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“FROM KEN STABLER TO CHARLIE SUMNER; A YEAR OF LOSS FOR THE OAKLAND RAIDERS & REMEMBERING THEM DURING THE HOLIDAYS”

 

ken stabler gene upshaw
Gene Upshaw showing some love to Ken Stabler

Pastor: I promise James, in time the pain will lessen and it will get easier.

Me: With all due respect Pastor, that is crap. The pain never gets better. Time just makes it a little easier to deal with.

If you want to know how important history is, just look at the half time ceremony when the Packers put Brett Favre’s name in their ring of honor at Lambeau Field on Thanksgiving night. An 81 year old 5 time Champion Bart Starr worked hard for 3 months during extremely poor health just to make the trip to welcome Brett Favre on his special night. There wasn’t a dry eye in the stadium; including Brett Favre’s; when Bart Starr walked up and hugged him. The emotions linked generations of fans who stood up proudly as one.  Brett Favre said, “No offense to anyone, but I was so happy to see Bart Starr and in a way the night was also for him. I was more excited seeing him smiling and happy than what I was there for”.

The Christmas holidays are my favorite time of year. People are nicer and there is much more of a kind spirit of good will floating around. Unfortunately all of us have lost people that we love and it can also be a time of great internal pain and longing. I get that because our family has known a lot of tragedy. This year has been grinding and hard. It’s also been that way for the Oakland Raiders. The Raiders have lost many that were linked to their greatness.

I could see it in his eyes. Upon the passing of the great Ken Stabler, George Atkinson seemed inconsolable.   “It seems that every month we lose someone close to the Raiders. There are fewer of us and it’s very difficult to hear of the passing of Kenny.”

My dad once said that getting older isn’t the hard part. He said the hard part is watching family members that were once strong and vital getting old and passing away. It’s also hard to see athletes who you grew up watching, doing the same.

I think one of the nicest things ever said to me was after I wrote an article for a paid Philadelphia Eagles site. I wrote about a couple of the Eagles who had passed. One Philly fan thanked me for the article and said, “You are the keeper of their memory. You made me remember how great of players these were and how they touched the community. I’ll now never forget them and I was touched like they were my own. Thank you.”

History is a huge deal in our family. It’s always been instilled in us by my parents and relatives, to keep people’s memories alive. We should never forget people and appreciate their talents and their input in people’s lives. Our society has become much more shallow than in the past, with us being obsessed with youthful looks, being cool and in, and keeping in the know with the latest. We forget so easily. The word great is handed out like Halloween candy and our memory is short.   For me, I will never be that way and for those that read me, they will always see a sense of appreciation of those from the past along with their families.

The Raiders have lost some key people from their past this year. Let us remember them.

art powellOakland Raider great WR Art Powell

Art Powell:

Wide Receiver Art Powell was one of the first and great stars of the AFL.   He was big and fast and was known for some amazing catches. He was a 4 time AFL all star and was voted onto the all time AFL team. He amazingly had 81 touchdown passes during a time when defensive backs could do whatever they wanted to WR.

People forget that it was his character that shined the most. Powell, along with teammates Bo Roberson, Clem Daniels and Fred Williamson, refused to play in an exhibition game against his old team the New York Jets because of segregated seating in Mobile Alabama’s Ladd Stadium.

al loCasale
Oakland Raiders owner Al Davis and Executive Assistant Al LoCasale

Al LoCasale:

“I first started working for the Raiders in 1985. I complained about a bad call in the press box and one of the NFL officials heard me. He angrily went up to Al LoCasale to complain about me. Mr. LoCasale got angry and ripped the stadium credentials from his shirt. It was then that I knew I was a Raider and what loyalty meant. He backed me just because I was a Raider.”

Former Raider Executive Amy Trask.

He was called a pitbull, a hitman, a thug, and many other things that I can’t write. For 3 decades Al LoCasale was the Executive Assistant and loyal heavy for Mr. Al Davis.   If Mr. Davis felt someone wronged the Raiders, LoCasale was the one you had to answer to. He was gruff and had a Napoleonic mentality about him. He demanded respect, loyalty and excellence.   He loved the Raiders and Al Davis.   He was the main figure that helped NFL films capture the Raiders great moments and he insisted on as many Raider players being mentioned as possible. He respected everyone; from the star players to the practice players.   You can’t say Oakland Raiders without saying Al LoCaSale.

dick romanski raider equipment manager
Oakland Raider equipment manager Dick Romanski

Dick Romanski, Equipment Manager:

The Raiders have only had 2 equipment managers in their history.   Dick Romanski and his son Bob.

Dick was an army buddy of Al Davis and a good athlete. He actually coached on Davis military teams. He had been with the Raiders for over 50 years until his son took over. There are stories that Dick was the one that came up with the shield logo of the Raiders.

Dick also was important because he was the one that introduced stickum to the Raiders. He said he got the idea from hitters in major league baseball.

Beloved by players and executives alike, even after retiring he would show up to help on Raider home games. One of the staples of the Raiders lore.

 

charlie sumner
Oakland Raiders Defensive Coordinator Charlie Sumner having a fun moment with Ken Stabler

Charlie Sumner:

“Charlie took me out of the game and I was pissed. I came off the field screaming at him. He put in backup Jack Squirek and told him to “not drop” the pass. I was out of my mind. Then I saw Squirek intercept Joe Theisman’s pass and score. I picked Charlie up and was going crazy. I had immense joy and almost killed him in the process. What a great coach.”

Raiders MLB Matt Millen

Some Raider players thanked him at their Hall of Fame speeches. Charlie Sumner was the greatest defensive coach in the history of the Oakland Raiders and it’s not close. He was the defensive coordinator for 2 Super Bowl wins. He was also a coach that helped create the famous Steel Curtain in Pittsburgh and he was the one that created the great defenses of the Patriots in the mid to late 70’s that almost lead them to a Super Bowl. The Raider offenses got all the credit but if you look at the Super Bowl wins, it was the defenses that dominated.

https://jimjax4.wordpress.com/2015/04/08/the-passing-of-an-oakland-raiders-legend-defensive-icon-charlie-sumner-dies-tom-flores-comments/

 

marv-hubbard
Oakland Raider great Fullback Marv Hubbard

Marv Hubbard:

“Some players like to be physical but no one was as tough as Marv.   I’ve never seen a player that would go out of their way to hit people. He also demanded to play special teams because he liked the collisions.”

John Madden

Take it to the cupboard Hubbard was one of the catch phrases of the 1970’s for the Oakland Raiders. In both end zones posters with that saying was the norm. He was all pro 3 times and helped lead the Raiders to 4 consecutive Western Division Championships. He ranks 4th all time in yards per carry as a fullback (4.8 yards) and is 13th overall in NFL history.

Hubbard was a fan favorite and lived in Northern California. He got into music and released 2 albums. He was a scratch golfer and was an entrepreneur and CEO of his own company and he was often seen around town driving his beloved muscle cars which he would restore. Like most Raiders, he lived life to the fullest.

