Top 10 Players Who Finished Their Careers as an Oakland Raider
Throughout their illustrious history, the Oakland Raiders made huge successes out of players other teams didn't want.
It was their trademark.
Whether they acquired those players through trades, or simply picked them up of the Pro Football waiver wire, it always seemed to work. Players who were almost at the end of their careers would come to Oakland and be great again for two or three more years.
That's one of the reasons I loved the Raiders from the day I first saw them play.
Once a Raider, always a Raider as the saying goes. Many players who only spent a few years in the East Bay identify themselves more as a Raider player then they do with other franchises where they spent much of their career.
The Raiders have always had a strong identity that way.
Over the years there have been some great ones, and here is a list of the top 10. I have ranked them using various criteria. How well they played, and how long they played in Oakland, but also how those players fitted the Raider ethos and attitude.
I think the Raiders recycled players better than any other franchise in the league.
I was one of those people who felt that Romo should have been a Raider from the start. He just didn't fit in San Francisco to my mind, he was brutal, loved to hurt people, and had serious anger management issues.
Really, that's everything you look for in a linebacker.
Bill Romanowski came to the Raiders very late in his career, and only completed one full season, but he helped get us back to the Super Bowl after 19 years away, and contributed 88 tackles, 4.0 sacks and an interception that year.
That means a lot.
Romo totally fitted the Raider profile with his attitude and playing style, and I only wish had made a longer stay in Oakland.
In June 1971, the Rams traded tackle Bob Brown and a couple of draft choices to to the Raiders for Harry Schuh and Kent McCloughan.
Brown might not have been a Raiders for just three years, but he contributed top quality line play to the Raiders through the 1971 to 1973 seasons, and in '71 and '72 was named by Pro Football Weekly as first team NFL.
He retired in 1973 after giving way to fellow Raider great John Vella at right tackle, and will be remembered as one of the best offensive tackles in Raider history
A six-time Pro Bowl selection and voted All Pro five times, Bob Brown was deservedly inducted into the Hall of Fame class of 2004.
Another very short career with the Raiders, just 2002 and an injury plagued 2003, but Rod Woodson was an All Pro for us in the 2002 season, and just like Romo, was a key contributor to getting us back to the Superbowl in that year.
Who can forget his 98-yard interception return for a touchdown against Denver in 2002?
That was the play that turned our season around and helped us snap a four game losing streak. His eight interceptions that year tied Tampa Bay's Brian Kelly for the NFL lead, and his inspirational leadership and locker room presence was beyond value.
One of the truly great players to grace the NFL, both on and off the field, and we were privileged to have him in Oakland even for so short a time. Had he spent longer with us, he would be a lot further up this list.
He went to 11 pro Bowls, was a six-time All Pro, and was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 2009.
Rich gannon had been with three different NFL teams over 10 years as a journeyman and a backup before he came to Oakland where he landed in 1999.
In the following four seasons, he had the best years of his career, and went to the Pro Bowl every time. In 2000, he was named All Pro, and in 2002 he was the league's most valuable player.
He led the Raiders to two AFC Championship games and one Super Bowl. Although he played badly in the biggest game of his career, it should not detract from the enormous contribution that he made to the Oakland Raiders in his time there.
He had a 45-29 winning record as a starter for the Raiders, and his preparation and work ethic were legendary. During his tenure in Oakland, Gannon was so good, that seven years later they have still not found a suitable replacement.
Jon Matuszak was perhaps both the ultimate Raider, and the ultimate Raider reclamation project.
Four years after being the overall No. 1 pick in the draft (1973) by Houston from the University of Tampa, Jon Matuszak was on the verge of being out of football having already been cut by three teams.
He found a home in Oakland.
He didn't make Pro Bowls, but he gave the Raiders a dominant presence on the defensive line that was the final piece of the jigsaw in a 3-4 defense that helped get the Raiders to Super Bowl XI.
Prior to Super Bowl XV in New Orleans, he was seen out late at night drinking on Bourbon Street, later claiming "I was there to make sure nobody else was out there!"
A legendary drinker and hell raiser, he was as famous for breaking curfew and his outrageous exploits off the field as any player in the league.
He played six years in Oakland and won two Super Bowl rings before retiring due to injury following the 1981 season. He died tragically of heart failure in 1989, aged only 38 years old.
