When Ken Norton was released from being the defensive coordinator of the Oakland Raiders, it started the ball rolling. According to some reporters, the ball is still rolling.
With Offensive coordinator Todd Downing being the scapegoat to all of the Raiders offensive problems, he is probably gone. He definitely didn’t do a good job, but there was a lot of blame to go around. People forget the main reason to hiring him was to make Derek Carr happy before negotiations to his huge contract. Carr loved the hire. Todd Downing was not ready for the job but it is what it is.
The blame is also being given to OL coach Mike Tice now which is puzzling. He’s a good coach and I feel something is fishy here and we will talk about this in a bit.
Going back to Downing, Some complained about the play calling but Derek Carr has the final say on what plays are called. He can audible any time he wishes but usually doesn’t. You can’t blame Downing without giving blame to Carr. And that’s the tip of the iceberg on offense and defense.
Is Del Rio Still The Answer?:
When JDR was hired, only a few would say that the hiring of Jack Del Rio was not as great as many thought. Most Raider fans loved Jack Del Rio; “in Reggie we trust; in Jack we trust!” was all you heard all off season on social media. Now the same loyal soldiers are carrying pitchforks and torches.
As is the norm, I took ton of heat for my article on Jack Del Rio when he was hired but many of the things I warned fans about are now coming to fruition. It was a safe hire but there were many others I liked more.
To refresh our memories, Jack Del Rio went through 19 coaches during his 9 years at Jacksonville. Usually when coaches are fired and the head coach isn’t, that means the blame is being put on the coaches instead of the head coach. (Insert Mike Tice’s name here). In 2016 when Mike McCoy kept his job for the Chargers, most of his staff was fired. John Pagano the defensive coordinator of the Raiders was one of them. Frank Reich the Offensive coordinator of the Eagles was also fired by the Chargers, who before their Qb’s injury was the #1 offense in the NFL. His staff was sliced and diced but Mike McCoy Survived another year before he was fired.
Gary Radnich of KNBR 680 and KRONTV fame, is a media icon in the bay area and he never says insider information unless he has facts to back them. When Norton was fired Gary said he knew people in the Raiders front office and there were grumblings about Del Rio. The complaints were mostly about the same issues he had at Jacksonville. Jack was a control freak and didn’t let the coordinators or other coaches do what they wanted. Jack also manipulated people so that he deferred blame to some players and coaches when things didn’t go well. The magical kingdom was crumbling.
The question is will the Raiders give Jack Del Rio three years of free money to go away and get nothing in return? It’s hard to think they will do this but crazier things have happened.
Every teams fan base is pretty much the same. The New York Giants fans last year raved about their front office and coaching staff when they made the playoffs. Now after a terrible season, the fans want their entire front office fired; which most will; even though this was the same coaching staff that lead them to the playoffs last year. I guess they all have Alzheimer’s now and forgot how to coach. The fact that they had more injuries than any other team in the NFL might be more of the reason but that would be too easy. Many fans give all the credit to the players when they win, and all the blame to the coaches when they lose. And if the player is on the field but not playing well, then he has to be hurt. Personally I don’t get it.
And the fact that the Raiders played the 2nd easiest schedule in the NFL last year and had to struggle to barely beat some of these teams with 7 last minute wins means nothing I’m sure. This year they had the 2nd toughest schedule. There are many other reasons but I’ve talked about it at nausea in previous articles. Firing Downing is not going to bring a Super Bowl to Oakland.
Will Jack Del Rio Survive:
As I said previously, it’s hard to think that the Raiders will pay Jack Del Rio 3 years of salary to go away. I think he gets one more year. They have other problems too. The Raiders are near the poorest team in the NFL. The Las Vegas stadium is a mess. If the new GOP tax plan passes, it eliminates any public funds to be used for NFL stadiums. This means the Raiders would have to somehow be grandfathered in, but that will take time and may never happen. That means they may now have to come up with 750 million more dollars. It could get ugly real quick.