Ken Stabler:

The death of Ken Stabler sent a shockwave around the country and to be honest the world. I remember writing about Ken’s passing and the article was read by people in over 26 countries. I received many messages from people who said they don’t really like the Raiders but that they loved Ken Stabler. I’ve written a lot about Ken and you can check it out here along with Ken’s family website where you can donate to his XOXO Foundation.

http://kenstabler.com/

https://jimjax4.wordpress.com/2015/07/10/the-passing-of-legendary-raider-ken-stabler-shocks-a-nation/#comments

How to Deal With Loss:

First off there is no formula. The key is to talk to people you respect and love and let the pain out.   Cry, scream or get mad. Pain like that is like poison and if you don’t get rid of it, it can eat you alive.

The holidays can be really hard so keep busy. Kid’s and young people always help when they are around due to their great personalities and wonder around the holidays. Remember that there will be times that the pain will come over you in waves and you just need to let yourself get rid of it. If you are a person of faith, rely on it often.   Personally, without my faith I would have not come through things very well.

The most important thing is to remember that the people that are gone would be heartbroken to see you in pain. This poem is a great one to remember that:

“Remember me with smiles and laughter because that’s how I will remember you. If you can only remember me with tears and sorrow, then don’t remember me at all.”

May all of the friends and families of these great people; as well as the fans of the Raiders; find a healing peace and joy this Christmas season.   I pray that they will never be lost in history and that their memories will be passed on to the children of NFL and Raider fans everywhere. And as long as I have breath, I will never let people forget them either.

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“Evaluating the Season in Oakland & What do You Consider a Successful Year for the Raiders?”

raiders vs chiefs
Derek Carr vs the Kansas City Chiefs

The Oakland Raiders are now 5-7 and entering the most difficult part of their schedule.  The big question is what is an acceptable win total for this season to be considered a good one.  The Raiders are 1-5 against teams with winning records, and 3 of the last 4 are against teams with winning records.

 

The Positives of 2015:

Derek Carr: 

I liked the Derek Carr pick when he was drafted when few even knew who he was.  It’s a huge issue in today’s quarterback light NFL to find a franchise quarterback and the Raiders have done that.  His strong arm has helped the long passing game and he’s played well this year.  He has limitations which will be discussed later.

He’s grown as a leader and is a quality person that also makes a team comfortable.  He’s going to be a good pro for 5-10 years at least and the Raiders have a franchise quarterback which many teams can’t say.  The future is bright for the Raiders and for Carr.

Offensive Line:

When healthy, the Raiders offensive line has been as good as any in the NFL.  With Carr not being a great QB when rushed, this is imperative for the Raiders success.  For part of the season Carr was the best protected QB in the NFL and some games he had all day to throw.

The Raiders running game has also been solid and other than Donald Penn, this is a young group that should be good for years to come.  Gabe Jackson to me is one of the most underrated OL in the NFL.  It’s not a coincidence that Carr has not been the same QB when center Rodney Hudson has been hurt.  Carr needs time and the Raiders will need to get depth at OL in the off season.  I really like this group though.

Offense:

Michael Crabtree’s contract extension is a good move by the Raiders.  If you look at his numbers when healthy, they are excellent.  Even with Amari Cooper’s drops, he’s still a solid WR and the sky is the limit with him.  Teams have adjusted to the long ball and the Raiders have yet to learn how to best use Cooper, and he has also not adjusted.

I like the Raiders RB’s a lot.  Latavius Murray, Jamize Olawale, and Roy Helu Jr. are solid.  I’m disappointed that Helu Jr. isn’t used more though.  Talented fan favorite Marcel Reece is probably going to be the odd man out next year leaving for another team.  I think the Raiders have failed to use him right.  He will help any team.

I like the Raiders tight ends.  The problem is the Raiders just rarely throw to them.  The announcers two weeks ago brought up the stats that the Raiders are one of the worst medium passing teams in the NFL and that has to change.  Lee Smith is so underrated and is the best blocking TE in the NFL.  Mychal Rivera and Clive Walford are solid and next year I hope they get more opportunities than they are now.

Defense:

The next month will be important for Kahlil Mack who’s had a few very quiet weeks in between great games.  He has to do it on an every week basis to be elite.  He was completely shut out against the Pittsburgh Steelers.  A switch to LB may help him.

Charles Woodsen has been beaten up but he’s recovered from a tough start of the season to have a great year.  The first month of the season he could not guard tight ends but the Raiders have changed up their defense to give him more freedom and it’s worked.  The LB’s have had their ups and downs big time.

David Amerson has improved of late and the hopes are that he can take over at one of the CB positions.  TJ Carrie has been hurt most of the year but I liked his play at Safety and I think playing him and Woodsen at S would help this team.

Special Teams:

The Raiders still can’t find a healthy and consistent returner.  Marquette King has quietly become as solid a punter as there is and Janikowski has been hot and cold this year.

Coaching:

The Raiders seem much more professional and organized this year and it shows on the field.  You don’t see as many mental errors as in the past.

 

The Negatives of 2015:

People like to throw up stats of young quarterbacks of today to show how great they are.  Let’s be real though; the rules of today are a joke.  DB’s are getting penalties for touching people and QB’s and WR’s can pretty much do as they please.  Just in the Raiders games some of the calls are just beyond bizarre and phantom at best.

Throwing for 300 yards is almost the norm and in the last 3 ½ years passing and receiving yard records are falling like leaves.  Most passing records have occurred in the last 3 ½ years and it’s not a coincidence.

Derek Carr has been much improved but right now he’s the 31st rated QB in the 4th quarter with a quarterback rating of only 60%.  He also leads the NFL with 7 fourth quarter interceptions.  He has and probably always will struggle against a pass rush.  Some try to site how good he does against a blitz but of course he can do well if the blitz is picked up.  In the 4th quarter of the KC Chiefs game, the Chiefs blitzed almost every play.  The play calling never changed and against 5 and 7 step drop passes, Carr was toast and made some really bad throws.

Derek also is not a good manager of the game.  He seems to kind of go with the plays that are called with few real audibles and that has to change.  The injury to center Rodney Hudson really hurt the Raiders.

Offense:

Amari Cooper had a great first half of the season but teams soon adjusted.  He has lost some confidence with drops being an issue the last month.

The Raiders lack of OL depth has been seen after Rodney Hudson got hurt.  It’s something they need to fix this off season.  Latavius Murray has to be more consistent.  He’s had a couple of horrible games and in Chicago it got to the point that he was afraid to catch the ball, even looking to get hit.  He has to show up every week.

Defense:

It’s been an up and down year for sure.  The Raiders finally started playing DJ Hayden less and his days in Oakland are numbered.  Seeing Star Lotulelei be a starting fixture on the best DL in the NFL and on the best team the Carolina Panthers hurts.  He fell in the Raiders lap and the Raiders took Hayden instead.

