Silver & Black
Many articles will be written touting the achiements of Mr. Davis during his amazing 82 yrs on this Earth but the true impact of his mark not only on the NFL but the world will never be forgotten.
Race relations, the first to hire an African American HC. A Champion of racial integration when that wasn't universally accepted
The first to hire a HC of Spanish decent.
On and on Mr. Davis' contributions to the game and the world and we're sure will be covered ad nauseum in the days and weeks to follow.
We'd just like to say as fans of "The Game Al Built".
Article by Chris Shellcroft:
AL DAVIS CREATED THE BEST FAMILY IN FOOTBALL
An independent man like Al Davis could only have been born on the 4th of July. The iconic owner's tragic passing comes as a shock only in the sense that it seemed he'd always be at the helm of the Raider ship.
Today, the flag of Raider Nation is at half-staff.
The sports world has lost one of the most legendary and accomplished individuals in history. The football world is without one of the greatest minds to ever enter the game.
More importantly a family comprised of relatives and friends alike is without an individual who has been many things to them.
No doubt you know the resume of Mr. Davis. You're well aware of the three Lombardi trophies he proudly displayed, those great symbols of football accomplishment. You must know about all the roles he's played over the years from coach, to commissioner, owner and even scout. He did it all in this business.
Surely his role played in helping to make the NFL what it is today will be among the most important of his contributions to the game. Without Mr. Davis and his maverick business practices the NFL would not be the multi-billion dollar business it is today.
But all of the aforementioned accomplishments only touch the surface of what Mr. Davis has meant to the game and his beloved Raiders. Mr. Davis was much more than just an iconic figure, he was a modern day pioneer every bit the innovator that Steve Jobs was.
First and foremost Al Davis sought to build more than just a winning franchise - he wanted to make the Silver and Black a family. On both fronts he accomplished his goals.
It was routine for me, as a child, to stand in awe of the then Los Angeles Raiders as they ran unto the field at the L.A. Coliseum on Sundays to the sound of the Autumn wind beneath signs proclaiming the Raiders to be the "Winningest Franchise in Professional Sports". In those fleeting hours I was a part of a family. The Raider Nation family.
Surrounded by men and women I did not know, I always felt like I was among friends. That is the exact environment Mr. Davis sought to create from the members that comprise the front office, to the players and coaches on the field and on into the stands amongst the fans.
All members of the Raiders were viewed and treated as family.
Mr. Davis has long been known to take former players under his wing to offer financial support for those in need such as former fullback Steve Smith. Mr. Davis has also been known for hiring many of his former players in jobs as both coaches and in administration.
In all of professional sports you won't find an owner with more passion for his franchise. That passion was infectious. It spread to everyone that had any contact with the Raiders. Playing for the Raiders was a more than playing football. It was a way of life. A mentality of being yourself and doing what you do best regardless of any obstacle.
As important as Mr. Davis' football philosophies were to the game, his business practices were also culturally significant. You see Mr. Davis never thought in terms of race, creed, ethnicity, sex or even age. To him the best person for the job was the one that did the best work - plain and simple.
Al Davis gave opportunities to individuals that would otherwise have never had the chance. From the hiring of Tom Flores and Art Shell to the current standing of Amy Trask as the highest ranking woman in all of pro football, Mr. Davis has always believed in giving everyone an equal opportunity.
That is something that is not lost on all of us in all walks of life.
Mr. Davis was also known for extending opportunities to players that were cast-offs or misfits. Again, to Mr. Davis all that mattered was the dedication of the individual. Yet another endearing trait that made the Oakland Raiders a beacon for millions of people worldwide that sought a place where they could be accepted for who they truly are.
To Mr. Davis all that mattered were the results that were delivered and that was echoed by his iconic sayings.
Just win, baby!
Commitment to Excellence.
If you are a true Raider fan then the mere mention of either of those mottos still gives you chills.
It is impossible to discuss Davis without also mentioning some of his misgivings. From his well known hands-on approach on down to his differences with Marcus Allen, you had to accept all things Al Davis just as he accepted everyone for who they were as well.
It is easy to understand why Davis was so involved with his franchise. The man was not some millionaire that bought his way into the game. Mr. Davis was a made man in the business of pro football. He worked his way up the football ladder eventually taking the throne as the alpha and omega of the Oakland Raiders.
