After some slim pickins at number 17, we come upon a number worn by two Raider greats. But in this series, I often have the unenviable job of picking just one. And, of course, you can decide in the poll who you think deserved it most. So, with 16 days left until the Raiders' 2015 regular season opener I choose...
Who wore it best: QB Jim Plunkett (1979-86)
A former Heisman Trophy winner out of Stanford who became the number one overall pick in the 1971 draft by the New England Patriots only to be given up as a bust after five seasons. The 49ers picked up this local favorite and after starting nearly every game over two seasons, they too gave up on him. As the Raiders were known to do back in those days, they picked him up off the scrap heap. He joined the team in 1979 with little hopes for anything more than a backup. The next year, they traded Ken Stabler to the Oilers for Dan Pastorini who was to be the starter. But after a few games, fate intervened.
In the fifth game of the 1980 season, Pastorini broke his leg and Plunkett went from bust backup to starter, to Super Bowl MVP in one season. Even still, the season after his three TD Super Bowl MVP performance, Plunkett was supplanted as starter the very next season. The Raiders had used their pick at 15 overall in the 1980 draft on Marc Wilson and seven games into his second season, Wilson was given the starting nod over Plunkett after he began the season with 4 TD's to 9 INT's including three-straight games with an INT and no TD passes -- three straight losses
In 1983, fate would again intervene. Wilson once again would be given the job over Plunkett midway through the season. But after just three starts, Wilson would get injured and Plunkett once again came off the bench to be the hero, leading them to Super Bowl XVIII champions. Then, of course, he lost his staring job to Wilson the following season and was a part time player his final three seasons with the Raiders. It is one of the more improbable NFL careers trajectories ever. And the reason why despite having two Super Bowl rings, he hasn't been named to the Hall of Fame.
As for his place in Raiders quarterback record books, his 12,665 passing yards is 4th most in franchise history. He threw 80 touchdowns to 81 interceptions. Oh, but those Super Bowl wins. He was clutch when it mattered most. Kinda like the Eli Manning of his day.
Who's wearing it now: KR/PR Trindon Holliday
When the Raiders lost rookie seventh round pick Andre Debose for the season to a hamstring injury, they lost the guy they drafted to be their top return specialist. So, to replace him they signed Trindon Holliday, who has four career return touchdowns -- two on kicks, two on punts. Despite the 5-5, 162-pounder's obvious athletic talents, this former 6th round pick has bounced around a bit in his 4-year career, including spending time on three different teams last season alone. That's because he also has a bit of a fumbling problem. He has fumbled 12 times in 33 career games. He has already had some issues just fielding kicks and punts for the Raiders this preseason. If he is to be the return man in Oakland, he will have to solve those issues right away. Right now he is a fringe player.