After spending the first 11 years of his career in Denver and Cleveland, Alzado was traded from the Browns to Oakland in 1982 for an eighth round draft choice. He was 33 at the time, and that year was the AP comeback player of the year.
He spent the last four years of his career with the then 'L.A. Raiders', and with Howie Long gave the Raiders one of the best defensive end tandems in football.
He was a notoriously hot tempered and emotional player, and Al Davis made a very smart move bringing him to the silver and black. Alzado totally dominated Tunch Ilkin in the 1984 divisional playoff game against Pittsburgh en route to the Raiders dominant victory in Super Bowl XVIII against Washington, where again he was a key contributor.
A tremendous force at defensive end whilst with the Raiders, Lyle Alzado is fondly remembered by the Raider faithful.
He died in 1992 from brain cancer.
Mike Haynes had made six Pro Bowls in seven years with the New England Patriots before being traded to the L.A. Raiders in 1883 for first and second round draft choices.
A steep price, but the Raiders got the best end of the deal.
Teamed with Lester Hayes at cornerback, many felt that Haynes was the final player that the Raiders needed to make them into a championship team that year, and helped take them to Super Bowl XVIII. With two shutdown corners, the Raiders were able to play the style of defense that they wanted.
Howie Long once said "Mike was so talented, it was boring", meaning that you knew Haynes receiver wasn't going to catch the ball, there was no real excitement to it. That is rare in any player.
Haynes played seven years in the silver and black, and went the three more Pro Bowls. He is part of the great tradition of Raider cornerbacks, and rightly was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 1997.
Another Raider great picked off the NFL scrap heap by Al Davis.
Like Jon Mutaszak, Plunkett was an overall No. 1 pick coming out of College in 1971, but after winning rookie of the year honours his first year his career went into decline. After being traded to the San Francisco 49ers and then cut two years later, he was picked up the Oakland in 1979, aged 32.
When Dan Pastorini broke his leg part way through the 1980 season, Plunkett stepped into the breach and never looked back, taking Oakland to a win in Super Bowl XV against the Philadelphia Eagles, where he was named the games most valuable player.
He also led the Raiders to victory in Super Bowl XVIII, and was a fixture there for eight years, before retiring after the 1986 season.
What I always remember about Jim Plunkett was his ability under pressure.
He could throw three or four interceptions in a game, but on that last drive when you really needed it, you knew he would come good. Plunkett is a true Raider fairytale.
Al Davis traded for cornerback Willie Brown from the Denver Broncos in 1967, in what had to be one of the best moves ever made in franchise history.
Brown had played for Denver for four years, and had already made two Pro Bowls, but he went on to play another 12 years in Oakland, and made seven consecutive Pro Bowls between 1967 and 1973.
During a stellar career in Oakland, he intercepted 39 passes (ties franchise record) and was one of the key players in the great Raiders teams of the '60s and '70s. He is best remembered for his 75 yard interception return for a touchdown to seal Oakland's 32-14 win against the Minnesota Vikings in Super Bowl XI.
He was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 1984.
One of the all time great defensive backs, 'Old man Willie' went on to become Raiders defensive backs coach for many years, only retiring following the 2010 season.
Ted 'Mad Stork' Hendricks was an unlikely looking linebacker at 6'7" tall, but he was one of the all time greats.
He holds the career records for safeties (four, three with the raiders), and blocked kicks (25), as well as playing on all three Raider Super Bowl winning teams.
Just like Lyle Alzado and Jon Matuszak, he was supposed to be a Raider all along.
Hendricks was acquired in 1975 from the Green Bay Packers for two first round draft choices, he was 28 at the time.That is the highest price the Raiders ever payed for a player in any trade, but Al Davis knew Ted Hendricks was worth it.
He had also previously been with the Baltimore Colts for five seasons, and already had a Super Bowl ring.
Hendricks was a rebel and a hell-raiser, and was not the sort of player who could flourish anywhere. That's why John Madden's relaxed atmosphere in Oakland suited him very well.
He fitted in with the Kenny Stabler, Phil Villapiano crowd instantly.
He was a strong run defender and an excellent pass rusher, but more than that he was a player who was a game changer. Someone who could some up with a big play when you needed one. His four Super Bowl rings are no accident.
He went on to play nine seasons with the Raiders.
Hendricks was an eight time Pro Bowler, four time All Pro, and was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 1990.
One of the all time great linebackers, and one of the all time great Raiders.