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“Oakland Raiders Defensive Players Who Should/Shouldn’t be in the NFL Hall Of Fame”

 

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Yesterday we looked at Bill King, Tom Flores, and the Raiders offensive players that might or might not be placed in the Hall of Fame.  Today we will look at players on the defensive end who have been overlooked.

I was really happy to see so many eyes opened on social media yesterday and so many discussions on some of the players I put in my article.  It’s great and fun to discuss and many put some very intelligent thoughts into their responses.

 Eye Opening: 

I’ve tried to do my part of showing people about grudges and biases that writers and voters to the HOF may have had on some players who could possibly be inducted.  I never really understood totally just how vicious and deep some biases were, especially with east coast writers.  It was eye opening.

For the last year and a half I’ve researched the stories of Raider players that might get into the hall and seen how clueless or how vengeful writers are to some of them; especially Raiders.  Ken Stabler and Jack Tatum went through hell with them, and others have been black listed and will never see the HOF even though they deserve it.

Let’s also remember too, if a west coast team plays at night, usually east coast writers won’t even see them play.  They read about the game or look at highlights.  They are in bed sleeping.  They won’t admit that but let’s be real.

Without further ado, let’s look into some of these players credentials and make the argument for or against their inductions.

 

 

HALL OF FAME COACHES
Jack Tatum from Ohio State attends the National Football Foundation’s College Hall of Fame class of 2004 induction dinner in New York, Tuesday, Dec. 7, 2004. (AP Photo/John Marshall Mantel)

Jack Tatum:

When Chris Berman and Chris Collinsworth were talking about players that should be in the HOF a couple of years ago, they both said one guy; Jack Tatum.  And Chris Collinsworth looked like he saw the Headless Horseman while saying it.

The running joke in the NFL in the 1970’s for NFL fans was that when you looked in your closet at night you don’t look for the boogeyman; you look for Jack Tatum.  Just like Dick Butkus, Jack Tatum revolutionized his position.  He was 225 pounds of educated, tough muscle from Woody Hayes University, Ohio St.  He never said much on the field; said less off of it; but wow did he change football and every safety want’s to be him.

“Jack was my guy”, said a proud Ronnie Lott.  “Everything I did I tried to copy from him.  He was the man”.

NFL Bad Boy Conrad Dobler was amazed at Tatum.  “Jack hit people so hard.  It was like when he hit them they would not be hurt but they would be buried”.  Running mate and trash talker of the Soul Patrol George Atkinson said, “Even I could not believe the force he hit people with.  It sounded like a car wreck when he hit someone. His angles and his timing were perfect.  No one wanted to come over the middle because it was like being hit by a truck.  I’ve never seen anything like it”.

Tatum could take on Tackles and stop the run, or eliminate a WR so that they would never want to catch a ball over the middle again.  He was so tough that if he was on the other side of the field and knew he wouldn’t make the play, he would go after anyone in his area just to hit them.  Iconic Dolphins WR Paul Warfield once said, “if you didn’t have your head on a swivel against the Raiders, you would not finish the game.  They were that scary.”

In his famous hit in the Super Bowl against the Vikings, people could not believe Sammy White caught the ball.  Viking great Fran Tarkenton explained the play.  “I was watching this helmet fly by me.  For a split second I literally thought Sammy’s head was in it.  I never heard a harder hit.  How he caught that is beyond me”.

Sadly in a meaningless exhibition game he hit Patriots WR Darryl Stingley in a very legal hit.  In fact the NFL and even the Patriots coaching staff went over the film dozens of times and admitted Tatum did nothing wrong.  Stingley was paralyzed and his family was very angry at Tatum.  Tatum said he tried to reach out to the family but they refused him.  John Madden actually visited Stingley instead and said Jack never got over it.  The east coast media; especially Boston; shredded Tatum in the papers for years and vowed he’d never be in the HOF.  He sadly died at the age of 61.

