History of the Oakland Raiders


History of the Oakland Raiders

=Early years (1960-1962)=

A few months after the first AFL draft in 1959, the owners of the yet-unnamed Minneapolis franchise accepted an offer to join the established National Football League as an expansion team (now called the Minnesota Vikings) in 1961, sending the AFL scrambling for a replacement.cite web |url=http://www.profootballhof.com/history/team.jsp?franchise_id=23 |title=Pro Football Hall of Fame - Oakland Raiders |accessdate=2007-01-19] [Dickey, "Just Win, Baby", p. 7.] At the time, Oakland seemed an unlikely venue for a professional football team. The city had not asked for a team, there was no ownership group and there was no stadium in Oakland suitable for pro football (the closest stadiums were in Berkeley and San Francisco) and there was already a successful NFL franchise in the Bay Area in the San Francisco 49ers. However, the AFL owners selected Oakland after Los Angeles Chargers owner Barron Hilton threatened to forfeit his franchise unless a second team was placed on the West Coast. [Dickey, "Just Win, Baby", pp. 7–8.] Accordingly, the city of Oakland was awarded the eighth AFL franchise on January 30, 1960, and the team inherited the Minneapolis club's draft picks.

Upon receiving the franchise, Oakland civic leaders found a number of businesspeople willing to invest in the new team. A limited partnership was formed to own the team headed by managing general partner Chet Soda, a local real estate developer, and included general partners Ed McGah, Robert Osborne, Wayne Valley, Harvey Binns, Don Blessing, and Charles Harney as well as numerous limited partners. A "name the team" contest was held by a local newspaper, and the winner was the Oakland Señors. After a few weeks of being the butt of local jokes the fledgling team (and its owners) changed the team's name to the Oakland Raiders, which had finished third in the naming contest. [Dickey, "Just Win, Baby", p. 8.] The original team colors were black, gold and white. The team emblem of a pirate (or "raider") wearing a football helmet was created, reportedly a rendition of actor Randolph Scott. [Otto, "The Pain of Glory", p. 69.]

When the University of California refused to let the Raiders play home games at Memorial Stadium in Berkeley, they chose Kezar Stadium in San Francisco as their home field. The team's first regular season home game was played on September 11, 1960, a 37-22 loss to the Houston Oilers. The Raiders finished their first campaign with a 6-8 record, and lost $500,000. Desperately in need of money to continue running the team, Valley received a $400,000 loan from Buffalo Bills founder Ralph C. Wilson Jr.cite video |people=Steve Sabol (Executive Producer) |year=2004 |title=Raiders - The Complete History |medium=DVD |publisher=NFL Productions LLC]

After the conclusion of the first season Soda dropped out of the partnership, and on January 17, 1961, Valley, McGah and Osborne bought out the remaining four general partners. Soon after, Valley and McGah purchased Osborne's interest, with Valley named as the managing general partner. That year the Raiders moved to Candlestick Park, where total attendance for the season was about 50,000, and finished 2-12. Valley threatened to move the Raiders out of the area unless a stadium was built in Oakland, but in 1962 the Raiders moved into 18,000-seat Frank Youell Field (later expanded to 22,000 seats), their first home in Oakland. [Dickey, "Just Win, Baby", p. 10.] It was a temporary home for the team while the Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum was under construction. Under Marty Feldman and Red Conkright—the team's second and third head coaches since entering the AFL—the Raiders finished 1-13 in 1962, losing their first 13 games before winning the season finale, and attendance remained low.

