Oakland Raiders

The Oakland Raiders are a professional American football team based in the city of Oakland, California. They are currently members of the Western Division of the American Football Conference (AFC) in the National Football League (NFL). Legally, the club is a limited partnership operated by Al Davis, who serves as President of the team's general partner, A.D. Football, Inc.

The Raiders began play in 1960 as the eighth charter member of the American Football League after the ownership group from Minnesota withdrew from the AFL to join the NFL. The Raiders later joined the NFL themselves in 1970 as part of the AFL-NFL Merger. The team has won one AFL title and three Super Bowls.

In 1982, Davis moved the team from Oakland to Los Angeles, California and the club became known as the Los Angeles Raiders, but they moved back to Oakland in 1995 being the only sports franchise to move and then come back without making an expansion team.

A few months after the first AFL draft in 1959, the owners of the yet-unnamed Minneapolis expansion team accepted an offer to join the established National Football League as an expansion team (now called the Minnesota Vikings) in 1961, sending the AFL scrambling for a replacement.

At the time, Oakland seemed an unlikely venue for a professional football franchise. The city had not asked for a team, there was no ownership group and there was no stadium in Oakland suitable for pro football (the closest stadiums were in Berkeley and San Francisco) and there was already a successful NFL franchise in the Bay Area in the San Francisco 49ers. However, the AFL owners selected Oakland after Los Angeles Chargers owner Barron Hilton threatened to forfeit his franchise unless a second team was placed on the West Coast. Accordingly, the city of Oakland was awarded the eighth AFL franchise on January 30, 1960. The team inherited the Minneapolis club's draft picks. As no AFL team ever played in the Twin Cities, that area is not considered the first home of the Raiders.

Upon receiving the franchise, Oakland civic leaders found a number of businesspeople willing to invest in the new team. A limited partnership was formed to own the team, which included general partners Harvey Binns, Don Blessing, Charles Harney, Ed McGah, Robert Osborne, and Wayne Valley, headed by managing general partner Chet Soda, a local real estate developer, as well as numerous limited partners. A "name the team" contest was held by a local newspaper, and the winner was the Oakland Señors. After a few weeks of the fledgling team (and its owners) being the butt of local jokes, the owners changed the team's name to the Oakland Raiders, which had finished third in the naming contest. The original team colors were black, gold and white. The now-familar team emblem of a pirate (or "raider") wearing a football helmet was created, reportedly a rendition of actor Randolph Scott.

When the University of California refused to let the Raiders play home games at Memorial Stadium in Berkeley, they chose Kezar Stadium in San Francisco as their home field. The team's first regular season home game was played on September 11, 1960, a 37-22 loss to the Houston Oilers. The Raiders finished their first campaign with a 6-8 record, and lost $500,000.

Soda dropped out of the partnership, and on January 17, 1961, Valley, McGah and Osborne bought out the remaining four general partners. Soon after, Valley and McGah purchased Osborne's interest, with Valley named as the managing general partner. That year the Raiders moved to Candlestick Park and finished 2-12. Total attendance for the season was about 50,000. Valley threatened to move the Raiders elsewhere unless a stadium was built in Oakland. In 1962 the Raiders moved into 18,000-seat Frank Youell Field (later expanded to 22,000 seats), their first home in Oakland. It was a temporary home for the team while the Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum was being built. The Raiders finished 1-13 in 1962, losing their first 13 games before winning the season finale, and attendance remained low.