Along the way Davis did plenty to offend others. His stubborn ways made many an NFL commissioner cringe. His controversial move of the Raiders from the East Bay to East L.A. was equally hated and loved in both Northern and Southern California.
For me, I feel fortunate that Mr. Davis chose to spread the Silver and Black gospel to Los Angeles. Growing up the Raiders became my team. I can recall some of my favorite memories being Sundays with my father in the L.A. Coliseum.
It was also in Los Angeles where Davis would show how personal he took all things Raider. His legendary spat with Marcus Allen eventually ended in the owner telling his coach to bench a key player - one of the true taboos of the sports world. Davis would later threaten to move the Raiders again as he embarked on a legal odyssey with the NFL that went as far as to threaten moving the team to the small SoCal suburb of Irwindale.
In the end, Davis returned his team to its rightful place which was back to Oakland. As heartbroken as I was to see the Raiders leave it felt right that they return to their essence. I was grateful that Mr. Davis shared the team with the city of L.A. and love the fact that I can still make the journey to see my favorite franchise play on Sundays.
Al Davis is an American original. A larger than life individual that you usually only find in works of fiction. However Mr. Davis was the real deal. He found success in every era proving his principles are as relevant today as ever. While the last decade will be known for the many moments of strife and struggle Davis departed with his beloved franchise working its way back to respectability.
The legacy of Al Davis will be a topic of discussion in the coming weeks. While I admire the man that revolutionized the game, I can't begin to express my thanks to the man that created the greatest family in all of football.
I'm proud to say I'm member of the millions that comprise Raider Nation. In the end that's exactly what Mr. Davis' true desire was. He wanted to make his franchise a family first and foremost. That may be his most amazing accomplishment.
09-17-10 11:18 am pac
QB/K/ Legend George Blanda
We originally posted this article on George's birthday earlier this month.
Oakland mourns the passing of a Raider legend.
The organization had this to say in an official press release moments ago:
"We are deeply saddened by the passing of the great George Blanda. George was a brave Raider and a close personal friend of Raiders Owner Al Davis.
"When the Raiders Owner presented him for induction into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1981, Davis called Blanda the greatest clutch player the game of pro football has ever known."
R.I.P. George Blanda
Today is the 83rd birthday of a remarkable man.
A man born to a Pittsburgh coal miner on September 17th 1923.
George Blanda found his way out of the coal mines through college football and played quarterback and place-kicker for the University of Kentucky who, his sophomore season hired as head coach a man named Bear Bryant.
Bryant helped turn the 1-9 Wildcats into winners losing only 3 games over the next 3 seasons two of which Blanda started.
In 1949 he was selected 119th overall in the 12th round of the NFL draft and received $600 to sign with George Halas and the Chicago Bears but never really got along with the miserly owner.
After an injury sidelined a promising start Blanda languished and eventually retired in 1958 until the formation of the AFL in 1960.
The rebirth of his career came with the then Houston Oilers and went on to lead them to the new Leagues first two Championships.
Blanda led the team and the League in many categories during his tenure through the 60s but was eventually released on March 18th 1967.
Al Davis and the Raiders saw the old timer as a veteran presence who could provide insurance as a back up and a solid field goal kicker and signed him that July.
And thats where the story gets interesting.
That year, 1967, Blanda led the AFL with 116 points and led the Raiders to 2 remarkable come from behind victories upsetting the then Champion Chiefs by booting 3 field goals and then nailing 4 against his old team the Oilers in a 19-17 victory in Houston.
Blanda went on to Super Bowl II and shared the Raiders pain as they lost the Division Championships 2 years in row to end the decade.
In 1970 Blanda was dropped.
But his story didn’t end there.
In years 21 of his pro football career George Blanda came back to the Raiders and posted one of the most remarkable string of epically heroic wins of the 20th century and sealed his legend and entrance into the Pro Football Hall of Fame.
Beginning with the October 25 game at Pittsburgh, Blanda put together five straight clutch performances.
Against the Steelers, the old veteran threw for three touchdown passes coming off the bench for injured Raider quarterback Daryle Lamonica, The next week he made a 48-yard field goal with three seconds remaining to secure a 17-17 tie against the Kansas City Chiefs.
