Oakland Raiders Information
The Oakland Raiders are a professional American football team based in Oakland, California. They currently belong to the Western Division of the American Football Conference (AFC) in the National Football League (NFL). Legally, the club is a limited partnership operated by Al Davis, who serves as President of the team's general partner, A.D. Football, Inc.
The Raiders began play in 1960 as the eighth charter member of the American Football League after the ownership group from Minnesota withdrew from the AFL to join the NFL. The Raiders later joined the NFL themselves in 1970 as part of the AFL-NFL Merger. The team has won one AFL title and three Super Bowls. In 1982, Davis moved the team from Oakland to Los Angeles, California and the club became known as the Los Angeles Raiders, but they moved back to Oakland in 1995.
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A few months after the first AFL draft in 1959, the Minnesota Vikings accepted an offer to join the established National Football League as an expansion team in 1961, sending the AFL scrambling for a replacement. At the time, Oakland seemed an unlikely venue for a professional football franchise. 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. Accordingly, the city of Oakland was awarded the eighth AFL franchise on January 30, 1960. The team inherited the Vikings' draft picks. As no AFL team ever played in the Twin Cities, that area has never been considered to be affiliated.
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, Davis was the youngest person in professional football history to hold the positions. Davis changed the team colors to silver and black, primarily because those colors stood out in an era when most people watched football games on black-and-white television sets. 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. The field, the team Davis had assembled and coached steadily improved. With John Rauch as the new 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. In 1968 and 1969, 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 their last season in Oakland, the team slipped to 7-9, finishing last in their division for the first time since 1962. In 1982, the Raiders moved to Los Angeles to play their home games at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum. Davis had tried on several occasions to get the city of Oakland to expand the Coliseum, only to be turned down. The Los Angeles Raiders won Super Bowl XVIII the following year, the team's nucleus largely inherited from Oakland. In a short pep talk prior to the game, Davis told his team, "Just win, baby! Be right!" As a result, the phrase "Just win, baby!" became Davis' catchphrase. Perhaps ironically, that Super Bowl victory would prove to be the team's last, at least through the 2005 season.
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In early 1966, Davis left the Raiders and became Commissioner of the AFL. His actions as Commissioner, together with the favorable contract negotiated with the NBC television network, resulted in the landmark AFL-NFL merger, whereby the NFL agreed to include all ten AFL franchises in an expanded 26-team NFL. The merger, however, left Davis embittered. He had envisioned a professional football landscape not unlike that of Major League Baseball, with two independent leagues sharing a common draft and playing a championship game at the end of the season. He felt betrayed by the AFL owners, who jumped at the chance to extinguish the newer league so they could receive NFL franchises. He resented the fact that a "football man," like himself, was subject to the whim of owners whose expertise was far outside the realm of the game. Davis' goal, therefore, was to become an owner himself.
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With the merger, the position of AFL 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. Though the owner of but a 10% interest in the Raiders, he became the team's third general partner the partner (for the time being) in charge of football operations.
Six years later, in 1972, with Valley out of the country for several weeks attending Games in Munich, Davis' attorneys drafted a revised partnership agreement that gave Davis total control over all of the Raiders' operations. McGah 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. The courts sided with Davis and McGah. As a result, Valley sold his interest in the team, and Davis---though owning but a small portion of the team---was firmly in charge.
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In 1969, John Madden became the team's sixth head coach, and during the 1970s his Raiders became one of the most successful franchises in the NFL, though the team was slow to win recognition as a football powerhouse due to one heartbreaking loss after another in AFC Championship games, most notably at the hands of the Pittsburgh Steelers. Then, after finishing 13-1 in 1976, the Raiders defeated the Steelers 24-7 in the AFC Championship game, and went on to win their first NFL championship in Super Bowl XI over the Minnesota Vikings 32-14 in Pasadena, California.
Madden left the Raiders (and coaching) in 1979 to pursue a career as a television football commentator. Madden's replacement was former Raiders quarterback Tom Flores, widely considered the first Hispanic head coach in the history of the NFL. Flores guided the team to a win in Super Bowl XV over the Philadelphia Eagles, 27-10 and over the Washington Redskins in Super Bowl XVIII. In the victory over Philadelphia, the Raiders became the first ever "wild card team" (i.e., team making the playoffs without winning its division) to win a Super Bow.
