole Miss, both teams had only given up 1 touchdown in 7 games. Losing 3-0 late in the game, Cannon took a punt 89 yards breaking several tackles to give LSU the lead which most consider the greatest play in LSU history. He then made the game winning tackle. After an amazing career at LSU where he won the Heisman Trophy & lead the Tigers to the National Championship, he was the 1st overall pick in the AFL draft. He had great success at Houston & Oakland & ended his career in Kansas City. He then became a dentist.
Cannon had a thriving dental practice but also had great debt due to gambling & bad real estate investments. He & others became involved in a counterfeiting scheme that printed over 6 million dollars in $100 bills. He was caught & did 2 1/2 years in prison. After prison, he eventually got his dentist license back and become one of the most important medical people in the prison system running the dental program.
He died in 2018 and was much beloved by all who knew him. He was re-elected into the College Football Hall of Fame in 2008 and for the most part was forgiven by all. He remains the nicest guy by far on this list. Below is the 1964 Billy Cannon football card from his 1964 season in Oakland that I have in my collection.
Keith Wright was given 234 years in prison which is the longest sentence ever given by any athlete in history. A once promising player out of Missouri, after his NFL career fizzled out, he did a full fledged life of crime. He had 19 felonies including several home invasions, forced sex acts/sexually assaulting one victim and then making her go to the ATM after, kidnapping, and false imprisonment.
#8 Eric Naposki: (Patriots 88-89, Colts 1989, Barcelona Dragons 1991-92, 96-97)
UConn Product Eric Naposki had a short stint in the NFL but some nice runs in the short lived World Football League. In 3 1/2 seasons with Barcelona he recorded 16 1/2 sacks along with several blocked punts and field goals. He also had a dark secret.
In May of 2009 he was arrested for the 1994 murder of Bill McLaughlin who was famous for creating a machine that could separate plasma from blood and also simplify the dialysis procedure. He and his partners collected over 8 figures for their invention.
Naposki had become the boyfriend of Nanette Packard Johnston who before they met at 26 and with 2 kids; put up an ad in the personal section that stated, “Wealthy men only-I know how to take care of a man if he knows how to take care of me”. The newly divorced 52 year old McLaughlin fell for her immediately. She moved into his mansion and she talked him into letting her be his bookkeeper.
McLaughlin was eventually found dead at home with 6 gun shot wounds to the torso. Johnston & Naposki were eventually arrested for murdering McLaughlin for his life insurance. After embezzling over $500,000.00 from McLaughlin’s estate, Johnston was arrested and convicted for taking the money from his estate but as is in Orange County she was given a suspended sentence. A cold case detective opened up the case 15 years later and after talking to more witnesses, eventually helped get Johnston & Naposki convicted. To this day Naposki claims innocence & is still trying to get out while both of them serve life sentences in prison.
#7 Jovan Belcher: (Kansas City 2009-12)
Jovan Belcher at best was a long shot to make the NFL. He was not drafted and was signed as an undrafted free agent by the Kansas City Chiefs. In time he made the team and even started. His acts of kindness were of legend and he was adored by fans and players alike. He met and began living with his girlfriend Kasandra Perkins. She was only 20 and eventually she got pregnant by him.
As time went on Jovan eventually lost his starting job as the Chiefs middle linebacker. After several concussions and threats by the Chiefs coaching staff telling him that his days were numbered if his play didn’t improve, Jovan changed and the pressure was getting to him. He felt bullied by coaches. He drank heavily, and popped pain pills due to the injuries he had sustained because he didn’t want to miss any playing time. Many friends said he was forgetful, moody, and very much not himself. After his death it was found that he had pervasive CTE due to the numerous concussions he suffered. The Chiefs refused to comment on his health or how they handled him.
As with some pro athletes, Jovan had another girlfriend on the side. After their baby was born, the fighting increased between Kasandra and Jovan. One day after a huge fight, Jovan took a .40 caliber hand gun and shot Kasandra 9 times, killing her. He kissed her forehead and said he was sorry. His baby was in the house and his mother who was staying with them called 911. Below is the horrible 911 call. Please don’t listen if you are sensitive.
He then drove to the Chiefs practice facility and was seen by head coach Romeo Crennel and GM Scott Pioli along with other staff members. They pleaded with him to calm down. Sadly Belcher got on his knees, made the sign of the cross on his chest and said he had to go. He then shot himself in the head in front of everyone. Friends to this day remain shocked at this tragedy. Belcher was 25, Kasandra 22. To their credit, the NFL elected to give their child all of his benefits.
#6 Darren Sharper: (Packers 1997-2004; Vikings 2005-08; Saints 2009-10)
NFL players and sexual assault allegations are far from strangers, but Darren Sharper took it to a new level. The 5 time pro-bowler and Super Bowl winner with the Saints, was enjoying success as an analyst on the NFL Network. This good looking, popular player was on the party trail and loved the ladies. He was known as a smooth talker who definitely liked to play at night.
What people didn’t know is that Sharper and 2 of his friends were serial rapists. They would use various drugs including GHB (the date rape drug that scrambles your memory) to drug and sexually assault over 16 women in 4 states. In one binge, they sexually assaulted 4 women in 24 hours.
Another time Sharper admitted to meeting a man and 2 women at a club and when they went back to his hotel, he drugged all 3 and sexually assaulted the 2 women. Thankfully many went to the hospital immediately after and through the use of rape kits and interviews, Sharper and his friends were arrested. Even with the first couple of allegations, Sharper shockingly got off the charges. When he was finally convicted, he did a plea bargain to only do 9 years in jail. The judge was so outraged at the sentence she changed it to 20 years in Federal prison. The judge and the DA also scolded the police departments and the justice system for it’s protection of Sharper citing his celebrity and fame from being a pro football player as being the reason.
#5 Jim Dunaway: (Bills 1963-71; Dolphins 1972)
“Big” Jim Dunaway is one of the greatest Buffalo Bills players of all time. Dunaway played between 1963-1971 for Buffalo and ended his career in 1972 getting a Super Bowl ring with the perfect Miami Dolphins team. He was ranked as the 28th best Bill of all time by a local Buffalo publication. He was a 4 time AFL all-star, 2 time AFL Champion, and many thought he should be in the pro football Hall of Fame. Alas his story reads somewhat like another Buffalo great, OJ Simpson.
After a nasty divorce and long legal battle in 1995, his ex-wife Nonnie got ½ of his NFL pension, 800 acres of land on their dairy farm, and $1800/month spousal support. Jim was outraged at the decision and felt he was screwed. In time it was found out that Jim had a woman on the side that he spent several thousands of dollars to keep happy. In 3 years he spent over $81k on her, and the judge wasn’t pleased. Dunaway tried to hide his money and also filed bankruptcy while appealing the decision.
It dragged out and it got ugly. One day Dunaway said that he went to his old house to get some clothes. He stated that he and his ex-wife were cordial and supportive and it was a typical visit. Later that day though, Nonnie Dunaway was found in their half filled pool dead. After an autopsy it was found out that she had drowned, but only after someone had crushed her skull before throwing her into the pool. Even though Jim was the only one to see Nonnie that day, the grand jury for some insane reason didn’t think there was enough circumstantial evidence to arrest him so they did not even pursue going after Dunaway. The police had no other suspects.
Dunaway’s distraught kids were outraged. They stated publicly their father had killed their mom and filed a civil lawsuit against Jim. In 2002 the Jury found in favor of the kids and he was ordered to pay over $579k in damages. Jim was upset at his children for not believing him but they relented profusely. Almost everyone close to the situation thought Jim got away with murder. Jim Dunaway died in 2018.
#4 Rae Carruth: (Carolina Panthers 1997-99)
One of the most chilling 911 calls I’ve ever heard. Rae Carruth grew up fast and self absorbed and made many mistakes in life. Even as a young adult his pension for selfish behavior was the norm. He was a star at Colorado and during his sophomore season his Sacramento girlfriend had his son. Carruth had nothing to do with the son until his girlfriend filed for child support. After talking with Carruth, she agreed to take ½ of the child support due to her as long as Carruth became a more responsible father. He agreed but failed to do it.
Carruth, like many athletes was no stranger to the dating world. He casually dated Cherica Adams and eventually she became pregnant. That was unacceptable to the narcissistic Carruth who demanded she get an abortion. He told others that he didn’t want to pay any more child support. She refused to end the pregnancy.
