On his show on 95.7 The Game, Greg Papa answered any and all questions about his departure from the Raiders. It was definitely must listen to radio.
Marc Badain the President of the Oakland Raiders texted Greg Papa on July 2nd stating that they had to meet in person. Papa met Mark on July 5th and at lunch Mark said they were not going to bring Papa back. Greg wondered why now and Badain said he bought Greg a few years by defending him. I’m thinking this firing in late July is a big bite me to Greg. It’s near impossible for him to get a gig doing NFL games so late in the year other than a few here and there.
“On January of 2014 I heard the Raiders were going to interview Mike Shanahan for head coach. The interview didn’t go great so I didn’t think it would happen, but I said it was beyond my comprehension that Mike Shanahan could be interviewed because Al loathed him. Rod Woodsen and Bill Romanowski were campaigning for Shanahan to be the head coach and I couldn’t believe it”.
In his first meeting with Badain when he was first hired, Badain said that Greg had to patch things up with Mark Davis. Greg stated that he called Mark Davis early the next morning. He said the call did not go well after he said he would not apologize to Mark for his comments about Mike Shanahan. Davis hung up on him. Papa has admitted that he warned the Raiders that he would quit if Shanahan was hired and that put Mark over the edge. He said that he felt like he was public enemy number one after that and was taken off some of the things that Al had always wanted him to do. He saw Davis once and said hi to him and Davis ignored him and just walked on by.
Papa Calls Out Blogger’s/Podcaster’s With the Wrong Information:
Greg said the misinformation that was written about by bloggers was comically wrong. “I’m not much into social media but boy, some of the crazy stories were so wrong”. He stated that he never was asked to go to Las Vegas and he never said that he would not go. In fact he admitted that he would have gone and that flying to Vegas for the weekend and doing a game was no big deal to him.
Why Greg Is So Loyal To Al Davis:
Al was loyal to the end. Former Raider executive John Herrera probably said it best in a 2012 interview with SFGATE. “Al was so demanding. He would sometimes call you at 1 am just to see if you were on the ball and if you did what he asked you to do. There were no cell phones back in the day so we had to be around our home phones when we weren’t at work. Once he trusted you and knew you’d do a good job though, you had a friend for life. He helped people financially, personally and if you didn’t need help he made sure you got tickets when you wanted them”. These stories are still refreshing in a day and age when few can do something nice without posting a video of it on social media.
That’s the relationship Greg Papa had with Al Davis. Unlike the great Bill King, Al became close to Greg. Greg was the new guard in announcers. Fans started to change and most wanted their announcers to be more “homers” than objective and Greg fit right into that mold. He would criticize at times, but rarely was he super negative about the Raiders where Bill King at times would be brutally honest if they played poorly. Greg became very close to Al who appreciated his loyalty and some publications have stated that Greg was a possible front office hire for the Raiders in the future. “Al was like a second father to me,” Papa said. Many in the media said Greg was the semi mouthpiece of Al when Mr. Davis became very ill.
It must have been hard for Mark Davis to watch his father be so close to some people. The stories about how Al treated Mark at times are uncomfortable to listen to. Let’s face it; if Al thought a lot about his son he would have been in an important job in some capacity. Instead the only job Mark Davis has really ever had in his life is some minor PR jobs for the Raiders.
Who Is In the Wrong:
Probably no one. I don’t think that Mark Davis is a bad guy but he had pretty much little to no work history and now he owns an NFL team. To be fair, running a business is really difficult even with a lot of experience. Mark Davis wanted respect and loyalty from Papa and let’s face it; Papa doesn’t respect him.
I get what Greg is saying. I love my dad and I’m loyal to the nines. In fact in my first 2 years in business, 2 businesses my father despised wanted to work with us and I declined. Let’s be real; Mark and Al Davis probably weren’t Ward Cleaver and the Beaver, and Mark’s actions prove it. Like I always say, actions show a man’s heart, and their words are the B.S. to cover over those actions.
I greatly respect Greg Papa and I understand. You remember being down or just starting out and someone takes a chance on you and you make it and it’s something you never forget. In today’s world that type of loyalty means little to nothing to some people. People only look to see if that person can help them or not. To Papa it meant everything.
Greg also see’s one of the greatest minds in pro football history pass away and his new boss is his son who never had much to do with the team and has little or no job history in 6 decades of life. I’m sure underneath Greg wasn’t too happy, or impressed.
I feel bad for Mark in a way. I can also see Mark’s side and it must have been hard to watch Greg get so close to his father. I don’t blame Mark Davis for wanting to be his own man but I think there are a lot more motives to all these changes than that.
Greg Papa has now gone the way of Hue Jackson, Amy Trask and John Herrera. The changing of the Al Davis guard is pretty complete. The 300-pound gorilla in the room that no one wants to talk about is the complicated relationship between Mark Davis and his father. He wants to literally start over in Las Vegas while pushing the reset button. Davis needs to realize in the NFL world he has to earn his way and earn respect. With popular Greg Papa, he obviously didn’t.
Mark Davis is trying to find himself as a person and as an owner. Today’s cynical and shallow age is a hard place to do it in especially if you are in your 60’s. And what I found out is that a radio announcer would lose a job he loves beyond measure for the loyalty of a man, and the very person who is firing him for his loyalty is the son of that man. This is a lot deeper than anyone wants to admit.
The Oakland Raiders lost another link to their storied past when AFL historian Todd Tobias announced on Twitter that Raider great defensive back Dave Grayson had passed away at the age of 78. No cause of death was given at this time.
Dave played for Oakland between 1965-1970. He played for the Dallas Texans/Chiefs before that, and was originally drafted by the Dallas Cowboys. Grayson was an undrafted free agent out of the University of Oregon.
Al Davis Traded for CB Dave Grayson in 1965 (he traded him for future actor Fred “The Hammer” Williamson) from the Chiefs and then traded for Willie Brown from Denver in 1967. This allowed the Raiders to play the physical bump and run style that has been a trademark of the team for years.
When NFL and former Cowboys personnel guru Gil Brandt was asked who were the 4 best cornerbacks in Dallas history his first 3 were not a shock. Mel Renfro, Herb Adderly & Deion Sanders. “I also include Dave Grayson. He didn’t play with the Cowboys but he’s so good I’m including him.”
