Raiders History: Comparing 10 Current Players to 10 Players of the Past
Looking into the history books it cannot be denied: the Raiders have an awesome history as a franchise.
On the offensive side, they could almost field a complete squad, and if they would let in our defense, we could have a full roster.
For your amusement, here and now, are 10 past players and their present-day counterparts from the silver and black. Get some face paint, open the photo album, and enjoy!
Running Backs: Darren McFadden and Marcus Allen
For those of you who grew up in Los Angeles, or simply enjoyed watching Marcus Allen shred defenses, you know what it's all about.
Speed to burn. Marcus Allen had the ability to find the hole, break through, and then hit a second gear.
His most famous break? Try the Super Bowl, when Allen went one way, didn't see anything he liked, then reversed field, and stopped in the end zone for a TD 74 yards later.
Allen would find the end zone 79 times in the regular season on the ground, plus 18 more times catching the ball. It's anyone's guess on what those numbers would have been if he had stayed on Al's good side.
Darren McFadden, drafted fourth overall in 2008, has had an on-again, off-again start to a career. He brought a 164 yard performance in his second game into the league, only to be hamstrung with turf toe injuries slow him down afterwards.
In his second season he would miss several games in the middle of the season, with a game-high of 74 yards.
Outlook? Darren McFadden doesn't have a team that closely resembles the Raiders' powerhouse of the early 80s, but if they did and McFadden can stay healthy, good things can happen.
Quarterback: Jason Campbell and Jim Plunkett
Looking at the Raiders before the season in 1980, Jim Plunkett was not much of a thought. Most people were still wondering what happened with Ken Stabler, and if Dan Pastorini could replace him in any way.
Plunkett had been brought in, and, as fate would have it, turned into a miracle worker, helping lead the Raiders to the Super Bowl—twice. He may not have been flashy or able to run, but he could find the open man, and with Cliff Branch, Plunkett could burn any team in the NFL.
Jason Campbell, a new arrival in Oakland, is looking at a similar situation. However, whereas Plunkett did not know when he would be asked to save the club and season, Jason already has this weight on his shoulders.
Taking over for JaMarcus Russell and backed up by Bruce Gradkowski, Jason Campbell could be the turning point for the Raiders.
Overall, I'd side with Plunkett...he's shown how it can be done.
WR1: Fred Biletnikoff and Louis Murphy
This is not much of a comparison, due to the fact that you're looking at one legend and one player up-and-coming for the Raiders.
Fred Biletnikoff, who helped the Raiders to two Super Bowls, was a key cog in the Oakland offense.
Teamed up with Cliff Branch and Dave Casper, this provided Ken Stabler with many weapons, even before the defense could be mentioned. Fred's major advantage? The ability to hang onto the ball, no matter where it was thrown. Behind, over the head or at the shoelaces, Fred would haul it in.
Louis Murphy, a young player from a great program in Florida was a nice pickup in the draft. With 34 catches and four TDs, plus some questionable TDs called back, Louis simply did what Darrius Heyward- Bey couldn't....play well on the big stage.
It will be interesting to see if Louis can keep up his pace, and possibly move up to become the go-to guy for the Raiders. A few more seasons of highlights and it should be obvious.
Obviously, Fred Biletnikoff benefits from the teams he played around. But if Louis Murphy can help bring Oakland out of the dead zone they're in, Louis could make a name for himself in the Bay Area.
WR2: Cliff Branch and Johnnie Lee Higgins
For this degree, using two WRs is pretty simple...for the Raiders, it was a dual use of speed that would kill other teams time and time again.
Cliff Branch, in simple words, was a player the Chargers hated to face. Fast with the ability to turn it on like a switch, he played for all three of the Super Bowl winning clubs, in 1976, 1980 and 1983.
About the only argument that still makes news, is why he's not in the Hall of Fame.
Johnnie Lee Higgins burst onto the scene a couple seasons back, both as a return weapon but as a WR option that gave Russell a fleet-footed speed demon.
In 2008 he scored three touchdowns on punt returns, plus four more on catches.
Last season was hard to get going, after he had his bell rung in the opening week loss to the Chargers. If Johnnie and Jason Campbell can find a good pattern to work with, he can return to his forte of speed and possibly give Oakland a number of weapons to choose from.
Tight End: Dave Casper and Zach Miller
For the Raiders this position has always been a great link from the past to the present.
In the 70s the Raiders looked to Dave Casper, a tough guy to bring down, but always seemed to be open, in part thanks to his teammates' being double teamed.
Fast forward to the present. Oakland drafted Zach Miller and fans thought it was the rebirth of the TE position.
So far Zach has not failed, in three seasons he's increased the number of catches, plus he's only had two fumbles—back in his rookie year. A TE acts as a good outlet for the quarterback, so for the Raiders, things will only improve here in Oakland.
