Oakland Raiders (1960-1981)
The Oakland Raiders are a professional football team in the National Football League (the NFL). The Oakland Raiders play in the American Football Conference (AFC) West Division with three other teams: the Denver Broncos, the Kansas City Chiefs and the San Diego Chargers. The Oakland Raiders have won 1 AFL Championship and 3 Super Bowl Championships. McAfee Coliseum, located in Oakland, California, hosts all Oakland Raiders home games.
In 1960, Oakland Raiders franchise joined the ranks of professional football as the 8th charter member of the American Football League (AFL). The Oakland Raiders start in the AFL was an auspicious one, since the franchise was supposed to go to a Minnesota-based group that backed out at the last second to join the more prominent NFL. When the owner of the fellow charter member Los Angeles Chargers threatened to back out of the AFL if the league did not grant a franchise to another west coast team, the AFL awarded the franchise to the city of Oakland. The northern California area already had a professional football team in the NFL’s San Francisco 49ers, and there was no ownership team in place to spearhead the Oakland Raiders campaign, but a consortium of local Oakland businessmen soon emerged and molded the Oakland Raiders into one of the most successful professional football teams in AFL/NFL history. The franchise is currently set up as a limited partnership, and controlling owner Al Davis serves as the President of the general partner, A.D. Football, Inc.
The early years for the Oakland Raiders were lean ones. In 1960, the Oakland Raiders played in Kezar Stadium in San Francisco because the University of California would not let the new AFL franchise play in its Memorial Stadium in Berkeley. The Oakland Raiders finished that first season with a 6-8 record. In 1961, the Oakland Raiders moved their home games to Candlestick Park in San Francisco (the home of MLB baseball’s San Francisco Giants). The Oakland Raiders finished an abysmal 2-14 that season. In 1962, the Oakland Raiders once again moved stadiums, this time to Frank Youell Field in Oakland. Although the Oakland Raiders were finally playing professional football in their “home” city of Oakland, the results were not any better. The Oakland Raiders won only 1 game in 1961, finishing the season with an all-time low 1-13 record.
In 1963, the Oakland Raiders franchise and managing general partner, Wayne Valley, hired Al Davis as its General Manager and Head Coach. He was the youngest man in professional football to hold both positions at the age of 33. Davis used MLB baseball’s New York Yankees as an example of the type of “excellence” he wanted to create for the Oakland Raiders. In 1963, the Oakland Raiders finished 10-4 and Davis was named the AFL’s Coach of the Year. After coaching the Oakland Raiders for 2 more seasons, Davis accepted the position of the Commissioner of the AFL. As Commissioner, Al Davis negotiated a lucrative television contract for the AFL with NBC and was instrumental in the AFL-NFL merger whereby all ten AFL teams were merged into the NFL to create an expanded 26-team league of professional football. Following the AFL-NFL merger, Davis found himself out of a job and he looked to Valley to pursue an opportunity to become a part owner of the Oakland Raiders. In 1966, Davis became the third general partner of the Oakland Raiders with a small 10% ownership interest. And 6 years later, Davis orchestrated a plan to take over full control of the Oakland Raiders operations by having the third general partner, Ed McGah, sign a revised partnership agreement, which named Davis the managing general partner.
With Al Davis in charge, the Oakland Raiders continuously put together successful teams for almost 20 years from 1967 through 1985. In 1967, the Oakland Raiders lost only once during the NFL regular season and finished atop the AFL West Division with a 13-1 record. The Oakland Raiders won their first (and only) AFL Championship when the Oakland Raiders crushed the Houston Oilers 40-7 in the AFL Championship Game. In the second AFL-NFL World Championship Game, later called Super Bowl II, the Green Bay Packers outplayed the Oakland Raiders to win 33-14. Green Bay Packer Quarterback Bart Starr won his 2nd consecutive Super Bowl MVP award in that game. In 1968, the Oakland Raiders once again finished atop the AFL West Division with a 12-2 record. In the West Divisional playoffs, the Oakland Raiders defeated the Kansas City Chiefs 41-6 behind 3 touchdown passes from Daryle Lamonica to Fred Biletnikoff. The following week, however, the Oakland Raiders lost to the New York Jets 27-23 in a thrilling AFL Championship Game. After the Oakland Raiders took a 23-20 lead late in the 4th quarter, “Broadway” Joe Namath orchestrated a game-winning drive when he hit Don Maynard with a 6-yard touchdown pass down the stretch to give the New York Jets the 27-23 victory. The New York Jets then went on to defeat the Baltimore Colts 16-7 in Super Bowl III after “Broadway” Joe Namath boldly guaranteed a New York Jets Super Bowl victory over the heavily favored Baltimore Colts. In 1969, the Oakland Raiders won a 3rd consecutive AFL West Division with a 12-1-1 record. The Oakland Raiders destroyed the Houston Oilers 56-7 in the Divisional round of the playoffs behind 6 Daryle Lamonica touchdown passes (2 to Fred Biletnikoff). But once again, the Oakland Raiders could not claim another AFL Championship as they lost to the Kansas City Chiefs 17-7 in the AFL Championship Game. Following the 1969 season, the Oakland Raiders joined the AFC West Division of the NFL.