Dave Grayson went undrafted because at 5’ 10” and 185 pounds, he was dubbed too small by many NFL experts including Cowboys coach Tom Landry after the Cowboys briefly signed him and then let him go. Gil Brandt liked him a lot and told the upstart AFL team the Dallas Texans (eventually the Kansas City Chiefs) to give him a shot. Grayson was a key cog in the KC return game and at defensive back. Grayson was fast and a ball hawk, something the Chiefs coaches loved.
Grayson held the AFL record for the longest interception return for a touchdown at 99 yards against the New York Titans in 1961. Dave made many other key plays for the Chiefs including his famous interception off of Houston QB George Blanda in the Texans epic double overtime win in the 1962 AFL Championship game.
For the Raiders he was a great player both in the regular season and in the post season. He ended up with 48 total interceptions with an amazing 933 return yards after his interceptions. His best year was in 1968 where he had 10 interceptions and 1 fumble recovery. He was also a quality top 10 kick return man as well.
Other career highlights:
-48 career interceptions with an amazing 19.4 yard return average
-25.4 kick off return average
-6 time AFL all-star
-4 time First team All Pro
-2 time AFL Champion
-Voted on the AFL all time team
-Career interception leader in the AFL
The Greatest Defense Nobody Knows About:
Dave was a part of the amazing Oakland defense called the 11 angry men. This defense is one of the greatest of all time that never gets their due.
In the amazing 1967 season, the Raiders had an astounding 67 sacks & 30 interceptions. Teams averaged 3 turnovers a game against the Raiders. This was also only in a 14 game season. The record for sacks is held by the 1984 Chicago Bears at 72, and with almost a 5 sacks per game average, it’s pretty safe to say that the Raiders would have eclipsed that record fairly easily in 16 games.
Even with only 14 games, the Raiders STILL hold the record for causing the most yards lost while an opponent passes. This record is now 50 years old.
Another record that stands is that the Raiders lead the league in sacks for 3 straight years. Another 5 decade old record. Oakland also has the all time record for leading the league in sacks at 5. That’s how great they were. The offense always gets the publicity but even in their Super Bowl wins and in the 1960’s, getting pressure on the QB was paramount to the Raiders success. Offense puts butts in the seats and gets all of the publicity, but defense wins championships.
(Below are the all time stats for sacks by a team; many records are held by the Oakland Raiders)
With the likes of Ken Davidson and Tom Keating leading the way the Raiders had a huge and ferocious defense. The names of the past are a who’s who of Raider lore. Two more underrated DB’s in Rodger Bird, Kent McCloughan and Warren Powers were teamed up with Howie Williams, Dave Grayson and Willie Brown.
Charger receiver Lance Alworth catches pass against the Raiders Dave Grayson and Nemiah Wilson. 1969 Photo Ron Riesterer
Dan Conners played MLB while Bill Laskey & Gus Otto shored the outside positions. Dan Birdwell and Ike Lassiter, Carleton Oats and Art Thoms; so many proud names of the past that helped the Raiders to unreal records in the 1960’s. From 1967-69 the Raiders were a ridiculous 37-4-1, the best record in football.
Hall of Fame:
I’ve written at length about the biases of the NFL Hall of Fame and why some are not in the hall. There are many that should be in the hall of fame (i.e. Cliff Branch) and I’ve written about them below. I’m glad that more people are agreeing with me.
One of the great biases with NFL historians, is their turning their noses up at the AFL saying how it was no where near as good as the NFL. In the beginning days I totally agree. As time went on though, that myth was changed when the Jets beat the heavily favored Colts in Super Bowl 3. More than a few people feel the Raiders and the Chiefs of the 1960’s had more talent and speed than the aging Green Bay Packers but they were overwhelmed in the Super Bowls against a mythical team with the greatest football coach of all time and an aura and mental toughness and a refusal to make mistakes.
It’s a shame that only 3 all time AFL defensive players are in the NFL HOF. There are others that deserve it and I think Dave Grayson is one of them. With his speed and ball hawking skills, he made big plays at big times and he’s never received the credit he deserved, much like the great Raider defenses of the day.
I hope that others will join me in giving appreciation for this great Chief and Raider player. Another forgotten icon of the AFL and NFL who should never be forgotten.
“never, ever, ever give your heart to a professional sports team”
Ann Killian, Bay Area Sportswriter
In a 31-1 vote with only Miami Dolphins owner Stephen Ross voting no, the NFL approved the vote to have the Oakland Raiders move to Las Vegas. The numbers still don’t add up but that doesn’t seem to worry anyone; until now. Even if the Raider’s can’t pay back this loan, the NFL has a hold in sin city, something they always wanted.
The National Media:
What bothered me most about yesterdays and today’s sports reports, is that FINALLY many are now talking about the numbers and questioning whether this is a viable deal. Even KNTV out of Las Vegas did a live report saying it will be interesting to see if this can financially work long term because some of the numbers don’t add up. ESPN also questioned the deal and talked about the extreme greed of the owners and that the message to fans is clear; you mean nothing; revenues mean everything. Are you kidding me? After the fact? Where have you been for the last year media?
People wonder why I quit my writing jobs and went solo. It’s because I don’t want to have to kiss up to the NFL, companies, owners, or players. After Bill Simmons of ESPN was fired for calling Roger Goodell and the NFL liars (which TMZ proved they did lie), you realized the power the NFL had over the sports media. This move to Las Vegas shows it even more. Remember when the NFL wouldn’t let Tony Romo have a fantasy sports conference at a Casino? Yet the NFL, MLB, and the NBA were kissing the hand of daily fantasy betting sites even though the Feds were investigating the sites for being so crooked.
Las Vegas and Nevada is a hot mess. Like I said in my article last week, Nevada is last in the U.S. in education and near last in many other categories. Instead of using a hotel tax to help the people of Las Vegas and Nevada, they use that money to build an NFL stadium which in no way is going to bring the same money in return. Lobbyists at work.
The city of Oakland announced that they still owe $95 million to the Raiders from the insane deal they made back in 1995 to bring them back. The city of St. Louis now says they still owe up to 128 million for the stadium for the Rams who are now playing in Los Angeles. Politicians that use tax dollars to fund stadiums are irresponsible. Good luck Vegas; you’ll need it.
