With the announcement of Oakland Raiders star pass rusher Khalil Mack’s hold out, some began to worry if there was a possibility the Raiders may eventually lose Mack after this season. I love social media and it already has many comments on the subject. Some are tweeting Mack is done with the Raiders and others are saying he won’t be there week 1. As we always do, let’s be realistic about this situation.
I said after the Super Bowl that if I was Khalil Mack, I would not play another play without a long term deal. If Mack plays the last year of his contract and gets hurt, he will lose money, and maybe a lot of it.
Some said that they want Mack to just show up and play because he is making a good salary now but that would be ridiculous. At 27 years old, this will be Mack’s biggest contract signing of his career, so he needs to cash in on it big time.
Last year the Rams all world DT Aaron Donald held out until the day before the season started wanting a new contract. Rams fans/writers were losing their minds saying he ruined his season and he was done in Los Angeles. After a few weeks Donald was back to form terrorizing offenses while being double teamed most of the year. I do agree that it remains to be seen if the Rams burned a bridge with him but the hopes there is that they can work out a long term deal.
Le’Veon Bell didn’t show up for Pittsburgh until September 1st and after a sluggish start, began to dominate in week 4 becoming maybe the best all around RB in the NFL. After the season ended, ridiculous rumors started popping up that the Raiders were in the lead to get Bell. I reminded a national writer and several local writers that this was nonsense. For a year Pittsburgh said that they were going to franchise Bell and that was that. Well, that is exactly what happened.
You have to think these things through and not just throw things on the wall to get a rise out of people. Thus when you hear rumors, read the people you trust and do your own homework and see that most rumors are nothing to worry about.
The Reggie McKenzie Factor:
Just like with Derek Carr, Reggie McKenzie isn’t the type to want to wait until the last second to sign a player. They want to sign Mack quickly before his final year begins. Both sides are reasonable, want to have a relationship, and feel good about getting it done. Remember that Derek Carr signed on June 22nd of last year so there is no need to panic. I would not overreact to all of the nasty nipping and fighting that may occur during these types of negotiations. When a deal is done, most everything is forgiven no matter how nasty the negotiations.
Last year in a nice interview with NBC Bay Area, Mack stated that he knows this is a business. He also said he wanted to be a Raider for life and that it’s a no-brainer for him to stay with Oakland for the rest of his career. Mack has shown himself to be honest and level headed. Nothing has changed and I see Mack signing something long term most likely sooner than later.
Khalil Mack and Aaron Donald are playing a cat and mouse game to see who signs first, so the other player can get an idea of what to ask for. As for head coach Jon Gruden, he just wants him on the field again. Even in a couple of press conferences this week, Gruden said that what the Raiders do in contracts is private, but he said they would like to have Mack back signed as quickly as possible and he’s hopeful they can reach an agreement. He also commented that part of coming back as a coach was to coach for Mack.
Should Raider fans be worried right now? No. If I was Mack I’d hold out until the season started if needed, and then I’d tell the Raiders the time to talk ended and I’m opting out for free agency at the end of the season. Of course during the season I’d still be negotiating and trying to sign a deal.
I personally think Mack will sign in late June or even July. I don’t think it could play out until August but who knows. Either way I’d be shocked and stunned if he kept holding out. It’s the same thing I told fans back when Derek Carr signed and people got worried. If Khalil doesn’t have a contract after the season starts then I’d worry, but even then I wouldn’t lose my mind.
The Raiders are not going to be pushovers and just cave in to his demands but as long as he’s not hurt, Mack is holding all of the aces. With him there are still some big questions on defense for the Raiders but without him there are HUGE issues. The Raiders are not going to let him go because they need him big time. This is not Jr. High School loyalty folks, this is the NFL and it’s business. In the end I see Mack playing for the Raiders for a long, long time and I’d worry more about other things in life like what you are having for dinner and who will win the World Cup.
The NFL draft has always been fascinating to me. It’s an amazing thing to see how teams choose who they want to create the foundation of their team. It’s not a coincidence though that with the greatness of the Raiders of the 1960’s to early 1980’s, most of their drafts were excellent getting at least 2 good starters in many drafts. Director of Player Personnel Ron Wolf was a key element of these drafts and he is now in the HOF. As John Madden said, “Al listened to only one person and that was Ron Wolf”.
To establish a great team you have to have excellent drafts. Back in the day, a guy that could scout and pick out a good player was worth their weight in gold. A recent ESPN study showed just how bad the NFL teams of today draft, especially missing on so many QB’s that it’s ruined some franchises for years. In the olden days they relied on game films and occasional interviews with the players and their coaches. Now they over analyze and see things that aren’t there and refuse to see things that are. Paralysis by analysis. If you look at something long enough you begin to see flaws.
For now though, let’s forget the drafts of today that might work out well, and look to the draft picks that did work out well often leading to wins and championships.
#5: 1974 Draft:
1st Henry Lawrence T
2nd Dave Casper TE
3rd Mark Van Eeghen
4th Morris Bradshaw
Henry Lawrence was a pillar in the OL for 13 years for the Raiders with much of it being as a starter. He has 3 Super Bowl rings and in the last 2 Raider titles he was a starting tackle. Dave Casper is a HOF player and was one of the best all around tight ends in history. With his tough and physical blocking and his amazing hands, he, Biletnikoff, Cliff Branch, and Ken Stabler made one of the greatest passing combinations of all time.
