What a long and strange trip is has been for the Oakland Raiders.
Los Angeles Chargers owner Barron Hilton told the AFL he would rescind his franchise if the league did not get another West Coast team. There were few football stadiums that were appealing for professional football in California at that time.
The city of Oakland asked for the Raiders after a group of businessmen formed a group to purchase the team. They played their first season across the bay in San Francisco and even played their last three games on the NFL's San Francisco 49ers' turf at Candlestick Park.
After a rough start, the Chargers helped the Raiders again. Al Davis was an assistant coach to Hall of Famer Sid Gillman with the Chargers. Davis was named the general manager and head coach.
The team started to improve, but Davis accepted the job to be AFL commissioner, but the job was short-lived because the AFL decided to merge with the NFL. Davis returned to the Raiders after buying a stake in the team's ownership.
Becoming a powerful team by this time under head coach John Rauch, the Raiders won the 1967 AFL title before heading to the second-ever Super Bowl and losing to the Green Bay Packers. The team continued to be one of the best in football, but it would take until 1976 for them to reach another Super Bowl.
After winning it all that year, the Raiders won another Super Bowl in 1980. Davis had now become the managing general partner of the Raiders and was unhappy with the Oakland Coliseum. He moved the team to Los Angeles. Though an unpopular move for the city of Oakland, Los Angeles accepted the Raiders with open arms.
The city now hosted the Raiders and the Rams together. The Rams, who had been there since 1946, battled the Raiders for fans allegiance; the Raiders gained an edge by winning the Super Bowl in 1983. Though the Rams won a title in 1951, it would be the only championship they secured until moving to Saint Louis in 1995 and winning it all in 1999.
Oakland somewhat struggled after the 1985 season as they tried to rebuild. An 8-8 season was their best until 1989. Rumors of their return to Oakland began around that time and became a reality in the 1995 season.
Since then, it has been a bit of a roller coaster ride.
The team did reach the Super Bowl in 2002, but lost. They began to struggle after that season and eventually became the first team in NFL history to lose at least 11 games in seven straight seasons.
Some fans of the Raiders think the 82-year-old Davis is a lot like Bears owner George Halas was toward the end of his career—out of touch and stubborn in his ways. Other fans do not question the wisdom of the Hall of Famer and live by his created slogans like "Pride and Poise," "Commitment to Excellence," and "Just Win, Baby."
With the team's recent improvement in 2010, it seems Davis has plenty left in his tank to give to his beloved Raiders.
This is a team rich in tradition and history with some of the most loyal fans in all of football. They have witnessed some of football's greatest and even most controversial moments with their team.
There was the infamous "Heidi Game" in 1968, when the NBC network decided the New York Jets had the game in hand late in the fourth quarter and switched to a movie. The Raiders stormed back and won.
There was the "Immaculate Reception" in 1972, when the Steelers returned a deflected pass for a score late in a playoff game. Fans still question whether the ball touched the Steelers or Raiders first.
There was the "Sea of Hands" play in 1974, where halfback Clarence Davis caught a fluttering touchdown pass to win while three Miami defenders dove for the ball in a playoff game.
There was the "Ghost to the Post," where Hall of Fame tight end Dave Casper made a crucial 42-yard catch as time was expiring in double-overtime against the Baltimore Colts. The Raiders tied the game, and Casper caught the winning touchdown in the next overtime period. It is the fourth-longest game in NFL history and was the last playoff game ever for the Baltimore Colts.
There was the "Holy Roller" in 1978, where three Raiders fumbled the ball forward before falling on the ball in the end zone for the winning score as time expired.
There was the "Red Right 88" play where Cleveland Browns quarterback Brian Sipe was on the Raiders' 13-yard line with less than a minute to go in a 1981 playoff game with Oakland leading by one point. Instructed to throw the ball away if the play wasn't there, Sipe tried to force the ball to Hall of Fame tight end Ozzie Newsome, and the ball was picked off by the Raiders' Mike Davis.
There was the "Tuck Rule Game" in a playoff game in 2002 against the New England Patriots. Played in the snow, Patriots quarterback Tom Brady appeared to fumble the ball in a tied game. Oakland recovered the ball, but the referees declared that Brady's arm was going forward, and it was an incomplete pass. This allowed New England to kick the game-winning field goal shortly thereafter.
Many of these plays had an impact on the game afterwards, as the NFL made rule changes to prevent them from happening again. The one thing that is certain is the Raiders seem to be in the middle of some of football's most historic moments.
With that said, here are some of the best players from those Raiders teams that have yet to be enshrined in Canton.