Also add the 900 million dollar Nevada road project that will be needed for the new stadium; state and federal sources will be needed to help foot that bill. They hope that the Raiders will at least pay 400-450 million for this project but the money has not been allocated for that yet and is an extra cost, just like the relocation fee. This stadium is costing way more than 1.9 billion. As I said before, this is a terrible deal for Las Vegas and the state of Nevada and the Raiders. If the Raiders default on the loan the NFL still wins big time and that’s what the owners want.
Mark Davis & him reaching out to an Iconic Raider Fan:
I’ve said it before, Mark doesn’t seem like a bad guy. He is though way out of his league. Instead of reading the room and being gracious after the vote, Mark Davis ripped on local officials in Alameda and Oakland and said he pretty much blew them off after the Carson vote and wanted nothing to do with them. He blamed the increase in rents (even though they were minimal) and the counties saying they’d wait to negotiate until he had no other options as to the reason he no longer wanted Oakland. Some can finally stop acting like Mark Davis did everything to stay in Oakland. Saying you want to stay and trying to leave may fool some but it doesn’t fool me. His reasons are obviously CYA. Actions show a man’s heart, words are the BS to hide those actions. His hurt feelings mattered more.
Mark Davis never wanted to be in Oakland; he wanted the glitz of LA or Las Vegas. He’s like the nerd in school who’s rich dad gave him a big football team and he now wants to hang out with the cool jocks. He never got Carson done. He said Adelson was in the bag until he tried to trick him into agreeing with all his demands. He then said Goldman Sachs was in the bag as an investor and that was news to them. Finally it was obvious this was becoming a joke so arrogant rich big brother Jerry Jones came to the table. As everyone close to the situation has said, Jones secured the Bank of America funding and, he also got the votes to pass this move. Davis again being put on 3rd base thinking he hit a triple.
It’s now no surprise that ESPN (Colin Cowherd; who I’m not a big fan of also said it this morning) and other media outlets have said there are rumors of verbal deals with some of the services at the new Las Vegas stadium being done by Jerry Jones owned companies. What an amazing coincidence.
Mark Davis is already in damage control. He has reached out to a well known Raider fan to start the process of smoothing things over. He’s going to say it’s not his fault. He even said in a press conference after the vote that he wants to bring a Super Bowl to Oakland. Here is Zennie Abraham’s interview with Raider fan Godfather Griz & his interaction with Mark Davis.
Emotions aside, I still haven’t seen ONE financial person say this is a good financial deal for the Raiders and that they are going to make a ton of money. This deal almost reminds me of all the no money down housing loans banks gave out like candy for a while. Be careful what you wish for Mark Davis. You owe a lot of money; I mean a lot. The new black hole is going to be Mark Davis & the Raiders need for money.
John Madden’s omen about NFL Fans:
John Madden said about 5 years ago on his morning radio bit that he does locally that within his kids lifetime NFL fans will be little more than props. He said the most wild ones will be let in nearly free to create an atmosphere, and only the rich will be able to afford games. Most average fans will watch on tv at home where teams make most of the money.
Backlash in Other Communities:
Already the backlash of the ridiculous corporate welfare that Mark Davis is getting is being seen. Two months ago North Carolina law makers called for a tax to help pay for their stadiums upgrades fearing they’d leave. Jacksonville and other areas also are beginning to shake in their boots and talk about tax money. It sets a bad precedent; pay NFL owners money for stadiums like a gold digger trophy wife, or they will straight up leave you, blame you, and break your hearts.
Everyone should do their own thing. For me though Mark Davis and the NFL doesn’t care if I live or die; they just want my money. I’d rather give thousands of dollars to my friends or family, pay bills, or buy people gifts than give it to an NFL team. Where I come from loyalty is a two way street. You have to find your own way.
Oakland Raiders Writers and Bloggers:
There has been a lot of angry backlash against some of the more popular Raider social media voices for some of their predictions. I’m rare in that I can write about things and not be biased. Few can do that anymore.
Raider voices were just so emotionally involved that I think they kind of heard what they wanted to hear. I didn’t have a clue what the vote would be but I just knew on paper this deal stunk & I said it. I argued with some of them. I said all of the rah rah stuff, the rally’s, and the talk of history and loyalty mean ABSOLUTELY nothing to NFL owners and they disagreed. I hate being right in this case. I hope that you give them a break though; this team meant so much to the community & it’s hard to not understand it.
Libby Schaaf & Oakland/Alameda:
I was driving home on election night and a local reporter was walking with Libby to her election victory party. The reporter asked live on camera about keeping the A’s. “The A’s are going nowhere. They are staying in Oakland”. She was then asked about the Raiders. “We are going to do our best to keep the Raiders here”. I think that was always the vibe that worried the NFL and Raider fans. If you were to talk to Oakland people, they’d rather keep the Raiders than the A’s. If you talk to politicians though, the A’s seemed to be untouchable. In a second year of almost 100 losses, the A’s drew a total of about 1.5 million fans in 81 dates. The Raiders drew about 570,000 in their 10 games in 2016. Bauce man and Dr. Death were both right on the A’s.
Libby was right in not using tax money for this stadium, but she was way wrong in the way she went about it. Right or wrong, with the A’s always in the background picture, this just wasn’t going to work for the NFL.
I also think they should have done a PR plan a long time ago, and released the plan then. Doing this at the last second was wrong. Uninformed fans took this as a last second deal thrown together to save the Raiders. It came off as desperate and unorganized. Months before I would have had ALL Oakland and Alameda officials, Fortress, Ronnie Lott, and everyone involved at the table in a press conference with smiles in one hand and Oakland Raider t-shirts in the other saying that everyone was in this together. Doing this the Saturday before the NFL vote was almost ridiculous in my mind. It made people feel good but didn’t do anything for the NFL.
No team in the history of any sport in any country has left their city twice. It’s heartbreaking & eye opening. The very thing that players and people close to the team said when the Raiders went to LA is exactly what’s going to happen in Vegas. Just like when they moved to L.A., I think over time the Raiders are slowly going to go from a gritty, tough, blue collar team with a lot of diversity in the stands, to a glitzy made for tv product. As so many players said in 1987 in the TV interview I showed on Facebook, (I couldn’t load it on this blog)“We changed”. Those who forget the past are condemned to repeat it.
If you are in southern California, Vegas is closer so if you are into going to the games that will be good for you. If you choose not to go, again that is your choice and there is nothing wrong with that. Do what is best for you and don’t let others tell you different. You are not a better or worse fan by doing one or the other.
