25 Most Intimidating Raiders in Franchise History

Carl CockerhamSenior Analyst INovember 23, 2011

25 Most Intimidating Raiders in Franchise History

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    Intimidate: 1 To make timid or frighten.                      

                       2 To force into or deter from some action by including fear.                                                                                                           

    By those two definitions, the Oakland Raiders have to be the most intimidating team in the history of the NFL. They are always among  the league's lead in penalties—especially those of the unsportsmanlike like variety.

    From intimidating franchises come intimidating players, and the Raiders have had plenty in their history. From those, I picked 25 whom I thought were the most intimidating of all the Raiders ever to wear silver and black.

    Turn the page to see how I ranked them.

No. 25 Phil Villapiano: 1971-1979

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    Phil Villapiano was a rough, rugged, intimidating inside linebacker on the Raiders' defense in the '70. He was as mean as they come, featuring the bottle opener move the took ball carriers' helmets off of their heads.

    They usually didn't want to come back for more after that.

No. 24 Bill Pickell: 1983-1990

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    At 6'5", 280 pounds, Bill Pickel was a huge defensive nose tackle for the 80's and a beast. He towered over the centers that tried to block him and usually bullied his way past them in order to crush quarterbacks.

    He played just as mean as he looked, so opposing offensive lineman didn't want to upset him out of fear of him taking it out on their quarterbacks. It was a forgone conclusion the Pickel was going to get to the quarterback when he was a Raider.

    Don't you think a nose tackle having 11.5 and 12.5 sack seasons is scary?

No. 23 Darrell Russell: 1997-2001

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    At 6'5", 325 pounds, Darrell Russell was a quarter man, a quarter beast, and a quarter amazing. His fatal flaw was that he was a quarter crazy too—resulting in the drug abuse that lead to the car accident that took his life.

    The Raiders wouldn't have been so horrible against the run for so long had he lived to play his career out. Running backs were scared trying to run up the middle, and quarterbacks were scared, trying to pass too.

    Oh, what could have been. 

No. 22 Chester McGlockton: 1992-1997

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    The Williams wall in Minnesota had nothing on what the Raiders had when Chester McGlockton played with Russell. Running backs went nowhere, as they went back to the huddle with their helmet turned sideways.

    And quarterbacks—awe, man, when McGlockton landed on them.

No. 21 Lincoln Kennedy: 1996-2003

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    I don't care what anyone says, when you're as huge as Lincoln Kennedy, you are automatically and intimidating man. But it was the way his used his 6'6", 345 pound frame that made him one of the most intimidating Raiders ever.

    To put it to you succinctly, the offensive tackle was a pancake artist.

No. 20 George Atkinson: 1968-1977

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    George Atkinson didn't scare you with his size because he was only 180 pounds soaking wet. But the ferocity he played with made up for any shortcomings he had in size—just ask Lynn Swann, who Atkinson once knocked out with a forearm to the back of the head.

    Those were the good ole days, when football was mean.

    Atkinson would have been thrown out of the league by his second year in today's game.

No. 19 Eddie Anderson: 1987-1997

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    Eddie Anderson was one of the most feared hitters in the NFL from his safety position in the 80's. He was in the mold of a typical Raiders safety, as he would hit guys and they would be out for the count.

    He once knocked receiver out and hit the ground three times to mimic a WWE wrestling pin.

    No need to say anything else.

    Just don't go over the middle on him.

No. 18 Cliff Branch: 172-1985

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    You may not have been afraid of getting hurt by 5'11", 170 pound Cliff Branch, but he sure did scare opposing corners to death. He did so because he could run past them in a millisecond to catch a pass for a touchdown from everywhere on the field.

    They were scared to death every time he came out to line up in front of them. Hall of Fame Pittsburgh Steelers corner Mel Blount didn't want any part of that himself.

    I guess that's why he used to pick Branch up and slam him on his head.

No. 17 Matt Millen: 1980-1988

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    At 6'2", 250 pounds, Matt Millen had today's prototypical linebacker size back in the '80s. He used it well too, as he was a big hitter that running backs, quarterback, receivers, and offensive lineman had to deal with.

    The man hit anything that moved and hit it very hard.

    Opposing players always knew where Millen was when playing against him. 

No. 16 Lester Hayes: 1977-1986

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    You think corners can't intimidate?

    Most of them may not be able to, but a menace like Lester Hayes certainly can. He bullied receivers, not even allowing them to make it five yards past the line of scrimmage, much less catch a pass.

    All the gewy stick-um he had ended up all over his opposing receivers, as Hayes put his hands on them.

    He could get in a receiver's head like no other.

No. 15 Willie Brown: 1967-1978

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    Willie Brown is the one that taught Hayes how to intimidate receivers at the line of scrimmage. He was extra physical at the line of scrimmage—not allowing receivers to get five yards down the field, so it really should have been the Willie Brown rule instead of the Mel Blount rule.

    Receivers were scared to go and line up on his side.

    His 54 career interceptions tells you quarterbacks were scare to throw his way too.

No.14 Jim Otto: 1960-1974

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    Jim Otto was a nasty boy that once played center for the Raiders but the nastiness wasn't what intimidated. If all else fails, and it didn't for Otto, if you just keep coming, that will start to scare people in itself.

    With all the surgeries he's had on his knee, he reminds me of The Terminator 1. He gets his legs, arms, and other body parts blown off and he kept crawling after Sarah Conner.