The only question that will need to be answered...will Zach someday join Casper in the Hall of Fame?
Only time will tell.
Center: Jim Otto and Samson Satele
Oakland, in the Center department, has a truly unique past.
From the start of the Raiders' existence until the end of 1974, the Raiders only knew of one Center—Jim Otto. The true "00", He was Mr Raider to most of our fathers and the first Raider inducted into the Hall of Fame. Sadly, he also paid for his time in Football, with a number of injuries to his legs and knees.
Samson Satele, on the other side of the coin, comes to the Raiders from the Miami Dolphins. The Raiders had worked with Jake Grove the previous year but chose to let him leave, opening the door for Samson.
With his work, and if needed a healthy backup in Chris Norris.
To be honest...this is lopsided...how do you compare to a legend like Otto? You can't.
Cornerback: Lester Hayes and Nnamdi Asomugha
Here's a fun position...you have Lester Hayes, Mr Stickum, and Nnamdi Asomugha, arguably the best corner in the game today.
Can you imagine both guys on the field, playing at their best? Quarterbacks would sue the Raiders for cruel and unusual punishment.
With Lester Hayes, here was a player who tormented teams for years in the 1980s. Some would say it was the stickum, but others could see his ability to torment WR options from other clubs. Pairing Lester with Mike Haynes was a key pairing that led to the 1983 Super Bowl.
Nnamdi, on the other hand, simply makes the Raiders' opponents lose half the playing field. While the Raiders do have Chris Johnson as the other corner, if you had to choose between one corner and Nnamdi, you know the pass is going the other way.
In this case I wouldn't want to play against either.
But while Lester had Stickum....watching Nnamdi is pure football, and the skill to run his position is an art form.
Safety: Jack Tatum and Michael Huff
Jack Tatum was a player in an era that was simply an animal...and that's how we liked it.
Jack played his brand of football, simply like a hockey goon would keep opponents in check. They would respect him, or they would get that grass taste in their mouth after trying to catch the ball.
While Jack was not the fastest defensive player, he had a talent of putting enough force behind a hit that, when administered right, made players wake up on the sidelines.
Given that the NFL changed rules regarding contact and that rough play is now frowned on, it's imaginable that Roger Goodell would simply keep all of Jack's salary for a year of play.
For today's Raiders, it has been a feast or famine time for Oakland. For a number of seasons, the fans have wondered if Michael Huff was a bust in training, not showing much to excite the fans.
This last year Huff did have some highlights, including three interceptions, half a sack, 50 tackles and 14 passes defensed. It remains to be seen though, if Huff can put two good seasons together.
End result: give me Tatum....we need someone to patrol the middle and give some justice to intruders.
Linebacker: Ted Hendricks and Trevor Scott
For the Raiders picking up this fun roving Linebacker turned out to be a good choice.
Tall, gangly, and with a love of the game, Ted wound up playing 215 straight games and picked up four Super Bowl rings, three with the Raiders.
A hall of fame player, he also served well on special teams, either blocking field goals, punts or racing down the field to find the punt returner getting worried.
For Oakland, a recent draft pick has been paying off year after year in Trevor Scott. Drafted in the sixth round in 2008, he picked up five sacks without starting a single game.
Then in 2009, he picked up another seven, only starting six games. Can you imagine what this fellow can do with a full season of work?
Between the two, Hendricks is hard to beat...the Mad Stork has always been a fan favorite, since riding a horse to practice.
Punting: Ray Guy and Shane Lechler
Ok, hands down...a category the Raiders own.
First and foremost, Ray Guy. For most of the Raider Nation, this was a player that should have been in the Hall of Fame decades ago.
For the NFL, this was the player that made the Punter a normal player position, not a standby quarterback who needed to do something else.
Ray Guy was well known for setting the standard for hang time, but also for allowing his teammates, like Ted Hendricks time to get downfield and either force a fumble, or pin the opposing team deep.
Probably his best two moments, was the pulling down of a high snap in the Super Bowl against the Redskins. Had he failed to pull the ball down, the Redskins could have the ball deep in Raiders' territory. His other moment? Punting and having Bum Phillips take the ball to test it for Helium!
On to the Present. Shane Lechler is again, top of the field at the present for the NFL. All season long the Raiders' punter was challenging a record set back in 1940. Shane fell short by .3 yard, and he punted 61 more times than Sammy Baugh did.
Again, both players are the best at what they did, when they did it. Ray was gifted at putting his team in a position to win the game, by forcing opponents to go the length of the field, while Lechler simply has the better leg to do it—and do it consistently...your choice.
To finish it up, can you imagine if Bo Jackson's career didn't end in that Playoff game?
If Tom Flores didn't retire, or John Madden kept coaching?
The Past is the past. But what a great past it has been.
In time, may the Raiders we cheer for now, be worthy to join them in time.
Thanks for stopping by!