Deserves to be in the HOF: YES YES YES

Will be Voted into HOF: No

 

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Lyle Alzado:

Lyle Alzado roamed the field like a volcano ready to erupt.  His Raider teammates called him “Three Mile Lyle” after the explosion of the nuclear plant Three Mile Island.  No one knew when he’d blow up.

He grew up with an abusive father.  Once when a sibling was getting beaten, Lyle at the age of 15 protected them and hit his father and broke his jaw.  Lyle’s father called the police and pressed charges; assault.  He was arrested.  The scars on his soul were deep and unexpressed.

His life was one big tornado.  In an amazing career, this great pass rusher ended with 97 sacks.  Lyle is a hall of famer through and through but there is a saying if you work for or work with the NFL; Protect the Shield.

Just like with police and politicians, they feel you keep your mouth closed and Lyle didn’t.  While he was dying of brain cancer and losing over 100 pounds, he did interviews talking about his immense use of steroids.  Players hated him for it because it tarnished them; the NFL hated him for it because it embarrassed them.  A year after his death, the NFL started testing for steroids, many say due to the backlash of Lyle’s speaking out.

He sadly died at the age of 43.  Many said he was always looking for happiness and peace, but never really found it.  I hope he finally has.

Deserves to be in the HOF: For Sure

Will He be Voted into HOF:  No

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Rod Martin:

I remember talking to an east coast writer and asking him what he thought about Rod Martin maybe going into the hall of fame.  His answer?  “Who is Rod Martin”.  See what I’m telling you?

Don’t get me started on how clueless some Americans are in our history. Sports is included.  Why sports fans don’t educate their kids on the history of their teams is beyond me.  We should have more of an appreciation of the foundation of a team and not just live life like we’re 15 year old girls. For the most part as a nation we are clueless if it happened before 1990.  (Rant over).

Rod Martin had a long and illustrious career as linebacker of the Oakland Raiders.  He had the greatest defensive Super Bowl of all time with 3 interceptions against the Eagles.  People also forget he played a key role in the Washington win in the Super Bowl too with many key plays including stopping John Riggins on a 3rd and 4th and short, once near the goal line.  He also batted down key passes and picked up a fumble.

He was AFC defensive player of the year one time and a pro bowler twice.  He was a mainstay for the Raiders and in the biggest games he played his best.  One of the forgotten Raiders who should be better remembered.

Deserves to be in the HOF: Yes

Will be Voted into HOF: No

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John Matuszak:

He once overdosed when he was with Kansas City being taken to the hospital while his coach gave him chest compressions on the way to the hospital.  Raider staff members had to sleep in front of his hotel room to make sure he wouldn’t leave at night and party.  Fans saw him as a big ton of fun, but at times players saw him as a big pain.  A nice guy off of drugs, but a whirlwind while on them.

Matt Millen wrote in his book at what a pain John was at times.  He used drugs often.  Qaaludes, Valium, pot, cocaine, pain killers, alcohol.  Nothing was off limits when the Tooz was around.  His partying was of legend.  The night before the Raiders played the Eagles in the Super Bowl he said he would patrol Bourbon Street to make sure Raider players were in at a decent hour.  He ended up partying until 3 a.m. and was fined $1000.  Disciplined Dick Vermeil told the national media, “if that were an Eagle, his ass would be on a plane home by now”.

In the 1970’s the strong man competitions on ABC were extremely popular.  Most trained over 6 months for the events.  Just to pass time, Matuszak entered into one competition; without a day of training.  Most of the competitors kind of laughed at such arrogance.  After the smoke cleared, he placed in the top 10 at 9th.  “He’s super human”, said one competitor.  “I really never saw anything like him”.

Once when the Tooz was arrested, Ken Stabler had to bail him out.  When he got to the Police Station Stabler said, “Drunk, cowboy hat, cowboy boots and no clothes.  Yep, that’s my roomie; I’d know him anywhere”.