Curtis Lofton is good against the run but really bad against the pass and Malcolm Smith is really good against the past but has struggles against the run.  Ben Heeney is not good against the pass and is more of a backup.  Moving Mack back to LB and bringing in or drafting a 3 down LB would greatly help this team.  The DL seems to have lots of talent but they either struggle against the run or they can’t get to the QB at times.  It’s very inconsistent.

Nate Allen has struggled with tackling and that’s when he plays.  David Amerson shows potential at CB.  Beating up on DJ Hayden anymore does no good for anyone.  He’ll be gone next year.  TJ Carrie’s health issues have hurt this year.

Special Teams:

The Raiders still need someone that can return kings on a week to week basis.

Coaching:

The Raiders are 21st in second half points with only 10 a game.  They are 29th in 4th quarter points with only 4.8.  That’s not a good second half team.  The Raiders defense is dead last in the NFL in the 4th quarter giving up 10.8 points per game.  The Raiders coaches need to do more at half time to combat opponents adjustments.

People that read me know I am not a Bill Musgrave fan.  He has never had much success in 15 years and was even demoted and eventually fired by Jack Del Rio when they were at Jacksonville.  For me his hire made no sense.

In the Chiefs game you saw this in an epic way.  The Chiefs were struggling at times on defense so in the 4th quarter they just literally said lets blitz every play.  They sent 5-7 players at Carr and there were no adjustments.  Carr still tried to look deep and instead of running screens and short passes, the Raiders just kept doing 5 and 7 step drops.

On defense the Raiders started blitzing DB’s, especially CB’s.  I didn’t understand that because the Chiefs started doing bubble screens and actually scored two touchdowns that way.  Alex Smith is the Ichabod Crane of the NFL and no way is he going to throw downfield so they should have played press coverage and blitzed their LB’s if you want to blitz.

Special Teams:

Janikowski has had his bad moments this year.  He’s had some rough games this year but I think he’s not going anywhere.  The Raiders return game has to improve and they need someone that can consistently return kicks.

Overview of 2015 & Looking Forward:

As I said at the start of the year this is NOT a playoff team.  I think next year is the Raiders year.  Some will consider this year an epic fail and some fans could find the good in an 0-16 year and there really isn’t a bottom.  The more realistic fan will realize the Raiders still have holes to fill but they are improved.

The first thing the Raiders need to do is stop talking about how confident they are and realize they have second half issues both on and off the field.  The coaches are not adjusting and neither are the players.  Eventually when you keep losing confidence starts becoming denial.

The Raiders have to start adjusting to what teams are doing.  Carr needs to be much more active at changing plays.

Denver stops the run; you are not going to run wild on them.  What do you do?  Short passing game like Kansas City did.  The minor weakness that the Broncos have is that their LB’s love to make big plays.  They have on occasions struggled covering RB’s in the passing game.  I throw to Roy Helu Jr. or Murray often.  I also use the tight ends much more.  The Chiefs nickeled and dimed the Broncos all game and wore them down.  When you do that, now you can run some.

With their new QB the Broncos are a conservative passing team that wants to establish the run.  Now you put a safety up to stop the run and blitz him to make him pass quickly.  These are adjustments that need to occur.

What is your bottom line in regards to a successful season?  I said 7-9 is average and 8-8 would be a nice season to be successful in the upcoming year.  If the Raiders lose 3 of 4 though, a 6-10 season is a fail.  The Raiders have a rough month ahead but there will be lots of opportunities for players to show they are a part of the equation for next year.

“The Wait Will Be Over; 5 Reasons Why Ken Stabler Will Get Into the Hall of Fame in 2016”

“The Wait Will Be Over; 5 Reasons Why Ken Stabler Will Get Into the Hall of Fame in 2016”

Ken Stabler warming up pre-game.
Ken Stabler warming up pre-game.

Please sign Mike Yokum’s petition to get Ken Stabler into the NFL Hall of Fame

http://www.thepetitionsite.com/541/199/738/petition-to-induct-ken-stabler-into-the-pro-football-hall-of-fame/

My achilles heel in life has always been injustice. Unfortunately in my business life especially, I’ve seen a lot of it. Whenever I read the dozen or so news and sports publications every morning, it’s full of stories where some people walked over others to either hurt them, or make money off of them.   It eats at me like acid.

In the sports world most of the injustice is not life or death but it is still wrong. There are good people that don’t get their full justice in sports because of petty squabbles, ridiculous biases or pure old man stubbornness. Sports writers for the most part are one of the leaders in regards to injustice. Injustice is what has happened to Oakland Raider great Ken Stabler.

I still have not heard one person in the media say Ken Stabler is not a hall of famer.  That means something else is going on and that’s why I wrote this article to expose the truth on why the Snake isn’t in the Hall of Fame.

https://jimjax4.wordpress.com/2015/07/23/part-csi-part-breaking-bad-the-real-reasons-why-ken-stabler-is-not-in-the-hall-of-fame/

I’ll never forget one Sunday after the Raiders won a rare game with Jamarcus Russell at the helm. Russell had an ok game but the hype machine began. First the ESPN panel raved about all the talent Russell had. Chris Berman said Russell was the most talented QB the Raiders ever had. Raider fans were ripping me to shreds after I said what a bust Russell would be, saying, “see I told you he was going to be good”.

I read people pretty well and I remember watching Denver Broncos great Tom Jackson just listening to all this. His disgust was visible but he didn’t say a word. Finally in between cliches, Chris Berman noticed Jackson wasn’t happy. “You look like you have something to say Tom”.

“Let’s get this straight”, Jackson angrily said.  “Ken Stabler is the most talented Raider QB in their history. He’s their greatest QB and it’s not even close so let’s get that right. You guys are getting way too carried away”. The panel was kind of stunned at Tom being upset but he was right.   And this was from a very vocal rival of the Raiders.

Let me say for a second that writing about athletes and celebrities is hard and fun at the same time.  I have a large twitter and social media following so you know that celebrities, athletes and their families read my articles and they communicate with me often.  Most celebrities and their families and friends have told me they appreciate my honesty and sensitivity and that means a lot.  A few have said they didn’t like what I wrote but they understood.  They realize I’m not into the attention, and that I just want to inform my readers of the truth.

I agree some athletes have serious moral issues.  But some like Ken, are amazing, kind people.  Famous people’s families grieve and hurt just like everyone else and sometimes when we post online we forget that. It’s at night or the times when no one is around that grief captures our spirits like a heavy fog. Most of us know this feeling all too well.  Fan’s are still upset that Kenny is gone so just imagine how Ken Stabler’s family and friends feel.

(My article on the passing of Ken Stabler)

https://jimjax4.wordpress.com/2015/07/10/the-passing-of-legendary-raider-ken-stabler-shocks-a-nation/

I’m not a celebrity guy, but the last 2 years through my writing I’ve appreciated my interactions with celebrities, athletes and their families and even though the content wasn’t fun to read on occassion; (or write); I hope it reminds us all on how we should be mindful of what we post online and we are all in this thing called life together.