After the 1962 season, Valley hired Al Davis, a former assistant coach for the San Diego Chargers, as head coach and general manager. At 33, Davis was the youngest person in professional football history to hold the positions. Davis changed the team colors to silver and black, primarily because those colors stood out in an era when most people watched football games on black-and-white television sets; as well, he wanted the colors of the Oakland Raiders to resemble that of the New York Yankees because he saw the Yankees as the model of excellence in Major League Baseball, and wanted to mold the Oakland Raiders as the model of excellence in football, hence the club slogan "commitment to excellence." Under Davis the Raiders improved to 10-4, and he was named the AFL's Coach of the Year in 1963. Though the team slipped to 5-7-2 in 1964, it rebounded to an 8-5-1 record in 1965.
McGah, Valley and Davis, 1968

In early 1966, Davis left the Raiders and became Commissioner of the AFL. His actions as Commissioner, together with the favorable contract negotiated with the NBC television network, resulted in the landmark AFL-NFL merger, whereby the NFL agreed to include all ten AFL franchises in an expanded 26-team NFL. The merger, however, left Davis embittered. He had envisioned a professional football landscape not unlike that of Major League Baseball, with two independent leagues sharing a common draft and playing a championship game at the end of the season. He felt betrayed by the AFL owners, who jumped at the chance to extinguish the newer league so they could receive NFL franchises. He resented the fact that a "football man," like himself, was subject to the whim of owners whose expertise was far outside the realm of the game. Davis' goal, therefore, was to become an owner himself.

With the merger, the position of AFL Commissioner was no longer needed, and Davis entered into discussions with Valley about returning to the Raiders. On July 25, 1966, Davis returned as part owner of the team. Though the owner of but a 10% interest in the Raiders, he became the team's third general partner — the partner (for the time being) in charge of football operations.

Six years later, in 1972, with Valley out of the country for several weeks attending the Olympic Games in Munich, Davis' attorneys drafted a revised partnership agreement that gave Davis total control over all of the Raiders' operations. McGah signed the agreement. Under partnership law, by a 2-1 vote of the general partners, the new agreement was thus ratified. Valley was furious when he discovered this, and immediately filed suit to have the new agreement overturned. The courts sided with Davis and McGah. As a result, Valley sold his interest in the team, and Davis — though owning but a small portion of the team — was firmly in charge.

On the field, the team Davis had assembled and coached steadily improved. With John Rauch as the new head coach, the Raiders won the 1967 AFL Championship, defeating the Houston Oilers 40-7. The win earned the team a trip to Super Bowl II, where they were beaten 33-14 by Vince Lombardi's Green Bay Packers. In 1968 and 1969, the Raiders again won Western Division titles, only to lose the AFL Championship to the eventual Super Bowl winners, the New York Jets (1968) and Kansas City Chiefs (1969). In 1970, the AFL-NFL merger took place and the Raiders joined the Western Division of the American Football Conference in the newly merged NFL.

In 1969, John Madden became the team's sixth head coach, and during the 1970s his Raiders became one of the most successful franchises in the NFL, though the team was slow to win recognition as a football powerhouse due to one heartbreaking loss after another in AFC Championship games, most notably at the hands of the Pittsburgh Steelers. Then, after finishing 13-1 in 1976, the Raiders defeated the Steelers 24-7 in the AFC Championship game, and went on to win their first NFL championship in Super Bowl XI over the Minnesota Vikings 32-14 in Pasadena, California.

Madden left the Raiders (and coaching) in 1979 to pursue a career as a television football commentator. Madden's replacement was former Raiders quarterback Tom Flores, widely considered the first Hispanic head coach in the history of the NFL. Flores guided the team to a win in Super Bowl XV over the Philadelphia Eagles, 27-10 and over the Washington Redskins in Super Bowl XVIII. In the victory over Philadelphia, the Raiders became the first ever "wild card team" (i.e., team making the playoffs without winning its division) to win a Super Bowl.

In their last season in Oakland, the team slipped to 7-9, finishing last in their division for the first time since 1962. In 1982, the Raiders moved to Los Angeles to play their home games at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum. Davis had tried on several occasions to get the city of Oakland to expand the Coliseum, only to be turned down. The Los Angeles Raiders won Super Bowl XVIII the following year, the team's nucleus largely inherited from Oakland. In a short pep talk prior to the game, Davis told his team, "Just win, baby! Be right!" As a result, the phrase "Just win, baby!" became Davis' catchphrase. Perhaps ironically, the Raiders have not won a Super Bowl since that time.