At the end of last year there was so much hope, and now there is lots of turmoil. This is the era of the salary cap and this is how things can change so quickly. With the Raiders making changes and getting an easier schedule next year, I see them coming back and having a good season. In reality I hope this makes more fans appreciate the 3 Super Bowl Titles the Raider greats of the past won. Daryle Lamonica was 40-4-1 in his first 45 starts as the Raiders QB. Ken Stabler was 56-13 in his first 69 starts. Oakland was 18-1-1 in their first 20 Monday night games. That’s why the Raiders of the past are so revered. It’s not that easy folks.
I told several people last December that I had a horrible feeling about 2016. Personally it’s been a terrible year for me and I know I’m not alone. Several Raider fans; prominent ones; are now gone. Add celebrities and many people’s family members and 2016 is a nightmare that can’t end soon enough.
Over the holiday weekend, in one of the saddest stories I’ve heard in a while, we lost another person that touched many lives.
Tim Casto, owner of Oakland Raiders Homeport and founder of Oakland Raiders Rumors, Rants & Reports, lost his battle for life after a horrific fire burned down his home. He was the only one in the house. Neighbors said they heard small explosions. Tim had to be rescued by two firemen who were at a firehouse near by. His family lost everything they had. He was taken to a local hospital and was in a coma for days before passing away yesterday after life support was turned off. Loved ones talked about how grateful they were to the two brave firemen who entered the burning home to try to save him.
Over the Thanksgiving holiday weekend, Tim’s family; including his wife Karen and daughter Rhianna; were at his bedside praying for a miracle while Tim lay in a West Virginia hospital on life support. Here was a family who lost every possession they owned now having to deal with even more tragedy. There were prayer vigils and support coming from all over. What made it even worse was that during this time, Tim’s wife and daughter had birthdays. Karen spoke about her husbands deep love and kindness towards her and his daughter. His daughter posted on Facebook a few days ago asking for people to pray for her dad to wake up. Sadly he never did.
Tim (A.K.A. the Captain) was the owner and/or administrator of several of the larger Raider pages on Facebook. It’s hard to find someone who didn’t have an interaction or a debate with him on one of the sites. Tim was smart, knew football; especially the history; and was well respected. I liked him immediately.
He was also very caring often forwarding gofundme pages for people that were going through something. His sense of humor was seen so often, especially in his crazy avatar’s on Facebook depicting himself as different Captains. My favorite is still Captain Crunch and he even caused a stir with a Fidel Castro avatar.
A few years ago when I first got back into writing, I thought I would put an emphasis on the Raiders. They hadn’t been good for years but I took a chance that things would get better. I started out young and had written about the Raiders for years on another site and wow, was it painful. With record setting losing streaks, fans were over the top nasty and as the years went on, less and less fans would be involved with the team. When I started again, I would sometimes write an article that wasn’t positive towards the Raiders, and some Raider fans would go crazy. Even though it was based on facts, they didn’t want to hear it. Times had changed and some people wanted to hear only good things about their teams and they didn’t want much truth. Tim did.
Even though he didn’t know me, he contacted me out of the blue when fans on one of his sites started trashing me. One mean spirited fan with too much time on their hands even started a Twitter page that was saying all sorts of nasty things about me; and eventually Twitter banned the page and any page associated with it.
Instead of scolding me about the negativity on his page, he told me he loved my writing and asked if I would send him all my articles so he could put them on his sites. I was reluctant and told him no. He was really trying to grow his groups and most of the popular people on their were the cheerleader types; some minor social media bullies; and I was a bit turned off by it. He said he understood. He still would take some of my articles and forwarded them onto his site anyway. Tim was persistent.
Tim and I would converse a lot online and it was fun. I got on him a few times for being a bit too controlling on his sites. He realized what I was saying and even if someone was way out there, he would let them talk. It helped make his pages more fun.
If Tim had something on his mind he would try to do anything to prove he was right. I loved battling with him. He was the type that had to have the last word so I would mess with him by adding little words to our conversations. He would laugh knowing what I was doing. He said, “I love debating with you; you never take it personally and I’m the same way”. He GOT social media and all the petty and immature grudges were not what he was about. I liked that.
When Ken Stabler died and I wrote my semi-famous article on Ken, the two people I spoke with that night before writing it were Tim and Mike Yokum. Mike had petitioned to get Ken in the Hall of Fame for years. I knew how much they loved Ken and I needed to talk with people who understood what a big loss he was. I used Mike and Tim’s quotes and takes in the article. I soon was on various ESPN radio shows and other stations talking about Ken. Tim and Mike’s insights helped me a lot.