Al Davis comes to Oakland (1963-1981)

After the 1962 season, Valley hired Al Davis, a former assistant coach for the San Diego Chargers, as head coach and general manager. At 33, he was the youngest person in professional football history to hold the positions.cite web |url=http://www.raiders.com/history/gm11.jsp |title="Raiders Stun Chargers with 31-Point 4th Quarter Outburst" |accessdate=2007-02-04 |work=Raiders.com] Davis immediately changed the team colors to silver and black, and began to implement what he termed the "vertical game," an aggressive offensive strategy based on the West Coast offense developed by Chargers head coach Sid Gillman.cite web |url=http://www.chargers.com/news/headlines/news-104158080019831.htm |title="Memories of Sid Gillman" |accessdate=2007-02-01 |work=Chargers.com] Under Davis the Raiders improved to 10-4, and he was named the AFL's Coach of the Year in 1963. Though the team slipped to 5-7-2 in 1964, it rebounded to an 8-5-1 record in 1965. In April 1966, Davis left the Raiders after being named AFL Commissioner. Two months later, the league announced its merger with the NFL. With the merger, the position of commissioner was no longer needed, and Davis entered into discussions with Valley about returning to the Raiders. On July 25, 1966, Davis returned as part owner of the team. He purchased a 10 percent interest in the team for US $18,000, and became the team's third general partner — the partner in charge of football operations.cite news |last=Burke |first=Monte |title=A New Test For an Old Raider |publisher=Forbes Magazine |date =2006-09-18 |url=http://www.forbes.com/free_forbes/2006/0918/112.html |accessdate=2007-01-25] [Dickey, "Just Win, Baby", p. 41.]

On the field, the team Davis had assembled and coached steadily improved. With John Rauch (Davis's hand-picked successor) as head coach, the Raiders won the 1967 AFL Championship, defeating the Houston Oilers 40-7. The win earned the team a trip to Super Bowl II, where they were beaten 33-14 by Vince Lombardi's Green Bay Packers. The following two years, the Raiders again won Western Division titles, only to lose the AFL Championship to the eventual Super Bowl winners—the New York Jets (1968) and Kansas City Chiefs (1969). In 1970, the AFL-NFL merger took place and the Raiders joined the Western Division of the American Football Conference in the newly merged NFL.

In 1969, John Madden became the team's sixth head coach, and under him the Raiders became one of the most successful franchises in the NFL, winning six division titles during the 1970s. The achievement was marred somewhat by three consecutive losses in AFC Championships from 1973–75, two against the Pittsburgh Steelers. Then, after finishing 13-1 in 1976, the Raiders defeated the Steelers 24-7 in the AFC Championship game. Oakland then defeated the Minnesota Vikings, 32-14, in Super Bowl XI for the franchise's first NFL championship.

In 1972, with Wayne Valley out of the country for several weeks attending the Olympic Games in Munich, Davis's attorneys drafted a revised partnership agreement that gave him total control over all of the Raiders' operations. McGah, a supporter of Davis, signed the agreement. Under partnership law, by a 2-1 vote of the general partners, the new agreement was thus ratified. Valley was furious when he discovered this, and immediately filed suit to have the new agreement overturned, but the court sided with Davis and McGah. In January 1976, Valley sold his interest in the team, and Davis — who now owned only 25 percent of the Raiders — was firmly in charge. [Dickey, "Just Win, Baby", pp. 98–101.]

After ten consecutive winning seasons and one Super Bowl championship, Madden left the Raiders (and coaching) in 1979 to pursue a career as a television football commentator. His replacement was former Raiders quarterback Tom Flores, the first Hispanic head coach in NFL history.cite web |url=http://www.nfl.com/insider/2001/raidersnewhouse_091801.html |title="1980 Raiders were outcasts, champions" |accessdate=2007-01-25 |last=Newhouse |first=Dave] In the fifth week of the 1980 season, starting quarterback Dan Pastorini broke his leg and was replaced by former number-one draft pick Jim Plunkett. Plunkett led Oakland to an 11-5 record and a wild card berth. After playoff victories against the Houston Oilers, Cleveland Browns, and San Diego Chargers, the Raiders clinched their second NFL championship in five years with a 27-10 win over the Philadelphia Eagles in Super Bowl XV. With the victory, the Raiders became the first ever wild card team to win a Super Bowl.cite news |first=B.J. |last=Phillips |title=The Wild Cards Run Wild |url=http://www.time.com/time/magazine/article/0,9171,922427,00.html |publisher=Time |date=1981-02-09 |accessdate=2007-01-28 ]