Getting back to the story, Ken Stabler and his family were too kind and private to complain publicly about the Hall of Fame’s actions. I respect that; but I will complain.

Part of me will always be bitter at the sports writers and the Hall of Fame for letting their petty biases stop Ken from enjoying the HOF while he was alive.   They were wrong and didn’t do the right thing and they should be ashamed at their closed minded arrogance. I wish that they would judge themselves with the same moral compass that some of them seem to use towards players that they don’t vote for.

The NFL and the government hounded Ken for years and they could not find anything on him. When they couldn’t find anything, they took justice into their own hands by not voting Ken into the Hall of Fame. Yes, I said it even though no one else will.  I’m a writer first but the Raider fan in me knows no other way.

I think Ken wasn’t angry about it, but I’m sure he just didn’t get it.   The hypocrisy of sports knows no bounds though. Major League baseball is getting very heavy into the fantasy baseball gambling sites that they support, but Pete Rose still can’t get into the hall of fame…..FOR GAMBLING.

Before I start getting too upset and rant, lets look at the facts which I’m always a big fan of. These are the 5 reasons why Ken Stabler will get into the NFL Hall of Fame in 2016.

  1. Outrage:

Not ONE media person, former player or former coach said Ken Stabler was NOT a HOF player. The HOF voters were not ready for the backlash that was seen through out the NFL family on Ken Stabler not being elected into the HOF. From basic news services to social media, fans and football alumni went crazy with negative publicity showing how wrong the voters were. None of the voters said a word.

  1. The Negative Reaction From Other Hall of Famers:

You have to remember that NFL Hall of Famer’s rarely if ever talk so vehemently about players that should be in the Hall of Fame. Rarely do you see some of the greats question the Hall of Fame to this level, but after Ken’s passing, dozens of them complained.

“In the sports world it’s a miscarriage of justice to not have Ken Stabler in the NFL Hall of Fame”.

ESPN analyst & Denver Broncos Great Tom Jackson

“Of course Ken Stabler is a Hall of Famer”

Viking great Fran Tarkenton

“For years the Cowboys and Raiders were the most watched teams in the NFL. Once when we played a practice game that didn’t count during training camp, 31,000 people showed up at our facility when we played the Raiders. Ken Stabler and the Raiders carved us up and beat us and we were a Super Bowl caliber team. It was amazing how good he was. From then on I was a fan and followed Ken’s career. Ken’s a Hall of Fame player for sure”.

Roger Staubach, Dallas Cowboys

“If Ken Stabler played in New York he would have been in the Hall of Fame 10 years ago.”

Tom Flores, Former Raider Coach and QB

“There are several Raiders that need to be in the Hall of Fame.   Ken Stabler, Cliff Branch and Lester Hayes”.

Hall of Fame executive Ron Wolf

Add the fact that at the John Stallworth Foundation Golf tournament in Alabama this past June, ALL of the former Pittsburgh Steelers raved about Ken Stabler and the Raiders. All of them said he needs to be in the Hall of Fame. The Raiders and Steelers rivalry was the best in history.

  1. Ken Stabler May be the Best Quarterback In the Best Era (history of the all decade team):

Pretty much anyone associated with the NFL says the 1970’s was the greatest era in NFL history. The Steel Curtain, the Doomsday Defense, Purple People Eaters, Orange Crush, The No Name Defense; is just a part of NFL lore in the 1970’s. And those were just the defenses. In an era where defenders could do anything and everything, offenses had to be great to score. The NFL had a huge amount of good quarterbacks and ultra talented teams.   In this era, many feel Stabler was the best quarterback of the 1970’s.

The wars between the Raiders and the Steelers were must see television.   The hitting was like 2 rams banging on each other it was so violent. Amazingly in a Raiders v.s. Steelers game in 1974 (Raiders shut out the future Super Bowl champ Steelers 17-0 in Pittsburgh) there were 24; TWENTY FOUR; future Hall of Fame coaches, players and front office people who were a part of the game. There was no salary cap and teams were beyond talented.   There also wasn’t a 5 yard bump rule.

“They changed the 5 yard bump rule in 1979 because of Raider greats Jack Tatum and George Atkinson”, explained Fran Tarkenton.   “They were so physical and dominating that in 1979 the NFL made a rule that you couldn’t physically touch a receiver after 5 yards. Being a quarterback was so hard during the 1970’s and Ken did it better than anyone”.

NFL All Decade Teams: Quarterbacks

1950’s:

Otto Graham, Norm Van Brocklyn, Bobby Layne

1960’s:

Sonny Jurgensen, Bart Starr, Johnny Unitas

1970’s:

Ken Stabler, Terry Bradshaw, Roger Staubach

1980’s:

Joe Montana, Dan Fouts

1990’s:

John Elway, Brett Favre

2000’s:

Tom Brady, Peyton Manning

Stabler is the only eligible all decade quarterback that is NOT in the HOF.   Terry Bradshaw has recently stated that Ken Stabler was better than he was. Staubach said that the Snake was one of the great quarterbacks of all time.

  1. Stats:

I’m not going to give you stats that have been repeated a million times, but Ken’s stat’s rival any quarterback of the 1970’s that is in the HOF. Add the fact that in his first 69 games he was 53 and 16, and that the Raiders were 18-1-1 in the first 20 Monday Night games that they played in; many were lead by the Snake. The Raiders won more games than any other team in the 1970’s and this was considered the greatest era in history with some of the greatest defenses and teams in history. The rules made passing very difficult.

For decades the Raiders and the Cowboys were the most popular teams in the NFL. America’s team against the Outlaws.   They had the highest television ratings of any teams in the NFL for years. The Raiders helped make the NFL very popular by their personality, swagger, flair and success. Ken was the Captain of that ship.

  1. The History of HOF Voting by the Senior Selection Committee:

After 5 years of the Senior Selection Committee not nominating the Snake, they now have nominated him for the HOF. In the last 29 times they have nominated a selection, only 3 did not make the HOF. Most feel this is his year.   Kind of ridiculous that he couldn’t even be nominated for 5 years but eventually they did the right thing.

Hall of Fame Induction:

Yes I think in 2016 Ken Stabler will finally find his rightful place in Canton Ohio among the all time greats in the NFL. In Oakland, Alabama and around the country there will be huge smiles with some bitter sweet tears mixed in. Original Raider fans especially are not going away. They will continue to shout out the kindness, greatness, and amazing accomplishments of Raider greats from the past.  They won’t let people forget the great dynasty that was created, and those that were the foundation.   There is a bond that no other professional fan base can understand.  They will do it until they take their last breath. Raider fans passion will be their memory. And the loudest voices of all will be for the great Ken Stabler.

Ron Wolf enters the Hall of Fame With Tim Brown; The Greatest Raider of Them All

ron wolf Tim brown

The Greatest Raider of them All.

Other than Al Davis, NO ONE ever made an impact on the Oakland Raiders like Ron Wolf did.