In the 1970’s, legendary Head Coach John Madden led the Oakland Raiders to numerous successful seasons. From 1970 through 1980, the Oakland Raiders recorded 11 consecutive winning seasons, won 7 AFC West Division titles, and advanced to post-season play 8 of the 11 years. In 1970, the franchise’s first season in the NFL, the Oakland Raiders won the AFC West with an 8-4 record. The Oakland Raiders won its first ever NFL playoff game with a 21-14 victory over the Miami Dolphins. But in the AFC Championship Game against the Baltimore Colts the following week, the Baltimore Colts defeated the Oakland Raiders to prevent them from making their first Super Bowl appearance as an NFL team. The 1972 NFL regular season started a streak of 5 straight AFC West Division titles and 6 straight playoff appearances. Although the Oakland Raiders lost to the Pittsburgh Steelers in the Divisional round of the playoffs in 1972, the Oakland Raiders advanced to the AFC Championship game in each of the next 3 seasons. In 1973, Larry Csonka and the Miami Dolphins humbled the Oakland Raiders 27-10 in the AFC Championship Game. In 1974, the Pittsburgh Steelers scored 21 points in the 4th quarter to give the Pittsburgh Steelers a 24-13 victory over the Oakland Raiders in the AFC Championship Game. In 1975, the Oakland Raiders fell to the Pittsburgh Steelers 16-10 in a defensive struggle at Three Rivers Stadium in Pittsburgh. Once again, the Oakland Raiders were denied an opportunity to compete for the NFL Championship in a Super Bowl battle. In 1976, the Oakland Raiders experienced good playoff fortune following a 13-1 NFL regular season record and another AFC West title. In the Divisional round of the playoffs, the Oakland Raiders defeated the New England Patriots 24-21 thanks to a controversial late hit called against the New England Patriots which set up Quarterback Ken Stabler’s 1-yard touchdown run at the end of the game. The next week, the Oakland Raiders finally exacted some revenge on the Pittsburgh Steelers when they defeated the Steelers 24-7 behind 2 touchdown passes by Ken Stabler and great defense from the Oakland Raiders. In its first ever Super Bowl as an NFL team, the Oakland Raiders finally won that elusive Super Bowl Championship with a 32-14 victory over the Minnesota Vikings. The Oakland Raiders took a 16-0 halftime and never looked back. Oakland Raiders Wide Receiver Fred Biletnikoff was named the Super Bowl MVP. The following year, the Oakland Raiders lost another AFC Championship Game, this time to the Denver Broncos 20-17. The Oakland Raiders finished the 1978 and 1979 NFL regular seasons with 9-7 records, but did not qualify for post-season play. Head Coach John Madden retired after the 1979 season to pursue a career as an NFL television analyst. Madden continues to work in television to this date.
In 1980, former Oakland Raiders Quarterback Tom Flores took over as Head Coach of the Oakland Raiders. In his first season as Head Coach, the Oakland Raiders finished atop the AFC West with an 11-5 record, and advanced to the playoffs for the first time in 3 years as a wild card team. Needing to win 3 playoff games to advance to the Super Bowl, the Oakland Raiders had their work cut out for them. After a dominating 27-7 victory over the Houston Oilers in the Wild Card round of the playoffs, the Oakland Raiders held on to defeat the Cleveland Browns 14-12 in frigid conditions in Cleveland Stadium when Oakland Raiders Safety Mike Davis intercepted Cleveland Browns Quarterback Brian Sipes pass in the end zone with less than a minute play. The following week, the Oakland Raiders defeated the San Diego Charges 34-27 to advance to Super Bowl XV against the Philadelphia Eagles. Behind 3 touchdown passes from Quarterback Jim Plunkett, the Oakland Raiders defeated the Philadelphia Eagles 27-10 to win their 2nd Super Bowl Championship in 5 years. The “wild card” Oakland Raiders became the first NFL team to win the Super Bowl Championship after qualifying for the playoffs as a wild card team.