There were some though that liked to take pot shots at Tim but he let it roll off his back. Social media can show how nasty and mean some people are; especially men; and we talked about having to have a thick skin and not take it personally. When Tim would bring up his much beloved predictions on who would get traded or cut in the near future, many would attack him. He was right a lot though and it was fun to see his post reactions to his detractors.
He was also a huge voice during the election sparking controversy with some of his more zealous comments. I appreciated his passion.
Tim was a great family man from West Virginia who loved his daughter and his wife immensely. He talked about them at times in a self deprecating manner and you knew he enjoyed his family a lot. Even his young daughter got in the act starting her own Facebook page showing her love for the Raiders as well.
I looked in my Facebook emails and saw the last time we sent emails to each other. It was a couple of months ago where Tim had said his family needed prayer. I sent him a prayer and he told me how much it meant to him and that he really appreciated it.
With the loss of Tim, social media/Facebook for the Oakland Raiders has a huge hole in it. He was a prominent voice on Facebook for the Raiders and there were few groups that he didn’t have a hand in it’s success. Personally, he was one of the reasons I didn’t take a writing job with a major company. He encouraged me to be honest and to keep telling the truth and that I had freedom where others didn’t. He was also the first person on the fan sites that supported me. I’ll never forget that.
It’s going to be hard to get up in the morning now and not see Tim’s meme’s or his posts talking about the Raiders. He was a positive and supportive person online and would help anyone that was going through a hard time. I’ll miss him; a lot.
I don’t ask much of anyone but his family is dealing with unbearable pain and tragedy. Think of losing a spouse or a dad, and then losing your home and everything you owned. It’s just too much to handle alone. I know that the best tribute to him would be for Tim to know that the very fans and team that he loved and supported and put so much into, are the very ones that support his wife and daughter during such a painful time.
I’m again leaving a page of support for Tim’s family and even if its just $5 or $10, let’s show Tim that even with his tragic death, he is not forgotten. For the price of a Starbucks coffee or a pizza, you can show the same passion that Tim showed to Raider and NFL fans all over. Thank you so much.
This loss hurt’s deep and he is already missed. Thank you Tim for all you did for so many and for sharing yourself with all of us. Tim proved that you don’t have to be famous to be great. He was a good man and in today’s world we need more Tim Casto’s.
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.
In the first blockbuster trade of this year’s NFL Draft, the Los Angeles Rams traded with the Tennessee Titans for the #1 pick. In exchange for the top pick, the Titans get the Ram’s 1stpick which is #15; 2 second rounder’s (43 & 45) and a third round selection (76th). The Titans will also get the Ram’s first and third round picks in next year’s draft. The Titans now have 6 of the first 76 draft picks. The Rams get Tennessee’s 4thand 6thround picks next year.
This is why I don’t like trading up.
Why This Move Was Made & Will Backfire:
If you look at most of the teams that have traded up for a player, it almost always benefits the team that gave up the top pick. You give so much for a player and then in reality if they don’t pan out the near future of your team is ruined.
As I’ve said many times, you have to have patience. When most of the Oakland Raider fans wanted Reggie McKenzie’s head the first 2 years he worked, I said that this was a 4 to 5 year plan. Many fans; and for years Al Davis; over estimated how good this team was when it lacked talent. McKenzie cleaned house and built a team on solid drafts and a good signing here and there.
The Rams are making the mistake a lot of teams do. It’s the same mistake Minnesota made in 2013 when they traded up and used New England’s first round pick to get WR Cordarrale Patterson. The Vikings thought they were better than they were and felt they were a player away from being really good. They gave up 4 picks that turned into 3 starters for the Patriots Super Bowl Team for a good return man that is now 5th on their depth chart at WR. Even though Sammy Watkins is a good player, the Bills made the same mistake trading picks to move up to get him when they had several holes to fill.
I think this is a bad move by the Rams. Maybe I’ll be wrong and Carson Wentz or Jarod Goff will be super stars. Most scouts though think they are projects and their upside isn’t as great as others think. But in my mind I’m not giving up so many picks unless John Elway is there. If Wentz or Goff doesn’t pan out, this move will ruin the Rams for at least 2-3 years if not more. It’s a gutsy move but I think a desperate one for a team that is trying to make a splash after moving.