When you ask a Raider fan who is the greatest Raider of all time, you will get several different answers. Maybe you will hear Ken Stabler, Art Shell or Gene Upshaw. Some may say Tim Brown or Marcus Allen or any of the other all time Raider greats like Jim Otto. In reality though, the greatest Raider of them all is Ron Wolf. If you are under 30 years old you are saying, “Who is Ron Wolf?”

Ron Wolf was one of the greatest evaluators of talent in the history of the NFL and now takes his place among the games greatest, being voted into the hall of fame. He was in charge of the draft and player personnel moves starting in 1963 for the Oakland Raiders. He was Al Davis quiet right hand man.

Wolf was the perfect fit to team up with Al Davis. He was the strong silent type who didn’t compete for attention with Mr. Davis. It is fairly common knowledge that Wolf was one of the few people that Al Davis actually listened to, and followed. Under Wolf the Raiders scouting team was the best in football. Many of the great Raiders of all time like Stabler, Shell, Upshaw, Tatum and Cliff Branch were all key choices by Ron Wolf. Wolf and Davis had no peers when it came to drafting and picking up castoffs that other teams gave up on.

In 1975 the NFL approached Davis and Wolf and asked if Wolf could take over the GM position for the newly created Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Wolf then went to Tampa Bay.

Wolf went on to be the architect of the Bucs. His first 3 drafts included hall of famer Leroy Selmon, the great USC running back Ricky Bell (whose career was cut short tragically by a terminal illness which took his life in 1984) and QB Doug Williams who eventually became the first black quarterback to ever win the Super bowl with the Washington Redskins. With these 3 key players they are still the fastest expansion team in the history of the post merger era to win a division, a playoff game, and host an NFC championship game.

Citing differences with the meddling Bucs owner Hugh Culverhouse and head coach John McKay, Wolf came back to the Raiders before the 1980 season. In usual fashion the Raiders soon drafted players like Marcus Allen and Howie Long. Players that other teams said were reaches. Allen was considered a question mark by many because he was considered too slow and Long was thought to be a long shot due to him coming out of Villanova who no longer had football.

Ron Wolf’s mentoring tree is long and talented. He taught Packers GM Ted Thompson, Seahawks GM John Schneider, Chiefs GM John Dorsey, Washington GM Scot McCloughan, and Raiders GM Reggie McKenzie.

Unfortunately though, Mr. Davis transformation had begun. He was obsessed with speed and the long ball trading popular Kenny Stabler for strong armed Dan Pastorini. When Pastorini bombed and lost his job to Jim Plunkett, Mr. Davis insisted on drafting another strong armed QB out of BYU named Marc Wilson. A few years later the Raiders drafted speedster Jessie Hester proclaiming him to be the next Cliff Branch.

What changed the NFL and the Raiders forever was in 1982, when Dallas Owner Tex Schramm asked the NFL competition committee to hold an evaluation time for all of the players, so all of the teams can evaluate them at the same time. Before that, teams had the option to share notes, films, and evaluations. Now players would be timed and rated on basic exercises and drills in gym shorts at the NFL combines. Al Davis loved it, especially the speed times. Ron Wolf, considering the Raiders evaluation of players to be superior, hated it. When he was asked once why he doesn’t share information or films with the rest of the league he said, “why would we; we know more than everyone else”. A true Raider.

As time went on in the 80’s their relationship strained. While Mr. Davis was obsessed with speed at wide receiver and defensive back, Wolf stuck to his roots of shoring up the defensive and offensive line. In the 70’s Al Davis coined the phrase, “the quarterback must go down, and must go down hard”. The key to that was a strong defensive front seven but Al Davis had gone away from that formula, obsessing about speedy defensive backs.

In 1991 Wolf left the Raiders to become the general manager of the Green Bay Packers. His first moves were to fire the coaching staff and to hire Mike Holmgren as his new head coach. He also traded for a little known quarterback playing in Atlanta by the name of Brett Favre. The Packers soon signed the biggest free agent on the market, Reggie White as well as Santana Dotson and Sean Jones. Wolf drafted another stud defensive lineman, “the gravedigger” Gilbert Brown. Their defensive line was a nightmare to stop.

In his 9 years as GM of the packers, Wolf had helped lead them to the second best record in the NFL (second only to Bill Walsh’s 49ers) and two Super Bowl appearances with one Super Bowl win.

Every team that Ron Wolf ran became a winner. During his glory days with the Raiders, no one could draft or evaluate talent like he did. The Raiders took players that other teams felt were not fast enough, not big enough or from very small schools that no one ever heard of. Some even had legal problems like WR Warren Wells who John Madden still says is the best player he ever coached, never having a season with less than 20 yards per catch. They cared about two things; can the person play football and can they be a part of a winner.

Last year during his daily interview on CBS sports in the bay area, John Madden said the unsung hero of the Raiders will always be Ron Wolf. Mr. Davis would allow him to draft players that fit the Raider mold. They both were on the same page and it was pure magic. The genius of Mr. Davis at that time was to trust Ron Wolf and the scouts and it helped create a winning formula. Together they lead the Raiders to not only the highest winning percentage in football, but the highest winning percentage of any sports franchise during a two and a half decade span. The first draft choice Mr. Davis made after Ron Wolf left was Todd Marinovich.

Ron Wolf takes his rightful place in the hall of fame. Every Raider fan, young and old, should appreciate the legacy and foundation that was created by Al Davis and Ron Wolf; the greatest Raider of them all.

“Part CSI, Part Breaking Bad. The Real Reasons Why Ken Stabler is NOT in the Hall of Fame; “

ken-stabler-was-a-country-music-lyric_8862482a_m

Please sign this petition to get Ken Stabler into the Hall of Fame.  Thank you!

http://www.thepetitionsite.com/541/199/738/petition-to-induct-ken-stabler-into-the-pro-football-hall-of-fame/

Rod Serling would love this story.  Pull up a chair, get a drink and sit back.  This is a complicated one.

In the annals of sports, the behind the scenes power and bias of sportswriters is of legend. In baseball it’s out in the open, but in the NFL it’s a little harder to see.

From the Oakland A’s Mike Norris not getting a Cy Young award to the great Cris Carter not being voted into the hall of fame 5 times; writers have a way of getting the last laugh.

Enter the legendary story of Bob Padecky.

A California Thing:
Bob Padecky was an award winning writer for the Sacramento Bee. He was covering the Raiders during the 70’s and 80’s and he wanted to talk to Ken Stabler. After the 1978 season, Ken was coming off what would be his worst year in Oakland. The Raiders were 9-7 that year which was a near tragedy at that time for the team that ended the 1970’s with the most regular season wins. Ken was frustrated and said that he would talk after the season was over.

Bob said he went to the 1979 New Years day Sugarbowl between Penn St. and Alabama. He decided that since New Orleans was not far from Alabama, that he would just drive over there. For some reason he just went.

We Californians are “open books” and many will spill their most intimate details of life to anyone that will listen.  The South is a different world. They are respectful of privacy and trust means a lot to them. It must be earned and isn’t given away.