He paid $50,000 for a friend of his to kill Adams on a dark road. While she followed Carruth after going to the movies with him, Adams noticed he stopped right in front of her so she couldn’t move. A car came up beside her and while Carruth had her blocked, the gunman shot at her multiple times. After the shooting stopped, Carruth coldly drove off with the deed done. The problem was Adams was not dead. Below is the actual 911 call of her harrowing experience after being shot. She soon would lapse into a coma and die a month later giving birth to her son.
Shockingly Carruth was given bail and told if the baby or Cherica died, he had to turn himself in. When Cherica died a month later, a manhunt ensued. He was found hiding in a trunk of a car with $3900, chocolate, and urine in bottles.
Their son, Chancellor Adams, was born with cerebral palsy due to the lack of oxygen. Thinking that Carruth would come off bad in his trial, his lawyers never let him take the stand. He arrogantly said he did nothing wrong even though his assailants turned against him and exposed their plot. Carruth was convicted of conspiracy to commit murder and other chargers but was not convicted of first degree murder which would have probably given him the death penalty. All but one juror voted for the 1st degree conviction. Carruth was released in 2018. In a final insane act of selfishness, Carruth threatened to sue for custody of his son after he got out but he eventually he didn’t do it.
#3 OJ Simpson:
This one is too well known to get too deep into. OJ lived a secret life while being loved by all. He was an abusive tyrant that most of the country felt got away with murder. The murders were beyond violent and sick. He and Rae Carruth have some serious issues. Simpson was released from prison earlier this year after serving a 9 year sentence in Nevada for unrelated crimes. I’m sure he will look for Nicole and Ronald’s killer on some golf course somewhere.
#2 Robert Rozier: (St. Louis Cardinals 1979; Hamilton Tiger-Cats 1980; Saskatchewan Roughriders 1980; Oakland Raiders 1980)
Robert Rozier was born in Alaska, and moved to California. He played High School ball during the glory days of the Rancho Cordova dynasty in Sacramento California where they were considered a national power.
Rozier was drafted in the 9th round and showed potential after a quality career at California Berkeley playing defensive end. The promise was wasted when it was found out he was also a heavy drug user. After several run in’s with the law, the Cardinals dumped Rozier after 6 games. Rozier played in Canada and had a cup of coffee with the Raiders before being released, never being able to conquer his demons.
Feeling lost, he began doing petty crimes and joined an African American cult based in Miami called the Temple of Love. After befriending the leader Yahweh ben Yahweh, he changed his name to Neariah Israel.
There was one problem in joining this group. To join the “brotherhood” you had to kill a “white devil” and bring back a body part to prove you did it. Rozier wanted to be an overachiever and he brought back 7 body parts from 7 different people. He eventually admitted to killing 7 white people people and delivering the victims body parts to please his leader. After being arrested on Halloween of 1986, he agreed to turn on his leader and became a witness for the government and enter the witness protection program. Even being a witness after a plea bargain, he was sentenced to 22 years in prison for his murderous spree.
After serving 10 years, Rozier was placed in the witness protection program. Due to the third strike law, he was sentenced to 25 years to life after writing 29 bad checks. He’s now serving his time in a California prison.
#1 Randall Woodfield: (Green Bay Packers 1974);
The I-5 killer. One of the most notorious criminals in the annals of the U.S. was the I-5 killer, Randall Woodfield. His story is bone chilling. Randall had severe problems even at an early age. He was a good high school and college football player but he often would get into trouble for petty crimes including flashing and indecent exposure. Even with his issues, the Packer’s felt he had potential and they drafted him, but he continued to have questionable behavior. With more trouble with the law due to his crimes, Woodfield was cut and placed on the practice squad. He played for the semi-pro team Manitowoc Chiefs where borderline players trying to make the Packers team often played.
The Packers put up with a lot but eventually they could not handle his many problems. After more arrests with flashing women, he was sent home by the Packers who refused to have anything more to do with him after this.
Woodfield went back home in Portland, Oregon and he started doing severe crimes. He made women perform sex acts by knife point and also robbed them. He eventually was caught and was given a 10 year prison sentence, but his crime spree was just starting. After he got out of jail, a classmate of his was brutally murdered and even though the police felt he did it, Woodfield was never charged due to a lack of physical evidence.
In the beginning he was dubbed the “I-5 Bandit” and his reign of terror was felt in California, Oregon and Washington along the I-5 corridor. The crimes worsened. When he was finally caught, he was linked to over 44 murders, and 60 sexual assaults from 1979-81. He is now doing life in prison and even today he is one of the first people they look to in many unsolved cold cases in California, Washington and Oregon. Most in law enforcement think he killed and raped dozens more people.
There you have it. The worst of the worst criminals in NFL history. Their stories give a disturbing reminder that things and people aren’t always what they seem. Be careful who you look up to.
With so many expectations, the Raiders are a disappointing 3-5 half way through the 2017-18 NFL Season. Let’s look at why this has happened, and how and when it can be fixed.
You heard a whole lot of Raider fans using the expression, “In Reggie We Trust” this off season. Many are now looking for him to either be fired or put on the hot seat.
I’ve written about McKenzie in the past. He’s done some good things but he’s also had some really bad signings and drafts. For every Derek Carr & Khalil Mack, there are the DJ Hayden’s, Jihad Ward’s and Clive Walford’s. Reggie has missed on several high picks and it’s hurt the Raiders.
The Raiders philosophy of trying to fix the defense with DB’s is wrong. They’ve been doing it for years. The Raiders need to stop pouring money and high draft picks into DB’s, and start building a dominating front 7. If you can’t rush the passer, you can’t stop teams in today’s NFL.
Khalil Mack’s contract is now up and Oakland must pay him. This will make things even harder for the Raiders and they can’t have so many misses in their signings and their draft picks.
The Raiders need a physical front 7 that can stop the run and get to the passer. They need to draft and sign players to fix this part of the defense. McKenzie has to dump many of the contracts that are coming off the books in the off season including Reggie Nelson, Sean Smith, and David Amerson. They need to get tougher as well.
I’d love to see the Rams disgruntled stud DT Aaron Donald on the Raiders. He may be the most dominating player in the NFL today. A pass rushing DT would be my first priority. If I’m GM the teams defensive identity would be a physical one that gets to the QB. On offense I’d run a power running game with an emphasis on throwing deep. With their financial belt tightened you better be right on who you sign and draft.
Jack Del Rio:
Another popular phrase this off-season was in “Jack we trust”. Now many are questioning whether he is a winner and if he’s a good enough leader.
When Jack was hired, I was of the few that really wasn’t into this signing. Del Rio is a very popular coach with the owners and players. He’s likeable, says the right things, and makes sure the guys writing his checks are happy. He also has limited success. In 12 years of coaching Oakland and the Jags he has only 4 winning seasons and one playoff win. At Jacksonville things got worse the longer he coached. In his last 4 years coaching the Jaguars he was 23-36 and was let go during his last season with them.
Del Rio is usually very loyal to his players and coaches and is not one to throw anyone under the bus. That is a good trait, but he’s also not good in press conferences during bad times. His “I don’t know what happened” comment in press conferences have a bad look to it and fans of the Raiders like it as much as Jacksonville’s fans did before.
The Raiders have to get an identity and stick to it and that is Jack Del Rio’s job. Bill’s head coach Sean McDermott has built an image in Buffalo that is equal to his. He’s also gotten rid of players that didn’t buy into his philosophy. The Bills are now tough, physical on defense, and have a good running game. Buffalo does not have a good QB and they are last in the NFL in passing offense but are 5-2 and they straight up believe.
Are the Raiders a pass happy team that doesn’t care about the run? Do they want to be a power running team that can throw deep? Do they want to be a physical defense that gets to the QB? Choose an identity and follow it.
Del Rio also has to be more authoritative and take control. Saying it’s my fault or saying we have to work on a better scheme is a lot better than shrugging your shoulders and saying I don’t know what happened. Some in the media have said he’s played a big role in the defense and it hasn’t helped. If the Raiders struggle for the next season and a half, his job won’t be his anymore.