On the field John was a great player one minute, and a disappearing act the next.  He was a good guy when sober and he played well, but it was hard to get him when he wasn’t high off the field.  He was an inconsistent but solid player.  No telling how good this 6′ 8″ giant could have been.  Sadly at the age of 38 he died of an accidental overdose of pain killers.  A small amount of cocaine was found in his system.  Sadly 2 years later one of his sisters Dawn passed away suddenly.  Their family went through a lot of pain.

For many he will forever be fondly known as Sloth in the movies Goonies.  The stories of his kindness are of legend.  It took 4-5 hours to put on his makeup.  The kids in the movie adored the Tooz and they constantly played pranks on him.  He never said a word and just laughed.  He said once, “How can you get mad at kids who are just having the time of their lives”.  One of the kids said, “I saw him play football on television and he looked so mean.  But with us he was just our Giant friend; he was Sloth to us”.  He had several acting accomplishments including a memorable scene in North Dallas Forty.  He was well liked by a lot of people on the sets who still talk of him fondly.

Deserves to be in the HOF: No

Will be Voted into HOF: No

 

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Lester Hayes:

When Hayes came out of college, many said he wasn’t very smart.  What the Raiders found out is that he had a stuttering problem.  Now Hayes will speak to anyone that will listen while showing a great personality.

Hayes was a pro bowler 5 times; all pro once; AFC player of the year once; single season record for interceptions in a year (13), and named to the prestigious all decade team for 1980.

It’s not even worth talking about; just like Branch and Tatum, of course Lester should be in.  I feel embarrassed to even defend it.  Eventually he will be but again, it’s a joke for him to wait so long.

Deserves to be in the HOF: Yes

Will be Voted into HOF: Eventually

 

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“What Does the Signing of Michael Crabtree Do To the Raiders Draft & What They May Not Be Telling Their Fans”

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“What Does the Signing of Michael Crabtree Do To the Oakland Raiders Draft”

Michael Crabtree was signed by the Raiders for a one year 3 million dollar deal with various incentives.  It makes for an interesting turn in the direction that the Raiders may go.

Raiders Needs:

When the Raiders started the free agency period, these were their top 4 needs:

  1. A fast #1 Wide Receiver
  2. 1-2 pass rushers to fix the 31st ranked pass rush
  3. Run Stopping DL
  4. Run Stopping MLB

So far in free agency the Raiders have solved the #3 and #4 problem by shoring up their run defense.  A fast #1 WR and the 1-2 pass rushers; which were their biggest needs; are still an issue.  That’s a lot to fix in one draft.  Let’s look at the puzzle further to look into what is happening and what may happen.

First the Pro’s; Why Crabtree Makes Sense

I have to be honest; I LOVE  this guy.  He’s a great talent who hasn’t had his best games yet.  How the Raiders picked DHB over him is still a head scratcher.  (oh those fast 40 times at the NFL combines that Al Davis loved so much).  I fought with Raider fans for 3 years who told me give DHB time.

Crabtree and the 49ers passing game were limited due to their quarterback situation and their philosophy which was a power running, grind them out offense.  He also played last year after a horrendous Achilles heel injury and many think he’s finally healthy.  I still think it’s a good signing but it is a worry.

I’m sure the Raiders see him as a starting WR at a great price.  They also see in him as a player that makes key plays when they are needed as was seen in the 49ers Super Bowl run.  He’s also tough; many felt he wasn’t healthy all year last year but he insisted on playing the entire season.  A physical WR that will make a difference.

The Cons: Why Crabtree Doesn’t Make Sense

With Today’s medical advances, coming back from a severe knee injury is doable. Coming back from a severe achilles heel injury as a wide receiver is rough.  Some have said few regain their speed and agility so Crabtree’s true health remains to be seen until he gets on the field.

Detractors will also point out to his terrible year last year with 10 drops; some pretty bad ones.  It was obvious his head wasn’t in the game at times.  He also was the rumored leak to Deion Sanders talking about the dissension with Jim Harbaugh as coach, which he vehemently denied.  The local media often complained it’s obvious he’s checked out.

