A look into the rich history of the Raiders

The Oakland Raiders cherish one of the richest histories of all the NFL franchises. The Raiders were founded in 1960 and have been a factor in the history of the NFL ever since the beginning.

Oakland’s new team settles in

The Raiders were originally in the American Football League, which started in 1960 with eight franchises. The Raiders franchise was the eighth of these franchises, and was originally slated to play in Minnesota before their deal fell through there.

On Jan. 20, 1960 a group in Oakland was awarded the Raiders which brought them to the Bay Area instead of Minnesota. At this point in time, the franchise did not have a name yet and decided to hold a contest in the Oakland Tribune to come up with a name. The winning name of this contest was the Oakland Señors, thus giving the franchise their first name.

Accusations arose that Charles “Chet” Soda, the first general partner of the franchise, rigged the contest to get the name Señors. Soda was an Oakland businessman that was known for calling his acquaintances “señor”. A combination of these accusations and jokes from locals forced the franchise’s decision to change their name to the Oakland Raiders, which finished third in the contest. The change occurred nine days after deciding on their original name.

After finally coming up with the Oakland Raiders as the franchise’s name and naming Eddie Erdelatz the first head coach in franchise history, the team still needed to find a place to play.

The Raiders opened up their inaugural season at home on Sept. 11, 1960 against the Houston Oilers at Kezar Stadium in San Francisco, losing 37-22. For their first season, the Raiders split their home games between Kezar Stadium and Candlestick, finishing 8-6.

After spending their first two years in San Francisco, the Raiders moved to their new home stadium — Frank Youell Field — a converted high school field that held 18,000 people. The Raiders followed up their 2-12 season with a 1-13 record in their third season.

F. Wayne Valley, then the Raiders general partner, decided they needed a new coach going into the 1963 season. On Jan. 15, 1963 Valley hired Al Davis as the franchise’s fourth head coach and also the general manager. Davis was previously working as an assistant for the San Diego Chargers.

One of the first moves Davis made was to change the Oakland Raider uniforms to silver & black, still the colors of the franchise today. Before this move, the Raiders wore jerseys that were black, gold and white.

The Raiders finished 10-4 in the first season Davis coached the squad, finishing one game out of the playoffs and earning Davis the AFL Coach of the Year award. The Raiders would finish the next two seasons a combined 13-12-3 under Davis.

On April 8, 1966, Davis is named the new commissioner of the AFL, making John Rauch the new head coach of the Oakland Raiders.

Davis takes seat as AFL commissioner

Up until Al Davis took the job of commissioner of the AFL, the NFL and the AFL were rival leagues and had nothing to do with each other.

The NFL started in 1920, 40 years before the AFL. The AFL was originally started by a millionaire by the name of Lamar Hunt, who had inherited money from his father who was an oil businessman. Hunt wanted to start an expansion team in his home state of Dallas, but the NFL was not interested in expanding at that time. So, instead, Hunt took his money and helped found a rival league, the AFL.

The NFL and AFL both held different drafts, different championships and also had different rules. Having different drafts, the AFL and NFL were often fighting for the same draft picks. Although they were rival leagues, there was a supposed unwritten rule to not go after players that were under contract in the other leagues.

This all changed when Al Davis took office as the commissioner for the AFL. Quickly after taking office, Davis started a bidding war for players with the NFL and got eight of the NFL’s top quarterbacks to join the AFL.

Davis’ bidding war worried the NFL and they contacted the AFL in hopes of being able to work out a deal. Two months after Davis had taken the job of commissioner, the AFL and NFL decided to merge and keep the NFL name on June 8, 1966.

With this deal, the two leagues would have a common draft, while maintaining separate schedules but having an AFL vs NFL Championship game, which would eventually be called the Super Bowl. It wouldn’t be until 1970 that the two leagues would officially merge into one league that has two different conferences.

The Oakland Coliseum, built in 1966, is still home to the Oakland Raiders today.

With the merger in place, Davis resigned as the AFL commissioner in July of 1966, just three months into his tenure, and bought 10 percent of the Oakland Raiders for $18,000, and became the general manager again. It was during the 1966 season that the Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum was finished being built, giving the Raiders their new permanent home.