Then on the 8th of November Blanda again came off the bench and threw a touchdown pass to tie the Browns with 1:34 remaining, then he kicked a 53-yard field goal with 0:03 left to win the game 23-20.
The next week Blanda replaced Lamonica in the fourth quarter and connected with another soon to be Raider legend Feed Billetnikoff on a touchdown pass with 2:28 remaining to defeat division rival Denver 24-19.
Blanda went on the next week to kick Oakland past San DiegoWith a 16 yarder in the closing minutes to seal the win 20-17.
In the AFC title game against the Colts, Blanda again relieved an injured Lamonica and rode to the rescue once again, completing 17 of 32 passes for 217 yards and 2 touchdowns and also kicking a 48-yard field goal and two extra points.
Blanda’s performance kept Oakland in the game until the final quarter, when he was intercepted twice.
43 years old at the time, he became the oldest quarterback ever to play in a championship game.
After that season Blanda didn’t see significant time at QB again and kicked his last field goal in Oaklands bitter 16-10 AFC Championship game making a 41 yd field goal in icy conditions at the age of 48.
Blanda ended his career after 26 seasons, threw for 26, 920 yds and 236 TDs and still holds numerous NFL records to this day.
In recognition of the old warrior and his exciting contributions to the game he played so well George Blanda was elected in to the Hall of Fame in 1981.
His first year of eligibility.
George Blanda. Football player. Oakland Raider Legend. Happy birthday and thanks for the great memories...
08-15-10 2:21 am pac
C Jim Otto
Jim Otto was a scant 6-2, 205 lbs when he came out of the University of Miami and went undrafted.
Otto landed with the Oakland Raiders in the newly former AFL and through the Raiders strength and conditioning program put on another 50 lbs.
He then went on to start for the next 15 season.
In his first year with the Raiders Otto wore number 50. The next year though the League made an exception and let him wear the now famous 00 as a take on his name.
Otto had a highly decorated football career.
He was an All AFL center from 1960-1969 and when the Leagues merged in 1970, he was named all AFC center for the next 2 years, in fact in the last 8 years of Otto’s remarkable career Oakland went to one AFL Championship and after the merge 7 Division Championships.
Including pre season and post, he appeared in 308 consecutive games, never missing one.
His greatness was recognized and during his first year of eligibility he was voted into the pro football Hall of Fame in 1980.
Otto helped mold and build the Raiders in his image as the quintessential tough guy. A warrior who sacrificed all for the good of the team.
Including his health.
Jim Otto has had over 70 surgeries in his life. On his nose, his knees his shoulders, back , almost everywhere.
The cost of those surgeries has been a weakened immune system and the big double O has suffered life threatening complications from infections through out his 72 years.
In 1998 after having his knees replaced, for the second time, Otto suffered toxic shock and hovered in a fever of 105 degrees for 8 days.
After his 4th terrible bout with infection, he lost his right leg.
On his way into surgery that day Jim asked his lovely wife Sally, who’d been through it all with him if she could love a man with only one leg.
"I don’t love your leg. I love you."
Otto promised her after that he would be walking by Christmas and that he would stand to hug her.
After being fitted with a prosthesis he began doing what he’d always done. Never accepting defeat.
On Thanksgiving day his wife Sally returned home from the store to find him waiting for her.
Standing on his own.
Jim Otto has been a fixture at the Raiders facility though he doesn’t need the job.
After football he owned some property and five Burger King restaurants, but couldn’t stay away from the franchise he loves.
Though he’s probably earned the right to informality, even now after all these years he still addresses Oaklands owner as "Mr. Davis"
After all he’s been through and all he’s given to the Raiders, he’s earned our respect too and the right to be called a Legend of the Silver and Black.
07-27-10 11:57 am pac
Safety Jack Tatum
The Nation loses one of its own today as former Raider safety and NFL legend Jack Tatum passes away at the age of 61.
A heart attack claimed the life of the iconic #32.
After an All American career at Ohio State under legendary Lou Holtz, Tatum was drafted 19th overall by the Oakland Raiders in 1971.
It didn’t take "the Assassin" long to prove his mettle.
In his very first NFL game Tatum made his presence felt and fired a warning shot across the bow of all other opponents who would face the silver and black by knocking out TWO of the unfortunate Baltimore Colts tight ends with violent hits.
