Oakland Raiders Have Inspired Legacies of Excellence on the Playing Field

Honor Warren Wells TheTorchSenior Writer IIAugust 19, 2011

NAPA, CA - AUGUST 05:  A detail of a helmet during the Oakland Raiders Training Camp at the Napa Valley Marriott on August 5, 2009 in Napa, California.  (Photo by Jed Jacobsohn/Getty Images)
NAPA, CA - AUGUST 05: A detail of a helmet during the Oakland Raiders Training Camp at the Napa Valley Marriott on August 5, 2009 in Napa, California. (Photo by Jed Jacobsohn/Getty Images)


Some men may wonder if what they contributed in life has influenced others to attain excellence. Many former Oakland Raiders, like George Atkinson, have tangible evidence that what they achieved in professional football has established a foundation for excellence in their friends and children. Atkinson has twins who now attend Notre Dame. The twins may someday become great NFL players like their father.

Atkinson and Warren Wells were colleagues and friends during their days with the Raiders. Wells, too, has impacted the visions and dreams of young people in this generation of aspiring NFL players.  

Wisdom teaches us to learn from the good fortune or misfortune of others. Young college athletes and aspiring NFL players can learn what to do to achieve excellence on the playing field. They can learn what pitfalls to avoid when they are not on the playing field.

This article tells the story of a young man who has learned lessons from earlier generations of NFL players. His hope is to stand on the foundation of their achievements, and to go farther.

Transitions can spur strength

Sometimes setbacks are simply a setup for a better future. Michael Shelton can tell you that he has had a few challenges, but he is determined to make it to the NFL.

While at Texas Southern University, Shelton desired to be a part of Pro Day, but many transitions occurred and he ended up transferring to another college.

One major change that surprised many onlookers was the release of the head football coach Johnny Cole, who played a great part in winning the SWAC championship in 2010. It just goes to show you how volatile a career in college and NFL football can be: one day in and the next day out.

Tom Cable did good, but not good enough

It reminds this writer of what happened to Tom Cable who did coach the Oakland Raiders to a better record of 8-8. That record, however, did not secure his position as head coach.

Shelton's experience of seeing what happened to his former coach only toughened him and added more determination and focus to his game plan.

Shelton is now a student at a new college. He says, "It’s another great opportunity, I could not be any happier. This will be my last stop. I will graduate from Concordia College."

His prospects look good as a young man who wants to make it in pro football. He has matured and he is realistic about some of his social challenges of past. He now surrounds himself with mentors who actively counsel and nurture his preparation to try out for the NFL. His new coach is a main factor in helping him to stay focused.

Coach L. C. Cole is the coach who will help guide Shelton's football aspirations and collegiate training in 2011.

Another transition has been placed before Shelton. He is more accustomed to a 4-3 plan, but now he must function in a 3-4. Shelton has done his research and he says,

"This will be my first time playing in a 3-4 defense,  The 3–4 defense declined in popularity over the years, but has found renewed use by modern professional and college football teams."

Shelton studies football like someone who is studying law or medicine. He digs deep to know about the strategies and plays. He added a quote from a playbook,  

"The 3–4 defense is so named because it involves three down linemen and four linebackers. There are usually four defensive backs. However, most teams since the 1990s have been using the 4–3 defense, primarily because football is fundamentally a 'rush first' game, and the 4–3 defense's four down linemen make rushing more difficult by adding one more down lineman to fill gaps. By the same token, fast linebackers, sitting back to survey the offensive set, can key in on an inside ball carrier and 'hit the gaps' quickly to offer help to the three down linemen when defending the rush. In pass coverage, the four linebackers are already in a 'sitting back' position, able to see the patterns develop and cover the short/intermediate pass."

He energetically referred this writer to this quote:

"Teams that use the 3–4 defense include the New England Patriots, San Diego Chargers, Kansas City Chiefs, Dallas Cowboys, New York Jets, Green Bay Packers, Miami Dolphins, Baltimore Ravens, Buffalo Bills, Arizona Cardinals, San Francisco 49ers, Pittsburgh Steelers, Washington Redskins and Houston Texans. The Cardinals already incorporate the 5–2 defense, an older variation of the 3–4, in some of their defensive schemes. The Miami Dolphins have also incorporated elements of the 3–4 defense into their scheme, under defensive coordinator Mike Nolan. The Ravens run a hybrid defense and occasionally shift to 4–3 schemes during games. With the hiring of defensive coordinator Dom Capers, the Green Bay Packers have switched to a 3–4 defense (2009). The Buffalo Bills installed a 3-4 scheme to begin the 2010 season, but made frequent use of 4-3 sets as the season progressed. Under new defensive coordinator Wade Phillips, the Houston Texans have also indicated that they will adopt the 3–4 defensive scheme for the 2011 season" 

Shelton does his research and works out daily, which is an indication of his dedication and discipline. He loves football.

A polite gentleman, great things are in the works for this defensive end who wants to make it to the NFL. When asked about his motivation for attaining excellence in college and professional football, he answers this question,

  • What are your goals for the upcoming season?

"Finding a church, getting involved in my new community and helping out. 

There is no greater satisfaction than lending a helping hand.  Somebody took a chance with all of us, that chance made us what we are today, that opportunity will positively change our future.

On the field, my goals are going undefeated, gelling with my team and coaches during camp and staying healthy."

"I know this sounds crazy,” Michael Shelton says with a smile on his face, "but I want to get 28 sacks, 132 tackles, 10 forced fumbles and three interceptions."

He continues, "What’s the point of having a goal if you can’t make it come true?"

Also, Shelton wants a chance to participate in the NFL combine to compete against the best the NCAA has to offer.

He added,  "I need those stats to get that opportunity and I won’t settle for less.”

Inspired by retired Oakland Raiders like Warren Wells

Although Shelton is now at Concordia College, he reminds this writer of his inspiration drawn from the performance of Mr. Warren Wells, the Oakland Raiders prototype wide receiver who also attended Texas Southern University.

Shelton realistically focuses his appreciation of certain NFL players by looking at their outstanding data while on the NFL playing field. He also has learned what pitfalls to avoid so that his life after football will be both stable and prosperous.