In 1987, the Raiders drafted dual-sport athlete Bo Jackson after he originally decided to not play professional football in 1986 (when drafted by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in the first round). Davis's perceived infatuation with Jackson caused a major rift between Davis and star running back Marcus Allen, who eventually left to play for the Kansas City Chiefs.

During the 1989 season, Davis fired head coach Mike Shanahan and replaced him with former Raider lineman Art Shell. Shell was the first African-American head coach of the modern NFL era. Shell led the Raiders to the AFC Championship game in the 1990 season, where they lost a lopsided affair to the Buffalo Bills, 51-3.

The team's fortunes faded after the loss. They made two other playoff appearances during the 1990s, and finished higher than 3rd place only three times. This period was marked by the career-ending injury of Bo Jackson in 1990, the failure of troubled quarterback Todd Marinovich, the departure of Marcus Allen in 1993 and the retirement of Hall of Fame defensive end Howie Long after the 1993 season.

On June 23, 1995, Davis signed a letter of intent to move the Raiders back to Oakland. The move was greeted with much public fanfare, and the 1995 season started off well for the team. They started 8-2, but injuries to starting quarterback Jeff Hostetler contributed to a six-game losing streak to end the season, and the Raiders failed to qualify for the playoffs.

In 1998, Al Davis strayed from his habit of hiring a head coach from within the organization for only the second time in franchise history when he hired Philadelphia Eagles offensive coordinator Jon Gruden, a young assistant who first worked for the 49ers under head coach Bill Walsh. Under Gruden, the Raiders started to play with a sense of discipline that had been lacking in previous years.

The 2000 season, the team's third under Gruden, was the team's most successful in a decade. Led by veteran quarterback Rich Gannon, the team finished 12-4 and advanced to the AFC Championship, losing 16-3 to the eventual Super Bowl champion Baltimore Ravens.

The Raiders acquired all-time leading receiver Jerry Rice prior to the 2001 season. They finished 10-6 but lost their divisional playoff game to the eventual Super Bowl champion New England Patriots, a game noted for the controversial "Tuck rule." The game was played in a heavy snowstorm, where an apparent fumble by Patriots quarterback Tom Brady was recovered by Raiders linebacker Greg Biekert. However, the play was reviewed and determined to be an incomplete pass, as Brady's passing arm apparently still was moving forward when he was hit, resulting in the Patriots retaining possession. The drive ended with a game-tying field goal, pushing the game into overtime. The Patriots would go on to win the game, 16-13.

Shortly after the 2001 season, the Raiders made an unusual move that involved trading Gruden to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers for cash and future draft picks. Bill Callahan, former offensive coordinator and offensive line coach of the Raiders during Gruden's tenure, was named head coach. The sudden move came after months of speculation in the media that Davis and Gruden had fallen out with each other both personally and professionally.

The Raiders finished the 2002 season 11-5 and clinched the top seed in the playoffs. Gannon was named MVP of the NFL, and the Raiders made their fifth Super Bowl appearance following the season. They lost Super Bowl XXXVII to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, which was and still is coached by Gruden, 48-21.

The Raiders finished the 2003 season, their second year under Callahan, 4-12. This season, and the team's fans utter devotion despite the poor record, is chronicled in "Better to Reign in Hell," a book written by two English professors from San Diego. The title is derived from an assertion by Satan in Paradise Lost by John Milton that it is "Better to reign in Hell than serve in Heaven." At the end of the 2003 regular season Callahan was fired and replaced by Norv Turner.

The team's fortunes did not improve in Turner's first year. They finished the 2004 season 5-11, with only one division win, a one-point victory over the Denver Broncos in Denver. Other season highlights included a nationally televised home win against the Buccaneers, to whom they'd lost in the Super Bowl almost three years prior. However, Gannon was injured during the game, which eventually resulted in his retirement. Kerry Collins, who led the New York Giants to a Super Bowl in 2001, took over.