Mark Van Eeghen took over for Marv Hubbard and could do it all. He wasn’t fast, but he was amazing at following his blockers and soon became one of the best all around RB’s in the NFL. A great pass catcher, Mark also was a key pass protector for his ability to pick up blitzing LB’s. Even though he ran for over 1,000 yards in the 1976 season, Oakland’s game plan was for Mark to be the lead blocker for most of the game and the speedy Clarence Davis (who ran for 516 yards the same year) would get the bulk of the carries against an older Minnesota Vikings team. The plan worked to perfection as Mark had an amazing game blocking and Davis ran 16 times for 137 yards. Van Eeghen ran for 73 yards and the Raiders rushed for 266 yards which is still the 3rd highest Super Bowl rushing game in history. You wonder if players of today would sacrifice like that.
In the 4th Round the Raiders got WR Morris Bradshaw who became a key member of their special teams unit for 8 years. He also was a part time starter with his best year being 1978 when he caught 40 passes for 552 yards.
#4: 1972 Draft:
1st Mike Siani WR
2nd John Vella OL
4th Cliff Branch WR
4th Dave Dalby OL
7th Alonzo “Skip” Thomas DB
To be honest you could interchange the #4 and #3 drafts and still have winners. What a problem to have. Mike Siani was a poor man’s Fred Biletnikoff and while he never lived up to his #1 status, he was a vital contributor in the Raiders passing game with many key pass catches in important games. John Vella and Dave Dalby were part of what many consider the greatest offensive line of all time. Their size and toughness wore opponents down. Dr. Death Skip Thomas was a key member of the famous “Soul Patrol” that many feel is the greatest defensive backfield in NFL history.
Cliff Branch will eventually get into the Hall of Fame but he remains one of the greatest deep threats the NFL has ever seen. During a talk show Raiders great Ken Stabler said, “I had a great offensive line, Casper, Biletnikoff who caught anything and Cliff Branch who could outrun half of the cars in the parking lot”. This amazing draft class is just another reason why the Raiders were so good.
#3: 1977 Draft:
2nd Mike Davis
4th Mickey Marvin
5th Lester Hayes
5th Jeff Barnes
8th Terry Robiskie
12th Rod Martin
Maybe this draft didn’t have the iconic talent of other drafts, but it definitely filled a lot of holes with excellent players. Mike Davis was a key member at safety and his interception against the Cleveland Browns in the playoffs helped propel the Raiders to eventually win a Super Bowl. Mickey Marvin was an excellent OL for years. Lester Hayes started out slow, but eventually became one of the best cover corners in the game and should be in the HOF. Jeff Barnes and Rod Martin were excellent LB’s that helped the Raiders shore up their defense after the Villapiano, Willie Hall and Monte Johnson era. Terry Robiskie was an excellent special teams player and backup RB.
#2: 1971 Draft:
1st Jack Tatum DB
2nd Phil Villapiano LB
4th Clarence Davis
5th Bob Moore
12th Horace Jones
“They changed the rules because of Tatum and Atkinson”, said HOF QB Fran Tarkenton on San Francisco’s KNBR radio. “The 5 yard chuck rule was created because of them and the other Raiders DB’s because the WR’s literally could not get off of the line against them. They were so physically imposing and strong.”
Jack Tatum hit harder than any DB in history and should no doubt be in the HOF. Phil Villapiano said, “Tatum’s shots just sounded different. His hits sounded like a car wreck”. George Atkinson added, “I once saw Jack hit Denver’s Riley Odom’s so hard that I thought he killed him. It sounded like a car wreck”. He was a star at Ohio St. where Woody Hayes loved his hard hitting style and instinct to be where he needed to be, and he brought that to the Oakland Raiders. Jack’s timing was unmatched. If it wasn’t for the Darryl Stingley hit, Tatum would already be in the HOF. RIP to both of them.
A huge get was Phil Villapiano. Supposedly an undersized LB out of Bowling Green, most teams had him as being too small. Almost everyone had him as a possible 3rd round pick, but most had him going into the 4th round. The Raiders; who were the only team that would not share information with other teams; picked him in the second round. They knew that Phil was really 225 and not the 210 that everyone else said he was. Villapiano became a key element shoring up their back 7 on defense. He could tackle and stop the run, and with his lateral speed and timing he was a great pass defender. There are many that feel Phil should be in the HOF as well. His personality and fun spirit is classic Raider. The below video shows Phil Villapiano leading the Raiders on and off the field.
Clarence Davis was a fast and clutch player. His catch in the famous “Sea of Hands” game and his amazing performances in post season including his 137 yards rushing in the Super Bowl win against Minnesota are immortalized. Bob Moore was a solid NFL back up tight end and Horace Jones was an important defensive starter for four of the 5 years he played for the Raiders.
#1: 1968 Draft:
2nd Ken Stabler QB
3rd Art Shell T
4th Charlie Smith RB
7th George Atkinson DB
11th Marv Hubbard
Now finally the greatest draft in Oakland Raiders history, the 1968 draft. If you can draft 2 quality starters in your draft, usually your draft is considered pretty good. Draft 5 key starters and 2 Hall of Famer’s and I’d say your draft was awesome.
In 1967 the Raiders drafted HOF guard Gene Upshaw who would help anchor an amazing offensive line. In 1968, they chose other big pieces that would lay a foundation for their success in the 1970’s.
This draft was the key to the Raiders success in the 60’s and 70’s and this draft topped them all. They now had one of the greatest QB’s in history in Ken Stabler, and another HOF player on the OL in Art Shell. With Charlie Smith and Marv Hubbard they had a set of starting RB’s that could run and catch the ball. All 4 players were big parts of the success of the Raiders in the 1970’s and late 1960’s.
Then oh by the way add 7th round pick George Atkinson who was considered too small to be a full time safety. What teams didn’t get is that Atkinson was as tough as nails, hit like a ton of bricks, had a bad attitude on the field and was as fast as lightning. Early in his career he was a great kick returner on both punts and kickoffs and held records for a number of years.
