Let’s rewind to the early days of the Oakland Raiders franchise. Original Raider Tom Flores (who was part of the organization before Al Davis became head coach in 1963) was one of the mainstays at QB though he split time with Cotton Davidson and some others.
Tom’s easy going disposition, decent quarterbacking skills, leadership in the huddle and “yes sir” attitude kept him in good graces with a young Al Davis. Though, something was lacking in Flores’ game. He did not throw a good long ball. This eventually made him expendable when Al (who was not undead in those days) decided he wanted a QB who could establish a vertical game.
Pickings were slim in the 1960’s. Even greats of the day like Bart Starr and Johnny Unitas were not known for their deep ball aerial skills as much as they earned their respective reputations for being gritty, on field generals who found ways to advance the chains and win ball games.
The AFL set out to change that perception but it took a while to really evolve.
Al Davis decided he was going to innovate even further so he traded Tom Flores for a backup in Buffalo named Daryle Lamonica. In this era, the big man behind center for the Bills was Jack Kemp.
You might just know Jack Kemp as a politician but he was an excellent quarterback in his day who held a firm grip on the starting role for the Bills. Daryle Lamonica was pushing for time and was seen as Kemp’s eventual replacement. QB controversy was in the air.
Ralph Wilson, the Buffalo Bills owner and entrepreneur (who significantly funded the Oakland Raiders entry into the AFL coincidentally), was agreeable to a transaction with Al Davis. Lamonica was shipped to Oakland for Tom Flores who better fit the role of backup to Kemp. No more QB controversy. Oakland now had their long ball artist and Buffalo was happy staying with Kemp.
A disgruntled Art Powell was also shipped to Buffalo as part of that trade.
Lamonica stretched the field the way Al liked it. Howard Cosell coined Lamonica as “The Mad Bomber” and etched the phrase into Raiders history.
In 1967 Lamonica led the Raiders to a 13-1 record and a Super Bowl berth (where they were hammered by Bart Starr’s Packers), leading the AFL with 30 touchdown passes. In games he started during his first three seasons with Oakland, the Raiders had a combined record of 36-4-1. In 1969, he threw for 34 touchdowns and over 3,300 yards.
Lamonica led the Raiders to three straight Western Division titles and one AFL Championship. He was a three-time AFL All-Star and in 1967 and 1969 was selected as the American Football League's Most Valuable Player. Eventually, Lamonica was voted into the AFL Hall of Fame.
RIP Jack, we lova ya baby.
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