The big news of the day is Lebron James is returning to his Northeastern Ohio roots to play for the Cavaliers. It's a happy homecoming for Lebron as he returns to the team of which he grew up a fan and the team which drafted him first overall so many years ago.
Feel good stories like this don't happen very often. But when they do, it's a great way for a sports team to ingratiate themselves to the local fan base.
Bringing back their beloved players or keeping them at home in the first place is something the Raiders have been known to do over the years. Al Davis did it and Reggie McKenzie has done it as well. Here are a few of the homecoming players to find their way back to the Bay Area to don the Silver and Black.
Current Raiders to make a homecoming:
Maurice Jones-Drew - Signed with the Raiders this off-season, the All Pro running back was born in Oakland, grew up in East Bay city of Antioch, and attended De La Salle High School in Concord. He then attended UCLA before being drafted and sent across the country to play in Jacksonville. Once his contract was up in Jacksonville this off-season, he made bee line back to his native Bay Area to play for the team of which he grew up a fan.
James Jones - Born and raised in San Jose and attended San Jose State. He was drafted by the Packers in the third round of the 2007 draft and spent his first seven seasons there, winning a Super Bowl. He hit free agency this off-season and was one of the top wide receivers on the market. He decided he wanted to head home to the Bay Area to continue his career with the Raiders.
Donald Penn - Penn is not a Bay Area Native, he's a Los Angeles native. He grew up in LA while the Raiders were there and his father took him to games as a kid. When he was signed, he tweeted a current picture of himself wearing a Los Angeles Raiders hat. Now he gets to see games from the field as the team's starting left tackle.
Charles Woodson - Woodson is not from the Bay Area but he was drafted by the Raiders in 1998, where he spent the first eight seasons of his career. During that time, the Raiders had a great deal of success and Woodson was a big part of that. He forced the fumble on Tom Brady (another Bay Area native) in the 2001 playoffs that was overturned because of the infamous tuck rule. After eight years in Oakland, he left for Green Bay. He played seven years there and won the championship that eluded him in Oakland. But he never got over the championship he believed rightfully belonged to him and the Raiders. He returned last off-season with much fanfare and Raiders fans broke out their Woodson 24 jerseys once again. He is entering what is likely his final NFL season in a Hall of Fame career and looks to retire as a Raider.
Current original Raiders who are Northern California natives are Taiwan Jones (Antioch, Deer Valley HS), and rookie seventh round pick TJ Carrie (Antioch, De La Salle HS).
Some notable Raiders from the past to return home:
Jim Plunkett - A Bay Area legend, he was a star quarterback at James Lick High School in San Jose, attended Stanford and became the number one overall pick in the 1971 NFL draft by the New England Patriots. He played five seasons in New England and then three forgettable seasons in San Francisco. He looked to have busted out of the NFL according to most. But Al Davis saw something more to him and signed him. He would sign with the Raiders and halfway through his first season, he would take over for another Bay Area legend, Dan Pastorini, who was out with an injury. Plunkett then led the Raiders to two Super Bowl wins in 1980 and 1983.
Daryle Lamonica - Technically Fresno is not in the Bay Area, it's in the Central Valley. But close enough for these purposes. Lamonica spent his first four seasons in in the anti-Central Valley in Buffalo New York. He then fled the cold Northeast to return to California where for the Raiders he became known as "The Mad Bomber". He was named All AFL in his first season in Oakland and led the Raiders to Super Bowl II. He would spend eight seasons in Oakland and never had a losing season.
James Lofton - Born on Fort Ord military base in Monterey, his family moved to Los Angeles where he attended high school. He then returned to the Bay Area to attend Stanford. Then he was drafted by the Packers (this is beginning to look like a trend) with the sixth overall pick in the 1978 draft. He built a Hall of Fame career in Green Bay, going to seven Pro Bowls and being named All Pro once. Once his days in Green Bay were done, he came back home to California to play for the Raiders in 1987. He played two seasons in Los Angeles, where he had spent his high school days. He returned as the Raiders wide receivers coach in 2008.
Kevin Gogan - Born in Pacifica in Southwest San Francisco, he spent the first seven seasons of his NFL career in Dallas. Then he signed with the Raiders in 1994 and was part of the team when it made it's homecoming to Oakland in 1995. He spent a total of three seasons in Oakland, starting every single game at right guard. Then he had another homecoming, signing with the 49ers and spent two seasons there.
Jeremy Newberry - This Antioch native spent basically his entire career in the Bay Area. He attended Cal and was drafted in the second round by the 49ers. After spending his first seven seasons in San Francisco, he returned to his East Bay roots to play for the Raiders. He played just one season for the Raiders then finished off his career with one season in San Diego.
Langston Walker - The Oakland native and graduate of local high school powerhouse, Bishop O-Dowd, was drafted by the Raiders out of Cal in the second round of the 2002 draft. The 6-8, 345 pound behemoth manned the right tackle position for the Raiders for five years, though he was the fulltime starter just two of those seasons. He then left for Buffalo where he was their fulltime starter for both of his two seasons with the Bills. He returned in 2009 and spent his final two seasons in Oakland, starting every game in 2010; his final season. He finished his NFL career and his football life where it started.
Dave Tollefson - Tollefson grew up in Bay Area city of Walnut Creek. He was drafted by the Packers in the seventh round out of the 2006 draft and spent the 2006 season on their practice squad. After the season, the Raiders signed him to a futures contract and played for the Berlin Thunder as Frankfurt Galaxy of NFL Europe. The Raiders placed him on their practice squad that season but the Giants stole him away. He would play five seasons in New York, winning two Super Bowls. Then he came back to the Raiders in 2012 for what ended up being his final NFL season.
Matt Giordano - Born in Fresno and raised in nearby Clovis California, he attended Cal and became a fourth round pick by the Colts in 2005. He spent the first four seasons of his career in Indianapolis, then bounced to the Packers and Saints before being signed by the Raiders in 2011. He spent two seasons with the Raiders and in 2005 led the team with five interceptions from the safety spot. He started most of the season in 2012 and added two more interceptions. He spent last season as a reserve safety in St Louis.
Original Raiders from Northern California include: Kirk Morrison (Oakland), Lamarr Houston (San Francisco), and Todd Marinovich (San Leandro).