Few teams honor their former players and remain as connected to their legends the way the Raiders do. That ‘Once a Raider, always a Raider’ loyalty was omnipresent Friday as the team opened camp with 90 former players on hand along with members of all four branches of the Armed Forces.
There’s always a former Raider presence around Raiders camp, but not quite to this extent. Last year they had around 50 players to kick off camp, so this year is quite a bit larger.
It allowed the players to remain connected with the Raiders organization as well as catch up with the players with whom they share a common bond – wearing the Silver & Black.
"You tell a lot of stories, you get a lot of laughs in and it just brings back so many memories." Cliff Branch said of Raiders Alumni Weekend.
Along with Branch and former fellow wide receiver Fred Biletnikoff, there were several former quarterbacks including Cotton Davidson, Jay Schroeder, Billy Joe Hobert, and Jeff Hostetler.
Jack Del Rio never donned a Raiders uniform, but he’s been part of the Silver & Black since his childhood growing up in Hayward. He certainly appreciates having some of the legends he idolized as a kid in the East Bay.
"Great to see all the former Raiders here supporting us and obviously the military is out here today as well," said Del Rio. "But in particular the number of former players that have come back to support us . . . I think is awesome. So, great to see them. A lot of guys I grew up cheering for and we welcome them and Super excited to have them out here."
These players will be here Saturday as well as Alumni weekend continues.