As established on our homepage, we here at BroSports.Blog are writing a team by team breakdown of the all-franchise teams for every club in the NFL. This week, the focus is on the Oakland Raiders.
The All-Franchise Team: The Oakland Raiders
Coach: John Madden
If they name the only licenced football game after you, you were probably a pretty big deal. Historically mediocre video game franchise and legendary broadcasting career aside, I don’t think people appreciate just how great Madden was as a head coach. Madden still has the highest winning percentage of any coach with at least 100 games under his belt.
Just think about that for a second. With all the dominance (with or without the assistance of cheating) the New England Patriots have done, Bill Belichick’s career win percentage is only .680. Madden? .759. Absolutely unreal.
Quarterback: Kenny Stabler
Is there any question? If you think about the player that best-epitomizes the greatest days of the Raiders, the Snake comes to mind first. Casting aside the accolades, the awards, the championship, the statistics, just think about the impact that Ken Stabler had on the sport’s history. Think about all the games with names. The Sea of Hands, the Run in the Mud, Ghost to the Post, the Holy Roller, and to a lesser extent, the Immaculate Deception.
When you think of the swagger of the “badass” Raiders, Stabler is king. Include the fact that’s a Super Bowl champion, a league MVP, the team’s all-time leading passer, and a Hall of Famer? Easy choice.
Tailback: Marcus Allen
Al Davis was a very proud man, and while his maverick attitude helped define Oakland’s swagger and personality in the franchise’s prime, it hurts when you think about how he handled the Marcus Allen situation. The two clashed from the very beginning, and for most of his career, he wasn’t given the spotlight he deserved.
The feud between Allen and Davis is confusing to this day. Nobody but Davis and Allen really knows why the two didn’t get along, but here’s what we do now. He struggled to get carries, but made the most of the carries he got. And then Bo Jackson happened. After being the force behind a Super Bowl championship team, he saw his snaps straight up disappear, even playing fullback at points.
Despite that, he’s still the team’s all-time leading rusher, and if he and Mr. Davis hadn’t had such a bad relationship, who knows how great Marcus Allen could’ve been?
Wide Receivers: Tim Brown and Fred Biletnikoff
It was really hard to leave Cliff Branch off this list, because it made me think I was just as bad as the Hall of Fame voters, but 1A and 1B have to be Brown and Biletnikoff.
Fun Fact about Freddy Biletnikoff, he spent more games with the Oakland Raiders than any coach in franchise history, and that includes John Madden. Still second in franchise history in receptions, receiving yards, and touchdowns, Biletnikoff was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1988.
As for Tim Brown, he didn’t have to wait quite as long as Cliff Branch to get into the Pro Football Hall of Fame, but those damn voters sure did ignore the team’s all-time leader in catches, receiving yards, touchdowns, return yards, and return touchdowns. It’s a shame that Brown never got to enjoy the same team success that some of the other Raider greats did, but he did manage to turn a career of catching passes from Rich Gannon, Jay Schroeder, Jeff Hostetler, Jeff George, Steve Beuerlein, Brian Griese, Vince Evans, Todd Marinovich, Billy Joe Hobert, David Klingler, Donald Hollas, Wade Wilson, Bobby Hoying, Marques Tuiasosopo, Rick Mirer, Tee Martin, Rob Johnson, Brad Johnson and Chris Simms into a bust in Canton, Ohio.
Tight End: Todd Christensen
I wanted to put Dave Casper here, I really did. I thought about the Ghost to the Post, I thought about all the great film, I thought about all 255 catches, 3,294 yards, and 35 touchdowns of his Raider career. But at the end of the day, he just wasn’t with the team as long as Christensen was, and the numbers aren’t anywhere near as good.
Tackle: Art Shell
Art Shell is an eight-time Pro Bowler, a four-time All-Pro, a two-time Super Bowl champion, and the first African-American head coach in NFL history. What else could you possibly need? While his second stint as the team’s head coach didn’t go well (oh boy, there’s a trend), the Raider Nation prefers to remember how dominant he was as the anchor for Oakland’s offensive line from 1968-1982.
Guard: Gene Upshaw
Speaking of incredible offensive linemen that made an impact on and off the field, Gene Upshaw may just be the best player in franchise history. A dominant force on the interior line from 1967 to 1981, few players can boast the longevity or accolades that Upshaw can. A six-time Pro Bowler, a seven-time All-Pro, and a three-time All-AFL member, Upshaw remains the only player in NFL history to reach the Super Bowl in three different decades with the same team.