Bad Attitude?:

Others will talk about his bad attitude, but I laugh at that.  Jerry Rice was a diva personified at San Francisco.  Rice told the press Steve Young’s passes were hard to catch and he would never be Joe Montana.  He also went off in the press because he needed more passes thrown to him; even though he led the league in catches.

Terrell Owens played brilliantly while injured in the Super Bowl on the way to throwing his quarterback under the bus.  Dez Bryant’s temper tantrums on the sidelines and off the field dramas are all but forgotten now that he’s one of the best in the NFL.  NFL Wide Receivers are the blond headed cheerleaders that you saw in the movie Bring It On.

What Does This Do To The Draft:

First of all, no, the Raiders are not going to trade down.  Name all the time’s that they have done that. (crickets)  Every year we go through this.

Also, if the Raiders brass said that they hate ice cream, I’d bet a million dollars that they’d be having hot fudge sundaes at Hooters that night.  DON’T BELIEVE WHAT TEAMS SAY!  Name all of the football teams that are going to run to the press and announce their plans and tell people all that they are thinking.  The only ones that lie more than NFL teams are politicians!

If USC defensive lineman Leonard Williams is there, I think the Raiders pick him because their pass rush was atrocious last year but the Raiders have made some crazy choices in the past so nothing is for sure.  Amari Cooper is the best WR in the draft IMHO; his amazing numbers at Bama were impressive.

Devin Smith the WR out of Ohio St. will be there in the second round (The Patriots are supposedly into him so he may go late first round) and he’s a stud.  A bigger clone of ex Panther great Steve Smith, this guy had his biggest games against the best competition.  Tough as nails, brash and he has track speed.  He has that rare talent of not losing speed when he cuts.  If you look at old clips, Cliff Branch had that rare talent too.  Even if you get Crabtree and he pans out, you still need a speedy WR to stretch the field.

What the Raiders May Not Be Telling the Fans:

I said it in a previous article; I think the Raiders may have a two year plan but there was NO WAY that they were going to make that public because of all the years of losing.

If they choose a wide receiver #1 this year in the draft, I get it.  Next years draft has at least 6 really good pass rushers, and possibly up to 9.  They are young and are on the verge of really getting good.  I can see the Raiders filling in holes this year, and going for broke in the draft and free agency next year to finalize their pass rush.

Can you imagine the outrage on social media if the Reggie McKenzie came out and said we are looking for a 2 year plan to get good?  If you thought people were wild now. In reality though I think they realize they need another good draft and signings to get the team that they envisioned.

Guarded Optimism:

For fans that pick playoffs and Super Bowl for the Raiders every year, they may FINALLY be right, but it may take a year.  I think a .500 season is realistic but thinking you can fix a terrible pass rush with a second or third round draft pick is naive at best.  I think the Raiders had many holes to fill and they’ve done a good job at filling most of them.  I think they are a year away from really filling them in the way that they want to and being a playoff contender.  Until you do it on the field and win, talk is cheap.

People also need to keep in mind that rookie wide receivers usually struggle some in their first year.  It takes time for them to evolve, even in today’s pass happy world where defenses can’t touch them.

In today’s NFL especially, if you don’t have a pass rush, you can’t win.  No way will you get to the next level if you can’t rush the quarterback and stop the run.  The run defense looks fixed but the pass rush still needs to be addressed.  Fans may need to have a little more patience for the Raiders to become a playoff team again though.  We’ll know for sure after the post draft signings what the team looks like.  It should be fun to watch.

Even with many fans worrying about him,  I think Crabtree will be a valuable piece that could have long term success, but the pass rush still needs to be fixed.

     

“Why Money Ball & the Oakland A’s Fall Short in the Post Season; Again”

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First of all I like Billy Beane and the Oakland A’s fans are lucky to have him as GM.  With so many failures in the post season though, it’s time to look at the why’s and the how’s.