Raiders reach their first Super Bowl

Before the 1967 season began, Davis made a trade to swap quarterbacks with the Buffalo Bills — the Raiders getting Daryle Lamonica and the Bills getting Tom Flores.

Lamonica lead the Raiders to a 13-1 season en route to earning the AFL Player of the Year awards. Lamonica thew for 3,228 yards and 30 touchdowns, earning himself the nickname of “Mad Bomber”. The Raiders outscored their opponents 468-233 throughout the 1967 season.

The Raiders’ 13-1 record earned them a berth in the AFL Championship game against the Houston Oilers, in which they dominated the game and beat the Oilers 40-7. Beating the Oilers gave the Raiders the opportunity to take on the defending Super Bowl champion Green Bay Packers in Super Bowl II. The Raiders lost the game 33-14.

In the 1967 season, Fred Biletnikoff became a favorite target of Lamonica and finished with 876 yards and five touchdowns. Corner back Willie Brown anchored the defense with seven interceptions on the season.

The “Heidi” Game

On Nov. 17, 1968 the Oakland Raiders took on the New York Jets at home in the Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum.

The Raiders fell behind, as the Jets scored a field goal with 1:05 left in the game to take a 32-29 lead. But then, with only a minute left to play and a chance for Lamonica and the Raiders to either tie or win the game, NBC stopped its coverage of the game to show “Heidi”, a made-for-TV movie about an orphan girl living in the Swiss Alps with her grandfather.

Lamonica quickly drove the Raiders down the field, throwing a touchdown pass to Charlie Smith that gave the Raiders a 36-32 lead with :44 remaining on the clock. On the ensuing kickoff, the Raiders forced a fumble that they recovered for another touchdown, bringing the score to 43-32.

The Raiders had won the game by scoring two touchdowns in the last minute, all while NBC was showing “Heidi” instead of the game. This game is forever known as the “Heidi Game”, or the “Heidi Bowl”. Now, broadcasters’ policy is to not cut away from a football game until it is over, putting regular TV programs on hold.

The Raiders would finish the season 12-2 and find themselves in a rematch with the Jets in the AFL Championship game. The Raiders took the lead late but found themselves falling victim to a late drive by quarterback Joe Namath, and lost the game 27-23.

Head Coach John Rauch would leave for the Buffalo Bills after the game, and the Raiders would hire 33-year-old John Madden to coach the team.

The Madden Era

John Madden would become head coach of the Raiders beginning in the 1969 season, and quickly kept the Raiders playing at a high level.

On Oct. 19, 1969, Lamonica set a pro record by throwing six touchdown passes in the first half en route to a 50-21 win over the Buffalo Bills.

In the 1970 season, Madden put in their kicker George Blanda, who was a quarterback in college, to replace the injured Lamonica. At the age of 43, Blanda led the Raiders to last second wins during a 4-0-1 five-game stretch that he started as the Raiders quarterback and kicker. Blanda went on to become the first pro football player in history to score 2,000 points in 1975.

Madden would lead the Raiders to a 10-3-1 record in 1971 and earned them a spot in the AFC divisional playoff game against the Pittsburgh Steelers. The 10-3-1 record also earned the Raiders their fifth AFC Western Division title in six years, and the winningest record from 1963-1972 (94-36-10).

The playoff game between the Raiders and Steelers has forever been remembered as the game in which the “Immaculate Reception” occurred.

Oakland’s quarterback Ken Stabler scored on a 30-yard touchdown run to give the Raiders a 7-6 lead with 1:17 left in the game. On the ensuing drive, the Raiders forced a 4th and 10 from the Steelers 40-yard line with :22 remaining.

There, Raiders lineman Horace Jones and Tony Cline pressured Steelers quarterback Terry Bradshaw who thew the ball to his halfback John Fuqua. As the ball reached Fuqua, Raiders safety Jack “The Assassin” Tatum also reached Fuqua, hitting him and causing the ball to sail in the air. Steelers fullback Franco Harris caught the ball and was able to score the game-winning touchdown.