    That's scary. 

No. 13 Ted Hendricks: 1975-1983

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    Ted Hendricks was 6'8" in the '70s and '80s, and that in itself was intimidating, but it was more than that with Hendricks. He was a very physical ballplayer also, as those trying to block him often got elbows to the throat.

    He also intimidated offensive coordinators with his mind, as they wouldn't call certain plays out of fear of Hendricks recognizing it and blowing it up.

No. 12 Ben Davidson: 1966-1971

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    Ben Davidson was a freak of a defensive end back in the '60s and '70. He was 6'8", 275 pounds, quick off of the ball, and as athletically gifted as a football player of his stature could be.

    He was so athletic, Davidson was among the first defensive lineman to jump over players that tried to block him. He then put his mean-streak on display against opposing quarterbacks by trying to take their heads off.

    How about the muscles he had in his mustache?

    His hits on quarterbacks started many a fight. 

No. 11 John Matuszak: 1976-1981

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    At 6'8", 280 pounds, John Matuszak was a huge defensive lineman for a man the played in the 70's. Like Davidson before him, he intimidated with his size and power, as this is what the Raiders always looked for out of their defensive lineman.

    His approach to the game was to brutalize the man in front of him on the way to brutalizing the ball carrier or quarterback.

No. 10 Richard Seymour

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    For you old-school guys that think some of the old guys were better, you have to keep reading. Seymour has a case to be the most intimidating Raider in the history of the franchise, but I won't give it to him until he's been there a little longer.

    His case comes from when he dropped Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger like a bad habit last year. No one from his offensive line or team came to the aid of the quarterback after the incident.

    Violating the quarterback in any way usually starts an all-out team brawl!

No. 9 Otis Sistrunk: 1972-1978

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    While Matuszak got all the attention for all of his antics at the time, Otis Sistrunk was the real enforcer of the defensive line. Like all Raiders defensive lineman, he was big, strong, mobile, agile, and hostile.

    His bald head back then was unique, making him even more intimidating.

No. 8 Art Shell: 1968-1982

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    At 6'5", 280 pounds, Shell was another huge man for the 70's era the Raiders had to intimidate with. Yes, his size, rugged looks, and nasty playing demeanor was on par, but that wasn't it for Shell.

    The Hall of Fame left tackle was great at what he did.

No. 7 Bo Jackson

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    To be 6'1", 225 pounds, and run a 4.12 40-yard dash is ridiculous and scary at the same time. No one wants to get in the way of all that, and the ones that do swallow big, sweat bullets and hope for the best.

    Jackson is the only running back I ever saw that ran a guy over and didn't even break stride.

    He ran over linebackers too.

    You know that's scary.

No. 6 Bob Brown: 1971-1973

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    At 6'4", 300 pounds, Bob Brown was a modern football player playing in the '60s and '70s. He seemed to have a broken thumb for all three of his years in Raiders Nation, giving him an opportunity to hit a few defensive lineman in the gut with his case.

    This left quite a bit of players in pain and hesitant to mix it up with Brown the next time around.

    Forget everything I just said.

    Look at him!

No. 5 Howie Long: 1981-1993

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    Howie Long was another one of those defensive lineman that believed in beating up the man in front of him on the way to the quarterback. That approach not only made him a bully type of player but made him great as well.

    He made the Hall of Fame by bullying offensive lineman and terrorizing quarterbacks.

    He wasn't bad against the run either.

No. 4 Lyle Alzado: 1982-1985

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    Lyle Alzado is another one of those Raiders defensive lineman that chooses to beat up the opposing offensive lineman on the way to the ball carrier or quarterback. What makes it worse for opposing offensive lineman is that he usually chose to beat them up between plays too.

    It seemed like he was throwing someone's helmet across the field every other play.

    Boy was he a blast.

No. 3 Gene Upshaw: 1967-1981

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    Gene Upshaw, like a lot of the Raiders offensive lineman, had a body before his time. He was huge at 6'5", 270, and Raiders owner Al Davis moved him from center to guard—a place normally reserved for shorter offensive lineman.

    It ended up working out to the tune of a Hall of Fame career, as he was a dominant run and pass blocker. He also stretched the rules with the casts to make him better able to do his rough stuff.

    Defensive players beware.

No. 2 Jack Tatum: 1971-1979

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    When former Raiders safety Jack Tatum hit you, you felt it.

    As far as intimidation goes, he hit a receiver going across the middle so hard, he paralyzed him.

    I'll say no more. 

No. 1 Al Davis

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    Davis was the Godfather of the NFL.

    He knew the business from up, to down, to back up because he's the only man in NFL history to go from assistant coach, to head coach to owner. He was even the commissioner of the AFL and had the league competing and winning against the NFL until the merger was done behind his back.

    The man knows so much about the game of football, there's nothing anyone can say to wow the man. That's why everyone league-wide always said they felt intimidated while in the presence of Davis.

    Raiders head coaching candidates especially felt that way about Davis as he talked Xs and Os with them.


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    There you have it.

    There have been a lot of intimidaters in Raider Nation, and this list is the best of the best. You can make the list 23 different ways and you wouldn't be wrong about either outcome except for Davis not being No. 1.

    He's the No. 1 intimidator in all of sports.

    RIP Al.

    We still love you.


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