Mock Drafts Change Like The Wind:
What happens every year is that team’s desires change as time goes on; that’s why so many drop and move up in mock drafts over time. Athleticism and the NFL combines shock teams. It’s like they are enamored with athleticism. It’s kind of like the pretty cheerleader in high school. You finally get a chance to date her and then over time you realize she is high maintenance, stuck up and boring. You eventually move on. That’s what happens with NFL teams and players in the draft before they are selected. Athleticism is great but football talent is greater. Get football talent with athleticism and you have a super star.
Let’s now look at how this trade changes the fortunes of some teams.
Wow; what a great trade for them. They have holes to fill and now, with good drafting, they can literally rebuild their team in 2 drafts. It was a great move for a team that is on the rise.
San Francisco 49ers:
This almost assures that Colin Kaepernick is staying in San Francisco. With the Rams and Cleveland almost assuredly taking quarterbacks, this trade hurts. The 49ers really seemed to like Cal Bears QB Jared Goff and it looked like he was going to fall into their laps. Somewhere in Ann Arbor Michigan there is a middle aged college football coach wearing khakis and a blue hat who is smiling ear to ear.
This trade does one thing; it means the 49ers are almost for sure going to take a DL in the first round. The Ravens will take Ohio St. DLJoey Bosaor Oregon DLDeForest Bucknerwith the #6 pick I’m pretty sure, and then the player that is left over will go to SF.
This move is good and bad for Denver. Colin Kaepernick is almost for sure not leaving San Francisco. But if you look at the draft it also allows the Broncos to probably be able to pick Memphis QB Paxton Lynch at #15. I’m not a huge fan of Lynch’s but some really like him. There are rumors of trades with Buffalo for Tyrod Taylor but he’s limited as a QB in my opinion.
Look for Nick Foles (gulp); to possibly be wearing Orange next year in Denver. If they don’t plan on drafting Lynch then it’s almost for sure. The QB position has never been worse in the NFL. Look for Denver’s defense to again have to carry the load for this team.
San Diego Chargers:
The Chargers catch a huge break. Or did they? Most see monster LTLaremy Tunsilout of Mississippi now falling into their laps greatly helping out their offensive line. In most drafts some of the safest picks are OL and this is a great get for them. The Jags and the Cowboys are in front of them and no way are they taking a left tackle. To gain a great pick without doing anything is not bad.
The problem is the Chargers already have two pretty good starting Tackles in Joe Barksdale & King Dunlap. They also signed Chris Hairston for depth. Many feel the Chargers need a center big time but no center warrants that high of a pick. I see the Chargers going defense either with CB Jalen Ramsey, DL Joey Bosa or DL DeForest Buckner. While most online have Tunsil moving to SD, I see them going defense.
Kansas City Chiefs:
This probably won’t affect the Chiefs much. There are a lot of edge rushers in this draft and that’s something that they need. Tamba Hali is going to be 33 and Justin Houston’s injuries are a worry. I see them getting a solid player in this year’s DL heavy ensemble. Kevin Dodd?
Yes Raider Fans; let’s look at what this does to your Raiders.
I said it last year that the 2016 NFL draft is going to be a crap shoot and extremely exciting; maybe the most fun ever watching a draft. No one really knows what teams are going to do and what their evaluations of players are.
As I wrote in my article yesterday, I think right now the Raiders will takeReggie Ragland, MLB out of Alabama for their first pick. He is by far the best MLB in the draft but it’s slim pickings out there for inside linebackers. Some think there isnt’ even a second round MLB that warrants to be picked there. It’s a safe pick.
Three guys that are greatly climbing up the ladder that I spoke about a while back are Clemson DLShaq Lawson, Michigan St. OLJack Conklin, and OLBLeonard Floyd@ Georgia.
I wrote about these guys before and most ripped on me having them so high but now many mock drafts have these guys climbing big time. I have no idea why Kevin Dodd is ahead of Lawson in some peoples’ minds. Lawson was double teamed most of last year and Dodd was helped by that. Dodd also had only one good year at Clemson. I take Lawson all day. There were some games that Lawson played where he was obviously the best football player on the field.