Even some in the media are now saying Derek Carr might be overrated. That’s way too simple. The truth is Carr is a good but not great NFL QB. He’s also a QB that gets rattled under a pass rush. Carr’s interceptions have got to him mentally. He’s now throwing to the check down receiver much more than in the past, and he’s trying to pinpoint passes in between defenders instead of airing it out and throwing deep. Some have said the Raiders threw deep more than anyone last year and that’s not true. The Raiders were 11th in completed passes past 20 yards and 12th over 40 yards.
There were more than a few bad passes yesterday that were caused by the pressure Buffalo was putting on Carr. He looked like he did when he was a rookie at times. He anticipated the rush instead of feeling it and it showed. Last year he was the best protected QB in the NFL and he thrived. This year the OL has struggled and so has he. NOT a coincidence.
Raiders OC Todd Downing is also getting trashed by many and he deserves some of the heat. He’s made few changes to the offensive scheme and the rest of the league has changed a lot to defend the Raiders. For instance on the turnovers yesterday, each play Buffalo played in the face of the Raiders WR. Instead of airing it out, Carr nervously went for the check down passes or tried to pinpoint the ball in between defenders.
Marshawn Lynch struggled his last year with Seattle, and he’s still struggling. He looks like a 31 year old RB and RB’s usually don’t get better or faster with age. He’s taken a lot of punishment over the years.
The Raiders have solid RB’s that can run, block and catch the ball but the Raiders have to run more. Some fans tried to say after yesterdays game, “see; look how bad the Raiders RB’s are”. Well they ran only 14 times all game with DeAndre Washington leading the way with 6 carries for 26 yards. The Raiders are an amazing 26th in the NFL for the number of rushing attempts so far this year. Last year they ended the year with the 11th most rushing attempts.
Unless Downing steps up, a new coordinator is needed. They also need to back to the power blocking scheme and run the ball down teams throats. Marshawn Lynch enjoys the zone blocking scheme for his OL but it hasn’t worked. The identity of the offense should be a power running game and then use the deep ball with the play action pass. You can’t blame Todd Downing with poor play calling and not get on Carr. Carr is the coach on the field and he’s got to audible more. He has the final say on what play will be called. Part of being a QB is calling a great game and he was fooled a couple of times when the Bills showed blitz but didn’t.
Where do we start. At the start of the year some publications said that the Raiders had the worst LB’ s in the NFL. The Raiders still have 17.5 million guaranteed until next year with CB’s David Amerson and Sean Smith. Reggie Nelson’s 4.25 million will be off the books too. Amerson struggles guarding the deep ball and Smith has struggled with everything. Reggie Nelson is on his last legs and Karl Joseph still struggles defending the passing game. Gareon Conley’s rookie year is pretty much not going to amount to much and that’s another round 1 pick that didn’t help much their first year.
The Raiders defensive line still can’t create a pass rush or stop the run. Khalil Mack had only 2 tackles yesterday with no sacks and was kept out for a small part of the game without any injury. The team has only 12 sacks in 8 games and it’s the same old story, different day.
Fans posting that the Raiders have this amazing amount of talent on defense and all they need is good coaching are ridiculous. They need talent big time on defense. Ken Norton Jr. and Jack Del Rio may not be the answer to fix the defense, but until they improve the talent, NOTHING is going to change.
Blow it up. Get an experienced, quality coordinator. The Raiders want to win now. Mario Edwards Jr. has his moments but he’s not the answer so far. Jihad Ward was a bad pick. Keep Navorro Bowman but they need more help at LB. Let Amerson, Nelson and Smith walk. They have to get a DT that can put pressure on the QB and stop the run adequately. The Raiders have been fooling themselves on the defensive side of the ball for years. What they’ve done for 15 years hasn’t worked. It needs to be fixed yesterday.
Most feel it will take 10 wins to ensure a playoff spot this year. If that is true, Oakland will have to go 7-1 the rest of the way. The Raiders have games left at home with Dallas, Denver, and the Giants and have to play Kansas City, San Diego and Philadelphia on the road. In regards to the struggles the Raiders had with the weather in rainy Buffalo, that is a beach party compared to playing in Kansas City and Philadelphia in December. This doesn’t include a game in Mexico with the Patriots right after the bye week.
Next week the Raiders play at Miami which is always a tough game for them. Realistically they will have to play amazing football the rest of the season to get to the playoffs. The offense can be improved to a point this year with some adjustments but the defense needs a lot more help that must be addressed in the off-season.
The Raiders players have a good attitude saying that they are going to work hard and stay committed. They are sticking together and not throwing blame to each other. They also can’t think about playoffs but they do need to think about the next opponent.
The Raiders will have to play amazing football the last 2 months to make the playoffs. The off season darlings of the NFL are in trouble. The castle that looked so sturdy is now having it’s foundation checked for damage. Time will tell how much work will need to be done to fix the team and if they do it right.
A person who claims or pretends to have certain beliefs about what is right but who behaves in a way that disagrees with those beliefs.
Wow did I miss this one. I once told my niece, “when dealing with guys, what they do shows their heart. What they say shows what they want you to think. Always look at what they do.”
During the time when the mild controversy regarding the NFL HOF Nomination of convicted serial rapist and ex all pro safety Darren Sharper was going on, famous SI sportswriter Peter King took to twitter to defend the HOF voters. I was taking some time off and relaxing and I didn’t comment on it or write about it. Recently though people have shown things that Peter King said and I was floored.
I’ve given the Deadspin article link to you; the only one that I could find; that repeated Kings serial tweets.
Here are some of his EXACT quotes.
The 46 HoF voters are asked to consider only on-field factors for ex-players. That is what I do.
We would be shirking our duties if we did not consider him. What has happened since should not be factored in.
The bylaws of the Pro Football Hall of Fame forbid the 46 voters from considering players’ off-field lives.
If I said, “I will not consider Sharper for induction because he has been accused of multiple rapes,” I would resign from the committee.
For the sake of not giving Peter King’s worshipers fuel, I say don’t even read the article. Just read his comments.
For almost 3 decades starting in the 70’s, the most popular teams in the NFL were the Cowboys and the Raiders. Their ratings were always on top. People loved them or hated them. Sports Illustrated sold a lot of magazines with Raiders stories. Here is a great one on Ken Stabler from 1977 after the Super Bowl win.
Paul Zimmerman was a friend of Bob Padecky. He was the king of east coast media and was a voting member of the HOF and senior committee until his stroke in late 2008. He was the first expert to be used by ESPN during the NFL draft coverage. He was the man at SI (Sports Illustrated) and is revered today by most sports writers. He was the one that had a vendetta against Ken Stabler because of the incident with Bob. Peter King every year honors Paul Zimmerman for an entire week near the time of the HOF ceremonies. He did it again this year.
Below is Peter Kings article trashing Ken Stabler’s HOF credentials. He said that he only had 5 good years. Remember one of his best friends and his mentor is Paul Zimmerman.
Peter King probably didn’t vote for the Snake but he was in the minority. Players, coaches, owners and teammates all said he was HOF worthy a long time ago.
Why Peter Kings Words Are So Hollow:
Peter King brags about his integrity. He sticks out his chest saying that if he took into account things off of the field, he should resign as a voter in the HOF.
The Hall of Fame Voters should be called out. Their votes SHOULD ALL be released to the public. There is no accountability in their votes and there needs to be transparency. I respect the fact that you don’t vote people in; but the fans, media and teams need to know why.
Cris Carter was left out of the HOF for 5 years. Why? Carter was a tool at times. Even fans didn’t like him.
After his first 4 years in Philadelphia, the media, team, and the fans were sick of him. He was their leading WR and he was cut. He also took a beating from writers who talked about his drug use of marijuana, ecstasy, and cocaine. He stopped talking to the media.
He regrouped in Minnesota and had amazing numbers. At the end of his career some said he softened to the media because his numbers might be HOF worthy and he wanted to find favor with them. Sportswriters have long memories though Cris.
Terrell Owens was another one. Of course he’s a HOF player. But he was dramatic, demanding and nasty to the media. One year during a contract dispute in Philly, he refused to LOOK AT media members let alone talk to them. He threw teammates under the bus, blamed coaches for losses and even told Playboy that QB Jeff Garcia was gay.
Why do I bring these 2 up? These are just 2 examples of obvious HOF players who weren’t voted in by the writers. I thought anything off the playing field didn’t matter? Well obviously it does.