This was the first of five consecutive postseasons in which the Raiders and Steelers would meet, with the last in 1976. The Raiders defeated the Steelers in the AFC Championship Game in 1976 to reach their Super Bowl XI

Raiders win their first Super Bowl

The Raiders used a solid offense to succeed in 1976. The offense all started with a solid offensive line that was anchored by Art Shell, Gene Upshaw and Dave Dalby who dominated in the trenches.

The 1976 Raiders were led on offense by quarterback Ken Stabler, wide receivers Cliff Branch and Fred Biletnikoff, and tight end Dave Casper. Stabler finished with 2,737 yards and 27 touchdowns. Branch led the receiving corps 1,111 yards and 12 touchdowns. Biletnikoff and Casper scored seven, and 10 touchdowns each, respectively. Fullback Mark van Eeghan led the Raiders on the ground, rushing for 1,012 yards and three touchdowns.

On defense, the Raiders possessed a solid linebacker corps in Otis Sistrunk, Ted Hendricks, and Phil Villapiano. The secondary was also aggressive and dominant with Jack Tatum and George Atkinson as the safeties, and Willie Brown and Skip Thomas as the corners.

On Jan. 9, 1977 the Raiders took on the Minnesota Vikings in Pasadena, Calif. in front of a record 103,424 people, mostly Raiders fans. The Raiders looked to be giving up

Former Raiders corner back Willie Brown coaching up former Raider Nnamdi Asomugha.

the lead after a blocked punt in the first quarter, but the defense was able to force a fumble on their own goal line to keep the 1st quarter scoreless.

The Raiders would dominate the second quarter and take a 16-0 lead going into the second half. Leading 26-7 in the fourth quarter, corner back Willie Brown intercepted Vikings quarter back Fran Tarkenton and returned it 75 yards for a touchdown that all but sealed the victory.

After a final minute touchdown by the Vikings, the Oakland Raiders had won their first Super Bowl by a final score of 32-14. Stabler finished 12-19 for 180 yards, Casper had four receptions for 70 yards and a touchdown, and Biletnikoff finished with four catches for 79 yards and was named the Super Bowl XI MVP.

<Madden retires

Following their Super Bowl XI victory, Madden would return the Raiders to the AFC Championship game where they met the Denver Broncos. But this time, the Raiders would fall short of the Super Bowl as they fell to the Broncos 20-17.

The 1978 season would turn out to be the last season the Raiders would be under John Maddens coaching, and it was an eventful one.

In the preseason, the Oakland Raiders took on the New England Patriots. The Patriots ran an inside slant route to wide receiver Darryl Stingley who leaped up to catch the pass and came down into a collision with Raiders safety Jack Tatum. The hit damaged Stingley’s spinal cord and paralyzed him from the chest down.

The Raiders would continue the season and find themselves needing a 27-20 victory over the Minnesota Vikings for a 9-7 record to ensure their 14th consecutive winning season.

Included in the 9-7 record is a victory against the San Diego Chargers on Sept. 10, 1978. With the Raiders trailing 20-14 on the Chargers 12-yard line and 10 second remaining in the game, Stabler dropped back for a pass but was sacked and fumbled the ball. Raiders running back Pete Banaszak attempted to recover the fumble but lost

Raider all-time winningest head coach John Madden gets inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame.

his footing and kicked the ball forward to the goal line where Dave Casper was able to recover the ball for the game-tying touchdown. After the extra point, the Raiders left San Diego with a shocking 21-20 victory. The play has been dubbed the name “Holy Roller”.

Following the season, John Madden retired after 10 years of being the Raiders head coach. Madden finished with a 103-32-7 and leading the Raiders to their first Super Bowl victory in 1977.

The Tom Flores era begins

To replace Madden, Al Davis brought in a familiar face in Tom Flores to coach the team. Davis had traded Flores in 1967 to get quarterback Daryle Lamonica. Flores and the Raiders struggled in his first year, but was still able to pull of a 9-7 winning record.

Prior to the second season of Flores coaching the Raiders, Al Davis announced that he would be moving the Raiders to Los Angeles. Before the 1980 season, Davis sought improvements to be made to the Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum but was unsuccessful, so Davis attempted to move the team to Los Angeles.