In early 2005 the Raiders acquired Pro Bowl wide receiver Randy Moss via trade with the Minnesota Vikings. They also picked up Lamont Jordan from the New York Jets. But their win-loss ratio became worse; the Raiders finished 4-12, and Turner was fired.

Up until 2006, ticket prices for Raiders games were the highest in the NFL. Sitting in the highest area from the field (Sections 335-355), dubbed "Mount Davis", cost $46 plus extra charges. Along with the team's recent record of poor play, this is one of the main reasons that Raider games do not typically sell out to full capacity (only three of the home games in 2005 sold out; Kansas City, Dallas, and Denver). However, in 2006, ticket rights are now handled by the Raiders, not Alameda County. The "Mount Davis" seats have officially been lowered to $26, and PSL's have been removed from all ticket prices. While the number of season ticket sales haven't been announced, according to Amy Trask, the Raiders chief executive, confirmed that the number is indeed higher than usual, and that over 30,000 seats have been bought.

Ed McGah, the last of the original eight general partners of the Raiders, died in 1983. Upon his death, his interest was devised to a family trust, of which McGah's son, E.J. McGah, was the trustee. The younger McGah was himself a part-owner of the team, as a limited partner. He died in 2002.

Several members of the McGah family filed suit against Davis and the Raiders in 2003, alleging mismanagement of the team by Davis. Among their specific complaints, the McGahs alleged that Davis had failed to provide them with detailed financial information previously provided to Ed and E.J. McGah. The Raiders countered that, under the terms of the partnership agreement as amended in 1972, upon the death of the elder McGah in 1983, his general partner interest converted to that of a limited partner. The team continued to provide the financial information to the younger McGah as a courtesy, though it was under no obligation to do so. (It should be noted that the Raiders' limited partnership agreement is not of public record.)

In 2004 the lawsuit was settled out of court. The terms of the settlement are confidential, but it has been reported that under its terms Davis has purchased the McGah family's interest in the Raiders, and for the first time owns a majority interest, speculated to be between 60-70% of the team. Davis is the Raiders' sole general partner (as president of A.D., Inc.). In recent years, the Raiders have not made public the names of its limited partners, who continue to own between 30-40% of the team.

The Raiders' logo is a shield that consists of the words "Raiders" at the top, crossed swords, and the head of a Raider wearing a football helmet. Over the years, it has undergone minor color modifications (such as changing the background from white to black in 1964), but it has essentially remained the same.

When the team began playing in 1960, they wore black helmets, gold trim, and either black or white jerseys.

The Raiders' current silver and black uniform design has essentially remained the same since it debuted in 1963. It consists of silver helmets, silver pants, and either black or white jerseys. The black jerseys have silver numbers. Originally, the white jerseys also had silver numbers with a black outline, but they were changed to black with a silver outline for the 1964 season. In 1970, the team reverted to the 1963 design with silver numerals for the season. However, in 1971 the team again displayed black numerals and with the exception of a handful of "throwback" games, have used this color scheme ever since.

The Raiders have been involved in several lawsuits with the cities of Los Angeles and Oakland, as well as with the NFL.

* When the NFL first declined to approve the Raiders' move from Oakland to Los Angeles back in 1980, the team along with the Los Angeles Coliseum successfully sued the league for violating antitrust laws.
* They were the only team that was not a defendant in the USFL's ultimately unsuccessful antitrust suit against the NFL; Davis was a witness for the USFL in that action.
* The Raiders sued the city of Los Angeles after the city backed out of a stadium deal for the team.
* After relocating back to Oakland, they sued the NFL for interfering with the team's negotiations to build a new stadium at Hollywood Park prior to the move. The lawsuit further contended that the Raiders had the rights to put an NFL team in Los Angeles, and thus were entitled to compensation from the league for giving up those rights by moving to Oakland.
* They sued the city of Oakland and the Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum Authority over Personal Seat Licenses (PSLs). When the team moved back from Los Angeles, the Raiders agreed to sell PSLs to help pay for the renovations to their stadium. But after games rarely sold out, the Raiders filed lawsuits, claiming that it was misled by the city and the Coliseum Authority with the false promise that there would be sellouts. On November 2, 2005, a settlement was announced and that they will discontinue PSLs as of the end of the 2005 season.
* The Raiders sued the Carolina Panthers and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers for infringed upon key trademark elements of the Raiders' brand, including the Buccaneers' pirate logo and the Panthers' silver and black color scheme. The Raiders wanted the courts to bar the Buccaneers and Panthers from wearing their uniforms while playing in California. However, since the lawsuit was filed in a State of California court, the lawsuit was dismissed because only federal courts have jurisdiction on intellectual property issues. The Raiders have yet to appeal the ruling.