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In 1987, the Raiders drafted dual-sport athlete Bo Jackson after he originally decided to not play professional football in 1986 (when drafted by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in the first round). Davis's perceived infatuation with Jackson caused a major rift between Davis and star running back Marcus Allen, who eventually left to play for the Kansas City Chiefs. During the 1989 season, Davis fired head coach Mike Shanahan and replaced him with former Raider lineman Art Shell. Shell was the first African-American head coach of the modern NFL era. Shell led the Raiders to the AFC Championship game in the 1990 season, 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 3rd place only three times. This period was marked by the career-ending injury of Bo Jackson in 1990, the failure of troubled quarterback Todd Marinovich, the departure of Marcus Allen in 1993 and the retirement of Hall of Fame defensive end Howie Long after the 1993. On June 23, 1995, Davis signed a letter of intent to move the Raiders back to Oakland. The move was greeted with much public fanfare, and the 1995 season started off well for the team. They 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.
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In 1998, Al Davis strayed away from his habit of hiring a head coach from the team's ranks for only the second time in franchise history when he hired Philadelphia Eagles offensive coordinator Jon Gruden, a young assistant who first worked for the 49ers under head coach Bill Walsh. Under Gruden, the Raiders started to play with a sense of discipline that had been lacking in previous years. The 2000 season, the team's 3rd under Gruden, was the team's most successful in a decade. Led by veteran quarterback Rich Gannon, the team finished 12-4 and advanced to the AFC Championship, losing 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, but lost their divisional playoff game to the eventual Super Bowl champion New England Patriots in the controversial "Tuck Game." The game was played in a heavy snow storm, in which an apparent fumble by Patriots quarterback Tom Brady was recovered by Greg Biekert. The play was reviewed and determined to be an incomplete pass.
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Shortly after the 2001 season, the Raiders made an unusual move that involved trading Gruden to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers for cash and future draft picks. Bill Callahan, former offensive coordinator and offensive line coach of the Raiders during Gruden's tenure, was named head coach. The sudden move came after months of speculation in the media that Al Davis and Gruden had fallen out with each other both personally and on a business level. The Raiders finished the 2002 season with an 11-5 record and clinched the top seed in the playoffs. Gannon was named MVP of the NFL, and the Raiders made their fifth Super Bowl appearance following the season. They lost Super Bowl XXXVII to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, now coached by Gruden, by the score of 48-21.
The Raiders finished the 2003 season, their second year under Callahan, with a record of 4-12. This season, and the team's fans utter devotion despite the poor record, is chronicled in "Better to Reign in Hell," a book written by two English professors from San Diego. The title is derived from an assertion by Satan in Paradise Lost by John Milton that it is "Better to reign in Hell than serve in Heaven." At the end of the 2003 regular season Callahan was fired and replaced by Norv Turner.
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The season started off on a sour note. They lost their first three games, despite showing some great performances nonetheless. They would win their next three out of four games. However, after a close loss to the Kansas City Chiefs in Kansas City, they suffered a massive meltdown when playing another division rival, the Denver Broncos. Kerry Collins threw three interceptions, something he hadn't done in any of the prior games. Shutout 23-0 at the end of the third quarter, the Raiders posted a touchdown and a field goal to start the fourth. However, another Collins interception late in the fourth quarter, which was returned for a Denver touchdown, squandered any hopes for a comeback, and they lost 31-17. The Raiders would get their fourth and final win of the season against the Washington Redskins, coach Norv Turner's former team. They even lost to the Cleveland Browns and the New York Jets, who both ended up last in their respective divisions as well (though the Raiders will play both again in 2006). After being blown out by the Broncos again, the Raiders went 0-6 in their division for the first time since 1962.
The Raiders would end their season with four wins and twelve losses, one less win than 2004. They were last in the AFC West for the second year in a row, and it was their third consecutive losing season. Coach Norv Turner was fired. Art Shell, who is frequently regarded as one of the most prolific offensive linemen in NFL history, won two Super Bowls and went to multiple Pro Bowls as a member of the Raiders, received an interview. Since firing him, Davis has said numerous times that he has regretted the decision. Art Shell was named Head Coach on February 11, 2006