So there you have it. These are the 5 greatest draft classes in Raiders history. The hope of all fans is that their favorite teams draft choices will reach their full potential and step up to be great players. In the following years we will find out how the draft choices of the new millennium rank. History shows us that if you consistently draft poorly, you will eventually erode your foundation and have to start over. If you excel in the draft, you create a winning team for years to come. When the Raiders had great drafts, they succeeded and were the winningest franchise in U.S. sports. When they didn’t, they failed and struggled breaking records for futility. Here’s to a future of great draft picks and great success to this amazing franchise.
There are many other players that didn’t make the list but these are stories that I found to be quite disturbing. Some of you will remember these names, but some stories I’ve never heard of. Let’s get into the sad darkness of these individuals.
#7 Jovan Belcher: (Kansas City 2009-12)
Jovan Belcher at best was a long shot to make the NFL. He was not drafted and was signed as an undrafted free agent by the Kansas City Chiefs. In time he made the team and even started. His acts of kindness were of legend and he was adored by fans and players alike. He met and began living with his girlfriend Kasandra Perkins. She was only 20 and eventually she got pregnant by him
As time went on Jovan eventually lost his starting job as the Chiefs middle linebacker. After several concussions and threats by the Chiefs coaching staff that his days were numbered if his play didn’t improve, Jovan changed and the pressure was getting to him. He drank heavily, and popped pain pills due to the injuries he had sustained because he didn’t want to miss any playing time. Many friends said he was forgetful, moody, and very much not himself. After his death it was found that he had CTE due to the numerous concussions he suffered. The Chiefs refused to comment on his health.
As with some pro athletes, Jovan had another girlfriend on the side. After their baby was born, the fighting increased between Kasandra and Jovan. One day after a huge fight, Jovan took a .40 caliber hand gun and shot Kasandra 9 times, killing her. He kissed her forehead and said he was sorry. His baby was in the house and his mother who was staying with them called 911.
He then drove to the Chiefs practice facility and was seen by head coach Romeo Crennel and GM Scott Pioli along with other staff members. Even after talking with them, Belcher got on his knees, made the sign of the cross on his chest and said he had to go. He then shot himself in the head in front of everyone. Friends to this day are shocked that he did this.
#6 Darren Sharper: (Packers 1997-2004; Vikings 2005-08; Saints 2009-10)
NFL players and sexual assault allegations are far from strangers, but Darren Sharper took it to a new level. The 5 time pro-bowler and Super Bowl winner with the Saints, was enjoying success as an analyst on the NFL Network. On the party trail he was known as a smooth talker who definitely liked to play at night.
What people didn’t know is that Sharper and 2 of his friends were serial rapists. They would use various drugs including GHB (the date rape drug that scrambles your memory) to drug and sexually assault over 16 women in 4 states. In one binge, they sexually assaulted 4 women in 24 hours.
Another time Sharper admitted to meeting a man and 2 women at a club and when they went back to his hotel, he drugged all 3 and sexually assaulted the 2 women. Thankfully many went to the hospital immediately and through the use of rape kits and interviews, Sharper and his friends were arrested. Even with the first couple of allegations, Sharper got off the charges. When he was finally convicted, he did a plea bargain to only do 9 years in jail. The judge was so outraged at the sentence she changed it to 20 years in Federal prison. The judge and the DA also scolded the police departments and the justice system for it’s protection of Sharper citing his celebrity and fame from being a pro football player as being the reason.
#5 Jim Dunaway: (Bills 1963-71; Dolphins 1972)
“Big” Jim Dunaway is one of the great Buffalo Bills players of all time. Dunaway played between 1963-1971 for Buffalo and ended his career in 1972 getting a Super Bowl ring with the perfect Miami Dolphins team. He was ranked as the 28th best Bill of all time by a local Buffalo publication. He was a 4 time AFL all-star, 2 time AFL Champion, and many for a time thought he should be in the pro football hall of fame. Alas his story reads somewhat like another Buffalo great, OJ Simpson.
After a nasty divorce and long legal battle in 1995, his ex-wife Nonnie got ½ of his NFL pension, 800 acres of land on their dairy farm, and $1800/month spousal support. Jim was outraged and felt he was screwed. In time it was found out that Jim had a woman on the side that he spent several thousands of dollars on to keep happy. In 3 years he spent over $81k on her, and the judge wasn’t pleased. Dunaway tried to hide his money and also filed bankruptcy while appealing the decision. It dragged out and it got ugly. One day Dunaway said that he went to his old house to get some clothes. He stated that he and his ex-wife were cordial and supportive. Later that day, Nonnie Dunaway was found in their half filled pool dead. After an autopsy it was found out that she did drown, but only after someone had crushed her skull before throwing her into the pool. The grand jury for some insane reason didn’t think there was enough circumstantial evidence to get a conviction so they did not even pursue going after Dunaway. The police had no other suspects.
His distraught kids were outraged. They stated publicly their father had killed their mom and filed a civil lawsuit against Jim. In 2002 the Jury found in favor of the kids and he was ordered to pay over $579k in damages. Jim was upset at his children for not believing him but they relented profusely. Most that were close to the case stated that they felt Jim got away with murder. He is now 76 years old.
#4 Rae Carruth: (Carolina Panthers 1997-99)
Rae Carruth grew up fast and made many mistakes in life. Even as a young adult his pension for selfish behavior was the norm. He was a star at Colorado and during his sophomore season his Sacramento girlfriend had his son. Carruth had nothing to do with the son until his girlfriend filed for child support. After talking with Carruth, she agreed to take ½ of the child support due to her as long as Carruth became a more responsible father. He agreed but failed to do it.