I remember when the A’s were flying high this year.  They had the best record in all of baseball and they had a run differential of over 100 more than any other team in the majors.  Yoenis Cespedes was throwing out runners from the Orange Highway to go with towering homers. Josh Donaldson looked like an MVP candidate and the starters looked like there was nothing to stop them from dominating hitters in the American league.  A funny thing happened on the way to the World Series.

The A’s had the worst second half record of ANY team in the history of Major League Baseball who made the playoffs.  Their collapse was hard to watch.  Billy Beane, looking to get to the next level, traded popular slugger Yoenis Cespedes to get rent a player post season pitching star Jon Lester.  Never before had I ever heard of a team trading their clean up hitter, let alone winning a world series after doing it.

He also traded one of the best prospects in baseball, and the Oakland A’s best prospect; shortstop phenom Addison Russell; for Jeff Smardzija and journeyman starter Jason Hammel, who was having a career year.  Beane was lauded as a conquering GM even though the A’s gave up the heart of their order, and their best minor league prospect.  Lester was a rent a player and Smardzija would be on the A’s for a year and a half which is the length of his contract.  Beane stated that they would not be able to resign Cespedes due to him wanting more money than the A’s wanted to pay.  It was obvious the future was now in Oakland.

The big thing that I’ve always hated about Billy Beane’s mentality in his money ball formula, is that it’s not what wins in the post season.  Even in his book Moneyball, he’s admitted as such.  The A’s have had solid teams in the playoffs and they always fall short.

MLB had the worst stat that explains the A’s post season fails.  Oakland was one of the worst teams hitting with runners in scoring position of any post season team since 2000.  It showed the kink in the armor of money ball.

Money ball’s whole mentality is based on sabermetrics; or using analytical in game statistics that show an alternative way of playing baseball.  It emphasizes on base percentage and home runs instead of batting averages.  It’s great during the regular season but fails during the post season.

The reason money ball fails is that it bases a lot of the teams’ success on walks and home runs.  It looks at on base percentage being one of the most important factors in baseball.  The problem with all that is that walks and homers are few and far between during the post season because the pitching is so much better in the playoffs.

In the regular season, you are seeing teams that are good, bad, and very bad.  In the post season you are seeing the best pitchers in baseball and you are not going to get walks and homers.  How many times in post season’s past did the A’s leave runners in scoring position against New York, Boston, and Detroit.  And the A’s were just awful if runners were on third with less than 2 outs.  You have to actually hit the players in.  Players batting .230 to .250 with 15-20 homers don’t knock in runners in the post season.  At times it was hard to watch.  The on base % of these lower average hitters plummet when you take away all the walks.

Billy Beane and the A’s love the .220 to .260 hitters who hit 15-25 homers while walking a lot.  In their defense with a low payroll sometimes that’s all they can get.  The problem is, these are the same players in the post season that can’t hit runners in.  Patience may help in the regular season, but the post season is about great base hits and not walks.

The A’s need to break the chain, and start getting actual .270 to .300 hitters in the fold and stop the .240 hitters that can hit a homer.  In the olden days anything under .250 was considered very average but now the A’s lineup is stacked with them.  On their regular season roster, the A’s have only 8 players hitting .250 and above.  The Kansas City Royals who beat the A’s last night have 15, and the Los Angeles Angels who won the A’s division also have 15 hitters hitting above .250.

I’m a HUGE Billy Beane fan though.  I think he’s not the greatest trader sometimes, (insert Carlos Gonzalez and Andre Ethier here) but NO ONE drafts and evaluates talent better.  Even with the A’s post season issues, they still find gems in the draft, and that’s all Billy Beane and his scouting team.  There are none better.