Stabler is the worst example of all. Anyone that is buds with Zimmerman knows how much he hated Ken, blaming him for the Bob Padecky fiasco. How can you leave Stabler out of the Hall? Only 5 good years? Are you kidding me?
Are Hall of Fame Voters Really Biased?:
I was being interviewed by a small radio station in Pennsylvania and they thought I was nuts. “Jim you actually believe that HOF voters will hold grudges for years against a player?”
My answer was simple.
“Yes. Look at people who are staunch Republicans or Democrats. They would blindly support Charles Manson if he was part of their political party. And if Mother Teresa was in the other political party they’d rip her to shreds with negativity. They have grudges for a lifetime.
Same with some HOF voters. I’m giving you facts not opinions. Zimmerman said in an SI article in 1979 after the Bob Padecky situation that he would NEVER vote Ken Stabler into the HOF as long as he lived. He also admitted Stabler was the only player he ever lobbied AGAINST. Zimmerman was one of the most; if not the most; powerful writers in the country. SI was king and ESPN was just starting and he was chosen as their NFL and draft guru. Thirty years later in 2009, Zimmerman told the NFL Network again; “I’ll never vote Ken Stabler into the HOF. Facts gentleman; facts”.
Jim drops the mic. Ok I didn’t do that, but I would have if I was in studio!
Just the very fact that Zimmerman; after 30 years; STILL said he wouldn’t vote for Stabler into the HOF shows how right I am about some sportswriters. Most are great I’m sure; but some?
Frank Cooney; who has covered football for over 5 decades; wrote a great article earlier in the year. EVERYTHING I said from Randall Watson to Padecky, to Dr Z to Nick Dudich was confirmed by Frank; and countless others; and my articles were written way before theirs, last summer.
A tidbit that I never knew was Frank finding out that the voters to the HOF “innocently” received a huge binder of information on this years candidates.
One piece was a blog from 2012 by Andy Barall of the NY Times with the famous quote that supposedly Dave Casper said. “Ken took football back 50 years. He didn’t work hard enough at it. He fooled em his whole life”.
Yes I found the blog. Here it is. Magically it has a link to a book by………..Paul Zimmerman, one of his buddies. This stuff writes itself friends.
Dave Casper has been very angry over being misquoted. “I’ve never said Ken set back football. I would vote him into the HOF”. Below is Franks article with Dave Caspers angry retort.
I’m a realist, and I know nothing is going to change in the voting process. So what needs to happen is that if you are a fan of a player that is deserving of the NFL HOF, it’s time to act. Through petitions, writing emails, responding to social media posts and articles; in reality it’s up to you. So many are working hard for players from the Raiders that deserve to be in the HOF. But everyone needs to be involved. Think of the loyal fanbase, families and children of these great players.
Some will say Ken got in so get over it. But I remember the pain in the Stabler’s families eyes. I don’t want ANY other Raider or NFL family to go through that. If you grew up in the bay area the Raiders were not our team; they were family.
How a petition for a Ken Stabler or a Cliff Branch can’t get 50,000 signatures in a month is beyond me. I see a lot of posts online talking about fan loyalty, but in reality it’s going to be up to ALL fans actions to carry the torch. Keep doing what you are doing to inspire others. And for those that haven’t been a part of the support, it’s never too late to get on board. Do your part for these players that gave generations of people so much enjoyment and pride. Make NFL HOF voters do the right thing; because without you; some won’t.
I love draft day and it is always good to reconnect with old friends for the 17th time. Draft day is special to us and we love it.
To start out I was shocked when ESPN was reporting that the Raiders were going to take William Jackson III out of Houston. I watched him play in 3 games and he was kind of soft in my mind but he was a great athlete. A rich man’s DJ Hayden. The NFL and NFL junkies LOVE their athletes but I only love athletes if they have an instinct for football.
Reggie Ragland was plummeting like a stone due to a story that broke that he had an enlarged aorta. That isn’t rare and he can live a normal life with yearly checkups. Problem is the hyper neurotic NFL is NOT going to want to take a chance like that.
Myles Jack (does any of these agents ever tell their clients to keep their mouths shut?) in another “I’m an open book” moment told Bart Hubbuch of the New York Post/NFL that he has a degenerative condition that may require microfracture surgery in the future. In an innocent tweet, Hubbuch reported this. Jack’s exact quote was, “If I can play 3 years in the NFL then that would be above average.” Yikes. Bart confirmed that’s what Jack said. Yes kids I did my homework so you don’t have to!
Injury reports are a hit or a miss thing. Remember Star Lotulelei? The Utah DL stud was considered a top 3 pick but in pre draft checkups he had a heart condition that was created by a bad virus he had. After two weeks he was cured of the virus and his heart function was normal but that didn’t matter. The NFL freaked out and he dropped like a stone to Carolina at #14 and now he stars for Carolina who just went to the Super Bowl. In my 2013 draft I picked Star; the Raiders picked DJ Hayden. (ok ok, the counseling about the Raiders bad drafts didn’t cure me after all).
In last years draft 15 minutes before the first pick ESPN radio announced that Leonard Williams shoulder may need surgery and he may be out for the year. The top 2-4 pick dropped to 6. The shoulder injury was from 2013 and since then Williams didn’t miss a game. Remember ESPN saying Carr broke his wrist before the season last year? You have to be careful with all these rumors; many of these reports are to freak people out so they will listen or read what they’ve created. Oh those ad dollars will make you lie like a beast.
One thing that many have talked about outside of California is just how little California fans watch and like college football. Many really don’t know much about the players other than highlight tapes. Nothing wrong with that but it’s just not their thing. I feel like an SEC/Big 10 guy sometimes trapped in a Pac 12 body. I love college football so much and on a cold & wet Saturday, good food, good company, a fire and lots of college games is a joy to me.
Why Karl Joseph?:
First off in my draft I chose DL Shaq Lawson. I had Joseph as a late first rounder or early second round talent. The Raiders wanted Karl Joseph in the second round but they didn’t think he’d last until their pick. I think the Raiders also felt Reggie Ragland was going to fall like a rock and he has. I think no way without that health report is he not going in the first round.
Even though this wasn’t a great value pick in my mind, the Raiders may have thought that Ragland would be there to them in the second round so in reality they would get their safety and their MLB. If that was their thinking, wow is that smart. If not, then you just hope it works out.
The Raiders need a starting MLB in This Draft.
Other than Ragland I don’t think any of the MLB draft choices are ready to start. It’s a bad year for MLB. There may be a dark horse. I do love Scooby Wright III out of Arizona though because he is just a ball hawk and a tackling machine so picking him up wouldn’t be the dumbest thing. Some have him going round 3, others on day 3. Critics say he’s not fast enough to cover the pass but they said the same thing about Zach Thomas and recently 49ers Chris Borland and they excelled big time. Wright is a tough, smart football player and I get him in the 3rd or 4th round all day. He’s too talented to not have on the field and even as a backup he’s much better than Ben Heeney.
(I’m not a big highlight video guy; the games are what shows the truth but just a few plays to let people know who he is.)
Grades from Yahoo Sports to ESPN had this pick as a C- to a B+. I predict he will be a huge fan favorite. He’s an old school safety that loves to tackle and hit people. He has a passion for football and is a born leader. His technique is solid and he often hits runners flush. If you are looking for an NFL combine genetic freak who runs 4.3 40’s then this isn’t your guy. Karl is one thing; a football player. The word that is used most to describe Joseph is that he is a thumper. He’s a physical player who loves to hit people. He’s a good tackler and is excellent against the run, mixed in with quality pass coverage talent. His weight is between 195-205 lbs. so at 5’ 10” he’s not a huge guy.
Remember that newly signed S Reggie Nelson is going to be 33 in September so he’s only going to be playing in Oakland for 1-2 years. Safety will be a priority.
Some will say oh great, Mike Mitchell 2. But that’s not the case. Joseph is a good cover guy and is a ball hawk. He’s smart with good instinct. He plays very physical football and rarely misses tackles. Mitchell was just a hitter who could run fast.
At 5’ 10” people are calling him a poor mans Bob Sanders, the Colts great safety (Sanders was 5’ 8” or 5’ 9” depending on who you asked). A compact guy who always seemed to be around the ball making plays. Joseph is a very confident player with football smarts who should fit in nicely with the Raiders defense. Look for the Raiders to put Reggie Nelson at Strong Safety and Joseph to Free Safety.