Jack Conklinis a mean physical lineman. Good at pass protecting but great in run blocking. He needs work protecting the QB but I think he can be solid for a long time. Some of the major writers have him going to the Raiders and I think that’s kind of silly with their recent signings.
Sports Illustrated is obsessed with giving the Raiders another wide receiver in the first round but I think there is no way that happens.
The guy that I like a lot is Leonard Floyd. He’s a machine out there who makes plays. The problem with Floyd is he looks like Lawrence Taylor one game and then Rip Taylor the next. He needs maturity and focus.
I admit; Georgia was a dysfunctional wild-west show at times but if you give this guy discipline and he matures, wow. If the Raiders picked him I would not be upset. You can still try to fill in the MLB position later in the draft or with cap casualties that always are cut during training camp, because this guy just jumps off of the page. You know how I love pass rushers and seeing him blitzing behind Mack? Worse things could happen.
I love Clemson CBMackensie Alexandertoo. I think he’s the best DB in this draft. Teams were so intimidated with his skills that they just stopped throwing at him. He gave up 11 passes all year last year and no touchdowns. He has a toughness and swagger that reminds me of George Atkinson. He’s very strong and physical. Scouts don’t like that he’s a legit 5’ 10” but I still like him a lot. If he’s chosen I think it’s great.
If you have Alexander now you haveDavid Amerson,Sean Smithand Alexander as your top 3 cornerbacks, andReggie Nelson,Nate AllenandTJ Carrieas your safeties. Not exactly the Soul Patrol but it is pretty good.
Guys Falling For The Raiders Pick:
The two guys that are falling are Notre Dame OLRonnie Stanleyand Alabama DLAShawn Robinson. There are worries about Stanley’s passion for football and his work ethic. He has not shown much strength at times as well during pre-draft workouts. AShawn Robinson works hard and is a really good player but some say he’s not totally into football as a long term thing. Early retirements are occurring more and more in the NFL and it’s a risk that worries teams.
Ohio St. OLTaylor Decker; (who I originally had Conklin ahead of) was considered a for sure top 15 pick but now he’s not even in the first round in some people’s eyes.
Ohio St. CBEli Appleis raw and is also dropping on some boards. I am not a huge fan of his. I like Alexander a lot better. Again athleticism and the cookie cutter size for each position is popular in the NFL but I want football players.
Many people were also trying to promote Ohio St. OLBDarron Leebut I think that is a bad #1 pick. If you are going to get an MLB later in the draft I’d rather pick Floyd over Lee. Lee’s an athlete playing football. He has literally only played LB for 2 years of his life and he has a lot to learn. He’s also a smallish LB and not a real physically strong one at that.
I see two people on my social media timeline that are promoting Ole Miss DLRobert Nkemdicheabout 5-10 times a day. In reality he only has 7 sacks in 3 years, and in his last 7 games last year he had only 2 tackles a game. You tube videos and reading experts opinions is great, but if you really want to know how good players are you have to watch them play.
I pass big time on Robert and I see in some mock drafts he’s not even in the first round anymore. ESPN’s Todd McShay even got off his bandwagon and dropped him out of the first round. (Finally!) Remember when I warned you about Jets Vernon Gholston in 2008 and Jadeveon Clowney being busts and some of you didn’t listen? Listen to Brother Jim.
I can’t see Ohio St. RB Ezekiel Elliot passing by the Eagles, Bears or the Giants without being chosen.
There you have it; so get the food ready; call in sick to work; the kids are at school; open up a cold one or a glass of wine and take the day to enjoy the NFL Draft. We’ve had a draft party for 16 years and it’s something I look forward to every year.
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.
In 2012 over 5.2 million NFL fans voted in the NFL.com tournament picking the greatest NFL team in history. The winner was the 1976 Oakland Raiders. Little was made of the vote in the media, so I will expand on it.
In my mind it’s hard to pick just one. The Bill Walsh 49ers, the Tom Landry Cowboys, Vince Lombardi’s machines in Green Bay, the great dynasty in Pittsburgh & Miami and so many others. It did make me happy though that fans from all over the country showed respect to a team that is often overlooked for its’ greatness, ESPECIALLY on the east coast. Some east coast media people know little of what happens west of the Mississippi.