Carruth, like many athletes was no stranger to the dating world. He casually dated Cherica Adams and eventually she became pregnant. That was unacceptable to the narcissistic Carruth who demanded she get an abortion. He told others that he didn’t want to pay any more child support. She refused to end the pregnancy.
He paid $50,000 for a friend of his to kill Adams on a dark road. While she followed Carruth after going to the movies, Adams noticed he stopped. A car came up beside her and shot at her multiple times. Carruth coldly drove off with the deed done. The problem was Adams was not dead. Below is the actual 911 call of her harrowing experience after being shot. She soon would lapse into a coma and die a month later giving birth to her son.
Shockingly Carruth was given bail and told if the baby or Cherica died, he had to turn himself in. When Cherica died a month later, a manhunt ensued. He was found hiding in a trunk of a car with $3900, chocolate, and urine in bottles.
Their son, Chancellor Adams, was born with cerebral palsy due to the lack of oxygen. Thinking that Carruth would come off bad in his trial, his lawyers never let him take the stand. He arrogantly said he did nothing wrong even though his assailants turned against him and exposed their plot. Carruth was convicted of conspiracy to commit murder and other chargers but was not convicted of first degree murder which would have probably given him the death penalty. Carruth is scheduled to leave prison on October 22, 2018. Shockingly he has threatened to sue for custody of his son who was physically damaged due to a lack of oxygen because of the shooting.
#3 OJ Simpson:
This one is too well known to get too deep into. OJ lived a secret life while being loved by all. He was an abusive tyrant that most of the country felt got away with murder. He and Rae Carruth have some serious issues. Simpson was released from prison earlier this year after serving a 9 year sentence in Nevada for unrelated crimes. I’m sure he will look for Nicole and Ronald’s killer on some golf course somewhere.
#2 Robert Rozier: (St. Louis Cardinals 1979; Hamilton Tiger-Cats 1980; Saskatchewan Roughriders 1980; Oakland Raiders 1980 for 2 wks)
Robert Rozier was born in Alaska, and moved to California. He played High School ball during the glory days of the Rancho Cordova dynasty in Sacramento California where they were considered a national power.
Rozier was drafted in the 9th round and showed potential after a quality career at California Berkeley playing defensive end. The promise was wasted when it was found out he was also a heavy drug user. After several run in’s with the law, the Cardinals dumped Rozier after 6 games. Rozier played in Canada and had a cup of coffee with the Raiders before being released, never being able to conquer his demons.
Feeling lost, he began doing petty crimes and joined an African American cult based in Miami called the Temple of Love. After befriending the leader Yahweh ben Yahweh, he changed his name to Neariah Israel.
There was one problem in joining this group. To join the “brotherhood” you had to kill a “white devil” and bring back a body part to prove you did it. Rozier admitted to killing 7 white people people to please his leader. After being arrested on Halloween of 1986, he agreed to turn on his leader and became a witness for the government. Even being a witness after a plea bargain, he was sentenced to 22 years in prison for his murderous spree.
After serving 10 years, Rozier was placed in the witness protection program. Due to the third strike law, he was sentenced to 25 years to life after writing 29 bad checks. He’s now serving his time in a California prison.
#1 Randall Woodfield: (Green Bay Packers 1974);
The I-5 killer. Randall had severe problems even at an early age. He was a good high school and college football player but he often would get into trouble for petty crimes including flashing and indecent exposure. The Packer’s felt he had potential and they drafted him, but he continued to have questionable behavior. With more trouble with the law due to his crimes, Woodfield was cut and placed on the practice squad. He played for the semi-pro team Manitowoc Chiefs where borderline players trying to make the Packers team often played.
The Packers put up with a lot but eventually they could not handle his many issues. After more arrests with flashing women, he was sent home by the Packers who refused to have anything more to do with him after this.
Woodfield went back home in Portland, Oregon and he started doing severe crimes. He made women perform sex acts by knife point and also robbed them. He eventually was caught and was given a 10 year prison sentence, but his crime spree was just starting. After he got out of jail, a classmate of his was brutally murdered and even though the police felt he did it, Woodfield was never charged due to a lack of physical evidence.
In the beginning he was dubbed the “I-5 Bandit” and his reign of terror was felt in California, Oregon and Washington along the I-5 corridor. The crimes worsened. When he was finally caught, he was linked to over 44 murders, and 60 sexual assaults from 1979-81. He is now doing life in prison and even today he is one of the first people they look to in many unsolved cold cases in California, Washington and Oregon. Most in law enforcement think the numbers may be higher.
The stories are very disturbing and scary and shows many hidden secrets in the darker side of pro football players.
Who will win the AFC West? Let’s look ahead to the rest of the season and see what may be in store for all of the teams.
In the history of social media, there has NEVER been a tweet or Facebook post about the Raiders being in a playoff game. Let that sink in. In their glory days, for 25 years the Raiders were the winningest team of any Pro Sports team in the U.S. For the last couple of decades, they’ve been the worst. In their glory years, the Cowboys and the Raiders for almost 3 decades were the two most popular teams on tv ratings. Love them or hate them, it’s good that they are back.
The Cowboys Dak Prescott and Oakland’s Derek Carr are having great years. They also are behind the 2 best offensive lines in the NFL. NOT a coincidence. Carr is the best protected QB in the NFL this year and that is important to his success.
The Raiders are now #4 in the NFL in rushing yards and #3 in passing yards. Even though their skilled position players get most of the credit, their OL has been as dominating as any in the game this year and it’s the heart and soul of this team.