For fans to tell others how to feel (I hope they don’t teach their kids this) and react to this move is as immature and selfish as it gets. Everyone is different and however you feel is alright with me. If you blow off the Raiders I get it. If you are no longer a fan I get it. If you stay loyal I get it. I used to be a Raider, Warrior & partial A’s season ticket holder up to 10 years ago, but I woke up. The Raiders are not paying my bills or making me soup when I’m sick. I realized a long time ago my loyalty to them was much more than their loyalty to me so I didn’t invest near as much as the past. Again; you have to find your own way.
For Oakland and east bay fans I think it’s time you moved on. A lawsuit isn’t keeping the Raiders here. I’ve heard of some saying this deal may financially fall through in the future and maybe they’ll come back, but I say enough. It’s now an abusive relationship. The Raiders do not care about you or the bay area and once they move you will be nothing more than a distant memory. You are a prop and an ATM. They love your money but they don’t think you are good enough.
What will remain though are the memories and friendships along the way. This includes all of the great players and their families that were a big part of the Oakland community. They worked, partied and enjoyed life with the players and the players felt just as much adoration for the fans. The relationships were deep and passionate. From the 1960’s before some were born to now, I don’t know of a more special bond with a community than the Raiders players had with their fans. Those that didn’t live it will never understand it. The Raiders were much more than a football team. They were family.
Thinking of parents, players, coaches & grandparents that are no longer with us, you realize an era has ended and it will never be the same. Remember though that no amount of arrogant greed can ever take these special memories & feelings away. How innocent were those days; how rich we are to have known them.
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.
With the signing of ex Cincinnati safety Reggie Nelson, the Raiders filled another hole in their defense that needed to be addressed. In another cap friendly contract the Raiders get a solid run defender who is also fairly good against the pass. His high amount of interceptions is a good and bad thing; proves he can get interceptions but it also proves teams are not afraid to throw at him. He’s going to be 33 in September and that is probably the reason he didn’t get the money he wanted in free agency.
Someone asks me every week on Twitter why the Raiders don’t ever trade up. For the most part it’s because it’s not smart all the time.
Unless you need that one player to put you over the top, it’s not a good idea. Most teams that trade up get burned. Bill Belichick and the Patriots have been fleecing teams for years. I still remember the 2013 trade when the Vikings thought they were a WR away from being good. They traded a #2, #3, #4, & a #7 for New England’s #1 pick. At the 29th spot they chose Cordarrelle Patterson. While he’s been a fine return guy, he is now 5th on the WR depth chart and caught 2 passes all of last year. Four picks for a 5th string WR.
The Bills; overestimating their talent; sent their #9 overall pick in the first round along with a #1 and a #4 in 2015 to Cleveland to pick #4 overall in the 2014 draft to get talented WR Sammy Watkins. Watkins is good but I didn’t get that trade because the Bills had holes in their offensive line, QB and a few more on the defensive end.
Ron Wolf was never a huge fan of trading the first round pick either at Oakland or Green Bay, so I find it hard to think McKenzie will do it. Many fans like to talk trade scenarios but NFL teams are huge creatures of habit and unless the Raiders have fallen in love with a player, I don’t see them trading up.
What Are Their Needs Now?
The main needs are at middle linebacker, a defensive back, and another DL. They probably will also look into a RB and WR in the later rounds.
Ezekiel Elliott will probably go to Philadelphia or the Giants. A Running Back would be helpful to the Raiders as well but it’s not as big a need as people think. As I said before, I’m not a fan of Raiders OC Bill Musgrave. Not giving Marcel Reece and Jamize Olawale more carries is just ridiculous. The lack of imagination in using Roy Helu Jr. last year also hurt the Raiders. And to the writer that said Elliott was as good as Adrian Peterson in college? Elliot isn’t even close. Stop it.
Paralysis by Analysis:
I’ve been monitoring my draft picks for 16 years now. I want to be right so I take evaluating players seriously. Most just give brash comments and then move on to the next year but I want my followers to know they can trust my opinion. We all will be wrong at times but I want to have a history of quality picks and predictions mixed in with my Matt Leinart’s.
People wonder why so many teams make mistakes in the NFL draft. I think it’s because they over think it. Paralysis by Analysis; over analyzing. The more you look into something the more chance you will find fault in it. Now NFL teams are using an arrest formula to predict how many arrests a player will have. You can’t make this stuff up.
I think also NFL teams and experts are obsessed with athleticism over football talent. Darrius Heyward-Bey had no business being the Raiders top pick; in fact he was on my no draft list and to the dismay of Raider fans who applauded the pick, I destroyed the choice on draft day. DHB was picked purely because of his fast 40 time @ the NFL combines. He really wasn’t even that good at Maryland.
Look at the old videos on Youtube. I was watching the draft day video on Aaron Rodgers. Experts were justifying why he was falling in the draft. “He has bad hand placement; he has bad mechanics. Look how high he keeps his hands. He still has a chance to be a pretty good QB but Alex Smith by far is the best QB in the draft”.
From teams overreacting to Thurman Thomas’ knee, to Jerry Rice and Marcus Allen not being fast enough, the nitpicking gets to be a bit rough. I’m not saying the other stuff isn’t valuable but as John Madden said, watch the games, not drills with players in gym shorts. This is still football. Now let’s look at each position and the possible first round pick for the 2016 NFL draft.
This is going to be interesting. Many think that DL’s will fall in the draft because there are so many potential good ones. It wouldn’t be a surprise but my feeling is that only QB is more important than a DL so if there is one you like then you pick him. It will be fun to see.
I’m not a fan of this pick because in reality he had only 1 good year in college and his teammate; Shaq Lawson; was the one being double teamed most of the year which allowed him to be freed up. I like Lawson better. It wouldn’t be a tragedy to pick him but I think he’s overrated. I think Dodd is a borderline 1stround pick. Not a fan.
When I wrote on how Vernon Gholston would be a huge bust in the 2008 draft, Jets fans destroyed me. Some Raider fans wanted to draft him. In 3 years he ended up with ZERO sacks & never played again. I also was ripped apart on ESPN when someone shared the preview article I wrote with me saying how Jadeveon Clowney would also be a bust; 1500 thumbs down. This year I’m picking Nkemdiche as the poster child to avoid. His stats were like theirs.