History – Los Angeles Raiders (1982-1994)
After unsuccessfully trying to get the city of Oakland to approve a seating expansion capacity and improvements to the Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum, Al Davis moved the Raiders franchise to the city of Los Angeles in 1982. The Oakland Raiders played their games in the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum from 1982 through 1994. In its first season in Los Angeles, the Los Angeles Raiders won the AFC Conference during the strike-shortened 1982 season. In 1983, the Los Angeles Raiders finished atop the AFC West with a 12-4 record. The Los Angeles Raiders defeated the Pittsburgh Steelers 38-10 in the Divisional round of the playoffs behind 2 rushing touchdowns by legendary Running Back Marcus Allen. In the AFC Championship Game, the Los Angeles Raiders defeated the Seattle Seahawks 30-14 behind another stellar playoff performance by Running Back Marcus Allen. Allen scored 2 touchdowns, rushed for 154 yards and gained another 62 yards on 7 receptions. The Los Angeles Raiders rode Marcus Allen for one more game, as the Los Angeles Raiders crushed the Washington Redskins 38-9 to give the Raiders franchise their 3rd Super Bowl Championship since becoming a member of the NFL in 1970. Marcus Allen rushed for 2 touchdowns and a then-record 191 yards, including an incredible 74-yard touchdown run. At the time, the Los Angeles Raiders total 38 points and 29-point margin of victory were both Super Bowl Records. After the Super Bowl victory, the Los Angeles Raiders continued to play well in the city of Los Angeles. The Los Angeles Raiders suffered only 3 losing seasons from 1984 through 1994, and advanced to the playoffs 5 times during that 10-year stretch. The Los Angeles Raiders finished atop the AFC West twice in 1985 and 1990. The 1990 team was coached by Art Shell, the first African-American Head Coach in the modern NFL era. Shell’s 1990 Raiders advanced to the AFC Championship Game before losing to the Buffalo Bills 51-3 in a humiliating defeat. The Los Angeles Raiders never made it back to the Super Bowl while playing in the city of Los Angeles. In 1995, Al Davis decided to move the Raiders franchise back to the city of Oakland.
For the first 5 seasons back in Oakland, the Oakland Raiders failed to qualify for post-season play. In 1998, Al Davis hired Jon Gruden, the offensive coordinator of the Philadelphia Eagle who learned his trade as an assistant under San Francisco 49ers Head Coach Bill Walsh. The Gruden hiring was a bit of a surprise since Davis tended to hire his coaching personnel from within the team hierarchy. Head Coach Gruden brought much-needed discipline to the Oakland Raiders organization, and by 2000, his 3rd season as Head Coach, the Oakland Raiders finished atop the AFC West for the first time in 9 years with a 12-4 record. In the Divisional round of the playoffs, the Oakland Raiders jumped out to a 20-0 halftime lead en route to a 27-0 shut out over the Miami Dolphins. Although favored to win the AFC Championship Game the next week against the Baltimore Ravens, The Baltimore Ravens forced veteran Quarterback Rich Gannon into 4 interceptions and shut down the high powered Oakland Raiders offense. The Baltimore Ravens defeated the Oakland Raiders 16-3. Two weeks later, the Baltimore Ravens defeated the New York Giants 34-7 to win Super Bowl XXXV. In 2001, the Oakland Raiders won its second consecutive AFC West title with a 10-6 record. The Oakland Raiders defeated the New York Jets 38-24 in the Divisional round of the playoffs in a high scoring affair. The following week, however, the Oakland Raiders lost a controversial game to the New England Patriots in a heavy snowstorm in the last game ever played in Foxboro Stadium. The Oakland Raiders built a 13-3 halftime lead and were protecting a 3-point 2nd half lead when New England Patriots Quarterback Tom Brady fumbled the ball which was then recovered by the Oakland Raiders. During replay review of the fumble, the officials overturned the call by invoking the “tuck rule” which stated that a ball is always considered a forward pass (not a fumble) whenever the quarterback makes any forward motion. The New England