On the same weekend that has the Raiders playing for their fourth Super Bowl title, three players who are part of their rich tradition are up for election into the Pro Football Hall of Fame.
Running back Marcus Allen is the franchise's all-time leading rusher and the first player in NFL history to rush for more than 10,000 yards and receive for more than 5,000 yards. He is expected to be elected Saturday in his first year of eligibility.
Quarterback Ken Stabler and cornerback Lester Hayes are the other Raiders who are finalists for the class of 2003. Stabler and Hayes have been eligible for 14 and 12 years respectively.
Wide receivers Art Monk and James Lofton along with guard Bob Kuechenberg, linebacker Harry Carson and Buffalo Bills owner Ralph Wilson are the other repeat finalists.
Linebacker Randy Gradishar and general manger George Young had been eligible before this year but never a finalist. Offensive tackle Gary Zimmerman joins Allen as a finalist in his first year of eligibility. Enshrinement will take place August 3 in Canton, Ohio.
Allen was a six-time Pro Bowler who rushed for 12,543 yards, received for 5,411 and accounted for 145 touchdowns in 16 seasons with the Los Angeles Raiders (1982-1992) and Kansas City (1993-1997). Current Raider wide receiver Tim Brown remembers Allen's last few tumultuous seasons as a Raider.
"He was the one that taught me how to play this game," Brown said. "As good a football player I thought I was when I got here. The intangibles that he taught me are the things that have sustained me. What he went through my first five years in the league for him to be the consummate team player taught me how to play this game."
Vince D'Adamo can be reached via e-mail at email@example.com