In 3 years Nkemdiche only had 7 sacks. In his last 7 games last year he averaged 2 tackles a game. His best college year he had 3 sacks. For his career he averaged a little under 3 tackles a game. If that excites you then then that is cool but I pass on him big time. His football numbers don’t equal his athleticism.
His talent and work ethic are not questioned but his interviews are. He’s a good guy but some think he’s really not that passionate about football and with players retiring early, that is a big issue. This guy is a super hard worker. He’s big and has a great motor as they say. Nick Saban said he’s just learning how to pass rush and I think his push up the middle would be a great plus. He was double teamed a lot and was told to play a lot of 2 gap so in reality he was a key to clogging up the middle. As one scout said, he knows how to play and these guys are valuable.
I like Rankins as well. Like Robinson he’s raw as a pass rusher but scouts like him. He is physical and is a good tackler and he would help the Raiders.
Even with being double teamed often throughout the year, Lawson thrived. There were more than a few games where it was obvious he was the best player on the field. I think he’s a special talent that can’t be passed up. If Lawson and Rankins is there, I pick Lawson.
I think he’s the best cornerback in the draft. Great instinct, cover skills and recovery speed. He’s a film room junkie who works as hard as anyone in college football. Confident, physical and tough and he plays with a swagger. I love this guy. Teams just stopped throwing his way. He gave up 11 passes all last year and no touchdowns. NFL scouts hate that he’s only 5 10” but I don’t care. This guy is really good. If you pick him, now you have a great nickel back who has time to learn the position. TJ Carrie and Nelson and Nate Allen can play safety with Smith, Amerson & Alexander playing CB. A good mix of youth and experience.
Oh the fickle NFL draft. Remember when Hargreaves was in the top 5 of most everyone’s mock draft? Not anymore. In fact I just saw him falling as low as 16 now in an experts draft. Another great athlete but he gave up 16.5 yards per pass play and struggled in Florida’s two toughest games; Michigan and Alabama. Two months ago I said I liked Alexander over him and again got the idiot tag. I’ll stick by what I said.
There are slim pickings for MLB so it’s going to be tricky here. There really is only 1 first rounder with Kentrell Brothers being the next best MLB after Reggie Ragland but most think he’s a mid to late 2nd rounder.
Ragland is a classic Alabama linebacker who is a thumper. He is a good tackler and very physical. As I’ve said before, Alabama linebackers are a risk. Nick Saban plays almost all zone and LB’s at Bama don’t have to cover RB’s man to man. You literally don’t know if they can cover. The Raiders found that out with Rolando McClain. He wasn’t a good cover guy and the pick didn’t pan out. I’m not a fan of this pick because of the risk but again; but their are slim pickings at MLB this year.
Lee is the favorite for some but he is an OLB so I don’t get the love. It’s also a huge risk. Lee is a great athlete but he’s pretty lean for a LB position in the NFL and at times struggled against power blockers. He also has been playing LB for only 2 years; that’s in his life. He was a QB in high school and he played safety early on at OSU. A great athlete and again, that’s what the NFL likes but he has a lot to learn.
Wow; this guy has talent. I love his potential and I like him over Lee. He needs to be consistent and with the right coaching he can be something special. I would not be hurt by drafting Floyd and then getting a MLB in the later rounds. If he’ll play hard every play, he can be special. If the Raiders are looking at just talent, this guy is hard to pass up even though it doesn’t fix the MLB problem, but they could address it later.
Who will the Raiders pick?
If it was me I would take Lawson, Alexander and Floyd in that order. Floyd is moving up the charts I think and if he is a top 10 pick I would not be surprised. I would then pick a MLB in the 2nd or 3rd round.
No one really knows; not even the Raiders at this point; but I think the Raiders are going to go for the safest pick. The draft has very slim pickings at MLB and they really need one. As of now I see them drafting Reggie Ragland MLB out of Alabama. He can definitely start right away and if you draft an MLB in the lower rounds, they may not be ready to start. Ben Heeney is a nice backup but he’s not a full time starter IMHO.
Whoever they pick it will be another piece to help the Raiders attempt to be a playoff team. It’s hard to realize that there has never been a Tweet or a Facebook post that has ever talked about a Raiders playoff game. Facebook started in 2004 and Twitter in 2006. Hopefully for the Raiders that will end this year.
Friday it was released that several former Oakland Raiders had agreed to have their brains studied upon their death. They did this through the encouragement of Ken’s longtime partner, Kim Ross-Bush. They wanted to follow him in helping to further the study of CTE (Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy) in the hopes of helping future players. Still today, Ken still is the leader of the dynasty that was the 1970’s Oakland Raiders.
The Stabler Family Tells Their Story:
Kim Ross-Bush, the partner of Ken Stabler for over 16 years; tells the story of how Ken deteriorated over time. His daughter Marissa also talks about the changes in her father. ESPN’s Outside the Lines is a great show and I really enjoyed the piece it did a while back on Ken and his struggles with CTE.
You are already seeing players starting to retire at earlier ages in fear of the long term damage football may have on them.
In a groundbreaking move, the Ivy League coaches voted to eliminate tackling in practices. Instead they use tackling dummies, bags, and even use tackling robots. Coaches from around the country are limiting contact in College football. What’s interesting is the Ivy league now says their tackling techniques are much better and more fundamentally sound and the list of injuries have dropped dramatically.
I remember in 2009 being asked to do a house call to check up on a patient who was really struggling with his sleep equipment and his quality of sleep. I immediately remembered the name. I’m a huge history guy and I did a check and found out it was the former NFL player that I thought it was.
When I walked into their house his wife was as kind as could be. She offered me a piece of cake and coffee and I loved it. Her husband was a little shocked I knew so much about him and it obviously made him feel good. When I left his wife walked me out. At the door she gave me a bottle of wine and was near tears. “Thank you so much; you made him smile and that hasn’t happened much. Please come visit again soon”. I told her I would be by next week.
A week later I showed up and it was like a light turned off. He sat in a somewhat dark room looking out a window; something he did for hours sometimes. He was rude, irritable and he couldn’t remember a thing we discussed. I laughed at the start because I thought he was teasing me but he wasn’t. He talked about his headaches and his sleep being so intermittent that he would be exhausted all the time. It was hinted he knew he was damaged and he didn’t want to know the truth. CTE was barely known publicly in 2009.
His wife explained this was their life. A tornado of emotions with little joy and hope at times. I tried calling them once but their number had changed & was unlisted, so I never heard from them again and found out they moved. Even today the picture of him sitting in a darkened room alone can bring me to tears.