The Oakland Raiders have four primary rivals: their divisional rivals (Denver Broncos, Kansas City Chiefs, and San Diego Chargers) and their geographic rival, the San Francisco 49ers. They also have rivalries with other teams that arose from playoff battles in the past.

* The Denver Broncos and the Raiders have been divisional rivals since the two teams began play in the AFL in 1960. While the Raiders still hold a sizable advantage in regular season play (54-37-2), the Broncos have won five of the last six matchups (2003-2005). Current Broncos head coach Mike Shanahan coached the Raiders before being fired just four games into the 1989 season, which has only served to intensify this rivalry.
* The Kansas City Chiefs and the Raiders have had several memorable matches and have a bitter division rivalry, which was exacerbated in 1968 when the Kansas City Athletics baseball team moved to, of all places, Oakland, and in 1969 when the Kansas City Royals expansion team was placed in the same division as the A's. It seems to have given Kansas City sports fans a bitter dislike of Oakland in general. The Chiefs have won the last 6 matchups (2003-2005) against Oakland, and the Chiefs also lead the overall series 50-43-2.
* The San Diego Chargers are perhaps the Raiders' oldest rivals, dating to the 1963 season when the upstart Raiders defeated the heavily-favored Chargers twice, in both cases come-from-behind fourth quarter victories. One of the most memorable games between these teams was the "Holy Roller" game in 1978, where the Raiders fumbled for a touchdown in a very controversial (and now illegal) play. Since 1995, this rivalry has only intensified, as Raider fans from the Los Angeles area now purchase a large percentage of the tickets to Raider-Charger games played in San Diego. As of September 11, 2006, the Chargers have won the last six consecutive meetings between the two teams.

* The San Francisco 49ers, the team across the San Francisco Bay, are the Raiders' geographic rivals. Unlike the divisional rivalries, however, this rivalry is more important to the fans of the teams than to the players, since the teams play in different conferences. People in the Bay Area who like the Raiders generally have a passionate hatred of the 49ers, and the feeling is mutual. This rivalry continued unabated even during the Raiders' 13-year hiatus in Los Angeles. San Francisco won 34-20 the last time the two teams played each other, on Oct. 8th, 2006 at Monster Park in San Francisco.
* The Los Angeles Rams were the Raiders' geographic rivals from 1982, when the Raiders moved to Los Angeles, through the 1994 season, after which both teams moved from the Los Angeles area. The rivalry, while fueled by some fans' resentment of the Rams' 1980 move to Anaheim Stadium, was never close to being as intense as either the Raider-49er rivalry or the 49er-Ram rivalry. The Rams, now known as the St. Louis Rams are scheduled to play in Oakland during the 2006 NFL season.