Davis’ plan was shot down by the league. Needing ¾ of the league to approve it, Davis lost 22-0. Davis proceeded to try and move the team anyways but was stopped by an injunction my NFL commissioner Pete Rozelle. This began the start of two antitrust lawsuits in which Al Davis was a part of against the NFL to get the approval to move to Los Angeles. The lawsuits wouldn’t be settled until 1982.

With the lawsuit still in the courts, the Raiders continued to play in Oakland. After trading Ken Stabler for Dan Pastorini in the offseason, Pastorini was injured and replaced by Jim Plunkett. Plunkett inherited a 2-3 record but was able to drive the Raiders to an 11-5 record and a wild card berth.

The Raiders were able to take that wild card berth to the AFC Championship game where they took on the Cleveland Browns. In a game played well below freezing temperature, the Raiders won 14-12 to give them a ticket to Super Bowl XV.

Raiders win their second Super Bowl

On Jan. 25, 1981 the Raiders took on the Philadelphia Eagles in Super Bowl XV at the Louisiana Superdome in New Orleans, LA.

On the opening pass play of the game, Raiders linebacker Rod Martin intercepted Eagles quarterback Ron Jaworski to give the Raiders the ball in Philadelphia territory. The Raiders would convert on a pass from Plunkett to wide receiver Cliff Branch. Plunkett would also complete an 80-yard touchdown pass to running back Kenny King to take a 14-0 lead after one quarter of play.

The 14-point deficit proved to be too much for the Eagles to overcome. With the score 27-10, the Raiders defense buckled down and forced turnovers on the Eagles’ last two drives, with one being a Rod Martin interception. That was Martin’s third interception on Jaworski, setting a Super Bowl record.

With a lawsuit between Al Davis and the NFL still in the courts, NFL commissioner Pete Rozelle was forced to hand the Lombardi Trophy over to Al Davis, the very man he was being sued by.

Plunkett was named the Super Bowl MVP, finishing 13-21 for 261 yards and three touchdowns.

With an injury to Plunkett the following year, the Raiders ended the season with a 7-9 record, ending a streak of 16-consecutive seasons with a winning record. The Dallas Cowboys would later break this record with a streak of 20-consecutive seasons.

Al Davis wins lawsuit, Raiders move to L.A.

After two years of being in the courts, the jury favored on the side of Al Davis, allowing the Raiders to be moved to the Los Angeles Coliseum. Prior to the season, the Raiders drafted USC running back Marcus Allen in the draft.

It wouldn’t be until December 12 — after a 57-day strike — that the Raiders would make their Los Angeles debut, beating the San Diego Chargers 28-24. The Raiders would finish the shortened season with the league-best 8-1 record, but would fall short losing to the Jets in the playoffs.

Raiders win their third Super Bowl

In their second season in LA, Tom Flores and the Raiders were able to get back to the Super Bowl for the fourth time.

Jim Plunkett led the offense finishing with 2,935 yards and 20 touchdowns. Tight end Todd Christensen became a favorite of Plunkett’s, catching 92 passes for 1,247 and 12 touchdowns. Second-year running back Marcus Allen proved to be an integral part of the offense, finishing with 1,604 total yards and 11 touchdowns.

On defense, the Raiders were led by pro-bowlers Howie Long, Lyle Alzado, Rod Martin, Matt Millen, and corner backs Lester Hayes and Mike Haynes, who were widely considered the best corner back tandem in the NFL.

Going into Super Bowl XVIII, the Raiders were underdogs to the Washington Redskins because of their solid rushing attack and stifling defense.

After taking a 21-3 lead going into halftime, the Raiders turned to their. Allen simply took over the game from there, including a 74-yard scamper for a touchdown in the 3rd quarter. Allen finished with 191 rushing yards and two touchdowns on only 20 carries and earned the Super Bowl MVP trophy as the Raiders dominated the Redskins. The Raiders won by a final score of 38-9.

This Super Bowl is known as “Black Friday” because of the dominating victory the Raiders had against a favored Washington Redskins team.

