Monday, June 12, 2006

Silver and Black Custom Raiders

(Note: This entry was started on June 12th and completed on June 24th.)
In a new item to Silver and Black Forever, I am featuring one of the many unique characters that make up the Raider Nation. Tom is a die-hard Raider fan who has put his artistic talents and passion for the Silver and Black into customizing 6” and 12” individual Raider statues and multiple set pieces. (see link)

To view more of Tom’s works of art (go to this link.) One of my personal favorites is this Lester Hayes piece (scroll down to middle of the page).

The attention to detail is quite remarkable. This piece brings back a flood of awesome memories of #37 in his trademark press coverage about ready to jam the receiver at the line. The old “Bump & Run” baby!

Below is an on-line interview that I conducted with Tom which will hopefully give you an inside look into Tom’s creative outlet.

Calico Jack: Tom, how long have you been a card carrying member of the Raider Nation?

Tom: I've been a Raider Maniac since 1976. I was 7 years old and remember reporters dogging them out because they would be out boozin and cruisin until dawn's early lights, kick the women out of their rooms, grab some toast and coffee, head to the field, suit up and kick the %$&* out of the opponents. I was watching them on TV and thinking, "What's so bad about all that?" "Hell, they're winning and winning big."

Calico Jack: How did you first get involved with customizing Raiders? How long have you been involved with this work?

Tom: In December 2004, I got into customizing because I was disappointed McFarlane wasn't kicking out more Raiders on their production line. I had the Terrell Owens Series 4 piece and thought what a great Charles Woodson. At that time, I didn't even know I could paint. I grabbed some black and silver paint, a brush and went to work. I went to a bunch of websites for pointers and found Jomo is the Godfather of customizers and there I found this HUGE underground of customizers I never knew existed. The rest is Raider history.

CJ: Approximately how many pieces have you completed and sold? Is this a hobby or has it evolved into a full time line of work?

Tom: I've probably made close to 500. It's for sure a hobby. I looked into incorporating and getting a business going, but it's a legal monster I'm just not ready to fight.......for now.

CJ: What aspect of your work do you find the most gratifying?

Tom: Getting to know the Brothers and Sisters of the Raider Nation while I'm working the customs they want. I like chatting with everybody and getting to know about who the people are that make up The Nation. I've now have met several Raider Maniacs I've done work for from D.C. to Oakland. It's just awesome.

CJ: If you had to pick your all time favorite piece, who would it be and why?

Tom: I was really partial to the Lester that is also your favorite because I feel I really captured Lester's personality in that piece, but I'd have to say the no-helmet Stabler now has my 1st vote.....I really nailed that one.

CJ: Which player (past or present) have you received the most requests for?

Tom: Lester, but Randy will probably overtake the most requested spot here shortly.

CJ: How long does it typically take to complete a 6” custom Raider? Take us through the step by step process of your work.

Tom: Great question. I'd take a bunch of blog-space going into the finite details I get into, but I will say that on a good week I could knock out 3-5......that dang real job of mine just keeps getting in the way. I like getting into the detail like Lester's stick 'um, Christensen's/Millen's mustaches, Randy's tatoo, Howie's arm wraps and that weird little U-shaped thing at the top of his facemask. Those are examples of the typical process. The "Make Your Own Dang Raider" link on my website has the nitty-gritty details.

CJ: What was your most unique request? Tell us about it.

Tom: The entire '76 Championship Team. Quite the undertaking indeed and a ton of fun. The Raider Maniac that requested the team built his own custom football field about 2' x 4'. It was just awesome. He wanted the O in black and the D in white. It turned out incredibly. Unfortunately, I don't have any picks of the entire team together yet. I sent customs to him as I finished each one. I expect pics shortly.

CJ: What is the typical price range for a 6” custom Raider? For a 12” custom Raider?

Tom: It depends on the cost of the base figure and if I have to change the ethnicity, but usually the first custom is $50 for a 6" and $60 for a 12". I'll bring the price down for each subsequent piece. I'll also throw in different things from time to time for no extra charge, like a custom Raiders base for instance. I offer to let fans send me the base figures themselves and I'll paint them for half the price listed above.

CJ: Thanks for your time and most importantly, putting so many smiles on the faces of the Raider customers that you have served!

To visit Tom’s site go to

To contact Tom to request a custom Raider, send him an email at:

Friday, June 09, 2006

Art Shell & Gorilla Rilla - Photo of the Week

It is a historic day in Raiderland when you get a photo of HOF Head Coach Art Shell with Gorilla Rilla. I'm sure Raider Take must have a smile from ear to ear. Here are the rest of the photos from the official Raiders website.

Tuesday, June 06, 2006

The Truth Juggler

Response to the truth juggler
Teddy Covers is the epitome of a "truth juggler". In his article posted today (see link), he writes a rebuttal to all of the emails he received from the Raider Nation for this article.