Owners Still Don’t Get It:
Jerry Jones was quoted last week that he was not convinced there was a link between CTE and concussions. I’m sure many owners have their doubts especially when it may cost them money to take care of the problem. Jerry Jones needs to read research and stop acting like a fool. Another “my opinion is greater than facts” guy. Money doesn’t make you smart. It’s the same callousness the NFL showed during the 2009 concussion hearings at Congress.
In the 2014 settlement against the NFL, in a rare action, the Judge was so appalled at the NFL’s offer that he overturned it. The NFL said to trust their math. Most of what the NFL has done, they were made to do.
What Has the NFL Done to Help With CTE’s:
Many say I’m too hard on the NFL. They bring up the 88 plan championed by CTE legend Gay Culverhouse, former President of Tampa Bay. It’s true; it gives $130,000 a year to players that qualify but read the fine print because I did; the one disorder it DOESN’T cover? CTE.
The Alumni Association is also working with corporations to set up retirement places catered to NFL players. In the medical field the dirty secret is that many feel this is going to be a huge money maker in the future with so many NFL players having to deal with brain issues. Soccer players are now having issues with CTE. Brandi Chastain has agreed to donate her brain as well.
The owners have given money for research and also changed the rules protecting players more. It has changed the game drastically allowing for huge numbers by quarterbacks and wide receivers but it had to be done.
The NFL also has adopted a much stricter concussion protocol but it’s already seen failures. Rams QB Case Keenum hit his head on the turf against Baltimore last year and staggered off the field. After talking to the trainer, he was shockingly let back in the game to finish it. Afterwards he was diagnosed with a concussion. NFL commissioner Roger Goodell to his credit admitted they made a mistake. Damage done though.
I remember watching film of the 1976 Raiders year in review. In week 9 the Raiders played at Chicago. The astroturf there was like cement especially when it was cold. Ken Stabler got a concussion and wobbled off the field. Eventually he came back into the game leading the Raiders to victory. You wonder how many times since he was a kid did that happen to Ken.
Breakthrough in CTE Testing?
The problem with CTE is that you can’t diagnose it while the player is alive. When UCLA lead researcher Dr. Julian Bailes said they had a test that could diagnose CTE in living people, many questioned his findings. The problem with anything in medicine is greed. If this is true, they stand to make millions. Some say that within 3-5 years it will be able to be done. The controversy continues but when they can test players, it can give them a better option into getting out of the game or staying in it.
Should Kid’s Play Football:
One of the key factors with CTE is the duration you take hits. Usually the longer you play, the worse it is. Ken Stabler; like many NFL athletes; played as a kid. You have to limit the length, and the severity of the damage. Some think teaching good fundamental tackling is the answer but it’s not. When you hit the ground or get hit; good tackle or not; your head is going to jar. Its’ like having a minor car accident several times a day.
I think that kids should not play organized tackle football until they are 13 years old. I also believe that at the most, teams need to have only 1 contact day of practice per week; or 90 minutes.
The State of Texas that brought you “Friday Night Lights” and built a 60 million dollar stadium in the city of Allen, is surprisingly the leader in protecting players. In 2013, the University Interscholastic League in Texas; the group that makes the rules for high school football; voted to limit contact in practices to 90 minutes a week. Some said this would ruin Texas football but it hasn’t changed their dominance in any way.
Between 2005 and 2014, 92 high school football players died. Some by direct contact, and others by things associated with football. What’s shocking though is that almost ALL states have NO medical regulations mandating high school football teams to have ANY trained medical staff on the field at any time. Some parents have sued school districts for having their kids lying on a field waiting long periods of time for qualified people to help their kids. That HAS to change. They don’t have to have an ambulance on staff, or a doctor or EMT’s or professional trainers. Epic fail. This has to change.
I remember in football crazy Napa, California where I grew up, (who ESPN voted had the #2 high school stadium in the country 6 years ago) they always had an ambulance in one of the end zones at Memorial Stadium and EMT professionals at the games. It helped save one of my friends who actually broke his neck during a game. He wasn’t paralyzed but he fractured his neck and the quality care on the field saved him. I hope they still have that same support there now.
The sad part is, we need to have a sure way of diagnosing players while they are alive, and we need to know how better to protect them. Even if helmets evolved, the jarring of the brain from the hits and hitting the ground are still going to cause damage so it’s a difficult thing to fix.
What also is scary, is that ALS; or Lou Gehrigs disease has also been linked to long term head trauma seen in sports like football. University of Alabama player Kevin Turner just passed away at the age of 46; of ALS. He played 8 years in the NFL.
CTE is the scary ghost hiding in the closet that players and their families fear. Fans and the media need to get involved. Some didn’t support the cheerleaders fight to get minimum wage. Many fans didn’t support referees wanting better training and to be full time employees. The NFL said both were too expensive. Add the lack of support to retired players by some as well. In my mind it’s disrespecting the game and those that are associated with it by not respecting everyone that was in it.
All fans and media people associated with the NFL who really care about this wonderful game and the people in it need to act. Some in the NFL media won’t because they feel backlash from their networks. We need the NFL to know the lack of support is unacceptable. The 88 plan needs to include CTE. Support research and retired players rights. Show compassion and kindness instead of saying, “well if they don’t want to die early then don’t play”. The players gave their all; now we need to give ours.
The NFL has shown they will NOT do the right thing unless they are made to. It’s time that fans now become the voices of the voiceless. Ken Stabler and all of the players that suffered in silence; along with their families that experienced it; deserve our support. No more Dave Duerson stories. A man that texted family to let them know he wanted his brain studied after he shot himself in the chest. He didn’t want others to go through the torment he did. No more retired players holding their heads in pain or looking out windows in darkened rooms wondering in sadness what was happening to them. We can’t expect the NFL to do the right thing to these fathers, son’s, grandfathers and brothers, if we don’t. The NFL has shown it will listen but we have to speak.
This article is for the fans of the AFL especially the AFC West. If you are a fan of these great teams, some of these players may be household names to you. It’s so important that the history of the game is respected, and these great players are not forgotten. This article is in honor of them, and the fans that watched the AFL.