Ken wasn’t happy when Bob showed up. He said he did not want to talk. Bob then said I’m going to go to Foley and Gulf Shores and talk to people. “I wish you wouldn’t do that Bob and if you are, just talk to me”. Bob said nope, and he left.  Didn’t he go to talk to Stabler & not get dirt?

Padecky came back and did a three part story on Ken’s issues; mostly what he said was how Stabler was partying too much and wasn’t in shape. Bob felt it wasn’t all that bad (writers never do) but Ken and his friends were not amused. Bob also said others made remarks about Ken and his private life and how he should marry the woman he was with. It may be tame for today’s standards, but at the time it was not taken lightly.

The Cocaine Bust:

Stabler called Padecky during Super Bowl week and said he wanted to spill his guts. He wanted to confront some of the things he was going through with Al Davis including Al blaming many of the failures on him and not wanting to pay him.

Padecky flew over the day after the Super Bowl to meet with Snake. They met at Lefty’s; a restaurant Stabler partially owned; and eventually ended up at the Silver Dollar Lounge.

When they finally sat down, Kenny was not happy. With Ken was Kenny Walker; a 250 pound ex Alabama Center and Randall Watson; a convicted bank robber in 1971 who had recently plead guilty to trying to extort $75,000 from an Alabama telephone executive.

He asked him why he was out to get him. “I never met anyone like you”, Ken said. “Why are you coming to my home town trying to dig up dirt?”.

During the conversation Bob had the tape recorder rolling without asking Ken if he could tape it. I didn’t think this was cool and I always thought reporters would ask the people they interviewed if it was ok to tape the conversation. Ken got mad again cussing occasionally and then took another call. He said I’m sorry I have to go and told him to meet him at a different restaurant.

http://www.si.com/vault/1979/04/23/823571/the-key-to-the-case-is-missing-even-now-no-one-can-say-whether-kenny-stabler-was-involved-when-cocaine-in-a-key-case-was-used-to-set-up-a-sportswriter-for-a-drug-bust

Stabler left and Bob got up and walked outside to his rental car. As he did, officers were there and arrested him. When asked what for, they told him that an anonymous caller said that he was carrying cocaine. People forget that in the 70’s, some were doing prison time for having small amounts of pot, so cocaine was the big time. An officer looked under one of the wheel wells of the car and found a magnetic key holder with cocaine in it. Bob was taken to the police department to be booked.

The Nightmare As Bob Padecky Tells It:

He implied they did a full cavity search and threatened him saying that they were going to ask for the hardest sentence the judge could hand down. He called the Sac Bee Managing Editor Frank McCulloch and went into his cell. Another cop, Cotton Long came up and said I think you were set up. They escorted him to his hotel where he talked more with Police Chief Jimmy Maples who had a .357 magnum in his hand. In future investigations, no arrest record was found.

Maples called out several cars to stake out the area and protect them. Officer Long came into the room and said that rumors were swirling Padecky’s life might be in danger and that he has to leave immediately. They offered a police escort to the airport and he took it. Padecky said Maples then got a sub machine gun and (insert pun now) rode shot gun and told him to move away if someone pulled up beside him so he could shoot them if they tried anything.

They drove him to the tarmac of the plane and he left. Padecky immediately began writing the story which broke to shock and outrage. Sportswriters everywhere blamed this on the Snake and were angered that someone would do this to one of their own. Kenny to his last days denied any involvement or knowledge of the situation.

Sportswriters Including Paul “Dr. Z” Zimmerman Were Outraged:

ESPN NFL draft guru (he was the NFL draft guru that made it popular to watch the draft before Mel Kiper had thick hair) Paul “Dr. Z” Zimmerman was especially outraged. He vented his displeasure to anyone that would listen and at that time ESPN was the only voice in Sports.  At the time Dr. Z held a lot of weight and he was quoted as saying I will never vote for Stabler to get into the hall of fame as long as I live.  Many writers supported Bod Padecky and Dr. Z, and a deep resentment began.  They felt Stabler bullied Padecky.  I saw quotes from Dr. Z in the Google archives from an old Sports Illustrated article and he stated that the only player he ever lobbied against was Ken Stabler.

Again, Stabler immediately denied he had a part in any of it. The writers didn’t see it that way. Here is a recent podcast of Bob’s on local radio. I like his writing but his personality rubbed me the wrong way especially when he started calling the Alabama cops “bubba’s”.  (I downloaded it here)

http://media.957thegame.com/a/107400103/bob-padecky.htm?q=padecky

With cocaine involved; The FBI, State of Alabama and the NFL launched what was called “routine” investigations but nothing could be proven. The cocaine was tested; it had been diluted or “cut” a lot and on the streets it was worth $100. Problem was being in possession of any cocaine in Alabama carried a 2-15 year sentence depending on the circumstance.

On February 13th, Alabama Attorney General said that Ken’s friend, Randall Watson was seen having a waitress buy a magnetic key holder for him that looked exactly like the one that was found. He stated that at the time they could not find Mr. Watson and wanted to talk to him. Eventually Watson was investigated for planting the cocaine but due to a lack of evidence they could not try him for anything.

https://news.google.com/newspapers?nid=1817&dat=19790213&id=KjAdAAAAIBAJ&sjid=2J4EAAAAIBAJ&pg=6732,2540036&hl=en

What is very interesting is that I got the original article from a gulf shores throwback site. At the time, many in the police including Police Chief Maples said Padecky embellished the story.

http://www.gulfcoastnewstoday.com/people/history/article_25922712-6fde-11e2-b04d-001a4bcf887a.html

The Aftermath:

The press went crazy. Police Chief Maples said he got calls from all over the country for stories including Penthouse magazine. They started calling the Gulf Shores area the Redneck Riviera. Local reporters laughed because every southern stereotype was being written about by the national media.

The lies told were of legend including how everyone there now hated Ken for what happened which was a literal lie. It got so bad that country music singer Madison “Shine” Powell wrote the song Redneck Riviera.

Stabler Linked to Gamblers, Radicals:
This is as bizarre as the Bob Padecky story and is rarely known or talked about. For about a 4 year period in the late 70’s and early 80’s, different agencies investigated Ken for his friendship with a long time New Jersey gambling figure Nicholas Dudich. Dudich was also an associate of the Simone DeCavalcante organized crime family.  The Feds in the past have been relentless in hounding the likes of Charlie Chaplin and Martil Luther King Jr. looking for any type of dirt.  They did that to Kenny as well.

Due to the extreme hate from owners and commissioner Pete Rozelle towards Al Davis and the Raiders (The late 70’s was the start of the 10 year lawsuit and war between Davis and the NFL), many wanted to see them go down. Davis had heard that several rivals had contacted the NFL and other agencies about Stabler’s association with Dudich.

Different Law enforcement agencies including the FBI admitted to putting Stabler under surveillance without a shred of negative evidence against him ever being found. Much to the chagrin of the media and the NFL, after the 4 years, nothing wrong was ever reported on Ken Stabler.

