We keep counting down and moving through the 80s. No, I'm not talking about Spandau Ballet or John Cougar Mellencamp, I'm talking about Raiders jersey numbers and marking the days until the 2015 season opener. Specifically, number 88. Though the best to ever wear that number for the Raiders finished his career in the early 80s.
Who wore it best: TE Raymond Chester (1970-72, 78-81)
It's fitting we talk about early 80s hits and mention Raymond Chester. He was originally a first round draft pick by the Raiders in 1970, was sent to Baltimore in trade, and later came back. In his second stint with the team, he helped the Raiders win their second Super Bowl following the 1980 season. That same year AC/DC released their hit song Back in Black. Quite fitting for Chester's career arc. That song has become somewhat of a theme song for the Raiders since then as well.
Chester actually preceded AND followed Hall of Fame tight end Dave Casper with the Raiders. Chester was a Pro Bowler in each of his first three seasons in Oakland. He then spent five seasons in Baltimore, returning in 1978 and was promptly named to another Pro Bowl. It was pretty clear, even being a Baltimore native, Chester belonged in Oakland. He would retire just before the team left for Los Angeles.
Who's wearing it now: TE Clive Walford
What's interesting about this is Reggie McKenzie compared Clive Walford to Raymond Chester following the draft. Soon after, Walford would be wearing Chester's number. Walford has big shoes to fill, but there are indications he has all the potential to make it happen. He was thought by some to be the best tight end in this draft. I shared that opinion and Walford's availability in the third round makes him a potential steal.
The 6-4, 254-pound tight end has been inserted into the Raiders offense as this team's starter from day one. The Raiders have not had a serious threat from the tight end spot since Zach Miller was allowed to leave as a free agent following a Pro Bowl 2010 season. Clive has a legitimate shot to end that drought. It's fitting his number is up because he just signed his rookie deal yesterday.