This year his payroll was 80 million; the highest in A’s history; but it’s still near the bottom of team payroll in baseball.  The San Francisco Giants are spending 140 million per year.  He has an owner in Lew Wolff that keeps cashing revenue sharing checks; (The A’s are one of the only teams in baseball that makes money every year mostly due to their low payroll) but does little to help his stadium position in baseball.  If Al Davis owned the A’s they would be finishing up building Google stadium in San Jose by now with Mr. Davis middle finger in the air pointing towards San Francisco.  Lew Wolf is about business though and profits are the most important thing to him, but that topic is for another day.

In conclusion the A’s will keep winning during the regular season.  They will also fall short in the post season in some way.  They will keep drafting good players and they will trade them when they are about to sign for big money.  If Beane can he will trade them for whatever he can get.  Most players are controlled by their teams for about 5-6 years before they become unrestricted free agents and sign for big money and Billy Beane every year sends these players packing.  The losers are always the fans who see the A’s change partners quicker than people in dance clubs.

The loyal A’s fans know not to get too attached to their stars.  From Jason Giambi to Miguel Tejada to Yoenis Cespedes, it’s better not to get too emotionally involved because eventually they know the players will leave.  It’s a cruel fate for both Beane and the Oakland fans.

Billy Beane has said in the past that he can’t have a 5 year plan.  His mentality is to look to the now to win.  You can’t blame him for doing that but his trades for 2014 will be epic fails.  Without their clean up hitter Cespedes and the protection he brought to Josh Donaldson and the rest of the lineup, the A’s had an epic hitting slump in the second half that they could not overcome.

A’s fans though were so excited with the A’s scoring 8 runs against the Kansas City Royals in the wild card game.  This time will be different they thought, but the cruel winds of the post season told otherwise.  The A’s put up the guy they wanted to pitch that big game in Jon Lester and all the stars were aligned.  Unfortunately the A’s had not one but two blown saves in the game to make it 23 on the year which was second to last in the majors.  The A’s found another way to fail in the post season and it will be a long wait until spring training for Billy Beane and the Oakland A’s; again.  And only God knows what players will be shipped out this off season.

No Player Was Loved as Much in Two Cities as the Great Bob Welch

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There are certain times in sports when magic occurs.  There are also times when special athletes and people make it happen.  Bob Welch made it happen in two cities. 

Bob Welch played for 2 teams; the Los Angeles Dodgers and the Oakland A’s.  In both places he was successful and was much loved.  

People forget what a great pitcher he was.  In college he led a little known Eastern Michigan team all the way to the College World Series Finals.  In one of the most magical moments in Dodger history, a 21 year old Welch gutted out a win in game 2 of the 1978 World Series. In an epic battle he struck out Reggie Jackson with two men on to end the game and preserve a 4-3 lead.  Dodger stadium was never louder.

In Oakland he won 27 games in 1990 on the way to a 27-6 record and the Cy Young award.  No pitcher since has won 25 games.

For many though, the greatest thing Bob did was not from his play, but from his heart.  He ended his career at 211-146 in wins with almost 2,000 strikeouts.  But most of all he taught people about life.  

In 1991 he wrote a book called 5 O’clock Comes Early.  It was a book about his struggles being an alcoholic.  At a time when players were not very open about addiction, Welch was brutally honest.  It touched a lot of people and if you go on book sites, even now people read it and thank him for it.  

I met Bob Welch once in the Oakland A’s Parking lot after a game during the bash brother days.  I wasn’t a kid that was into autographs but I just wanted to meet him.  He was down to earth, nice and actually looked you in the eye.  At that time the Oakland Coliseum was a great place to watch a game and big crowds were the norm.  There was a magical feel between the players and the fans and Welch was a part of that.  

It’s a funny thing about fans and players.  We never forget what the players meant to us and how they touched us in their own little ways.  Bob Welch was beloved in both Los Angeles and Oakland because when you come down to it, he was what all of us should strive to be.  That even though we make mistakes and struggle through life, in the end we are judged by our hearts and how we inspire.  Bob Welch succeeded with both.