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Countdown to kickoff: 95 is Fadol Brown, it’s also the mark of a legendary Raiders tight end

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San Diego Chargers v Los Angeles Raiders Photo by George Rose/Getty Images

Ninety Five days still until the Raiders open the season at home on Monday Night Football against the LA Rams. That will be the second time in 2018 the Raiders will face those Rams. They head down to LA to meet them in week two of the preseason.

That first match-up will have the Raiders taking the field at the LA Memorial Coliseum, where they called home for 13 years from 1982-94 before returning to Oakland in 1995.

The first seven of those years the Raiders had arguably the best tight end in the NFL. One Todd Christensen. For four straight years from 1983 to 1986 Christensen led the Raiders in receiving. He averaged 87 catches, 1098 yards, and 8 touchdowns over those four seasons, being named to the Pro Bowl each season and twice an All Pro.

1983 was, of course, the year the Raiders went on to win their third Super Bowl. Also happening that year was Christensen setting a new NFL record for tight ends with 92 catches, beating out Kellen Winslow’s previous record of 89 catches.

That record would stand until 1986, when it was surpassed by...himself. That season, Christensen literally outdid himself, setting a new record, catching (you guessed it) 95 passes.

His first record stood just three years. This one would stand a lot longer.

It wasn’t until 1994 that anyone would top Christensen’s record. It was Patriots tight end Ben Coates who was the first, just beating it with 96 catches that season.

To this day, Christensen’s 95-catch season is 9th all time in NFL ranks, most by a Raiders tight end, and 2nd in franchise history at any position, behind only Tim Brown’s 104 catches in 1997.

Christensen would retire after the 1988 season, leaving behind a considerable legacy. He was among those who transformed our ideas of the kind of dynamic receiving threat a tight end could be.

Who’s wearing it now:

During the draft the Raiders shipped 2016 second round bust Jihad Ward off to Dallas in exchange for wide receiver and return man Ryan Switzer. Ward wore the number 95 the past two years and with him gone, Fadol Brown has taken it for his own.

Brown was an undrafted free agent out of Mississippi in 2017. The team liked him enough to keep him around on the practice squad all last season to develop his talent.

This week Defensive Coordinator Paul Guenther had this to say about Brown:

“He’s another good fit for us,” said Guenther. “I mean 6-4, 6-5, 280, 275 pounds. He’s a good rusher. He can play the run. He’s been real active in there. He’s learning the defense. Just the technique and the footwork of everything we’re asking him to do. He’s going to surprise some people I think this year.”