Move to Los Angeles (1982–1994)

Prior to the 1980 season, Al Davis attempted unsuccessfully to have improvements made to Oakland Coliseum, specifically the addition of luxury boxes. That year, he signed a Memorandum of Agreement to move the Raiders from Oakland to Los Angeles. The move, which required three-fourths approval by league owners, was defeated 22-0 (with five owners abstaining). When Davis tried to move the team anyway, he was blocked by an injunction. In response, the Raiders not only became an active partner in an antitrust lawsuit filed by the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum (who had recently lost the Los Angeles Rams), but filed an antitrust lawsuit of their own. [Dickey, "Just Win, Baby". p. 168.] After the first case was declared a mistrial, in May 1982 a second jury found in favor of Davis and the Los Angeles Coliseum, clearing the way for the move. [Dickey, "Just Win, Baby". p. 172.] cite web |url=http://www.hickoksports.com/biograph/davisall.shtml |title=Al Davis biography |accessdate=2007-01-30 |work=HickokSports.com] cite web |url=http://espn.go.com/classic/s/add_davis_al.html |title="Good guys wear black" |accessdate=2007-01-30 |last=Puma |first=Mike |date=2003-12-01 |publisher=ESPN Classic] With the ruling, the Raiders finally relocated to Los Angeles for the 1982 season to play their home games at the Los Angeles Coliseum.

The team finished 8-1 in the strike-shortened 1982 season, first in the AFC, but lost in the second round of the playoffs to the New York Jets. The following season, the team finished 12-4 and won convincingly against the Steelers and Seattle Seahawks in the AFC playoffs. Against the Washington Redskins in Super Bowl XVIII, Los Angeles built a 21-3 halftime lead en route to a 38-9 victory and their third NFL championship. The next two seasons, the Raiders qualified for the playoffs but lost in the wild card round and the divisional round, respectively. From 1986 through 1989, Los Angeles finished no better than 8-8 and posted consecutive losing seasons for the first time since 1961–62. After finishing 5-10 in 1987, Tom Flores moved to the front office and was replaced by Denver Broncos offensive assistant coach Mike Shanahan.

After starting the 1989 season with a 1-3 record, Shanahan was fired by Davis, which began a long-standing feud between the two.cite news |first=John |last=Czarnecki |title=Raiders, Broncos renew rivalry |url=http://msn.foxsports.com/nfl/story/949168 |publisher=Fox Sports |accessdate=2007-01-29 ] He was replaced by former Raider offensive lineman Art Shell, who had been voted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame earlier in the year. With the hiring, Shell became the first African American head coach in the modern NFL era.cite news |first=Jarrett |last=Bell |title=Coaches chasing Super Bowl — and history |url=http://www.usatoday.com/sports/football/nfl/2007-01-16-dungy-lovie_x.htm |publisher=USA Today |date=2007-01-17 |accessdate=2007-01-29] In 1990, Shell led Los Angeles to a 12-4 record and an appearance in the AFC Championship, where they lost a lopsided affair to the Buffalo Bills, 51-3.

The team's fortunes faded after the loss. They made two other playoff appearances during the 1990s, and finished higher than third place only three times. This period was marked by the career-ending injury of two-sport athlete Bo Jackson in 1990, the failure of troubled quarterback Todd Marinovich, the acrimonious departure of Marcus Allen in 1993, and the retirement of Hall of Fame defensive end Howie Long after the 1993 season. Shell was fired after posting a 9-7 record in the 1994 season.

