Oakland Raiders History: Jersey Numbers That Should Be Retired-Offense
Since Al Davis took over the Oakland Raiders, there have been some great players that have donned the silver and black.
Raider fans have often shown their allegiance to their favorite players by wearing their number. However, they often find themselves wearing the number of a lesser player with that same number years later.
Why doesn't Davis retire numbers like most sports franchises?
It could be that he likes to say, "Son, I think highly enough of you to give you so-and-so's number, now honor it."
It could also be that by taking the sentimentality out of the number, he's attempting to say that no Raider is any better than any other; we're all one.
It could be nothing more than a numbers-game (no pun intended). If he retired the number of every great Raider, they'd run out of numbers before long.
Whatever the case, there are several numbers that have been honored by the player that wore them later, and some that have failed to live up to the number they were given.
Let's look at just a few of the offensive numbers that should be retired in numerical order...
No. 3-Darryl Lamonica
In 2003, the Raiders handed Rick Mirer the jersey No. 3. Did he really deserve to wear the number of the first great quarterback in Raider history?
I say, not a chance. Mirer didn't deserve to tie Lamonica's shoes, much less wear one of the most revered numbers in Raider history.
Mirer wasn't as bad in Oakland as he was elsewhere, but he should have worn another number.
As a life-long Raider fan, there are some quarterback numbers that are just off limits. That list starts with the No. 3.
Mr. Davis, retire this number, please.
No. 12-Ken Stabler
For some unknown reason, this jersey, and the player that wore it, Ken Stabler, are not in the Pro Football Hall of Fame in Canton Ohio.
Why is it not at least hanging from the rafters in Oakland?
In 1999 the Raiders allowed Rich Gannon to wear this number. For the most part, Gannon honored Stabler's number and played very well, although he never got the team over the hump for a championship.
Regardless of how well you play, there are certain traditions that should be left in the history books.
The number 12 should be retired.
No. 16-Jim Plunkett
Jim Plunkett wore this jersey number to two Super Bowl wins. If that doesn't warrant having your number retired, nothing does.
In 2003, third round pick Andrew Walter donned Plunkett's number. Even though he was never given a full chance to succeed, he never lived up to the number 16.
I really thought that Walter would be a good quarterback, but even if he was, he never deserved to wear this jersey.
The Hall of Fame is dragging their feet getting this well-deserved player in the Hall, but Mr. Davis is dragging his feet in honoring this player too.
Plunkett gave Al Davis two rings, it's time that Davis honored Plunkett with the retirement of his jersey.
No. 21-Cliff Branch
Along with Darryl Lamonica, Cliff Branch was the player that allowed Al Davis to create the deep passing, "score on every play if possible" offense.
Since Branch's retirement in 1985, several players have donned the number 21, including current player, Nnamdi Asomugha.
Asomugha is doing his very best to honor this number, and for the most part, has lived up to it.
That said, this is a number that should be immortalized by having it retired as Branch's number.
No. 25-Fred Biletnikoff
Since "Steady Freddie" retired, No. 25 has been worn by a few Raider fan favorites.
Charlie Garner and Justin Fargas are the most recent. Even though these two players were pretty good and loved by Raider Nation, they were never worthy of wearing this number.
Ultimately, Super Bowl XI MVP Biletnikoff should have his number on display, not on another player.
No. 30-Mark Van Eeghen
In 1984 safety Stacy Toran was given No. 30. Toran was a decent player, but he wasn't able to do with this number what the original player, Mark Van Eeghen did.
Van Eeghen was the heart and soul of the Raider rushing attack from 1974 to 1981. He made the No. 30 synonymous with power, strength, and success.
It's time the number 30 was honored by being retired.
No. 32-Marcus Allen
This number brings up an interesting case. It was used by one of the all time greatest Raider defenders, Jack Tatum before it was given to Marcus Allen in 1982.
I will discuss the Tatum angle in my next article that discusses defensive numbers that should be retired.
Allen did more than honor No. 32. He actually took it to the next level. Allen took this number into the Hall Of Fame.
Allen left Oakland under tense circumstances, but that doesn't undo all the great things he did while wearing this jersey.
Allen is still the all time leading rusher in Raider history. If that doesn't warrant having your number retired, what does?
No. 63-Gene Upshaw
Quite possibly the best offensive guard in the history of the NFL, Gene Upshaw is in the Pro Football Hall Of Fame, but his jersey is not immortalized in Oakland.
There aren't any instances I could find of another player wearing this number, but it doesn't change the fact that the number 63 should be officially retired by Mr. Davis and the Raiders organization.
No. 78-Art Shell
Few offensive tackles can be mentioned in the same breath as Art Shell. There is only one I can think of in this modern era that is worthy, Walter Jones.
Shell, along with Upshaw and Jim Otto anchored the offensive line of the Raiders during their hey-day. Running left was not a problem for Raider backs, and quarterback Ken Stabler never had to worry about pressure coming from the left.
The first African-American head coach of the modern era deserves to have his jersey retired by the Raiders.
No. 81-Tim Brown
The greatest receiver in Oakland Raider history. The Hall Of Fame is dragging it's feet to enshrine him, along with a lot of other good receivers like Chris Carter and Andre Reed.
Wide receiver Chaz Schilens is a nice young talent, but Timmy Brown he's not. He may be some day, but for now, No. 81 should never be used by another player ever again.
It's my belief that the Raiders organization shouldn't hesitate in getting Brown's jersey number retired and honored the way it deserves to be.
No. 87-Dave Casper
Those of you that know me or read my articles regularly are not surprised by this selection. Dave Casper was my childhood hero and one of the best tight ends ever.
Players have come and gone through Oakland and worn the number 87, but never really did it justice.
Dave "The Ghost" Casper was a great player and it is time for Al Davis and the Raiders to honor him by never allowing another player to wear his number.
00-Jim Otto (I don't think there's much chance this number will be used again, but still!)
That's just the Offense!
I realize that the Oakland Raiders have had so many great players that it would be almost impossible to retire all the worthy numbers.
If Al Davis were to actually retire every number of every great player, the Raiders would run out of numbers to issue to new players.
That said, there's no reason that Mr. Davis couldn't retire at least some of these numbers in honor the players that wore them and brought such success to the franchise and such joy to Raider Nation.
Be sure to check out the follow up to this article that will discuss the defensive numbers that I feel should be retired.
Did I miss some one? Add some one that didn't belong? Let's hear you Raider Nation!
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