He’s coming off an October ACL injury and probably will not be 100% the first part of the season.
Before he got hurt he ran a legitimate timed 4.6 40 which isn’t burning up anyone’s speed meter (he ran from 4.5 to 4.7) but he’s fast enough. He’s a risk taker at times and sometimes got burned trying to do too much. For good or bad, with his slower 40 time, Al Davis doesn’t make this pick.
Many wonder with his size and style of play can he stay healthy. Bob Sanders was a beast when he played but he was hurt; a lot. As people saw with Charles Woodsen, he said he wanted to play 10 more years after week 6. The Raiders then put LB’s on the tight ends because the Raiders were struggling covering TE’s and this freed Woodsen up to stop the run and he took a beating. He announced he was retiring after week 14. Playing safety in the NFL is a rough go and a healthy one is key to having success.
Was Choosing Joseph a good pick:
NO ONE. I mean NO ONE has been as honest as I have been about the Raiders and their draft picks for the last 13 years. I’m not a homer and I’m not a hater; that’s why both those groups don’t like me sometimes. I deal with what is and not with what might be. I have the following I have for a reason and that’s because like or dislike what I write, you get honesty.
That being said, I say this is a solid B+ pick. I like Joseph’s instinct and hitting ability. He has great technique and he’s a ball hawk. Another swagger guy but he has a passion for the game and is a born leader. These are the guys the Raiders are stock piling.
He’s smart and a good solid player that will make plays at safety. He loves hitting and tackling and if he can stay healthy, he will be a solid player for years to come. He’s not Jack Tatum but he’s also not Mike Mitchell, Patrick Bates or Derrick Gibson. I don’t think Joseph is a top 15 pick but there was no way he was going to be there in the 2nd round so I understand the pick and it’s all good.
If the Raiders get Ragland in round two than I give this pick a big fat A +. The Raiders still need a MLB desperately but this is a nice start to the draft.
Day 1 of the NFL Draft is Here! Or as we call it guys day in.
Go ahead and have some fun with it because this draft is going to be very interesting. Let’s be real; experts, insiders, fans, ex players and even the teams themselves don’t know what players are going to be chosen. It’s guesswork for everyone so I’m not curing cancer here. Let’s just use common sense and historic facts and look into the 2016 NFL Draft day 1.
The Trade Impact In the First Round:
First off I’m a huge talent over need guy. Let’s say for instance you need a safety but the only ones that are there are 2nd or third round talents; I pass. If you look at the Raiders history they’ve ruined drafts picking for needs.
Even with the rules allowing WR to roam free and the QB to barely be touched, the QB position in the NFL is at it’s worst in NFL history. Passing and Receiving records are falling to average players at best who are benefiting from the new rules. I can see the likes of Dan Marino, Joe Montana and Jerry Rice saying, “give me a bucket!”
Here is a good article by quality ESPN Writer Bill Barnwell on Drafting Qb’s:
I’m not a big fan of these 2 trades but I understand them.
Let’s look outside the box and stop just regurgitating what the “experts” are saying. Let’s think for ourselves and see what might be the mindset of teams in this years draft.
Raiders Trading Up:
The pre NFL draft is fun. Many sites try to stir the pot with mock drafts and scenarios and NFL combine #’s to keep people interested all year round. It is fun to do but let’s be real; 90% of this stuff never happens.
One of those scenarios is the annual can the Raiders trade up or down in the draft game. In 56 years please give me the list of all of the trades the Raiders have done to move up or down in the draft. Ron Wolf was the architect of many of the Raiders great drafts and he taught Reggie McKenzie all he knew at Green Bay.
Will the Raiders trade up? No one knows. But if you look at history it says the Raiders will do nothing and draft #14. When you trade up you are also in the mindset that you are 1 player away from being a top team. They Raiders still have holes to fill.
The Raiders RB Reality of 2015:
The average fan almost always looks at offense but in reality you can’t win without a good to great defense. Should the Raiders get a RB? Yes. In the later rounds. But tell me last year how important the RB’s were in the championship game and in the Super Bowl? The Patriots were literally getting RB’s off the street; and the other 3 teams mostly used backups who didn’t exactly play like Walter Payton. What all 4 teams DID have were the 4 best DL’s in the NFL. New England had more sacks without blitzing than any other team in the NFL. Look at the history of the NFL; for the most part Defensive lines and defenses win championships; not RB’s.
The Raiders struggles last year began when Minnesota played a cover 2 defense and took away the long ball. The Raiders medium passing game is bad and they never adjusted to other teams that did it as well. That’s not on the RB’s.
San Diego Chargers Pick Will Control the Draft:
Everyone has Ole Miss T Laremy Tunsil as the Chargers pick but let’s hold on. The Chargers need to win now, and QB Philip Rivers is not getting any younger. The Chargers also paid a lot of money; some guaranteed; for tackles Joe Barksdale and King Dunlap. They also arent’ getting off cheap on their guards either. They could move one of their tackles to guard but now you are spending a ton of money on an OL when the defense is one of the worst in the NFL.
While the Raiders have a history of not trading up or down in the NFL draft, the Chargers have a lot of history. In recent year’s and in the past. (Rivers and Ladanian Tomlinson to name two). Chargers GM Tom Telesco is a wheeler and dealer for sure; for better or worse.
The Miami Dolphins are in big need of a franchise RB and rumors are swirling out of Miami that a trade with the Chargers isn’t out of the question. The Chargers have a kin to Notre Dame picks and they like OL Ronnie Stanley. They could trade down, get an extra pick or two and still get Stanley who other teams aren’t as high on.
If they do pick there, a defensive player like CB Jalen Ramsey or DL’s Joey Bosa or DeForest Buckner going to the Chargers would not shock me.
Ezekiell Elliott RB Ohio St.:
Jerry Jones loves his badboys. I warned everyone that Randy Gregory DL out of Nebraska was an athlete playing football and of course Dallas took him in the 2nd round last year. In 12 games last year Gregory had 11 tackles and 0 sacks. He also tested positive for a drug of some kind (he was positive for pot in college) and he’s now suspended for the first four games. DeMarcus Lawrence had 8 sacks last year and he came into his own; he also has been suspended for 4 games for substance abuse. Add Greg Hardy’s departure and the DL for Dallas is just ugly. So they’ll go DL right?
Jerry Jones has always been an offensive guy and I see them taking Ezekiel Elliott, RB out of Ohio St. Jones likes offense and he loves running backs so I see this going down.
Interesting Oakland Raiders Scenarios:
Reggie Ragland MLB Alabama:
Reports are leaking that he has an elarged aorta that needs yearly monitoring. They hypersensitive NFL; some teams reportedly have him off their board now. The only MLB that can start right away in this draft in my opinion is Alabama MLB Reggie Ragland. As I’ve said before with the likes of Rolando McClain and others, these aren’t Bear Bryants free wheeling LB’s. Nick Saban runs a controlled and sophisticated zone and Bama LB’s do not have to cover much man to man so you really don’t know how good they are against the pass.
In reality though this would be the safe pick and the one I think the Raiders are leaning to right now. Will his heart condition change this.
Myles Jack LB UCLA:
Myles Jack value is dropping quickly. Mike Mayock; who isn’t much for personality but who I like; has an interesting scenario where Myles Jack falls all the way to 14 and the Raiders take him. Even though I like Mike let’s be real; 3 days ago he said I can’t believe anyone in the top 10 won’t pick Jack but now in his Mock yesterday he has him falling to 14.
Why? Jack lost himself a lot of money in an “I’m an open book” millennial moment, when a few days ago he told reporters that his knee’s condition is degenerative and that in the future he may or may not need micro-fracture surgery. His exact quote was that no one knows the future but to play 3 years in this league would be above average. I could see his agent slapping his forehead when he heard that saying, “DOH!”. When the player is saying stuff like that then you move on……..Quickly.
Sheldon Rankins DL Louisville:
I like Rankins a lot and he’s going in the top 15 in the draft. I see him going to the Dolphins or the Saints who need help big time at DL. If not he’d be a great get for the Raiders to give them a much needed QB push from the DT position and could immediately upgrade their defense to possibly being a top 5-10 unit.