* The New England Patriots are the most recent playoff rivals of the Oakland Raiders. This is due to the controversial "Tuck rule" incident in 2002. The Raiders have not yet faced them again in the postseason, although they did beat the Patriots in the following regular season in Oakland, which helped knock them out of the playoffs in 2003. During that matchup, when ever the football was jarred loose from a Patriot player, Raider fans would chant "It was a fumble! It was a fumble!" Many Raider fans are still bitter, especially considering the Patriots' success that followed the incident.
* The New York Jets began a strong rivalry with the Raiders in the AFL in the 1960s that continued through much of the 1970s, fueled in part by Raider Ike Lassiter breaking star quarterback Joe Namath's jaw during a 1967 game (though Ben Davidson wrongly got the blame), the famous Heidi Game during the 1968 season, and the Raiders' bitter loss to the Jets in the AFL Championship Game later that year. This rivalry waned in later years, due to the Jets' slide into mediocrity, but has been boosted recently by some late-season and playoff meetings. The Raiders are scheduled to go to the Meadowlands to play the Jets again in the 2006 NFL season. They went there in 2005, and lost.
* The Pittsburgh Steelers' rivalry with the Raiders was extremely intense during the 1970s. The Steelers denied the Raiders a trip to the Super Bowl in three of four consecutive seasons in the early 1970s (the first loss was the famous "Immaculate Reception" loss) until the Raiders finally beat the Steelers in the 1976 AFC Championship game and won the Super Bowl the following January. After his team's loss to the Raiders, Steeler coach Chuck Noll described the Raider defensive backs as a "criminal element" in a post-game interview. The Steelers are scheduled to go to Oakland and play the Raiders in the 2006 NFL season, but their rivalry has since faded in recent times.
* The Seattle Seahawks had a rivalry with the Raiders from 1977-2001. However, the rivalry was more important to Seahawk fans, who were bitter at the Raiders for beating them in the 1983-84 AFC Championship game. The rivalry probably was not as important as those with other division rivals to Raider fans since the Seahawks were an expansion team, not placed in the AFC West until 1977. The Seahawks moved to the NFC West in 2002, and now only face the Raiders once every 4 years, lessening the rivalry. The Raiders are scheduled to play in Seattle during the 2006 NFL Season.

The nickname Raider Nation refers to the die hard fans of the team. Members of the Raider Nation are known for arriving to the stadium early, tailgating, dressing up in face masks, and black outfits. The Raider Nation is also known for its "black hole", a specific section of the McAfee Coliseum (Sections 104, 105, 106, and 107) frequented by the rowdiest and most fervent fans. The Autumn Wind, narrated by John Facenda, is also known as "The Battle Hymn of the Raider Nation". It is played at every home game and often heard in the parking lot at McAfee Coliseum.

Notable Raider fans include Metallica frontman James Hetfield and rapper/actor Ice Cube. Metallica, at their own expense, performed a free concert in the Parking Lot Party at the Network Associates Coliseum before the 2002-2003 AFC Championship game which the Raiders won against the Titans 41-24.

Raider games are broadcast in English on 20 radio stations in California, including flagship station KSFO (560 AM) in San Francisco and KLAC (570 AM) in Los Angeles. Additionally, games are broadcast on ten radio stations in Hawaii, Oregon, Nevada, New Mexico, and British Columbia. Bill King was the voice of the Raiders from 1966-1992. Currently, Greg Papa is the play-by-play announcer, with former Raider coach and quarterback Tom Flores doing commentary. George Atkinson and Jim Plunkett offer pre- and post-game commentary.

Raider games are also broadcast in Spanish on six radio stations, including station KZSF (1370 AM) in San Jose and five other stations in California's Central Valley. Erwin Higueros handles play-by-play in Spanish, with Ambrosio Rico doing commentary.Permission is granted to copy, distribute and/or modify this document under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License, Version 1.2 or any later version published by the Free Software Foundation; with no Invariant Sections, with no Front-Cover Texts, and with no Back-Cover Texts.
Virtual Magic is a human knowledge database blog. Text Based On Information From Wikipedia, Under The GNU Free Documentation License. Copyright (c) 2007 Virtual Magic. Permission is granted to copy, distribute and/or modify this document under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License, Version 1.1 or any later version published by the Free Software Foundation; with no Invariant Sections, no Front-Cover Texts and no Back-Cover Texts. A copy of the license is included in the section entitled "GNU Free Documentation License".

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