Shell's five-plus-year tenure as head coach in Los Angeles was marked particularly by a bitter dispute between star running back Marcus Allen and Al Davis. The exact source of the friction is unknown, but a contract dispute led Davis to refer to Allen as "a cancer on the team."cite news |first=Unknown |title=Allen no stranger to big plays |url=http://espn.go.com/classic/s/2003/0730/1587419.html |publisher=Associated Press |date=2003-07-31 |accessdate=2007-01-29 ] By the late 1980s, injuries began to reduce Allen's role in the offense. This role was reduced further in 1987, when the Raiders drafted Bo Jackson—even though he originally decided to not play professional football in 1986 (when drafted by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in the first round).cite news |first=Ron |last=Flatter |title=Bo knows stardom and disappointment |url=http://espn.go.com/sportscentury/features/00016045.html |publisher=ESPN.com |accessdate=2007-01-29] By 1990, Allen had dropped to fourth on the team's depth chart, leading to resentment on the part of his teammates. In late 1992 Allen lashed out publicly at Davis, and accused him of trying to ruin his career.cite news |first=Ann |last=Killion |title=Before Raiders start, let's look at Shell's first term |url=http://www.mercurynews.com/mld/mercurynews/sports/football/nfl/oakland_raiders/15489869.htm |publisher=San Jose Mercury News |date=2006-09-11 |accessdate=2007-01-29 ] cite news |first=unknown |last= |title=Raiders' Allen Irked at Davis |url=http://query.nytimes.com/gst/fullpage.html?res=9E0CEED6173EF936A25751C1A964958260&n=Top%2fReference%2fTimes%20Topics%2fPeople%2fD%2fDavis%2c%20Marvin |publisher=New York Times |date=1992-12-15 |accessdate=2007-01-29 ] In 1993, Allen left to play for the rival Kansas City Chiefs.

As early as 1987, Davis began to seek a new, more modern stadium away from the Coliseum and the dangerous neighborhood that surrounded it at the time. In addition to sharing the venue with the USC Trojans, the Coliseum was aging and still lacked the luxury suites and other amenities that Davis was promised when he moved the Raiders to Los Angeles. [Dickey, "Just Win, Baby". p. 230.] Numerous venues in California were considered, including one near Hollywood Park in Inglewood and another in Carson. In August 1987, it was announced that the city of Irwindale paid Davis USD $10 million as a good-faith deposit for a prospective stadium site. [Dickey, "Just Win, Baby". p. 232.] When the bid failed, Davis kept the non-refundable deposit.cite news |first=Unknown |title=Al Davis may retire if Raiders win |url=http://bengals.enquirer.com/2003/01/23/wwwsbdavis.html |work=The Cincinnati Enquirer |publisher=Associated Press |date=2003-01-23 |accessdate=2007-01-29 ] cite news |first=Bill |last=Plaschke |title=Shades of Gray |url=http://apse.dallasnews.com/contest/2003/writing/over250/over250.columns.third3-4.html |work=Los Angeles Times |publisher=Associated Press |accessdate=2007-01-29 ]

In the summer of 1988, rumors of a Raiders return to Oakland intensified when a preseason game against the Houston Oilers was scheduled at Oakland Coliseum. [Dickey, "Just Win, Baby". p. 234.] Negotiations between Davis and Oakland commenced in January 1989, and on March 11, 1991, Davis announced his intention to bring the Raiders back to Oakland. [Dickey, "Just Win, Baby". pp. 234–239.] By September 1991, however, numerous delays had prevented the completion of the deal between Davis and Oakland. On September 11, Davis announced a new deal to stay in Los Angeles, leading many fans in Oakland to burn Raiders paraphernalia in disgust. [Dickey, "Just Win, Baby". pp. 240–244.] cite news |first=Dave |last=Anderson |title= Just Give Me $10 Million, Baby |url=http://select.nytimes.com/gst/abstract.html?res=F3061EF73F5B0C758DDDA00894D8494D81 |publisher=New York Times |date=1990-09-16 |accessdate=2007-02-02 ]

Back to Oakland (1995–present)