Shaq Lawson DL Clemson:
At the beginning I just couldn’t believe people downplaying him. He’s slowly climbed up the ladder and he may be a top 10 pick. In some mock drafts they have him going to Buffalo after the Raiders so it’s a crap shoot. If he’s here, how can you pass up on a play maker like Lawson? If he and Ragland are here wow; what a fun waiting time that will be. I like Lawson and think you just can’t pass him up. Talent over need.
Robert Nkemdiche DE Mississippi:
There is always a draft lovechild that fans glop on to and this year it is Nkemdiche. Gholston, Clowney, Gregory; the list is a long one. He had a great game against Alabama and that’s his calling card; plus a lot of hype. They forget that in 3 years he only had 7 sacks and that in his last 7 games at Ole Miss he averaged 2 tackles a game. He was extremely inconsistent. I may be wrong but I warned people about all galaxy Jadeveon Clowney and how he’d tank and I’m warning others about Robert. To think he’s now going to be a 8-12 sack per year guy in the NFL? I say no way.
William Jackson III CB, Houston:
The University of Houston had a great resurgence last year; just not in the passing defense scene. They were ranked the 122th rated pass defense in college football.
If you were listening to ESPN radio’s mock drafts yesterday, one of the people choosing picked CB William Jackson III out of Houston for the Raiders pick. I swallowed my gum too. Don’t laugh; this is the hot name being thrown around by ESPN and their followers and if they blow off Ragland due to health issues, this may be the pick. It would also be a little attempt at vindication for Reggie.
He had a monster bowl game against Florida St. and looked good in pre draft/NFL combine workouts. Many of the experts really don’t watch all the games so these big televised bowls and senior bowls are big deals to them. In reality he’s another free lancer who is a work out warrior and looks physically impressive. In tackling he’s somewhat soft and not one to like contact. I think this would be a bad pick and he’s a 2nd round project in my book. I warned you on draft day about DJ Hayden and I’m warning you again.
Chris Jones DL Mississippi St.:
Another pick on the ESPN show was Chris Jones. If Shaq Lawson is there and the Raiders take Chris Jones then it’s a huge mistake. Jones is a solid player but he’s had issues with conditioning in the past and he’s not a great pass rusher; he’s more of a run stopper. The Raiders have a ton of run stoppers; they need pass rushers. I think Jones is a good player but the Raiders need Shaq Lawson, not Chris Jones.
Karl Joseph S West Virgina:
He is still not recovered from his ACL tear and he won’t be 100% probably for a part of the season. He is a thumper with a lot of explosiveness. He was projected as a 1st or 2nd rounder but he’s been climbing. He’s the best safety in a draft without super star safeties. This isn’t a value pick; I like Joseph but I think you can get a good safety in the second or 3rd round at better value.
Leonard Floyd LB Georgia:
When you watched a Georgia game last year Floyd flies off the page. He has a lot of football talent and just isn’t an athlete. I wrote about him a few months ago and I like him. The problem is, Florida papers are talking about how Tampa Bay is gushing about him and how much they love him. Many other teams also quietly like him. It’s hard to think he’ll be there at #14, but if he is, they will take him.
Remember that the draft isn’t a gift bag; 31 other teams are in this so you have to adapt to their choices. Keep in mind also that some teams are smart and some aren’t. Not every pick is a good one.
One tidbit that is going around the Bay Area though is that the 49ers LOVE Mackenzie Alexander the CB out of Clemson. The 49ers trading down isn’t out of the question now that they are in full rebuilding mode. Getting a DL and Alexander would be pretty amazing for them. I too love Alexander as a player.
Who ever the Raiders pick the hopes are that it’s a smart pick and not a crazy reach that filled the ghosts of drafts past. Some Raider fans will like any pick; some will hate any pick; but the even keel fans will look at the player and break down the need of the team and the skill set that they bring. As Reggie McKenzie said a few weeks ago, “we’ve done nothing yet. We haven’t won a thing and have work to do”. That is a good attitude to have entering this years draft.
When you look back at the history of the Oakland Raiders, it is a work of art on how to build an NFL dynasty. Some drafts would get several starters and some even multiple HOF players. Ron Wolf & Al Davis made it an art form to pick up late round talent and pick players that others had no desire to choose.
Even though Bo Jackson was originally drafted by Tampa Bay, he was put back into the 1997 draft and the Raiders took him in the 7th round so technically he wasn’t an original pick. Al Davis was the only owner that allowed him to play both football and baseball. Bo never had 1000 yards and only started 23 games and ran for 2782 yards in his career, but his long touchdown runs were fun to watch and will always be remembered.
At the University of Oklahoma, Reggie Kinlaw was a superstar using his great speed to dominate defenders. At 6’ 2” and 245 lbs. experts said he was a huge long shot to even make the NFL let alone be a quality player. He played for the Raiders for 6 years and started on two Super Bowl teams. Many Raiders have said Reggie is one of the unsung heroes in the history of the Raider legacy.
After a record setting career at Texas A & M, Lechler was selected in the 5th round by the Raiders. He has had a stellar career and is a perennial pro bowler. He currently kicks for the Houston Texans.
#13 Pete Banaszak HB: (1966; 5th round AFL Draft)
A solid player at the University of Miami, he was chosen in the 5th round of the AFL draft. The Raiders were the first to employ a short yardage RB full time and for 13 years Banaszak played that role to a tee. In 1975; his best year; he ran for 16 touchdowns. In the Super Bowl against the Vikings he scored 2 touchdowns. Nicknamed the Rooster by fans and teammates, he could do anything in the clutch including catch the ball. He was a key element of the Raiders domination in the 1970’s.
#12 Charlie Smith RB: (1968; 4th round 110 overall)
A standout at the University of Utah, here is another unsung hero and my mom’s favorite player. Charlie Smith was a classic change of pace back of the time that could do anything. He was a great pass catcher with speed and he was an integral part of the Oakland Raiders offensive machine. His most famous touchdown was never seen. He scored the go ahead touchdown in the famous Heidi game.
#11 Tony Cline DE: (1970; 4th round 102 overall)
One of the great players from the great defenses of the early Oakland Raiders, Tony Cline was as good a pass rusher as there was in football. He has the unofficial rookie sack record in the AFL at 17 ½ sacks in 1970. Some say due to the hate the NFL had with anything AFL, the NFL does not acknowledge the sack record. Officially the NFL didn’t record sacks until 1982 even though the AFL did. Tony’s son Tony Cline Jr. also played in the NFL. Raider fans will never forget Tony Cline.
#10 Marv Hubbard RB: (1968; 11th round 277 overall)
“Take it to the Cupboard Hubbard” and “Run Like a Mother Hubbard” were favorite signs of Raider fans in the 1970’s. The NFL yawned when Marv Hubbard was taken out of Colgate. Slow and not athletic, he was not expected by most experts to make the NFL. Boy did he ever. He became a 3 time pro bowler and helped lead the Raiders to 4 Western Division titles and 3 AFC Conference Finals.
Hubbard is ranked 4th all time in NFL history in yards per carry (4.8) for fullbacks and is 13th overall. “Marv was one of the toughest players to ever play for the Raiders. I’ve never seen anyone look for contact and then actually enjoy it”. The wars between Hubbard’s Raiders and the Chiefs and their bulldozer Ed Podolak were much awaited games for NFL fans everywhere. Hubbard had a knack of hitting holes perfectly and getting every yard that he could out of runs.
Marv never left the bay area and he had a lot of interactions with fans. He loved muscle cars and could always be seen waving to appreciative fans everywhere. His death last year was a sad end to an amazing life. He also released two music singles. Smart and outgoing, he will never be forgotten.
Another fan favorite, the USC product was a key member of the famous Soul Patrol defensive backfield of the Oakland Raiders. His physical play was as intimidating as any DB before or since. Thomas could play safety or cornerback but his play in the Super Bowl shutting out Vikings WR great Sammy White in the first half will always be remembered as one of the key’s to a huge Super Bowl win. He played his entire career in Oakland and he had back to back 6 interception years. No one will ever forget Dr. Death.
#8 Dave Dalby C: (1972; 4th round 100 overall)
Another beloved Raider who left us too soon, he is on UCLA’s all century team. He played 14 seasons and NEVER missed a game. He replaced hall of famer Jim Otto and many feel Dave Dalby deserves that same honor. He made one pro bowl and he started on 3 Super Bowl winning teams. I still see his friends talking about him at times online. A kind person who is really missed.