On defense it’s another matter. They struggle against good teams and occasionally look good against bad ones. The Raiders are 28th in sacks, 30th against the pass and 27th against the run. And that is after a good performance against a bad Denver offense.
The Raiders have only played 3 teams with winning records; all at home; and are 1-2. They have not played a team who presently has a winning record on the road.
The Raiders schedule is interesting. They struggle against teams that can score points and they really don’t play a lot of good offenses the rest of the way. They still have a game in Denver, in KC and @ San Diego. Outside of that they have Houston, Carolina and Buffalo. These are all good match-ups for them because those teams don’t have great offenses. Even with their bad OL, the Colts will be a tough game because they can score.
Right now the Raiders have the upper hand in the AFC West and barring injuries to their OL; and even with a limited defense; they still should be considered favorites to win the division. This is not a Super Bowl defense in any way and offense may make headlines and put butts in the seats but defense wins championships. Remember this is the salary cap era so every team has some sort of issue or weakness, but for now, the West comes through Oakland.
The Broncos are fading fast due to injuries and a poor offensive scheme.
On offense I really like their 2 young running backs. Rookie Devontae Booker hasn’t had much of a chance to run the ball but he has a lot of potential. Kapri Bibbs showed his playmaking ability on a 68 yard pass and catch late against the Raiders. On defense they still have an excellent pass rush but now they can’t stop the run. The other problem on offense is head coach and play caller Gary Kubiak.
The Denver media; which is fairly soft; has been griping about him for 2 weeks. They have brought up great points. In the first 15 plays against the Raiders, Denver threw 13 times. In the last 5 games Denver has thrown almost 70% of the time in their first 15 plays. Denver is 2-3 in those games. With Siemian as a starter, Denver throws 72% of the time. That’s not Denver football.
Siemian is limited; he throws a nice deep ball but he needs protection; and lot’s of it. The offensive line at Denver has been inconsistent protecting the QB. He does not feel a rush at all and struggles under pressure as was seen with a loss at San Diego and again in Oakland.
Denver needs to go back to the ground and pound with young RB’s that are hungry. Both have mildly complained about their lack of touches in the running game. Kubiak is a borderline arrogant guy though when it comes to coaching and he can be stubborn. Analyst Cris Collinsworth brought up what I said last year. Why don’t they double team Kahlil Mack more? Last year in Mack’s epic game in Denver, they would not help out their tackles and Mack went off. Their tackles are not that great and it took until late in the game last Sunday for them to finally start helping out on him.
When asked about Siemian after the Raiders game, Kubiak said he was still making plays so there is no problem with the QB position. Now Paxton Lynch might not be the answer but if Denver throws 70% of the time for the rest of the year, they are toast. Kubiak acted this way in Houston when Matt Schaub started to tank. Instead of using Arian Foster & Ben Tate with his run game to help him, he threw even more.
The Denver defense is now 30th against the run and can’t stop anybody. The offensive line has also struggled. There may be changes there soon. Even so the Broncos have to go back to being a running team and take their chances. Their LB’s are no longer a strength of the team with changes there this year. Injuries have just killed the Broncos. Aqib Talib and Kayvon Webster are still hurting and Brandon Marshall is hobbling badly. DL Derek Wolfe’s injury is not as bad as first thought but he is another one on the mend. And those are just the bigger names on the list.
The rest of their schedule is rough. Their last 3 games are at home against New England, on the road to KC and back home to play the Raiders. Before that they also have to play the Chiefs in Denver. Denver has a great home field advantage so they will need to use that to keep in the playoff hunt. Get healthy and run the ball should be their mantra.
Kansas City Chiefs:
The Chiefs are a classic Andy Reid team. They are tough, disciplined and they find ways to win. If you watch their games and look at the stat sheet, you wonder how they can be 6-2. They are 22nd in rushing and 25th in passing offense. Their offense doesn’t scare anyone. On defense they are ranked 13th against the pass and 25th against the run. Their once feared pass rush with Justin Houston and Tamba Hali is now 21st in sacks. Houston is set to return this week or next and 33 year old Hali’s days are numbered as he has no cartilage in one knee and tries to play in a specialist pass rushing position. Pass rushing project Dee Ford has shown glimpses of great play and has come on of late, as has DB Steven Nelson who made the game winning defensive play against Jacksonville last week.
KC has had so many injuries; Charles, Maclin, Ware, Houston, Hali; a who’s who if you are a Chiefs fan.
The AFC West has pretty easy schedules this year and KC has played only 2 teams with winning records and are 1-1, and that obviously has helped them.
ESPN seemed to fall in love with the Chiefs last week but slow your roll. The Chiefs have a brutal second half schedule that includes 2 games with Denver, a rematch with Oakland, and road games with San Diego, Carolina and Atlanta. They STILL might make the playoffs though because most of the AFC outside of the West is awful. Their second half schedule will greatly test them and may expose them.
I’ve never been an Alex Smith guy. He’s the Ichabod Crane of the NFL. He and Andy Reid play not to lose with their extremely conservative passing game and you can’t win big with 1-3 yard check down passes. They may make the playoffs but they are not going far. What they will be though is hard playing and competitive. They have owned the Raiders this decade, and play Denver well so you can’t sleep on KC. Their home field on a cold winter day is not the place to be if you are an opposing team.
San Diego Chargers:
You have to give it up for the Chargers. With all of the turmoil surrounding their possible move, the terrible season ending injury to star WR Keenan Allen, and the drama with first round draft choice Joey Bosa, the worst was expected in San Diego. A funny thing happened. Bosa has been a breath of fresh air and has greatly helped the defensive line and pass rush and RB Melvin Gordon has had a great year behind an improved offensive line. If they don’t implode late against KC and go into a coma in the 4th in Oakland, their season could be much different. Their win in Atlanta was impressive and was not a fluke. They earned it.