On June 23, 1995, Davis signed a letter of intent to move the Raiders back to Oakland. The move was approved by the Alameda County Board of Supervisors the next month,cite news |title=Raiders' Move Is Approved |url=http://query.nytimes.com/gst/fullpage.html?res=990CE4DE133AF931A25754C0A963958260 |publisher=The New York Times |date=1995-07-12 |accessdate=2007-02-02 ] as well as by the NFL. The move was greeted with much fanfare,cite news |first=Monte |last=Poole |title=Raiders headed home 10 years ago |url=http://www.findarticles.com/p/articles/mi_qn4176/is_20050622/ai_n15838422 |publisher=Oakland Tribune |date=2005-06-22 |accessdate=2007-02-02 ] and under new head coach Mike White the 1995 season started off well for the team. Oakland started 8-2, but injuries to starting quarterback Jeff Hostetler contributed to a six-game losing streak to end the season, and the Raiders failed to qualify for the playoffs for a second consecutive season.

After three unsuccessful seasons under White and his successor, Joe Bugel, Davis selected a new head coach from outside the Raiders organization for only the second time when he hired Philadelphia Eagles offensive coordinator Jon Gruden, who previously worked for the 49ers and Packers under head coach Mike Holmgren. Under Gruden, the Raiders posted consecutive 8-8 seasons in 1998 and 1999, and climbed out of last place in the AFC West. Oakland finished 12-4 in the 2000 season, the team's most successful in a decade. Led by veteran quarterback Rich Gannon, Oakland won their first division title since 1990, and advanced to the AFC Championship, where they lost 16-3 to the eventual Super Bowl champion Baltimore Ravens.

The Raiders acquired all-time leading receiver Jerry Rice prior to the 2001 season. They finished 10-6 and won a second straight AFC West title but lost their divisional-round playoff game to the eventual Super Bowl champion New England Patriots, in a controversial game that became known as "The Tuck." The game was played in a heavy snowstorm, and late in the fourth quarter an apparent fumble by Patriots quarterback Tom Brady was recovered by Raiders linebacker Greg Biekert. The recovery would have led to a Raiders victory, however the play was reviewed and determined to be an incomplete pass (it was ruled that Brady had pump faked and then "tucked" the ball into his body, which, by rule, cannot result in a fumble). The Patriots retained possession of the ball, and drove for a game-tying field goal. The game went into overtime and the Patriots won, 16-13.cite news |first=Ray |last=Ratto |title=Conspiracy theorists have a fresh cause |url=http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?f=/chronicle/archive/2002/01/20/SP233151.DTL |publisher=San Francisco Chronicle |date=2002-01-20 |accessdate=2007-02-02]

Shortly after the season, the Raiders made an unusual move that involved releasing Gruden from his contract and allowing the Tampa Bay Buccaneers to sign him. In return, the Raiders received cash and future draft picks from the Buccaneers. The sudden move came after months of speculation in the media that Davis and Gruden had fallen out with each other both personally and professionally. Bill Callahan, who served as the team's offensive coordinator and offensive line coach during Gruden's tenure, was named head coach.cite news |title=Raiders promote Callahan to head coach |url=http://espn.go.com/nfl/news/2002/0312/1350580.html |work=Associated Press |publisher=ESPN.com |date=2002-03-12 |accessdate=2007-02-02 ]

Under Callahan, the Raiders finished the 2002 season 11-5, won their third straight division title, and clinched the top seed in the playoffs. Rich Gannon was named MVP of the NFL after passing for a league-high 4,689 yards. After beating the New York Jets and Tennessee Titans by large margins in the playoffs, the Raiders made their fifth Super Bowl appearance in Super Bowl XXXVII. Their opponent was the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, coached by Gruden. The Raiders, who had not made significant changes to Gruden's offensive schemes, were intercepted five times by the Buccaneers en route to a 48-21 blowout. Some Tampa Bay players claimed that Gruden had given them so much information on Oakland's offense, they knew exactly what plays were being called.cite news |first=John |last=Clayton |title=Gruden proves how much coaching matters |url=http://espn.go.com/nfl/playoffs02/columnist/2003/0126/1499382.html |publisher=ESPN.com |accessdate=2007-02-02 ] cite news |first=Elliott |last=Kalb |title=The worst decisions in Super Bowl history |url=http://msn.foxsports.com/nfl/story/6427798 |publisher=FOX Sports |date=2007-02-01 |accessdate=2007-02-02 ]