#7 Clarence Davis RB: (1971; 4th round 97 overall)
A 1969 All-American, Clarence Davis slipped through the cracks in the 1971 NFL draft. People forget that Davis was a part of the famous “All Black Backfield” at USC. With Sam Cunningham and QB Jimmy Jones, it was the first time in college history that a backfield purely made up of African Americans was created.
When USC went to Alabama in Tuscaloosa, they steam rolled the Tide beating them 42-21. This convinced Bama coach Bear Bryant to allow non-whites to play on the team. It also made the Alabama fan base insist on integration to keep up with the west coast schools.
Scouts didn’t think Davis was good enough to be an NFL starter and he was smaller than advertised (5’ 10”, 190 lbs.). Davis was the classic Raider RB of the day. He could block, catch in the clutch (didn’t have great hands though), and play special teams. He ran back kicks his rookie year.
Davis will forever be remembered for his catch in the “Sea of Hands” game and his clutch post season performances. His amazing record setting game in the Super Bowl win against the Vikings put an exclamation point on a great Raider career.
#6 Greg Townsend DE: (1983; 4th round 110 overall)
Greg Townsend was a standout player at TCU who was considered more of an NFL project than super star. He ended up being the all time sack leader for the Raiders with 107.5 sacks and is 16th all time on the NFL list at 109.5. He was a 2 time pro-bowler and a 4 time all pro. He also recovered 8 touchdowns in his career with 3 of them going for touchdowns. A great career for another later round pick.
#5 Rod Martin LB: (1977; 12th round 317 overall)
The ultimate underdog. After being drafted out of USC by the Raiders, he was cut. He then signed with the 49ers and was cut again. The Raiders then resigned him and the rest is history. No one really gave Rod Martin much of a chance to make the NFL. With his weight fluctuating between 200 and 210 lbs., he was the classic tweener. He was a linebacker trapped in the body of a safety. The Raiders had him gain 20-25 pounds and eventually he took over the starting OLB job. He then became one of the best LB’s in the NFL.
He was on several all pro teams and made 2 pro bowls. His 3 interception game in the Super Bowl win against the Eagles is still considered by many as the greatest defensive game of all time in the Super Bowl. A clutch player, people forget he also had an interception and fumble recovery in another Super Bowl win against Washington. He also stopped John Riggins on a fourth and 1 in the third quarter when Washington was trying to get back in the game & he had a sack.
Rod Martin now works at USC and remains a beloved member of the great Raider teams of the past.
#4 George Atkinson DB: (1968; 7th round 190 overall)
Not much was known about Morris Brown standout George Atkinson at the 1968 draft. He was a good player at Morris Brown but he was not considered a top prospect by NFL scouts. Boy were they wrong.
In 10 years with the Raiders he played in 16 playoff games and won a Super Bowl ring. He still holds the punt return record in a game for the Raiders with 205 yards against Buffalo in 1968. He ended up with 30 interceptions and 13 fumbles. He was a key element of the famous Soul Patrol and many feel he and Jack Tatum were the greatest safety tandem of all time and that the Soul Patrol was the greatest defensive backfield of all time. The trash talker of the group, George was a mixture of great speed and toughness and will always be a big part of Raider lore. He still works for the Raiders doing the pre and post game show for their home radio station.
#3 Lester Hayes DB: (1977; 5th round 126 overall)
When the Raiders picked Texas A & M safety Lester Hayes in the 5th round, the NFL kind of shook their head. Many felt he wasn’t fast enough to play DB in the NFL and in pre-draft interviews many teams said that Hayes was not a very bright person. Most had little confidence in him due to his lack of social skills.
What teams didn’t know is that Lester Hayes had a massive stuttering issue. He also had severe nasal problems including chronic sinusitis. As a child he had severe head and jaw pain and would wake up with apnea. After using nasal medications for years, he finally got surgeries to correct it after he retired; it took 3 of them. In an interview Hayes said, “As a young player I sounded like Cousin It in the Adam’s family. No one could understand me”.
When he was drafted he literally cried in front of Al Davis begging him not to move him to cornerback. He felt if he went there he’d be cut but Al Davis asked him to trust him and the rest was history. Hayes explained, “It was so much pressure playing CB in our glory years of the 70’s and 80’s. We had to be right in the face of the WR because we were obsessed with rushing the QB. Our defense would blitz constantly and you could see the fear in the QB. They had to get rid of the ball quickly and if we weren’t all over the WR we were going to get burned. The pass rush and our coverage though helped us win and play at a high level.”
In 1980 Hayes won defensive player of the year after his NFL record tying 13 interceptions. He is a 5 time pro bowler, 2 time Super Bowl champion and a member of the 1980’s all decade team. He shares the all time Raider record for interceptions with Willie Brown at 39. How The Judge is not in the Hall of Fame is a miscarriage of NFL and sports justice. Ridiculous.
#2 Cliff Branch WR: (1972; 4th round 98 overall)
At 5’ 10” and 170 lb. Cliff Branch was a standout track star at the University of Colorado. He was also a 5 year standout in football running back an amazing record 8 kickoff returns for touchdowns in his career. Many felt he didn’t have the size or the hands for the NFL and early on he struggled with drops. After a lot of practice and mentoring through the likes of Fred Biletnikof, Branch solved that problem and for 14 years was a top WR in the NFL. He holds the record for the longest pass play in Raider history at 99.
When Branch retired he led the NFL in post season receptions (73) and yards (1289) for an average of 17.7 yards per catch, while scoring 5 TD’s. And remember this was in the time where DB’s could do anything they wanted to WR and get away with it. He remains the only Raider WR with 3 Super Bowl rings. He was a 4 time pro bowler and a 4 time all pro. He ended up with 501 receptions, 8685 yards and 67 touchdowns. He was a semi finalist for the NFL Hall of Fame and him being omitted from the HOF is another ridiculous miscarriage of NFL & sports justice.
#1 Jim Otto C: (1960; 24th round AFL Draft)
If you look up Oakland Raider in the dictionary, a picture of Jim Otto will appear. The epitome of what it is to be a Raider, he was undersized, undervalued and a pure winner. A 9 time all star, 3 time pro bowler, 3 time all pro and a Hall of Famer. He also was selected to the all AFL team. In 15 years he never missed a game because of injury. In his life he’s had 28 knee surgeries and 74 total surgeries. In 2007 due to infection he had to have a leg amputated.
When he was eligible for the draft, no NFL team wanted him. He finally was drafted by the Raiders in the 24th round. At 6′ 2″ and 240-245, it was thought he was no way big enough. Otto later stated it was a great chore to keep his weight at 250-255 lbs. The NFL Network voted Jim as the 63rd greatest football player of all time.
It’s amazing to see how great the Raiders were at drafting good players late in the draft in the 1960’s and 1970’s. NO ONE was as good as Ron Wolf and Al Davis at evaluating College football talent. They remain the gold standard of the NFL draft and how to build a winner.
Before the 2009 draft, most experts had Michael Crabtree and Jeremy Maclin as the top 2 WR in the NFL draft. Then along came the NFL combines. DHB ran a 4.3 40 at the combines and Al Davis was smiling like the Grinch on Christmas morning. Even though he only had 138 catches for 1958 yards in 3 years at Maryland, DHB shockingly was chosen.
I remember destroying this pick in an article the next day and getting destroyed back by Raider fans saying I needed to give him time. Was 4 years enough?
In an amazing 300 targets in 4 years, DHB only caught 140 passes for 11 TD’s. In that same time Michael Crabtree caught 260 catches on 429 targets and 21 td’s. Local station KNBR radio joked that for Raider fans sake 40 times at the NFL combines should be kept away from Al Davis.
#9 Jessie Hester WR: #1, #23 overall (1985 draft)
This pick is usually forgotten by most. During the glory days of Florida St. football, Jessie Hester was a star. He was quick and loved to go deep. At 5’ 11” and 175 lbs. He looked like Cliff Branch and the Raiders drafted him in the first round.
In 3 years Hester caught 56 passes for 10 touchdowns and the Raiders cut him before year 4. He found a short term home for 4 years at Indianapolis as the #3 and #4 WR but he mostly was a second tier player. He ended up being a huge bust for the Raiders that few talk about.