Their schedule has been the hardest in the AFC West by far. They are 2-3 against teams with winning records. They split with Denver so they just have the Raiders and KC at home along with Houston on the road as their toughest remaining games. The AFC only has 5 teams with winning records and 3 are in the AFC West. Watch out for the Chargers. Stranger things have happened and a playoff push may not seem eminent but they could make some noise. Their slow start really hurt them.
Philip Rivers is a good QB but just like Alex Smith I just don’t think either will win anything significant in their NFL careers. In Rivers San Diego career, the Chargers so often fall short in the second half of games, especially in the fourth quarter. They always seem to do just enough to lose. Sometimes it’s not all Rivers fault but he’s the captain of the ship. A very good QB with great stats who never will win anything who I personally think gets a little too much love. Gordon and Bosa though could be great building blocks for the near future. Add a healthy Keenan Allen and next year looks much brighter in San Diego.
If you sleep on these guys, they can beat you. I don’t think they make the playoffs but they could hurt someone else’s chances if they are taken lightly. They are intriguing.
The NFL has what they want. No more great teams; lots of average to good teams who all have a weakness. Odds now show Seattle to be the #2 choice to win the Super Bowl and they have a bad offensive line that struggles in protection and at times running the ball. Parity and average teams to keep all fans interested is what they want and they got it. Everyone has issues, and what that means is that it is a toss up on who will get to the post season and who will win it all. Most everyone has a shot if they get hot.
Can the Raiders offensive line stay healthy and will their defense hold up? Can the Broncos stop supplying bodies for their medical staff? Will Head Coach Gary Kubiak forget about Siemian’s stats in the Cincinnati game and actually start running the ball again? Can the Chargers play 4 quarters of good football and come through in the second half of games? Can the KC Chiefs get healthy and their pass rush be restored with the return of Justin Houston? And will Alex Smith ever get over his deepballaphobia and throw the ball downfield in big games?
These are all questions that will be answered in the second half of the season. Right now the Raiders look like the odds on favorite but this is the NFL and things could change quickly. Its’ not the good ol’ days when the AFC West dominated in the 60’s, 70’s and 80’s, but for now it will definitely do.
In a night that went as perfect as a last minute Ken Stabler drive, Ken Michael Stabler took his rightful place in the NFL pro football hall of fame. For one last time, Ken Stabler lead everyone on a magical ride that will never be forgotten.
With decades of Raider tradition all around mixed in with a little Southern warmth from the state of Alabama, Canton looked more like Oakland, Ca than the sleepy town that wakes up for a week every year before the NFL season starts.
With several Raiders by their sides and HOF WR Fred Biletnikoff giving support, Ken Stabler’s grandsons unveiled the HOF bust of their beloved grandfather. In one action, all of the emotions that have built up from decades of frustration, anticipation, sadness and hope was released. Tears flowed, and closure began to fill the air slowly like a soft mist on a hot night. All the years of waiting; all the unjust votes and comments came out in a healing moment that hopefully now brings closure to an amazing career by an amazing man.
I have many good friends from around the country who ask me, why was there so much emotion and love for Ken Stabler. I think the answer is easy.
When the Snake saw a fan he didn’t care what color you were. He didn’t care if you were famous or rich. He truly appreciated the adoration that was given him. I think Ken always knew how important he was to the City of Oakland, Alabama and the bay area. That’s why he was so kind to so many. He never judged; never lashed out; he was always good to those that supported him, and shrugged off those that hurt him. Many saw a little of themselves in Ken. Sometimes misunderstood, often doubted, and occasionally misjudged. Ken was an every man and in reality so many people related to the things he went through.
Ken was real. He made mistakes; he failed at times; he was ripped in the media at times; but he ALWAYS dusted himself off and kept coming. He never quit and the harder someone pushed, the harder he pushed back. The Raiders and Ken Stabler smashed people in the mouth and never gave up. That’s why when most teams would have quit, the Raiders usually won due to the never give up attitude of the Snake. Ken was a lot like the fans that supported him. He was a lot like the City of Oakland and the East Bay; always fighting, never quitting.
Why Younger Fans Should Be Excited:
Some younger Raider fans seem to be in a fog at the great adoration for Ken and this amazing era. Let’s face it, we live in a society where history to some is what pokemon go character you caught last night. If it’s old, society seems to not care about it.
If you are a younger fan, look at the extreme excitement that is seen in social media today for the upcoming season. The Raiders were 7-9 last year and some are nearly losing their minds with excitement. Nothing wrong with that especially with all the improvements, but put it into perspective.
Think about going 56-13 in Ken’s first 69 starts. Think of going 18-1-1 on Monday night football. Think of having the highest winning % of ANY professional team in the U.S. of ANY sport for a 25 year stretch. Think of 3 Super Bowls in 7 years and 5 straight AFC Championship games. For almost 3 decades the Raiders and the Cowboys were consistently on top of the NFL ratings for most watched teams on television. Oh and don’t forget having more wins in the greatest NFL decade of all time, the 1970’s. Could you imagine what Ken and the Raiders offense could do with today’s rules? Now you understand OUR excitement. As Raider great Tim Brown said Friday, “When Ken walked into our locker room you saw everyone change. It was like royalty had just come into the room. The Raiders of that time were just that good; people adored him.”
A Leader to the End:
The reason this meant so much to so many is because Ken really was the Raiders leader in every way. He was a leader on the field and off. Players felt he was invincible and looked to him when things got rough. Even after his death he inspired. Raiders greats like George Atkinson, Art Thoms, and George Buehler followed in Ken’s footsteps and decided to donate their brains to the study of CTE and give them to the Concussion Legacy Foundation after they passed away. Truly unselfish acts inspired by the Snake’s selflessness and the encouragement of his partner Kim Bush.