Patriots tied the game with a 45-yard field goal that barely made it over the cross-bar in regulation, and then defeated the Oakland Raiders in overtime 16-13. Two weeks later, the New England Patriots defeated the St. Louis Rams 20-17 to win Super Bowl XXXVI – for the 2nd straight year, the team that eliminated the Oakland Raiders from the playoffs went on to win the Super Bowl. The Oakland Raiders would have to wait one more year for a return trip to the Super Bowl. In 2002, the Oakland Raiders won their 3rd consecutive AFC West title with an 11-5 record. The Oakland Raiders were heavily favored to advance to Super Bowl XXXVII and they did so after convincing playoff victories over the New York Jets 30-10 in the Divisional round of the playoffs and the Tennessee Titans 41-24 in the AFC Championship Game. However, the Oakland Raiders had to face former coach Jon Gruden and his new team, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Despite having one of the most prolific offenses in NFL history during the 2002 NFL regular season, the Oakland Raiders struggled on the offensive side of the football as Rich Gannon threw a Super Bowl record 5 interceptions. The Tampa Bay Buccaneers returned 3 of those interceptions for touchdowns and went on to win Super Bowl XXXVII 48-21. Because of the Gruden coaching change, Super Bowl XXXVII is often referred to as the “Gruden Bowl”. Following the 2002 Super Bowl appearance, the Oakland Raiders have not won more than 5 games in a season and they have not qualified for post-season play through the 2007-8 NFL season. The Raiders hit an all-time low by winning only 2 games during the 2006-7 NFL season, and the 19 wins during the 5-year period from 2003-2008 is the lowest 5-year win total in franchise history. The franchise remains optimistic for the future, however, as the Oakland Raiders look to groom 2007 1st round pick Quarterback JaMarcus Russell into a productive NFL Quarterback along side 2008 1st round pick Running Back Darren McFadden who should provide some explosiveness for the Raiders rushing attack. During the 2008 off-season, the Oakland Raiders also hired USC's offensive coordinator - Lane Kiffin - as the youngest coach in franchise history and as the youngest coach in the NFL.
Hall of Famers
Eighteen men associated with the Oakland Raiders have been inducted into the National Football League Hall of Fame. Most notably, current Team Owner and former Head Coach and General Manager, Al Davis, was inducted into the NFL Hall of Fame in 1992. The often-controversial hands-on owner was intimately involved in developing the team that won the 1967 AFL Championship, and was the managing general partner when the team won its Super Bowl Championships in 1976, 1980 and 1983. Legendary Head Coach John Madden was inducted into the NFL Hall of Fame in 2006. Madden was the Head Coach of the Oakland Raiders from 1969 through 1978 and led the team to its first Super Bowl Championship in 1976. Madden is also known for his successful career as a color commentator for NFL games for various television networks. Offensive Tackle and current Head Coach Art Shell was inducted into the NFL Hall of Fame in 1989. Shell played his entire 14-year NFL career with the Oakland/Los Angeles Raiders from 1968 through 1981. Art Shell is currently in his 2nd stint as Head Coach of the Oakland Raiders. Shell previously acted as Head Coach from 1989 through 1994. Notable offensive stars who played for the Oakland Raiders or Los Angeles Raiders who have been inducted into the NFL Hall of Fame include: Running Back Marcus Allen (2003), Wide Receiver Fred Biletnikoff (1988), Quarterback and Kicker George Blanda (1981), Offensive Tackle Bob Brown (2004), Tight End Dave Casper (2002), Running Back Eric Dickerson (1999), Wide Receiver James Lofton (2003), Offensive Tackle Ron Mix (1979), Center Jim Otto (1980), and Offensive Guard Gene Upshaw (1987). Notable defensive stars who played for the Oakland Raiders or Los Angeles Raiders who have been inducted into the NFL Hall of Fame include: Cornerback Willie Brown (1984), Cornerback Michael Haynes (1997), Linebacker Ted Hendricks (1990), Defensive End Howie Long (2000), and Defensive Back Ronnie Lott (2000).