Most young fans today seem to only really know things that happen in their own era but usually the smartest people are those that know a lot about history. It’s important for us all to appreciate history, especially in sports. The funniest post I saw lately was a young guy that said he knew a lot about the Raiders and that he had been a long suffering Oakland fan since 2007. Why can’t life have a “slap someone in the back of the head” button?
The 2000 Baltimore Ravens?:
I got into a battle with a Baltimore Raven fan last year who argued that the 2000 Ravens were the greatest team in history. They aren’t even in my top ten. Here is a team that didn’t even win their division and they lost 3 games in a row during the middle of the year. During those three losses, they only scored 15 points in 12 quarters.
The 1970’s teams were so much better than today because of several reasons. They didn’t have to deal with high salaries, guaranteed money or the salary cap. That’s why they were loaded with talent. Many backups could start on other teams.
Many teams had backup quarterbacks that were as good as many of the starters on bad teams. Ken Stabler was a backup until Daryle Lamonica got hurt. Earl Morrall was a backup until HOF QB Bob Greise broke his ankle in week 5, and all Morrall did was lead the Dolphins to the only unbeaten season in NFL history. I don’t see ANY NFL backup today; or most of the starters to be honest; doing anywhere near that any time soon.
Why the 1976 Raiders?:
The 1976 Raiders had 11; YES ELEVEN; future hall of fame players and front office people on it. Add Cliff Branch and Jack Tatum who should both be in it and that’s 13. Name a team in todays’ NFL that has 11 Hall of Famers. In the 1970’s there were many teams with 7-10 future HOF players.
With the passing of Kenny Stabler, many fans, media and ex players began to finally really appreciate just how great this Raiders team was. I’ve been lucky on the last few radio interviews that I’ve done to have followed nationally syndicated sports people who knew their stuff and who ended up saying the same things I was saying in regards to this amazing era of the 1970’s and it’s greatness.
Almost all NFL historians agree that the 1970’s was the greatest era of modern professional football. In that decade the Raiders won more games than any other team. They had the best quarterback, the best offensive line, and the best defensive backfield. Add amazing hall of famers and a defense that could get to the quarterback, and you had an all-time great team.
The 1976 Oakland Raiders are considered to have the greatest offensive line of all time. The line of Art Shell, Gene Upshaw, Dave Dalby, George Buehler, and John Vella, was probably the most physical of all time as well. At 6’ 5”, Gene Upshaw talked trash and intimidated from the minute he walked on the field until the game was over. Gene Upshaw is still the only player in NFL history to play in 3 Super Bowls in 3 different decades with the same team. Sporting News ranked Gene Upshaw as the 62nd greatest NFL player of all time.
Art Shell was a quiet giant but a physical specimen at 6’ 5” who decimated defenders. Sporting News voted Shell the 55th greatest football player of all time. Yes they were that good.
Dave Dalby was one of the more beloved Raiders of all time, as well as one of the more unsung ones. He was a rock at Center following the great career of Jim Otto. At 6’ 3”, he was considered the smallest Raider offensive linemen. He never missed a game in 14 years and was voted on the UCLA all century team. He tragically died @ the age of 51 after struggling to adjust to life after football. There are still Christian websites that have stories about how kind and supportive he was to so many people.
George Buehler was a rock at guard for the Raiders. He was another unsung player who shined in the post season. His domination of Vikings defensive tackle Doug Southerland in the Super Bowl is a part of NFL lore.
John Vella was quiet and easy going but had a volatile temper when angered which fit right into the Raiders physical play.
The Soul Patrol:
There is no cooler group of NFL players than the Soul Patrol. I’ve written about them often and I’ve included one of my articles on them below which now is one of the most popular articles on the internet about them.
“Dr. Death” Skip Thomas; The Assassin Jack Tatum; George “Butch” Atkinson and Willie Brown were the greatest of all time. “The 5 yard chuck rule was actually created because of them”, said Hall of Fame QB Fran Tarkenton. “It was almost unfair to try and get off the line with these guys”. In the 1970’s DB’s could pretty much do what they wanted to a wide receiver as long as the ball wasn’t in the air. That’s why people need to give WR of the 1970’s much more credit. The pinball numbers of today doesn’t mean that these WR are great. If you were good against the Soul Patrol then you were great.