I find it amusing and somewhat pathetic that Teddy's response is filled with half-truths, distorted logic, and more misguided statements. He also withheld key information and used some very creative, selective editing to justify his points of view.
"In that blog entry, I wrote a negative opinion about the Raiders' chances for pointspread success in the upcoming season".
If your opinion in your article was that you don't think the Raiders will be successful in terms of the pointspread, how come you didn't use the word 'pointspread' one time in it? If you were going to support your opinion, don't you think it would be reasonable for the readers to expect you to cite some statistics and/or records about the Raiders vs. the pointspread? Nowhere in your article is there any mention of this type of data.
"I am not a journalist. It is not my job to take an even-handed approach to every blog entry and every article I write. I get paid for my opinion on games, picking pointspread winners."
Yes, I agree. You definitely are not a journalist. I also realize that you are a sports handicapper/blogger. However, if I was one of your customers I would want to make an informed decision about your opinions which should be backed up by research and hard data. If I was a paying customer I wouldn't want you to get tricky about the facts.

Teddy's original statement: "Brooks wasn't a winner at Virginia"

"Yes, Aaron Brooks went 16-7 in two years as a starter at Virginia. In his first year as the starter, the Caveliers didn't make a bowl game and went 3-7 against the spread. It's surely worth noting that Virginia lost three of its four games as an underdog by double-digit margins that year"
His rebuttal acknowledges Brooks 16-7 record at Virginia but than he brings up the record of 3-7 vs. the spread. Once again, there is nothing in his original post about pointspreads, underdogs, etc. I hate to beat a dead horse BUT why is it that in your rebuttal you are now citing all of this pointspread information? Wouldn't this information have been relevant in your original post? Wouldn't this information make your opinions more worthy and understandable to the readers?

Teddy's original statement: "Just about every key player they have has some character issues."

Teddy's rebuttal: "Brooks, Warren Sapp and Randy Moss have well-documented character issues."

So instead of a large blanket tossed over the entire team you have singled out the 3 above players as having "character issues". What are these alleged character issues? If the character issues are well-documented, what are they? I have never heard of any character issues concerning Brooks. The only character issue regarding Sapp was a failed drug test over 10 years ago which certainly has no bearing on his performance in 2006. Moss has been a model citizen and team player since joining the team in 2005. He has earned the utmost respect from his peers and the entire Raider coaching staff. Do you honestly think that Head Coach Shell would designate Moss as one of the team leaders if he had "character issues"?

Quote from Shell: "When I got the job, I'd say 99 percent of the people that worked with him in Minnesota were positive about him. They said, "You're going to like working with Randy Moss. He's a great guy, a great guy in the locker room, and he wants to win." And in my time around him, it hasn't been anything but that. I feel very good about him being a leader on this football team."

"It's my opinion, the opinion of a handicapper, and not that of a journalist or a hater. I made calculated deductions about the Raiders chances this season based upon my observations of their team in comparison to the rest of the league. It's not an attack. It's my judgment, and it's how I make my living."
Your calculated deductions were made by bending the truth to fit your arguments. Calculated deductions should be made by substantiating your viewpoints with statistics, facts, and research. You conveniently justify your rebuttal by putting on your "handicapper" hat and cite pointspread records. Finally, out of curiousity, whatever happened to your line "The Raiders haven't had a winning season since Gruden left town"? Did you selectively edit that out of your original post?

That is one fine trick for a Truth Juggler.

Sunday, June 04, 2006

Straight Talk

Since Art Shell was named Head Coach of the Oakland Raiders, the message and goal for the team has been very clearly communicated. It has been brilliant in it’s simplicity and directness. The essence of Shell’s straight forward message is that the Raiders are going to be a hard-nosed football team that is held accountable for its actions. The goal is to play for a championship.

The Message:
"I expect to be a tough football team," Shell said. "When you walk out there, when you walk into that stadium, you walk out there with a presence. Mr. Davis (Al, managing general partner) called it a swagger. Yeah, a swagger."
"Everybody's doing the right thing. Everybody's held accountable for our actions and what we do. That's the only way you'll be successful is to be held accountable” Warren Sapp
"There's an emphasis on individual accountability. If something is done wrong on the field, we repeat and correct it." Adam Treu (10 year Raider veteran)
The Goal:
Shell is already preparing his team for success and talking in terms of championships.
"I said to them ... it doesn't matter what anyone thinks outside these walls. It's what we believe in. That's what counts," Shell said. "We believe we can win if you prepare. I keep saying it. If you visualize being successful, we can get it done."
"There's nothing wrong with talking about it," Shell said. "I'm not going to soft sell the championship. Every team in the National Football League wants to play in the Super Bowl. So, hey, why not us?"
"They know I have three Super Bowl rings," Shell said. "I played in two and coached in one, so I understand what it takes to win and what we have to do in order to get there. So we have their attention ... and they want to win. They're tired of losing."
"I know how to win," Shell said. "I know how to lead. I expect that we will have the kind of success that this organization deserves."
The smile of Art Shell in this photo says it all. Art Shell is home again.
“It feels great. The main thing, like I told the team, is that it feels great to get back out there and smell the grass again and be out there among the players. There’s nothing like being out there among the players at practice, and I’m looking forward to the games coming up.”
- For more vintage Raider football cards, go to this site.
- For an excellent recent interview of Art Shell, go to Pro Football Weekly