We've reached the halfway point in our countdown. We began with 99 days until the Raiders season opener and are now at 50 and counting. It's coming up fast. And for the rookies, they are on the eve of reporting to training camp. You can almost smell that Napa air and feel the excitement of football right around the corner.
To mark 50 days to go, it only seems fitting the best to wear that number for the Raiders was one of only a handful of players to be on all three of the team's Super Bowl teams.
Who wore it best: C Dave Dalby
When Dalby joined the Raiders in 1972 as a fourth round draft pick, only one center had ever started a game for the team - Jim Otto. After three seasons as Otto's understudy, Dalby took over the job. And for the next 11 years, the Raiders would have their second starting center.
Dalby spent 14 seasons in the NFL, all with the Raiders. He was the man who snapped the ball to Ken Stabler for the Raiders first Super Bowl and Jim Plunkett for their second and third Super Bowls. He anchored that legendary offensive line and in turn was overshadowed by Hall of Famers Art Shell and Gene Upshaw to his left. Dalby himself would make just one Pro Bowl in 1977, but he was a steady hand whose job was invaluable to those team's success. If you doubt how crucial having a great center is to winning a Super Bowl, just ask Rich Gannon.
Who's wearing it now: LB Curtis Lofton
There wasn't a position for the Raiders this offseason in more desperate need than middle linebacker. With the news that Nick Roach was not recovering from his concussion suffered last preseason, and only Miles Burris to turn to, the Raiders absolutely had to make a move. There wasn't much on the market initially, but then Curtis Lofton was cut by the Saints and the Raiders pounced.
Lofton's season last year can be looked at a couple different ways. On one hand, he led all linebackers in missed tackles (22). On the other hand, he led the NFL in solo tackles (123). That quandary was not as much of an issue to the Raiders who were more concerned with adding a veteran presence at middle linebacker they haven't had since Kirk Morrison was patrolling the defensive backfield. They'll take the good with the bad as opposed to just the whole lotta bad they were getting before.