The Greatest 2 Minute QB of All Time:
John Madden said that if he had to pick one QB to do one last minute drive he’d pick Ken Stabler. Joe Montana said he emulated his game after him. The Holy Roller, the Sea of Hands, the Ghost to the Post; the game was never over if Ken Stabler was on the field.
I still propose that ALL Hall of Fame voters votes be made public. It’s really a shame to not have Ken enjoy his special day due to petty biases. It’s time to start calling out writers because of their ridiculous biases; but that’s for another day.
Stabler was one of a kind. He wouldn’t see the trainers as long as players were in the locker room; he constantly took blame when his team failed, and spread the credit when they won. He was a great leader, friend and man. He partied like a rock star, but always showed up on game day. He was pure Raider.
When you think of the 1976 Oakland Raiders, you think of Stabler throwing to Casper or Fred Biletnikoff or Cliff Branch. You see Stabler tossing passes to his running backs or hitting Mike Siani in the end zone. But in reality the Raiders were also a power running, physical team. They were consistently a top 10 rushing team in the 1970’s and occasionally was the best running team. In the Playoffs they decimated the Steal Curtain for 157 rushing yards in the AFC Championship game and had an amazing 237 yards against the Purple People Eaters of the Vikings in the Super Bowl.
Mark Van Eeghen was a do it all Fullback. He was the replacement for Marv Hubbard. Mark could block, run, and catch the ball. He rushed for 1012 yards in a 14 game season.
Clarence Davis was the speed half back of the group. Even though he didn’t have great hands, he managed to catch 27 passes and dominated in the post season, especially the Super Bowl. His miracle catch in the Sea Of Hands game is eternally etched in the minds of all football fans.
The Raiders were one of the first teams to use situational players. Running Back Pete Banaszak was their short yardage back and he usually was a leader for the Raiders in rushing touchdowns.
With solid RB’s and a great OL with tight ends that could block, the Raiders ground game was second to none.
Speed & Precision:
Cliff Branch and Fred Biletnikoff may be the greatest WR tandom of all time. In each end zone a “speed kills” sign was always seen in Oakland. As Ken Stabler once said, “Cliff could outrun half of the cars in the parking lot”. He was track star fast up until the day he retired. In many of the biggest games, Branch caught key passes. He was an amazing part of the “throw deep” mentality of the Raiders. They could score from any where at any time.
Fred Biletnikoff had the greatest hands of all time. If it was near him, he’d catch it. He was a ballerina on the football field with perfect route running skills. He could position his body perfectly to make sure he had the best chance to catch a ball. He was a true artist on the football field. Add quality backup Mike Siani who could start for many teams; and you had one heck of a WR core.
Then there was HOF Tight End Dave Casper and short yardage & goal line TE Warren Bankston in the mix. They also had the greatest punter of all time in HOF Ray Guy.
Along with the Soul Patrol, you had some of the toughest and craziest players of all time. Some called Oakland the Island of Misfit Toys. Wildman John Matuszak, Otis Sistrunk from the University of Mars. Prankster and stud LB Phil Vilipiano. The Mad Stork Ted Hendricks who was as crazy as all of them. The Raiders defense straight up dominated in the post season wreaking havoc whenever a quarterback went back to pass.
Coaching & Front Office:
Al Davis was one of the greatest owners of all time. He was a rebel that hated anything that wasn’t silver & black. He took a chance on a linebacker coach named John Madden. A HOF coach who had 3 simple rules; be on time, pay attention, and play like hell when I tell you. Helping call the shots for Al Davis was Hall of Fame player personnel director Ron Wolf; maybe the greatest player evaluator in the modern era.
To top it off you have the Oakland Coliseum; “The House Of Thrills” that was as loud as any stadium in history with some of the most loyal and rowdy fans which created pure magic. And the icing on the cake was Bill King; NFL Films Steve Sabol’s favorite announcer; the greatest radio sports broadcaster of all time, waxing poetically. How he isn’t in at least 2 HOF’s is a miscarriage of sports justice.
So there you have it. A trip down memory lane. What a fun and amazing history. One of the greatest teams of all time……I’m sorry; THE greatest team of all time. Pillaging just for fun.