Callahan's second season as head coach was considerably less successful. Oakland finished 4-12, their worst showing since 1997. After a late-season loss to the Denver Broncos, a visibly frustrated Callahan exclaimed, "We've got to be the dumbest team in America in terms of playing the game."cite news |title=Portis runs Denver past error-prone Raiders |url=http://www.nfl.com/gamecenter/recap/NFL_20031130_DEN@OAK |publisher=NFL.com |date=2003-11-30 |accessdate=2007-02-02 ] At the end of the 2003 regular season Callahan was fired and replaced by former Washington Redskins head coach Norv Turner.

The team's fortunes did not improve in Turner's first year. Oakland finished the 2004 season 5-11, with only one divisional win (a one-point victory over the Broncos in Denver). During a Week 3 victory against the Buccaneers, Rich Gannon suffered a neck injury that ended his season. He never returned to the team and retired before the 2005 season.cite news |first=Nancy |last=Gay |title=Gannon makes it official -- he's done |url=http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?f=/c/a/2005/08/07/SPG5IE4DSS1.DTL |publisher=San Francisco Chronicle |date=2005-08-07 |accessdate=2007-02-04 ] Kerry Collins, who led the New York Giants to an appearance in Super Bowl XXXV and signed with Oakland after the 2003 season, became the team's starting quarterback.

In an effort to bolster their offense, in early 2005 the Raiders acquired Pro Bowl wide receiver Randy Moss via trade with the Minnesota Vikings, and signed free agent running back Lamont Jordan of the New York Jets. After a 4-12 season and a second consecutive last place finish, Turner was fired as head coach. On February 11, 2006 the team announced the return of Art Shell as head coach. In announcing the move, Al Davis said that firing Shell in 1995 had been a mistake.cite news |first=John |last=Clayton |title=Shell to return to Raiders as head coach |url=http://sports.espn.go.com/nfl/news/story?id=2326498 |publisher=ESPN.com |date=2006-02-11 |accessdate=2007-02-04 ]

Under Shell, the Raiders lost their first five games in 2006 en route to a 2-14 finish, the team's worst record since 1962. Oakland's offense struggled greatly, scoring just 168 points (fewest in franchise history) and allowing a league-high 72 sacks. Wide receiver Jerry Porter was benched by Shell for most of the season in what many viewed as a personal, rather than football-related, decision.cite news |title=Shell out after one season as Raiders coach |url=http://www.nfl.com/teams/story/OAK/9908560 |publisher=NFL.com |date=2007-01-04 |accessdate=2007-02-04 ] The Raiders also earned the right to the first overall pick in the 2007 NFL Draft for the first time since 1962, by virtue of having the league's worst record.cite news |title=Raiders secure top draft pick for first time since 1962 |url=http://onlineathens.com/stories/010207/sports_20070102028.shtml |work=Associated Press |publisher=OnlineAthens.com |date=2007-01-01 |accessdate=2007-02-04 ]

One season into his second run as head coach, Shell was fired on January 4, 2007.cite web |url=http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?f=/c/a/2007/01/05/SPGA2NDHSM1.DTL&hw=art+shell&sn=001&sc=1000 |title="Shell fired by Raiders again - Davis called coach's '94 dismissal 'a mistake'; apparently thought rehiring was another" |accessdate=2007-01-19 |last=White |first=David |coauthors=Nancy Gay |date=January 5, 2007 |publisher="San Francisco Chronicle"] On January 22, the team announced the hiring of 31-year-old USC offensive coordinator Lane Kiffin, the youngest coach in franchise history and the youngest coach in the NFL.cite news |first=David |last=White |title=Raiders hire USC's Kiffin to be head coach |url=http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?f=/c/a/2007/01/22/SPGCLNMU4G9.DTL |publisher=San Francisco Chronicle |date=2007-01-22 |accessdate=2007-01-23]

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