At the NFL combines Derrick Gibson was a star. He bench pressed 400 lbs. and ran a 4.40-4.45 forty. At 6’ 2” and 210 lbs., you could see teams swooning. Marquez Pope blew a coverage and was beaten by Baltimore’s tight end Shannon Sharpe for a 96 yard TD in the playoffs that sealed the Raiders fate. A safety was needed.
Gibson struggled a lot in tackling and he had terrible instincts against the pass. Many college safeties are free lancers with little responsibility and that’s what Gibson was. After 5 years the Raiders cut Gibson and no other NFL team ever picked him up. Another in the long line of NFL combine and work out warriors Al Davis fell in love with who was a huge bust.
#7 John Clay OL: #1, #15 overall (1987 draft)
When Missouri stand out John Clay was drafted by the Raiders #15 overall, the Raiders thought they had a tackle for the next 10 years. At 6’ 5” and an athletic 300 lbs., he fit the mold as a huge Raiders OL. After 1 year though the Raiders realized they had made a mistake. They traded him to the Chargers along with two draft choices for all world OL Jim Lachey. Problem was they traded Lachey; who starred for Washington; for Jay Schroeder who never panned out at QB. Clay only started in 10 games and played 2 seasons in the NFL until he was out of the league.
#6 Ted Watts S: #1, #21 overall (1981 draft)
What made this pick so painful is that the Raiders also had the #23 pick in the first round and they selected OL Curt Marsh who rarely played due to injuries. In 5 years Marsh was out of the NFL with only 22 starts. If it wasn’t for 2nd round pick Howie Long this draft would have been disastrous.
Al Davis told the media, Hanford Dixon, and anyone else that would listen that he was taking the Southern Mississippi CB if he was there at the #21 pick. Dixon was there but Al Davis took Ted Watts out of Texas Tech instead. Why? Because he had better 40 times than Dixon and because Dixon refused to run more than once. Dixon went on to a storied 9 year career at Cleveland being one of the best CB’s in the NFL. The 3 time pro bowler is revered in Cleveland and in all those years he missed 5 starts.
Ted Watts only started 22 games in 4 years with the Raiders and he just never caught on as a starter. He was not a good tackler and seemed over-matched in coverage. He bounced around to the New York Giants and San Diego Chargers and was out of the league in 6 years only starting in 25 of the 74 games he played.
#5 Patrick Bates S: #1, #12 overall (1993 draft)
Some thought the Raiders might go with Alabama safety George Teague who thrived on making big plays but the Raiders stood pat and chose Texas A & M star Patrick Bates. He was a part of the Aggies famous “Wrecking Crew” defense.
His first year was at UCLA and within a month of each other his mother and grandmother; who he was very close to; both died. After transferring to Texas A & M for a new start, he was arrested for assault.
He was eventually arrested for holding a woman at gun point. On the field he wasn’t much better. He seemed more athlete than football player and wasn’t that big of a hitter either. He was out of the league in 3 years ending his career with 1 interception. Teague had a 9 year career and even though it wasn’t great, he had some great moments and some good seasons. He still holds the record for a post season interception returned for a touchdown with his 101 yard interception return against Detroit in the first round of the 1993 playoffs.
#4 Bob Buczcowski DE: #1, #24 overall (1986 draft)
This guy really was a pimp. This is a name that the Raiders; and especially the NFL want you to forget. Bob had a good career at Pitt and the Raiders seemed to like him more than some other teams which had him going in the second round. The Raiders chose him and the rest is infamous history.
He played for the Raiders one year and was let go. He then played a year each at Arizona and Cleveland before he was out of the league.
In 2005 he was arrested for being a co-conspirator in a drug and prostitution ring in Pennsylvania. His live in girlfriend was Amy Schifano who was known as the Monroeville Madam. It was said that they had up to 300 calls a day and they rented hotel rooms for clients. There also was cocaine distribution involved. Facing 87 years in prison, Buzcowski turned states evidence and became a witness for the prosecution for a much reduced sentence. His final sentence was 90 days house arrest. A bust that got busted. Don’t blame me; it writes itself!
#3 Marc Wilson QB: #1, #15 overall (1980 draft)
First off you will not find a nicer guy than Marc Wilson. He ended up being a successful businessman. In a couple of interviews in the last 10 years he summed up his career. “It may not have seemed it at times but I really put my all in my career. Football is my least favorite sport and when I played in the NFL I never felt I was good enough to have control over the game. It was always a struggle. In basketball and baseball I felt in control. I just wish it would have went better. I don’t even watch football anymore and have no desire to go to games.”
With a rocket arm but little accuracy, Marc Wilson was drafted by the Raiders out of BYU. He was one of the originators of the QBU era of the Cougars. In a QB poor draft the Raiders knew that Jim Plunkett was still kind of a crap shoot. From 1980-1986, the Raiders had a revolving door at QB. Plunkett would start and then struggle and then Marc Wilson would take over. Wilson would struggle or get hurt and then Plunkett started. Add an injury here and there and it was a mess at times. In that time Plunkett had one really good year in 1983 (Raiders won the Super Bowl), and Wilson had one good year in 1985 (Raiders were considered favorites to go to the Super Bowl).
In 1985 Wilson was atrocious in the first round of the playoffs and the heavily favored Raiders lost to the Patriots 27-20 at home. Wilson was 11 for 27 with 3 INT’s and 1 TD and was booed off the field. The upstart Patriots shocked the NFL by going to the Super Bowl and being destroyed by the 1985 Bears.
In his 8 years as a Raider QB he only started 50 games. He was 31-19 and he gave Raider fans nightmares. Many feel if it wasn’t for injuries in the 1970’s the Raiders would have had 1 more Super Bowl win, and if it had better QB play in the 80’s they would have had 1 more Super Bowl win in that decade as well. The Raiders had a lot of talent but the Plunkett/Wilson roller coaster was a hit or miss saga with more misses than hits as time went on. To old school Raider fans, just the mention of Marcs name brings tingles down the spine. What could have been.
In the late 1980’s ESPN started picking up a loyal viewership and Todd Marinovich was one of their first media darlings.
Lost in Robo QB history, was that his father Marv was the first ever strength and conditioning coach in the NFL. He was hired by? Al Davis. He studied Eastern Bloc training methods and many of his methods were used in the origination of core training and are still used today.
Todd as an infant teethed on frozen liver and kidneys. He could not eat white sugar or processed food and only drank raw milk. Up until his adulthood he was not allowed to eat fast food or sweets. He rarely ate red meat.
After his parents divorced he really was out of control. His pot use was so bad in high school opponents fans chanted Marijuanavich & he was busted for cocaine. President Reagan honored Todd at his home after a big win & he was the Johnny Manziel of his time with celebs always wanting to party with him.
In the pro’s his drug use was worse. He passed NFL drug tests by using friends urine, until once he used a friend that had partied all night and he tested positive for alcohol. He then turned to LSD which wasn’t tested for. He was out of the league in 2 years starting only 9 games including 1 playoff game where he threw 4 INT’s in a 10-6 loss to Kansas City. Pittsburgh attempted to sign him but he told them he no longer wanted to play in the NFL. He played in Canada for a short time. A real troubled person who seems to be doing better in life.
#1 Jamarcus WR: #1, #1 overall (2007 draft)
It’s funny how many Raider fans defended these picks at the time (Come on; you know who you are). My fights online with them are of legend. This was another one of those picks I hated and maybe received the most hate of all time. Here were iconic college players Calvin Johnson and Adrian Peterson who were men among boys in college being thrown away for Jamarcus Russell. A guy that got famous in a bowl game against a Notre Dame defense that was one of the worst in the country and the NFL combines where he threw 65 yards on one knee.
Russell in college was an amazing athlete. He was huge; 6’ 6” and 270. Problem was against teams like Auburn and others who ran a pro style type defense he struggled. He was not an accurate QB but he could throw it a mile. At the NFL combines he wowed teams with his size and big arm. John Clayton said, “how could anyone not pick him #1.”
He played 3 years for the Raiders and in 25 starts he was 7-18. With his poor conditioning and his struggles with drugs, he was let go. He tried some come backs but was never really taken seriously.
Well there you have it. The importance of quality drafts can’t be explained any more clearer than with these busts. The draft is the key to creating and sustaining a winner in the salary cap era.