In the NFL constitution it does state players can’t associate with known gamblers or penalties including termination can result. There have been suspensions and threats like in the cases of Paul Hornung, Alex Karras and Joe Namath, so this was a serious issue for the league.  Again, Stabler was found to be not guilty to anything but the damage and resentment had been done.

Remember the Ray Rice situation? In true NFL form, when Pete Rozelle was asked about the situation between Stabler and Dudich in 1981, Pete Rozelle said he had never heard of Dudich and that the league was never told about any investigation or problems with the Snake and his possible association with Dudich. Pete seemed to be the only person in the country not knowing about the situation. Even the Raiders said they were giving regular reports to the NFL via executive assistant Al LoCosale.  TMZ was not around to help.

When Stabler was traded for Houston quarterback Dan Pastorini, the Oilers ownership didn’t think there was a problem and were very happy to go along with the trade. The FBI in Houston still tailed him.

http://www.nytimes.com/1981/08/30/sports/pro-football-s-ken-stabler-is-linked-to-a-gambler.html?pagewanted=1
Many writers also bristled at Ken’s association with other people. He was seen having beers with Huey Newton of the radical Black Panther movement and he played pool with Sonny Barger, the founder of the Oakland chapter of the Hell’s Angel’s.
Here’s the Deal; What Really Happened:
I get Ken Stabler. I have friends of all colors, sexual orientations and backgrounds too. Not everyone approves of them. Not all of them have been church folks.  My former pastor did 5 years for manslaughter; but I know one thing; they are always there when I need them.  They don’t hurt me and they are loyal to the end so I give them the same love. The only one’s that have ever screwed me over wore nice clothes, drove great cars and were well thought of due to their looks, money or charm.

Ken Stabler was a loyal and good friend. If you were good to him, he was good to you. He was a fun person who wanted to have a good time and didn’t care who you were.  He didn’t gamble and he didn’t plant cocaine.

As far as Dudich? Yes, he was Kenny’s friend, and no Stabler didn’t do anything wrong. Four years of investigations proved that.

As far as the Bob Padecky drama, of course drugs were planted. After listening to people that knew Kenny, of course he wasn’t involved. The Snake was a straight shooter who was definitely not shy to tell you how he felt and this wasn’t his style.  I’m sure someone close to Ken without his knowledge planted the cocaine to send a message and to get him off of Stabler’s back.

Will Ken Stabler be Elected Into the Hall of Fame?:
Yes. After years of investigation he was never seen doing anything wrong. Many have had crimes linked to them including Lawrence Taylor and others but it’s all good for the Hall of Fame. Baseball never forgets; football at least moves on, and close minded and biased writers fade away.

Padecky & Stabler Meet Again:
In 2009 here at the Sonoma Raceway, Bob saw Kenny for the last time. In a press conference during race week, he asked a question on how he was doing and as always, Kenny talked about enjoying his 3 daughters and family and friends. He had adjusted to life and was very happy. Afterwards, the two men met and shook hands and after each did a little small talk, they walked away. As with most men, time and age soften old wounds, mellow out spirits, and pain is better left in the past.

To Bob’s credit, he wrote an article on how he will miss Ken Stabler and that he was the most enjoyable quarterback to watch along with Joe Montana.

I hope that the Hall of Fame Voters will do the right thing and vote Kenny Stabler into the Hall of Fame; something they have failed to do for the last 25 years. His adoring fans in Oakland and Alabama; and especially his family and friends; deserve no less.

“Easy Lip Smacking Tandoori Chicken”

tandori chicken

I promise you that this recipe will wow them. Remember that none of these ingredients are extra exotic, and if you don’t have one of them don’t worry. Improvise or omit and it will still taste fantastic. For me, I always use gloves in this case. Pick up some at your local drug store. I use them often for cooking.

Easy Lip Smacking Tandoori Chicken

2 pounds of chicken (I like using thighs but breasts & drumsticks are ok)

I cup Plain Yogurt

1 tsp coarse black pepper

1/2 tsp cayenne pepper (1 tsp for hot)

1 tsp cinnamon

1 tsp ground cumin

1-2 tsp paprika (to taste)

2 tsp salt

1 tsp minced garlic

1 tsp minced ginger

juice of 1 lime or half a lemon

OPTIONAL:

1 tbsp chili garlic sauce/thai chili garlic sauce or sriracha sauce (I like to add this)

1 tsp tumeric (I don’t make it without it but some don’t have it. Not life or death but I like it a lot. Try to wear gloves)

DIRECTIONS

  1. In a small mixing bowl, stir together the yogurt and lemon juice. Add the spices, minced garlic, ginger, and chili paste, and whisk until you have a smooth, thick marinade.
  2. You can either use a glass or plastic container and put the marinade in it and add the chicken. Put the top onto the container. (I like to use gallon size plastic bags instead of a container.)
  3. Let it sit for at least 2-4 hours but it can marinade for up to 24 hours. *some recipes say marinade for 2 hours at room temperature. DONT DO THAT.   Always put it into the refrigerator.
  4. Put tin foil into a baking pan or broiler pan, and then lay a rack over it. Put the chicken on the rack. (you might want to spray the rack with vegetable spray or coat it with oil to decrease sticking and make cleanup easy.)
  5. Bake at 425 F for 30 minutes. Turn chicken over and bake for 10-15 more minutes. (If you like a good char then cook it 15 minutes). Turn off the oven. Let chicken rest in the oven for 15-20 minutes for chicken breasts, and 20-30 minutes for thighs and drumsticks.

Serve it on a platter with chopped up spring onions or cilantro on top. You can also serve it with sliced red onions, or wedges of lemon and/or lime.   I love it served on a bed of couscous or in flat bread with grilled spring onions. Some say they like it in flat bread with a little bit of my hummus (recipe below) and spring onions. Use your imagination!!

https://jimjax4.wordpress.com/2015/01/30/be-the-talk-of-the-party-with-this-fast-easy-delicious-roasted-red-pepper-hummus/

Suggestions:

Remember what Julia Child always said. If you don’t have every ingredient to a recipe, IMPROVISE.   Don’t complain and not do it; do your best. If you don’t have fresh ginger maybe you have ground ginger. If you don’t have chili paste, use your favorite hot sauce. Again, it’s your recipe. Put your own flare into it.

“The Greatest Defensive Backfield of all time! The Oakland Raiders Soul Patrol”

soul patrolf

There will never be a defensive backfield like the Oakland Raiders Soul Patrol of the 1970’s ever again.  They were the most intimidating and greatest group of all time.

The 70’s will always be remembered as the greatest era for the NFL.  It’s the era when there were many great teams and great quarterbacks.  Without a salary cap some backups on the great teams could start elsewhere.  Defenses could do as they please with little to no protection for QB’s and WR’s.  Television helped make the Superbowl become a must see event.  Teams like the Raiders, Steelers, Dolphins, Chiefs, Cowboys and Vikings made this a decade of excellence.  The Steel Curtain, the No Name Defense, and the Purple People Eaters are all revered names in NFL lore.  When the Steelers met the Raiders in the mid 70’s, there were no less than 22 hall of fame coaches, owners, and players on the field at one time.  That will never happen again.