“When you see your teammate deteriorate a lot through the end of his life, to see him go out like that, it brings us together,” Thoms said in a Mercury News article. George Atkinson has complained often of his memory issues. “Ken meant so much to us and we felt we needed to do this.”
The Closest Team in the NFL:
Many of the retired Raider players talked about how close they were to each other. Many stated how no team was as tight as they were. Even after retiring, they would meet for dinner often and even if players were out of state, they would fly back to join their fellow teammates. It was important to them to stay in touch with an incredible time that gave them so much enjoyment.
We have many older patients and one is Mr. & Mrs. C who live deep in the wine country (I wont give their name for health privacy reasons.) They used to be a Raiders season ticket holders in the 60’s and 70’s. I visited them recently.
Mrs. C is the classic sweet nurturing elderly woman who still feels a good meal will solve any problem. Mr. C was a successful businessman who’s health is failing. I go to their house so he doesn’t have to go into the office. I also know they enjoy my visits. Mr. C usually holds court with a scotch in his hand while I get my usual pay for a house call. A cold beer with a roast beef or turkey sandwich or the occasional German Chocolate cake and cold glass of milk.
“You know something James, those times were so special and those guys meant the damn world to us. Players like Tom Keating and Art Thoms; Tony Cline, Warren Wells, Charlie Smith, Raymond Chester. Tatum and Atkinson, Skip and Willie. Otto, Beuhler and Dalby; Upshaw and Shell; Sistrunk and Kinlaw; Rod Martin and Vilipiano. Sumner, Wolf, and Al Locasale. So many great men that gave their all to win. And Kenny was everyone’s favorite. No group of players and fans were closer. The minute you forget this son, you won’t be worth a damn as a writer, or as a fan.”
After a pregnant pause, Mr. C showed a moment of rare emotion. Pointing his finger at me he said softly while winking, “Ken in the Hall of Fame? This one means something son; this one means something.”
Joy, Pride, & a Little HOF Controversy; Everything on Oakland Raiders Ken Stabler:
Saturday it Finally will happen. A long time coming.
Never Forget The Greatness of Ken Stabler & Oakland:
As people wait for Saturdays induction ceremony, watching Friday’s Gold Jacket ceremony was very emotional. I was happy for Ken’s family to be able to have that great moment. He should be remembered in so many ways.
It’s sad that our society doesn’t respect history much anymore, because the greatness of the Raiders and Ken Stabler doesn’t get it’s due. In the greatest era in NFL history, the Raiders had more wins in the 1970’s than any other team. For a 25 year period, the Raiders had the highest winning % NOT only for all NFL teams , but of any team in any professional sport in the U.S. If any New York or Boston team had ever done that they’d have statues for it.
The NFL did a contest with fans voting on NFL.com on who the greatest team in NFL history was. With over 5.2 million fans voting, the 1976 Oakland Raiders were voted the greatest team of all time. And if you ask John Madden and the Raider players, the Raiders 1977 team was actually better. A huge amount of injuries and the Rob Lytle fumble debacle in Denver derailed that.
A frustrating thing for the Raiders that never is brought up, is the huge amount of key injuries the Raiders had during the mid to late 70’s. The Raiders had a hard time getting home field advantage during the regular season with so many key players out. That made them have to go on the road in the post season. If the Raiders were at full strength in many of those seasons, one to two more Super Bowls would have been achieved.
When people say Stabler and the Raiders should have won more championships, to their credit, the Raiders rarely if ever talk about the frustration of all those injuries.
Ken Stabler Mania in Oakland:
During my off season down time, I read many things on Ken Stabler & the 1970’s Raiders. I enjoyed the stories about the crazy book signings Ken would do locally. Most athletes would get hundreds of people to show up and it was a mad house. But when Ken did a book signing, the stores were usually full before he even got there and sell outs of his books were the norm. When the store would run out of books, people would go across the street and get grocery bags so Ken would sign them. Ken would sign peoples hands, their kids heads, or any piece of paper a person could find. Some women would use their back, breasts or any other part to make sure Ken’s signature wasn’t wasted.
People of today really don’t understand the love and passion fans of the East Bay had for Ken and the Raiders in the glory years. The press at times would try to get Ken and other players in trouble by trying to find dirt by asking fans and bar owners about wild partying and the crazy times the players had. That was a mistake. Messing with Ken and the Raiders in the East Bay was akin to messing with someone’s mom.
There will never be a pro sports fan base like the Oakland Raiders of the 1960’s, 1970’s & 80’s. I was just a little kid but even then I got it. Most people of today look up to players as hero’s and that’s great, but for fans back in the day the Raiders and Ken Stabler were more than hero’s; we literally loved them and they were family. We mowed their lawns, and saw them in stores. We went to their restaurants and our parents bought insurance from them. Most lived locally and had to have jobs because they didn’t make a lot back then. They were a part of us. Add the same adoration from the unequaled Alabama Crimson Tide fans and this is one of the most beloved athletes of all time.
A New Controversy:
For LB great Junior Seau, having his daughter Sydney introduce him at the HOF ceremony was of the utmost importance. For the Stabler family, what is important for them is that Ken be honored with the traditional HOF Gold Jacket, and the HOF ring that is given to all HOF members. The NFL HOF states that they no longer would be doing this.
What has come to the attention of the family and others, is that a couple of years ago another rule was changed by the NFL HOF with little to no communication. A Gold Jacket and ring would no longer be given to the family of a HOF player who was deceased, but they would get a large plaque with the shield that would have been on the jacket.