Al Davis feuds with Marcus Allen

After winning the Super Bowl MVP, Raiders running back Marcus Allen would go on to continue his dominance in the NFL. In 1985, Allen rushed for 1,759 yards and added 555 yards in receptions to earn him both the NFL Offensive Play of the Year and NFL MVP awards.

In the 1986 season, Allen would be plagued by injuries and attempted to play through them. The injuries quickly became controversial when owner Al Davis publicly stated that Allen was faking the injuries.

The next season, the Raiders selected running back Bo Jackson in the draft, further agitating Allen. Jackson would become an integral part of the backfield as Allen and Jackson found themselves sharing carries.

Head coach Tom Flores would retire after a 5-10 season in 1987. Flores left after leading the Raiders to two Super Bowl victories and winning 83 games, second in franchise history to only John Madden.

Al Davis would bring in Mike Shanahan to coach the franchise. After a 7-9 season followed by a 1-3 start in 1989, Davis fired Shanahan and hired former Raiders offensive linemen Art Shell, making him the first African-American head coach in the NFL. In 1989, Marcus Allen only carried the ball 69 times for the Raiders.

The next season, the Raiders would make Allen a potent part of their offense again. Using Jackson and Allen as a solid 1-2 punch, the Raiders finished 12-4 and made it to the AFC Championship game. In that game, Bo Jackson’s career was cut short in the 3rd quarter when he suffered a career-ending hip injury. The Raiders would be blown out 51-3 by the Buffalo Bills.

Instead of turning to Allen to carry the load, Davis went out and signed free agent Roger Craig, thus keeping Allen on the bench and making infuriating him more. Upon being relegated to being just a backup player, Allen became frustrated and demanded a trade. Finally, after the 1992 season in which Allen accused Davis of trying to ruin his career, Allen was finally able to leave the team via free agency.

The team returns to Oakland

After 13 years and two Super Bowl victories in L.A., Al Davis decided to move back to Oakland. The move back to Oakland occurred with a great amount of fanfare.

Then head coach, Mike White, led quarterback Jeff Hostetler and the Raider to an 8-2 start, but the Raiders would drop their last six games to end the season a disappointing 8-8.

The Raiders would struggle in 1996 also, their second season back in Oakland. The 7-9 record was enough for Davis to fire White after just two years and hire Joe Bugel. Bugel only lasted one season as he was fired when the Raiders finished 4-12 in 1997.

The Jon Gruden era

Al Davis hired Jon Gruden in 1998 and made him the youngest NFL head coach at the age of 34. Gruden came into the league and instantly became a fan favorite because of his fiery attitude and demeanor on the sideline.

After the team finished 8-8 in Gruden’s first two seasons, the Raiders went out and signed free agent quarterback Rich Gannon. Gannon led the Raiders to a 12-4 start while passing for a career high 3,430 yards in his first year with the Raiders. The 12-4 record was good enough to give the Raiders their first divisional title in 10 years.

The Raiders would make it to the AFC Championship game before losing to the Baltimore Ravens 16-3 in a game that Gannon suffered a rib injury on the first series of the game.

Following the 2000 season, the Raiders acquired all-time great Jerry Rice to start opposite of Raider-great Tim Brown at wide receiver. Gannon, Rice, and Brown led an explosive offense all season long as the Raiders started 10-3 but dropped the last three games to finish 10-6. Gannon finished the season with 3,828 yards and 27 touchdowns; Rice and Brown both had 1,000-plus yard receiving for the season, as they had 1,139 and 1,165 yards receiving, respectively. After beating the Jets in the wild card game, the Raiders took on the New England Patriots in a divisional playoff showdown.

On a snowy day in New England with the Raiders up 13-10 with under a minute left to play, Raiders corner back Charles Woodson blitzed and sacked Patriots quarterback Tom Brady, causing an apparent fumble that was recovered by Raiders linebacker Greg Biekert and seemingly ended the game.

Officials reviewed the play and determined that Brady’s arm was moving forward and ruled the play an incomplete pass, with New England keeping the ball. This allowed the Patriots to drive down the field for a game-tying Adam Vinatieri field goal to send the game into overtime. Vinatieri would then hit the game-winning field goal in overtime, with the Raiders losing 16-13.

