Raiders great defensive end John Matuszak
As we continue in the spirit of Easter and the most famous resurrection of all time, I continue to list off those players who resurrected their careers with the Raiders. Or, if you prefer, those players who were "passed over" by their former teams.
I covered the offense so now it is time to look at those defensive players who found new life in Silver and Black. There are many on both sides of the ball as we know Al Davis was once known for picking up players considered expendable by other teams and breathing new life into their careers.
Here are the top ten on the defensive side of the ball:
DE John Matuszak
"Sloth" was chosen number one overall in the '73 draft by the Houston Oilers. He spent just one season in Houston before he was traded to the Chiefs where he spent two seasons. He was a starter for the first time in his second season in Kansas City but didn't make the team out of camp the next season. And when they released him, the Raiders were waiting to scoop him up. They immediately signed the enigmatic defensive end and he played in every game that season and helped the team win their first Super Bowl. He spent five more seasons with the Raiders, starting every game in four of those seasons and helping them win yet another Super Bowl in 1980.
DE Ben Davidson
The original "Big Ben", Davidson was drafted by the New York Giants in the fourth round of the 1961 draft. He never played a game for the Giants though. He bounced around a bit spending a year in Green Bay and two seasons in Washington before he finally found a home in Oakland. He was the first great Raiders defensive end. Davidson spent eight seasons with the Raiders including their trip to Super Bowl II. Over that time he made three AFL All Star teams and was named All Pro once.
DT Tom Keating
Drafted by the Vikings in the fourth round of the 1964 draft, but never played a game with the team. He was signed by the Buffalo Bills instead and played two seasons in Buffalo. He would appear in just 9 games over his two season with the Bills and didn't start a single game. In '66 he would sign with the Raiders and instantly was named to the AFL All Star team. The next season, he would be named All Pro and helped the Raiders reach Super Bowl II. He spent a total of six seasons with the Raiders at right defensive tackle.
DE Ike Lassiter
Was chosen in the ninth round of the draft by the Rams in 1962 but didn't play a game for them. He would play his first three seasons in Denver but saw his game appearances dwindle from a appearing in every game as a rookie, to seven in his second season, to just two in his final season in Denver. The Raiders picked him up after that and made him their ever game defensive end for the next five seasons. In his second season with the team, he started every game at left defensive end, helping the Raiders reach Super Bowl II. He would also be named to the AFL All Star team that season.
S Eddie Anderson
Was a sixth round draft choice by the Seattle Seahawks in 1986. He played just one season for the Seahawks before he was released. The Raiders picked him up and he spent eleven seasons with the team. In the eight seasons from ‘88 to‘95, he was the undisputed starting free safety for the Raiders. He played in and started nearly every game during that time. During which he averaged 85 tackles per season including a high point of 118 tackles for the 91 playoff team.
CB Lionel Washington
One of the best and longest tenured Raider corners in the long history of great Raider corners. But he didn't start out with the Raiders. He was drafted in the fourth round by the St Louis Cardinals in 1983 and would spend the first four seasons of his career in St Louis. He would sign with the Raiders after that and spend the next nine years of his career in Silver and Black. In the five year span from 1989-93, he appeared in and started all but one game. After spending two seasons in Denver, he would return to the Raiders for one final season in 1997 and retire as a Raider.
CB Willie Brown
Went undrafted out of Grambling State in 1963. He was signed by the Houston Oilers but was cut in training camp. He was then signed by the Denver Broncos and after just his second season with the team, he was elected All AFL. In his fourth season in Denver, he was traded to the Raiders where he spent the following 12 seasons.
His first season in Oakland, he was back in the AFL All Star game after having not gotten in the previous year. His second season, he was an All Pro again as well as the following season. In fact, from 67 to 73, Brown went to seven straight Pro Bowls and was elected first team All Pro four times.
He will most be remembered by Raider fans for his interception of Fran Tarkenton in Super Bowl XI which he returned a record 75 yards for a touchdown to seal the game for the Raiders. He played 16 years in the NFL which was nearly unheard of in those days (or in these days for that matter). His longevity and sustained dominance made him a no-doubt Hall of Famer.
He makes this list despite having success prior to becoming a Raider simply because the extreme level of success he had with the Raiders after he arrived. There is no way the Broncos would have traded him if they had any idea he was going to go onto a Hall of Fame career.
LB Jerry Robinson
The 21stoverall pick by the Eagles in 1979 draft, Robinson played six season in Philadelphia. He actually lined up against the Raiders as part of the Eagles team the Raiders trounced in Super Bowl XV. Jerry was born and raised in the Bay Area and signed with his hometown Raiders in 1985. Unfortunately, by this time, they were no longer in Oakland, they had moved to Los Angeles. But that was not a big deal because Robinson played college ball at UCLA. He would spend the final seven season of his career with the Raiders. From 1986-90, he missed just five games and started every game in which he appeared. He still makes his home in the Los Angeles area to this day.
DB Nemiah Wilson
Came into the league with the Denver Broncos in 1965 and would spend his first three seasons of his NFL career in Denver. He didn't start a single game with the team but still managed to make the Pro Bowl in his third season. After which the Raiders signed him and after injuries kept him out nearly his entire first season with the team, he held down the starting right corner spot for the next five years from 69 to 73. He was supplanted half way through the 74 season by new teammate and future Hall of Famer, Willie Brown... understandably.
DE Derrick Burgess
A round three draft choice by the Eagles in 2001, he was plagued by injuries over his three seasons in Philadelphia. In his limited playing time, he looked every bit the player the Eagles hoped he would be. He had six sacks as a rookie which was his only full healthy season there. One of those injuries caused him to miss the entire 2003 season. In 2004 he had 2.5 sacks during the season and another three sacks in the team's playoff run including their only sack in the Super Bowl. His injuries were a huge concern for the team so they allowed him to walk as a free agent.
The Raiders picked him up and he recored 16 sacks in his first season and 11 sacks in his second season earning him Pro Bowl bids in both. He played four seasons in Oakland, recording 38.5 sacks over that time. He wanted the Raiders to offer him a large contract but after his inability to finish his final two seasons, the Raiders balked and traded him to the Patriots for a round five pick.