His legacy didn’t end when he retired as a player however, as he became the executive director of the NFLPA from 1987 until the end of his life in 2008.
Center: Jim Otto
Al Davis once said that the Raiders don’t retire numbers, because they’ve had so many legends, they’d run out of numbers. However, that wasn’t entirely true because Jim Otto’s double-zero hasn’t been worn by another Raider since he retired in 1974.
Now, that’s a bit of a stretch of truth because the number is technically illegal now, but if anyone’s number does deserve to be retired, it’s Otto’s. A staple of the early Raiders, Otto was the only center in the AFL to ever be named all-league. That’s right, he was the All-AFL center for each year of the league’s existence, and then would be named All-Pro in three of the four years he played in the NFL after the merger.
Edge Rusher: Howie Long
Little known fact: Howie Long isn’t the franchise leader in sacks. That honor belongs to Greg Townsend, but, it could easily be argued that he only amassed those numbers because Howie got all the attention. Long dominated on the field and improved the play of all the Raiders around him. Nowadays, you can find Howie on Fox Sports, serving dutifully as the last Raider apologist.
Interior Defender: Chester McGlockton
It wasn’t easy to find a great interior defender for the Raiders. For all the great pass rushers and defensive backs, it was hard to find a great defensive tackle. However, McGlockton was an All-Pro, a Pro Bowler, and a disruptive force in the middle for the Raiders for six year. Hopefully Maurice Hurst can steal this spot in a couple of years.
Linebacker: Dan Conners
An early-days Raider, Dan Conners was one of the first All-Pros in franchise history, and he just barely edges out Matt Millen for a spot on this list. The old AFL Raiders don’t get a ton of love, but Conners was an integral part of the team’s first championship, both forcing and recovering an Alvin Reed fumble.
Corners: Mike Haynes and Willie Brown
It was very, very difficult to leave Charles Woodson off this list. Woodson is my all-time favorite Raider, but he didn’t play corner or safety long enough to break into an elite class, and the Raiders have such a rich history of defensive backs, he just didn’t make the cut.
The two that did, however, are both Hall of Famers, and for good reason. “Old Man” Willie Brown, a man who roams the Raider sidelines to this day, remains the franchise’s all-time leader in interceptions (39), and cemented his place in history when he famously intercepted Fran Tarkenton in Super Bowl XI. Ask any Raiders fan about the play, and they will undoubtedly imitate Bill King’s famous reaction, “OLD MANNN WILLIE!”
Mike Haynes doesn’t have such a moment, but that doesn’t mean he didn’t make a huge impact on the franchise. Haynes, along with Lester Hayes (who just missed this list) formed the best cornerback duo in NFL history (I’ll fight you on that), and aside from helping the franchise win a Super Bowl, he was also a three-time Pro Bowler, a two-time All-Pro, and a defensive player of the year while wearing the Silver and Black.
Safeties: George Atkinson and Jack Tatum
What, were you expecting Michael Huff and Karl Joseph? Obviously it’s George Atkinson and Jack Tatum. The Soul Patrol might not sound like an intimidating defensive backfield, but I promise you, Roger Goodell loses sleep thinking about how he can retroactively fine and suspend these two for the violent hits they laid on opponents of the Raiders in the 70’s. These two wreaked havoc on people, especially Lynn Swann, aka, the worst wide receiver in the Pro Football Hall of Fame.
Kicker: Sebastian Janikowski
The man they called Seabass was the best part of Oakland’s offense for over a decade. To this day, the NFL’s all-time leader in field goals over 50 yards, Janikowski is also Oakland’s scoring king. He fell off towards the end of his time in Oakland, but there was something fun about knowing once the Raiders got over the 50, they were in three point range.
Punter: Ray Guy
The Raiders have the richest punter history in the entire league. Between Ray Guy, Shane Lechler, and the controversial Marquette King, the Raiders have almost always had excellent punting. Having said that, Ray Guy is the king. In 1,049 punts, Guy only had three blocked, and he never had one returned for a touchdown. That’s crazy. Not to mention, Guy is the only pure-punter in the Pro Football Hall of Fame.