Tatum was involved in some of the Raiders most controversial and glorious plays as the defender who blasted Steeler running back Frenchie Fuqua in the "immaculate reception" and in a picture perfect representation of what his Raider teams were about in Oaklands 1976 Super bowl triumph over the Minnesota Vikings where Tatum delivered an iconically crushing hit to Viking receiver Sammy White.
Tatum’s "take no prisoners" style of play was an inspiration to those who would come after him, but the NFL has changed and his brutal hits, though mostly clean, would receive fines and possibly suspensions today.
Tatum never apologized to New England WR Darryl Stingley who was paralyzed after a violent collision with Tatum in a 1978 pre season game.
Of the hit Tatum had said:
"It could have happened to anybody. People are always saying, 'He didn't apologize.' I don't think I did anything wrong that I need to apologize for. It was a clean hit."
After his retirement from pro football Tatum went into real estate and authored 3 books starting with, "They call me assassin" in 1980, "They still call me assassin" in 1989 and "Final confessions of an NFL assassin" in 1996.
Later in life Jack suffered complications from diabetes and lost his right leg to complications from an arterial blockage. He didn’t let it slow him though and founded an Ohio based juvenile diabetes foundation and continued to work as a fund raiser.
"The Assassin" passed away today, but lived his life without regret. A soldier from a by gone era of football where intimidation and violence of will were coin of the realm.
Jack Tatum helped define the Oakland Raiders.
His legend will live on...
Lester Hayes battled adversity early in his life.
A speech impediment hampered him through out his life during a time when loquaciousness was equated to intelligence, Lester was sometimes mocked or dismissed.
But then, fate and fortune turned and Lester found a way. A way to speak without using words. An outlet, for his frustration and a venue for all to see him prove his worth and his detractors wrong.
Lester Hayes was born in and raised in the roughest part of Houston Texas in 1955 and as a child, he could be cruel. When a young boy moved into his neighborhood suffering from a disease, Lester and the other children mocked him.
"My friends and I would mock this poor kid, several of us tormented him."
Lester would suffer a debilitating and for a long while undiagnosed disease himself that would affect not only his speech but his ability to breathe.
A lesson in karma was learned.
"I believe that God taught me for that. And now I can understand not to ridicule anyone anymore, because now I know how it is to be with a long-term illness."
Even with his illness and impediment Hayes’s athletic skills were impossible to notice.
Art Texas A&M, Hayes went from linebacker to safety his sophomore year and became an All American in 75' and 76'.
Lester’s speed and ball skills attracted the Oakland raiders who came calling before the 1977 NFL Draft but Hayes flat refused them.
"I didn’t want to get drafted by the Oakland Raiders, Patriots or Seahawks."
He even went as far as standing up Al Davis.
Undeterred, Davis drafted Hayes anyway with the 14th overall pick and immediately switched the 6-0, 200 pounder to corner back.
"At the time, I knew that the Raiders tried all safeties at corner."
Not surprisingly Hayes struggled that first year but as time would tell, he took to the position appearing in 5 Pro Bowls and amassing 39 interceptions in his ten year career.
Mr. Hayes became eligible for the Hall of Fame in 2007 but his success and fame
were tempered by the memories of his childhood and the stutter that followed him through most of his career until owner Al Davis insisted Lester see the team doctors who helped diagnose his illness and correct his impediment.
In a 2007 interview with Raider drive .com Lester said of the event:
"I Thank Mr. Al Davis for helping me out with this matter, Al Davis has been there for me, and I am so very grateful to Mr. Davis."
Though Lester became eligible for the Hall of Fame in 2007 there are detractors who feel he shouldn’t be allowed because of the then legal use of "stick em’".
First used by Raider receiver Fred Biletnikoff, Hayes took it to the extreme smearing the gooey resin all over his hands and uniform.
In 1980 Hayes had possibly the finest season in NFL history snagging 18 interceptions and becoming NFL Defensive player of the year all while leading the Oakland Raiders to their second Super Bowl title.
Hayes made history again when the League banned Stick em’ the very next year.
Lester Hayes remarkable season and over all contributions to the Oakland Raiders are forgotten by some and unknown to others, but all Raider fans should revel in the history of the Silver and Black and celebrate its heros like Lester Hayes who not only overcame adversity, he thrived.
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