Every year when the Hall of Fame nominees come out, there are some former Raiders players who were just barely Raiders. Maybe they spent only a couple seasons with the team or were signed when their best years were way behind them.
The subject has come up of late with the induction of Warren Sapp in 2013 and Saturday’s announcement that Randy Moss was to be a first ballot Hall of Famer.
More than any other former Raiders players, those two seem to draw the most anger when they are mentioned as former Raiders. Moss for giving up on the team after one season and the Raiders had sent a first round pick to acquire him. Sapp for using the Raiders to pad his stats and then just being a generally deplorable human being.
Officially, Moss makes the 26th Raider to be inducted into the Hall of Fame. But what if the Pro Football Hall of Fame were more like the Baseball Hall of Fame? What if players had to claim one team under which to be enshrined? How many Hall of Famers would the Raiders have then? And who would they be? Let’s explore that.
First, let’s eliminate the ones who had a cup of coffee with the Raiders, clearly making their Hall of Fame careers elsewhere. There are six who spent 1-2 years of their career with the Raiders. They are Eric Dickerson (1992), James Lofton (1987-1988), Rod Woodson (2002-03), Ron Mix (1971), Ronnie Lott (1991-1992), and Randy Moss (2005-06).
That brings us to 20.
Among those, we’ll start with the obvious career Raiders. There are 9*.
Al Davis (1963-2011)
John Madden (1969-1978)
Art Shell (1968-1982)
Fred Biletnikoff (1965-1978)
Gene Upshaw (1967-1981)
Howie Long (1981-1993)
Jim Otto (1960-1974)
Ray Guy (1973-1986)
Tim Brown (1988-2003)*
*Remember that year Brown spent in Tampa playing for Gruden at the end his career? Weird the ‘Mr Raider’ would do that, but it happened. He was sitting at 99 career TD’s and needed to get that 100th. Still gonna call him a career Raider.
This leaves 11 who split their career between multiple teams.
Bob Brown (1971-1973) — Spent the final three years of his career in Oakland. Made one Pro Bowl. Prior to that he was a 5-time All Pro with the Eagles and Rams. They can decide which team he would represent, but it wouldn’t be the Raiders.
Dave Casper (1974-1980, 1984) — Spent seven and a half of his 11-year NFL career with the Raiders. The Ghost was named All Pro four straight seasons from 1976-79, all with the Raiders and was on their first Super Bowl team. Yeah, he’s a Raider.
George Blanda (1967-1975) — Usually playing 9 years for a club would mean you represent that team. But Blanda had already played in the league for 17 years before he joined the Raiders. He was a quarterback and kicker for the Bears and Oilers before coming to the Raiders as a kicker at the age of 40. His best years came in his 7 years with the Oilers, so you’d have to yield to them.
Jerry Rice (2001-04) — Speaking of guys who didn’t join the Raiders until they’re in their 40s. Well, technically he was 39. But he was already a Hall of Fame 49er before he came to Oakland.
Ken Stabler (1970-79) — The Snake created his legacy with the Raiders in the 70s before five utterly forgettable seasons with the Oilers and Saints. He’s a Raider if there ever was one.
Marcus Allen (1982-1992) — Tough call here, but only because of the rocky relationship Allen had with Al Davis and the Raiders for such a long time, leading to the question of which team he would choose to represent. Otherwise it would be no question. He spent his first 11 seasons with the Raiders, making five of his six Pro Bowls and getting his only Super Bowl ring. His opinion aside, he is a Hall of Famer for what he did with the Raiders, so it must be so.
Mike Haynes (1983-1989) -- You won’t find a tougher call than this. Haynes split his career evenly with seven years with the Patriots and seven with the Raiders. He made six Pro Bowls for the Patriots and is in the Patriots’ ring of honor. He made three Pro Bowls with two All Pro nods with the Raiders and got his only Super Bowl ring with the Raiders. As good as he was, getting that ring made him a lock for the Hall of Fame. Haynes is a California native. He can be seen regularly around Raiders Legend events. I’m gonna say he’s a Raider. He may also be a Patriot. But he’s a Raider.
Ron Wolf (1963-1974, 1978-1989) — Over 38 years as an NFL front office man, Wolf spent 24 of those with the Raiders, collecting two Super Bowl rings in the process. He would get his third as the GM of the Packers. He also spent time as Vice President of the Buccaneers for three years in between stints with the Raiders and two years with the Jets before heading to Green Bay. It was there where he was a full fledged GM unlike with the Raiders where it was Al Davis who called all the shots. Wolf got his due over his 11 years with the Packers and that’s who he represents.
Ted Hendricks (1975-1983) -- He’d already won a Super Bowl and been to four Pro Bowls and was a 2-time All Pro by the time he came to Oakland. Then ‘The Mad Stork’ was named to four more Pro Bowls and 2 more All Pros while winning three more Super Bowl rings with the Raiders, retiring after the last one. Yeah, he’s a Raider.
Willie Brown (1967-1978) — Beginning his career in Denver, ‘Old Man Willie’ spent the final 12 years of his 16-year NFL career with the Raiders, heading to 7-straight Pro Bowls and being named All Pro four times. He got his ring in 1977 and had the legendary 76-yard interception return for a touchdown in the game. He’s also been a fixture within the Raiders organization nearly every year since his retirement in 1979. You don’t get much more Raider than Willie Brown.
Warren Sapp (2004-07) — No. Just no. He made his career with the Bucs and stole money from the Raiders for four seasons, caring only about his stats.
So, six of the eleven questionable Hall of Famers are surefire Raiders. That plus the nine career Raiders and you have...