Following the loss, Al Davis attempted to sign Gruden to a contract extension but was unable to. Instead, Davis traded Gruden to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers for draft picks.

Gruden trade comes back to haunt Davis

After trading Gruden to the Bucs, Al Davis promoted Bill Callahan from offensive coordinator to the new head coach of the Raiders. Under Callahan, the Raiders offense didn’t skip a beat as the Raiders continued to use their high-powered offense to reach the playoffs again.

Rich Gannon finished the season with 4,689 passing yards and 26 touchdowns to be awarded the NFL’s MVP award.

The Raiders finished the 2002 season 11-5, earning themselves home-field advantage. Oakland than preceded to beat the Jets again and then rout the Tennessee Titans to earn a chance in Super Bowl XXXVII.

The Raiders would be taking on none other than Jon Gruden’s Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Not only was it a match up of Gruden’s old team versus his new, it was also a match up of the league’s first-ranked offense (Raiders) against the first-ranked defense (Buccaneers).

To make matters worse for the Raiders, their all-pro center Barret Robbins went missing the day before the Super Bowl was to be played in San Diego. Robbins returned the day of the Super Bowl after what he later said was a long night of drinking in Tijuana, Mexico.

The Raiders were able to get on the scoreboard first with a Sebastian Janikowski field goal, but the Buccaneers dominated the rest of the game. Gruden’s Buccaneers took a 20-3 halftime lead, and built on it with a long time-eating touchdown drive to start the third quarter.

Gruden’s knowledge of the Raiders offense proved to be a deciding factor as Gruden’s defense was seemingly one step ahead of Callahan’s offense. Gannon finished 24-44 for 272 yards, two touchdowns and a Super Bowl record five interceptions as the Buccaneers defeated the Oakland Raiders 48-21.

Post-Super Bowl XXXVII era

Upon losing Super Bowl XXXVII, the Raiders got off to a slow start in 2003 and lost Gannon to a season-ending shoulder injury in week 8. The Raiders would eventually finish the season with a disappointing 4-12 record, tied for worst in the NFL. Following the season, the Raiders fired Callahan and hired Norv Turner as head coach.

An Oakland Raiders fan expresses their love for Gruden during the tough years following the Super Bowl XXXVII loss.

The team also released their all-time leading receiver veteran Tim Brown. They also picked up former Buccaneers defensive tackle Warren Sapp.

Under Turner, the Raiders started 2004 2-1 but lost Gannon to a career-ending neck injury, forcing the Raiders to turn to newly acquired Kerry Collins. The Raiders would finish 5-11.

Since the loss of Rich Gannon in 2004, the Raiders have started 14 different quarterbacks and have had five head coaches in the seven-year span.

After losing the Super Bowl, the Raiders posted seven consecutive losing seasons from 2003-2009, with a 29-83. In 2010, the Raiders were able to snap that streak finishing 8-8 under head coach Tom Cable.

Instead of keeping Cable as the head coach, Al Davis decided to instead promote offensive coordinator Hue Jackson to the role of head coach.

Raiders history by the numbers:

Over the Raiders franchise history, the Raiders have an overall record of 419-344-11.

Tim Brown is the Raiders all-time leading receiver with 14,734 yards

Marcus Allen is the Raiders all-time leading rusher with 8,545 yards

Ken Stabler is the all-time leading passer with 19,078 yards

The Raiders are 3-5 in Super Bowl appearances, with wins in 1977, 1981, and 1984.

There have been 19 Raiders inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in Canton, Ohio, including owner Al Davis. Davis is joined by: Jim Otto, George Blanda, Willie Brown, Gene Upshaw, Fred Biletnikoff, Art Shell, Ted Hendricks, Mike Haynes, Eric Dickerson, Howie Long, Ronnie Lott, Dave Casper, Marcus Allen, James Lofton, Bob Brown, John Madden, Rod Woodson and Jerry Rice.

John Madden is the franchise’s winningest coach with 103 wins.

Current Raiders kicker Sebastian Janikowski is the Raiders leading point scorer with 1,158. Blanda previously held the record with 863.


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