My Communications with the NFL HOF:
People that are close to me know how shy I am (wink wink) so I called the HOF myself.
What bothered me was the callousness we encountered. The worst call was when I was transferred to a long time worker. When I asked if Ken’s family would get a Gold Jacket & ring, her response was “you don’t give jackets to a dead person”. I was shocked. “Well maam you don’t give anything to a dead person; they are gone; but it’s a way that families can remember and celebrate their life”.
We made a total of 6 calls between 3 of us during a 6 week period. All of the people said the same thing; it’s always been that way and it’s not a new policy.
In reality it hasn’t been this way; this is a new policy that started in 2014 from what I’ve been told; in fact I can’t find the new policy anywhere on the internet. The HOF has never been that great with communicating changes and it’s kind of frustrating. Many of us have emailed the HOF and none of us got a reply of any kind.
Even though others like Cliff Branch, Bill King & Jack Tatum deserve to be in the Hall of Fame, I think for fans, they realize that this is the closing of the final chapter of the glory days. Ken Stabler and the Raiders of the 1960’s, 1970’s, and 1980’s, get one final time to share memories and relive a time when the sports world was dominated by Silver & Black colors. For fans in Alabama and across the nation this is one final chance to celebrate a favorite son whose spirit is rooted so deeply.
Fans can go back and remember when they were kids, or young parents starting out remembering the amazing times the Alabama and Raiders QB gave them while struggling to survive the tough 1970’s & 80s. People can remember sharing special moments with parents and grandparents whose spirits fill our hearts.
Today when money rules, and teams and players change cities like it’s nothing, people can celebrate a time when all was right with the football world. There was a magical sense in the House of Thrills. A togetherness and an enjoyment shared with people of all races and financial backgrounds. A group of hard working people coming together to show love and support to players who loved and supported them back. And Ken especially was our guy.
Oakland was the island of misfit toys and Ken was the leader on and off the field. And FINALLY; they can’t take this honor to Kenny away. No petty grudges or politics; no financial excuses; no bad referee calls or even the government will tarnish this day.
The rest of the country always told the Raiders and the East Bay, you are just not good enough. (Ask the Warriors recent owners). The media and the rest of the world hated the Raiders; and we loved it. The stories were the same; Ken had no arm, bad knees and partied too much. The chokeland Raiders can’t win the big one. Al Davis signs players that are too old, and who won’t fit in with other teams. The Fans are too rowdy. Separately it made no sense; together it made sense.
In reality Raiders players and fans don’t need sports writers HOF votes to know that Ken was a HOF player all along. They already know that Cliff Branch and Jack Tatum are HOF players & Bill King is a HOF announcer. Trophies, jackets and rings will not change who they are or how they live their lives. It would have been nice, but as long as players, family and fans know the truth, the nonsense of not showing the proper respect to players that made the league great will not hurt anyone at all. It’s the Raider way not to care what others say or do as long as you know who you are.
A Magical Ride:
Thank you to all of the wonderful people of Alabama for sharing this journey. You have a piece of my heart. From Foley to Huntsville, to Tuscaloosa to Birmingham, the kindness & passion that has been shown to me and others is truly humbling. To Drew DeArmond and Ryan Fowler who made the radio waves in Alabama full of everything Ken Stabler, eternal thanks and friendship. Your talent is only equaled by your passion for this great game and I’m so glad to have crossed paths. Keep teaching others to respect the history.
To the Stabler family and loved ones who trusted and entrusted fans. In time you realized that this wasn’t just celebrity hero worship for attention, but a true love for a man that meant so much to everyone. We were proud he was our leader, and you are now Raider royalty.
Thanks to Mike Yokum and other fans who have been so passionate. From petitions to social media posts, every word counted; and still does. Never quit. You all proved that the fans voice still matters.
Thank you to Raider fans for their passion, pride, love and respect. Truly an amazing group that can’t be duplicated. Never change. As a kid and now as an adult; Raider pride for life.
And Finally thank you to all of the Raider fans that are no longer with us. Thank you for instilling the importance of remembering Ken and all of the Raider greats, and thank you for raising good people into the Raider family. You are missed more than anyone knows and we hope you enjoy this moment from up above. Until we meet again.
This has been an amazing journey and I’m so blessed to have been a tiny part of it. I’m appreciative to people from all over the world that were touched by the sharing of Raider fans passion for Ken Stabler and this amazing time in sports history. I’m grateful to you for reading and sharing my articles, listening to my podcasts and radio interviews and inspiring me to get back into the game. Your tolerance and patience with me was unending and I’ll never forget it. At times readers from over 42 countries read my articles on Ken.
Now let everyone party old school. Loud music, lots of food and drink, and a great time without drama, celebrating the Snake. Wherever a Raider fan is, let them feel the spirit of the House of Thrills. And if you get a chance on Saturday night, look up in the sky at the brightest star. If you look closely you’ll see a grey bearded Ken Stabler looking down by the light of the jukebox with a smile a mile wide.
With the Snake going into the HOF, the final chapter of the great Alabama and Oakland QB Ken Stabler; and the Oakland Raider dynasty of the 60’s, 70’s & 80’s will now have a happy ending. And what an amazing story it was.
Times are different now and passion, compassion, loyalty and many other things are in short supply. Class is rarely found. In reality teams will now move, players will leave and times in the NFL and in our society will never be the same again. These things though cannot change or tarnish a magical time in our sports fans lives that was as fun, passionate and fulfilling as any sports fans have ever known thanks to Ken Stabler & the Oakland Raiders. NOTHING can take away those feelings and memories and exciting times we shared with people we loved.
How innocent were those days; how rich we are to have known them.