San Diego Chargers:
Many think the Chargers uniforms of the 1960’s and 70’s are the greatest ever made and it’s hard to argue with that. I love the powder blue. What also can’t be argued is their dominating win in the AFL Championship game in 1963 sealing their argument as one of the great teams of the AFL era. Their innovative passing game was nixed for a power running game, and it worked to perfection as the Chargers beat the Boston Patriots 51-10.
Sid Gillman may be the greatest football coach of all time. He is the only coach in history that is in both the NFL and College football Hall of Fame. His coaching tree is the greatest of all time bar none. Bill Walsh, Al Davis, Chuck Knoll, Chuck Knox, Dick Vermeil, Don Coryell, Joe Gibbs, John Madden, Tom Flores, George Seifert, Dennis Green, Jon Gruden, Brian Billick and many others fall under his umbrella of greatness.
The vertical passing game of the Raiders was taken straight from him. Al Davis called him the Einstein of the NFL and he is the father of the modern passing game. There will never be another Sid Gillman. As John Madden recently said, “what some teams are just discovering, Sid Gillman was doing in the 60’s”.
San Diego’s version of Fred Biletnikoff was the great Gary Garrison. Lance Alworth gets all of the publicity but in reality the Chargers had another fine Wide Receiver. His nickname was the ghost. Sid Gillman literally called him an artist in regards to his amazing route running skills. One sports writer said it was like watching a figure skater on a football field; his routes were so precise.
He is 5th and 4th all time on the Chargers reception and yards list respectively. He has more receiving yards than Kellen Winslow and Wes Chandler. He averaged an amazing 18.6 yards a catch which is second all time for San Diego pass catchers with over 120 catches.
Paul Lowe & Keith Lincoln:
With Paul Lowe and Keith Lincoln in the backfield, San Diego had one of the greatest 1-2 punches in pro football history. They helped lead the Chargers to their only championship in 1963. Lowe is the 2nd all time leader in rushing yards for the Chargers. He was the 1965 UPI AFL MVP, 2 times AFL All Star, and 2 times All AFL team. He was also voted onto the ALL time AFL team, 2 times comeback player of the year, and he’s the all-time AFL leader in average yards per carry at 4.9. And he still holds the NFL record for 6 straight 100 yard games with 14 or fewer carries.
And oh by the way they had Keith Lincoln. He went to high school in Monrovia California and went to Washington St. Originally he was a QB, and he was so good that he got two awesome nicknames; the Monrovia Meteor and the Moose of the Palouse. He was a 5 time AFL All-Star, 2 time All AFL player, and is in the San Diego Chargers Hall of Fame.
Paul Lowe can still be seen today at the Chargers games. He is a season ticket holder and a fan favorite.
Kansas City Chiefs:
The Chiefs have had an amazing history of talented teams with some of the greatest players to ever play football. Buchanon, Dawson, Taylor, Lanier, Culp, Thomas, Holmes; the list goes on and on. When eclectic head coach Hank Stram allowed NFL films to record him during the Super Bowl, he became the first NFL coach to wear a microphone. Stram was innovative and brought in the triple stack defense to hide his linebackers. When he had several WR’s injured against the Raiders powerful pass rush and great DB’s; he used the T formation and ran 60 times for over 300 yards leading KC to a stunning 24-10 victory over Oakland. In that game, Len Dawson completed 3 passes for 16 yards. In the AFL days they lead the AFL in playoff appearances tied with the Raiders. Hank Stram was as great as the players he coached and boy was he fun.
If you would allow me an exception, I wanted to add a player that didn’t play in the AFL days, but someone who isn’t remembered enough. Just the mention of this players name can still bring a smile and a tear to some ex-players, coaches and fans eyes. He was headed for greatness.
His acts of generosity and kindness are still of legend. So are his acts on the football field. A Raider beat writer once said, “There is fast and then there is Joe Delaney fast”. He was a game breaking type of player who could catch the ball and run like the wind. With a strike shortened season and an eye injury, he only played 1 ½ years but he was amazing. He had 196 yards rushing against Houston and ran for 1121 yards his rookie year while getting the Rookie of the Year Award and making the Pro Bowl.
He once ran 75 yards for a touchdown but it was called back. Two plays later he ran for an 82 yard touchdown. Sadly, while trying to save 3 boys that were drowning, Delaney never got out of the water and died. He could not swim but he could not sit by and watch them die and do nothing. Only 1 of the boys made it. Joe received the US Presidential Citizens Medal from President Reagan and should always be remembered as being a real man, and a person that the NFL and their fans can be proud of.
If you are a big fan of the AFL or a Chiefs fan, you are saying how come Ed’s on this list? Well outside of KC many of today’s fans are clueless to how great of a player Podolak was. His occasional wildness off the field after his playing days gets some publicity at times but in reality Chiefs Running Back Ed Podolak was one heck of a football player. With his hooked bar helmet, he looked like a red bull chasing after people. He could catch, run, return kicks, and block. He was an all purpose back that could do it all.
He is the 5th all-time Chiefs RB in regards to rushing yards, and the 10th leading pass catcher of all time. He was also a quality return man that made many clutch kick returns. His wars against the Raiders and their bulldozer RB Marv Hubbard were must see tv and some of the most physical games ever played.
Nicknamed Thunderfoot, Jerrel Wilson was flat out one of the greatest punters of all time. Often overshadowed in the all time punter conversation due to the greatness of Ray Guy, his booming and towering punts were a thing of beauty. Ray Guy and Wilson transformed the punting game into an offensive weapon in regards to controlling field position.
He was a 3 time pro bowler and on the all AFL team, and in one year avg. 46.1 yards per punt. He also did it in the clutch. To punt when your team isn’t very good or if nothing is at stake is one thing but to do in when it counts is another. His greatness should not be forgotten.
For a 25 year period, the Raiders winning % was far and away better than any professional sports team in the U.S. In their first 20 Monday night football games they were 18-1-1. In the greatest decade of the NFL; the 1970’s; they had the most wins. In the NFL.com fan poll of the greatest teams ever a few years ago, the 1976 Oakland Raiders were voted the greatest team of all time by over 5.5 million NFL fans.
In QB Daryle Lamonica’s first 45 games as a Raider (after a trade from Buffalo) the Raiders were an unreal 40-4-1. His successor; Ken Stabler; was 56-13 in his first 69 games.