“There was nothing like them”, said HOF QB Fran Tarkenton in a KNBR radio interview.  “In 1979 the NFL created the 5 yard chuck rule because of Atkinson, Tatum and the Raiders.  Wide Receivers could not get off the line of scrimmage against them.  Atkinson and Tatum and the rest of the gang were so physical and strong that I’d have to wait and hope my guys could get open”.

The wide receivers of the 70’s never get their due because their numbers weren’t the pinball numbers of today.  In today’s NFL, if you exhale near a receiver it is a penalty.  In the 1970’s it was literally survival of the fittest.  They had to worry about the great physical play of the era and you could not be a wide receiver unless you could go over the middle. I’ve seen pass interference penalties in today’s game where a defensive back literally brushed by a player.  The rules are so comical now that records are being broken almost weekly.  The 70’s on the other hand was an extremely brutal and tough era, and the most talented and toughest defensive backfield of them all was the Soul Patrol in Oakland.

The center of the sporting world in the 70’s was Oakland California.  In 1975 a team lead by superstar Rick Barry silenced all the east coast and their writers by sweeping the Washington Bullets for the NBA title.  The Oakland A’s dynasty had an amazing 3 straight World Series Championships beating national league royalty in the Dodgers, Reds, and NY Mets.  And then oh by the way, for a 25 year stretch the Raiders were the winningest team in all of sports with several division titles, and 3 superbowl wins.  No city ever had so many titles in such a short time.

The Soul Patrol embodied what the Oakland Raiders were all about.  They were tough, borderline dirty, intimidating and extremely confident.  Each member played their role and they roamed the NFL like a pack of wolves.

atkinson4

George Atkinson Jr.:  (“Butch” 6’ 0”; 180 lbs.)

There may have never been a tougher Raider than George Atkinson.  Listed as 6 feet tall, many say it was more like 5’ 10” but no one had the guts to tell him that.

Atkinson was an intimidator that roamed the field like a lion ready to pounce.  He was the trash talker of the group often seen taunting and intimidating players that were much bigger than he was.  He once broke Russ Francis nose with a vicious forearm hit, and his hits against Lynn Swann of the Steelers are a part of NFL history.  He had blazing speed and in fact still holds the single game record for punt return yardage for the Raiders at 205 yards.

Atkinson took it very personally when someone tried to block him low.  He learned from Tatum to go after a Wide Receiver if they tried to hit their knees or ankles.  In some films you can actually see Raiders defensive backs going towards blockers to actually hit them after they tried to hit them low.  All time great Paul Warfield once said when you went over the middle against Oakland and didn’t account for Tatum and Atkinson, you would not be in the game long without being carried off the field.  Against the run, he could go through blockers and make amazingly hard tackles.  If you ran wide against the Raiders, their DB’s would make you pay.  Atkinson loved to make players pay.

willie brown

Willie Brown:  (6’ 1”; 195 lbs.)

Amazingly Hall of Famer Willie Brown was never drafted when he graduated from Grambling St.  He was signed by the Buffalo Bills who cut him and then he was picked up by the Denver Broncos.  He soon became an all star but was traded to the Raiders in 1967 where he played for the rest of his career.  Unlike the other 3 members of the soul patrol, Brown was fast, graceful and laid back.  He wasn’t a talker but a great defender who was a shut down corner. He had good size and played the run very well, but he was a master of the bump and run, man to man game that the Raiders loved so much.  His famous interception in the Superbowl with the great announcer Bill King’s call of old man Willie is as famous as any highlight NFL films has.

skip thomas

Skip Thomas CB (Dr. Death; 6’ 1”; 205 lb.):

In a day when cornerbacks were just as important in attacking the run as they did the pass, Skip “Dr. Death” Thomas role was to make everyone that came near him remember that he hit them.  What is funny is he was nicknamed Dr. Death by Raiders great Bob Brown who said Skip Thomas looked like the cartoon character Dr. Death.

Skip Thomas was a vicious tackler who was the king of the clothesline tackle.  Many times his padded arm was seen knocking the ball out of wide receivers hands.  When he hit people, sometimes he would actually launch his whole body and his arm swung like a Russian sickle.  It was intimidating, violent and sent the message to not come his way.  He had a two year stretch of 6 interceptions per year.  Due to the great talent of Willie Brown, teams would try to pick on Skip Thomas and usually the results were not good.

People forget that in the Super Bowl, Minnesota moved their fine wide receiver Sammy White around so that Thomas mostly guarded him in the first half.  White didn’t  catch a pass in the first half and Thomas was on him like glue.  As the great Raiders announcer Bill King once said, the Raiders have 3 safeties.

Sadly he passed away in 2011 at the age of 61, but he will always be remembered for his talent, toughness and personality as one of the great members of the Soul Patrol.

jack tatum

Jack Tatum Safety (Assassin; 5’ 10”, 205 lb.):

During the Super Bowl break, the NFL show with Cris Collinsworth was discussing players that should be in the hall of fame, and to a man they all said the same name.   Chris Berman and many others kept bringing up one man; Jack Tatum.

He may have been the most intimidating force in NFL history this side of Dick Butkus. Sadly he was mentally saddled with the hit on Darryl Stingley which paralyzed him for the rest of his life.  Many close to Tatum said he really never got over it up to his death in 2010 at the age of 61.

Earl Campbell said no one ever hit him harder than his touchdown run where he and Tatum hit head on.  Vikings quarterback Fran Tarkenton said he thought Tatum knocked Sammy White’s head off in the Superbowl hit that Tatum laid on him when the Raiders dominated the Minnesota Vikings.

I remember a story that Ahmad Rashad told.  He said that days before the Vikings were to play the Raiders in the Superbowl, Tatum had walked into a room where the Vikings were relaxing.  Tatum walked into the closet and just stood there for a couple of minutes.  He then walked out of the closet and left.  Rashad said that not one Viking laughed or said a word until they saw Tatum walking out of the building.  Rashad said that it was a mind game of intimidation and he said it worked.  He said, “we laughed; we just made sure Tatum couldn’t hear us”.

Tatum was a linebacker playing safety.  He also was dominating against the run and would take on guards and tackles at any given notice.  Many game films show Tatum chasing blockers trying to hit them before the blockers would try to block them.  Tatum was vicious, fearless and ready to hit anyone.  He epitomized the great physical play of the day, and what the Raiders defense always tried to do; stop the run and make the quarterback go down, and go down hard. With a good pass rush, the Raiders defense was hard to beat as was seen in their dominance.

With today’s rules there will never be hits and aggressive play like the Soul Patrol did.  Quarterbacks and Wide Receivers pretty much do as they please and the Soul Patrol would not be allowed to do what they did best; intimidate, make plays, and be legends.  In the most physical era, the Soul Patrol was like a pack of wolves ready to take down any sized prey.  They remain the greatest defensive backfield of all time.