Today the Raiders head to Dallas as they prepare for their third preseason game. We creep ever closer to the start of the 2017 season. Just 16 days remain. Unlike yesterday’s situation with no one wearing 17 and no great options for best to wear it, we have the opposite deal today.
WR Johnny Holton
Holton’s story is an interesting one. Namely that he and Amari Cooper knew each other growing up and despite Holton’s immense talents on the football field he didn’t play high school football.
He was eventually discovered by a junior college coach and played well enough to be nationally recruited, going on to play at Cincinnati.
The speedy receiver went undrated and in large part because of his connection with Coop, he opted to sign with the Raiders. An outstanding offseason and training camp earned him a spot on the team, primarily playing on special teams, but also because the Raiders knew if they tried to put him on the practice squad to develop, he would be scooped up by another team.
Holton went on to tie for the team lead with 11 solo special teams tackles. Now he returns with less competition for his roster spot as a receiver, gadget runner, and gunner due to the departures of guys like Taiwan Jones and Andre Holmes. Which means we could see more of Holton in the offense this season while he continues to provide value on special teams.
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.
Honorable Mention: George Blanda (1967-75)
If this were a career distinction, Blanda would be the no doubt winner. But this is about what these players did in a Raiders uniform. Blanda is Hall of Fame quarterback and kicker. He spent most of his 27-year (!!!) NFL career elsewhere.
Blanda joined the Raiders in 1967 at the age of 40 and spent the final 9 years of his career in Oakland as a kicker and sometimes quarterback. He retired at the age of 48 and lived out the rest of his life in Alameda, passing away in 2010 at the age of 83.