For 3 decades 2 teams were almost always on top of the television ratings charts in the NFL. The Cowboys and the Raiders. The 2 teams people loved to hate. For a time the Cowboys were America’s team and the Raiders were the renegades of the NFL with talent to back it up. Those days seem light years away. They moved to Los Angeles which slowly eroded their tough blue collar Oakland persona, and the violence at games along with the small crowds, eroded their mystique. Their style of play changed and they’ve never been the same. It’s sad because few teams in the NFL boast a higher level of talent in their great history. No team in history was more crazy, wild, talented, and colorful as the Oakland Raiders.
(below is the article on the 1976 Raiders chosen as the greatest NFL team of all time)
(please support and follow the AFL Godfather on twitter @NFLMAVERICK I got this video from his public page but I’d really appreciate if you’d support him. He has great stuff from the past! Thank you!)
“The greatest player I ever coached was Warren Wells. I never saw anyone that gifted and that fast”.
Former Raiders Head Coach John Madden
On December 6, 1970, Warren Wells made an unreal catch on the last field play of the game to beat the Jets 14-13. His catch against 2 Jet defenders would make Houdini applaud. Wells was that good.
This is still one of Ronnie Lott’s favorite all-time players. If you talk to any player of the 1960’s, the one player that always amazed them was Warren Wells. For a 3 ½ year period, he struck terror in the eyes of all teams. He unfortunately was one of only 2 NFL players who were drafted and made to go to the Vietnam war in 1965.
He was as fast as lightning and just as gifted. Before the NFL changed the statistic criteria, Warren Wells was the all time leader in yards per catch at an inhuman 23.3 yards a reception. In one year he caught 47 balls for an incredible 27 yards per reception. He and Daryle Lamonica; The Mad Bomber; were the originators of Al Davis’ feared vertical game.
Due to off the field issues and an ankle injury, Wells career was cut short. He straightened up his life after doing prison time during his younger days, and last year was honored by lighting the Al Davis torch at one of the Raiders home games.
He was the anchor of the famous “11 Angry Men” Oakland Raiders defense and was a key player of the 1960’s and 1970’s. Tom Keating was one of the best defensive linemen in AFL history. He was a 2 time AFL all star and on the all time AFL 2nd team member. He played so hard that a story was written about him when the Raiders played the Packers in Super Bowl II. He was a part of the famous 1967 Raiders defense that caused a record 667 yards in losses on 67 sacks. They remain one of the greatest and most unheralded defenses of all time.
He was talented and tough. Off the field he was a fan favorite and very happy go lucky. He was a bay area guy and lived and died here. Many feel that if he didn’t have such bad knees that he was a hall of famer for sure.
There are many that feel Dave Grayson is a Hall of Famer. Dave played for Oakland between 1965-1970. He played for the Dallas Texans/Chiefs before that, and was originally signed by the Dallas Cowboys. Grayson was an undrafted free agent out of the University of Oregon. Tom Landry felt he was too small and not physical enough so he was let got and Hank Stram gave him a shot and he stuck.
Al Davis Traded for CB Dave Grayson in 1965 (he traded him for future actor Fred “The Hammer” Williamson) from the Chiefs and then traded for Willie Brown from Denver in 1967. This allowed the Raiders to play the physical bump and run style that has been a trademark of the team for years.
When NFL and former Cowboys personnel guru Gil Brandt was asked who were the 4 best cornerbacks in Dallas history his first 3 were not a shock. Mel Renfro, Herb Adderly & Deion Sanders. “I also include Dave Grayson. He didn’t play with the Cowboys but he’s so good I’m including him.”
A little known fact that may buy you a drink someday if you are a Denver fan is that many of the AFL teams didn’t have much money to start with. The Broncos first uniforms were actually mustard yellow and brown. Why was that you say? The reason they were that color is that the Broncos wanted to save money so they bought the used uniforms off of the University of Wyoming football team and used them for a year. It saved them thousands of dollars. Wyoming were upgrading their uniforms so they were available. They then got a designer to make a new uniform the following season.
One of the many crazy and memorable stories of the AFL is the one about Bronco great Frank Tribucka. Tribucka was the father of Notre Dame and NBA player Kelly Tribucka. Frank was a Notre Dame legend. At 33 years old he had played for several teams in the NFL, Canada, and AFL and he came to the expansion Broncos to be a coach after retiring. During the last pre-season game they asked him to play to sell a few tickets. He then started the next week as the Broncos QB and played for the next 3 years.
In his first year he threw for 34 interceptions (still a Denver Bronco’s record) but also became the first QB in NFL or AFL history to throw for over 3,000 yards in a season. Against the Bills he threw for over 447 yards in a game; a Bronco record that stood for over 38 years. Frank had a great personality and was very popular and will always be a part of the AFL lore.
Goose was as tough as nails. In a day and age where the game was so physical, he played in an amazing 61 straight games for the Broncos. He is third all time in the AFL for interceptions with 43 and has the AFL record for most interceptions in a game with 4. Gonsoulin is also still 2nd all time in Denver Broncos history in interceptions only 1 behind leader Steve Foley. He was a 6 time AFL all star and was voted on the AFL’s all time 2nd team.
In his first 6 years with Denver, he had an amazing 43 interceptions, 542 return yards with 2 brought back for touchdowns. A fun loving, true great of the AFL era.
Rich “Tombstone” Jackson:
Another guy that doesn’t get his due is Rich Tombstone Jackson. He was the first real great pass rusher in Denver history. He was very physical and Lyle Alzado of all people called him the toughest man he ever met. Just another of the all time great players that never got his due. He was way before his time and mastered the head slap and many other moves to the dismay of the NFL.
He was a 2x AFL All Star, 2x AFL All Pro and voted second team on the all time AFL team. As with many players of his day before modern knee surgeries, he tore his knee and had to retire early from football. Many believe he was the best pass rusher of that era and that without injury he was heading into the NFL Hall of Fame. While Deacon Jones got all of the publicity, Jackson quietly tormented opponents. It’s sad he’s never mentioned more.
With so many people lacking any knowledge of the past in our social media mentality of today, it’s important for all of us to remember the great players of yesteryear. These are players from the AFC West but obviously the AFL had amazing teams and athletes from New York and Buffalo to San Diego. My father talked to me often about the greatness of the AFL. From the Titans and Texans, to the Bills and Raiders, AFL lore has so many amazing players and stories. I hope that we never forget the greatness of the AFL and more and more groups are created to discuss such amazing memories that we enjoyed with our parents and grandparents.