Congratulations to Big John Madden for his long overdue enshrinement into the Pro Football Hall of Fame. John had an amazing coaching career that I documented in this post. John was his usual goofy, fun loving self during his induction speech. His genuine enthusiasm and love for professional football is one of the chief reasons his bust is now sitting in Canton Ohio.
Al Davis proudly introduced John into the Hall of Fame. Al’s electric speech gave me goose bumps. Al Davis said “He loved the game. He loved his team. He loved the Raiders. He loved this league. You can see it today in everything he does with his games and his TV work. He loved the AFL and the NFL, and especially his players." Al Davis transcript.
John Madden Quote: “This is a celebration. It has to be fun. To have Al Davis here is something special. I mean, if it weren't for Al, I wouldn't be here. He was a guy that gave me an opportunity. He was a guy that hired me 40 years ago, brought me into pro football. He was a guy that made me a head coach when I was 32 years old. I had two years of pro coaching experience. Who the heck names a guy 32-years-old as a head coach? Al Davis did. But he not only named me head coach, he stood behind me and he helped me and he provided me with players, with great players. As he was saying, nine of the players are in the Hall of Fame. I mean, those are the types of players that he provided me with. He stood behind me not only the 10 years I was the head coach, but he stood behind me for the last 40 years. Al Davis is a friend, always has been a friend. I remember I had the opportunity to induct him into the Hall of Fame. At the time I said, you know, talking about loyalty, what a guy Al Davis was." John Madden transcript.
Here is a short list of former Raiders who deserve serious consideration into the Hall of Fame. Cliff Branch, Ken Stabler, Jim Plunkett, Tom Flores, Ray Guy, Jack Tatum, Lester Hayes.
One former Raider player who seems to be overlooked somewhat in the discussions of potential Hall of Fame inductees is Cliff Branch. However, if you dig through Branch's statistics, it is clear that he should be hearing his name called in Canton, Ohio soon.
Lynn Swann had an illustrious career with the Pittsburgh Steelers and was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 2001. After comparing & reviewing Swann’s career with Branch’s career, it is very clear that Branch has a very strong case for induction. Here are the meaningful numbers provided by www.profootballreference.com
Drafted 1972 in the 4th Round; played from 1972 to 1985 with the Raiders; 183 games
Drafted 1974 in the 1st Round; played from 1974 to 1982; 115 games
Cliff Branch’s Key Statistics:
Regular Season: 501 receptions, 8685 yards, 17.3 avg., 67 TDs
Playoffs: 60 receptions, 1011 yards, 16.85 avg., 3 TDs
* Postseason data is not available prior to 1975
Pro Bowls: 4 (1974, 1975, 1976, 1977)
Super Bowl Appearances/Wins: 3/3
Super Bowl TDs: 3
All Time Top 50: Receiving Yards (47) & Receiving TDs (31)
Lynn Swann’s Key Statistics:
Regular Season: 336 receptions, 5462 yards, 16.3 avg., 51 TDs
Playoffs: 43 receptions, 830 yards, 19.3 avg., 8 TDs
Pro Bowls: 3 (1975, 1977, 1978)
Super Bowl Appearances/Wins: 3/3
Super Bowl TDs: 3
All Time Top 50: Not in the all time top 50 in any major category
History & Tradition
How great would it be if the Raiders had a building in Oakland or at least an area inside the stadium to pay tribute to the Raider legends of the game? Instead of a ring of fame like the Cowboys, the Raiders should raise a black flag at the stadium with each legend’s name and number. Legends like Jim Otto, George Blanda, Willie Brown, Gene Upshaw, Fred Biletnikoff, Art Shell, Ted Hendricks, Mike Haynes, Howie Long, Dave Casper, John Madden, and of course, Al Davis should be recognized & appreciated by the entire Raider family. The proud history & tradition of Raider football is one of the many reasons for such a loyal, rabid fan base. This is one way to pay tribute to the legends and appreciation to the fans.
Ticket Sale Marketing Ploy
Here’s a simple, cost effective idea to increase ticket sales and grow the Raider Nation fan base. Have designated home games with a Raider Legends bobblehead doll give-away. This would appeal to the die-hard fans and casual fans alike. It also would spur ticket sales to families and children. The boost in ticket sales from such a promotion would more than off-set the costs of giving away the bobblehead dolls. This marketing campaign could start off with bobblehead dolls for each Raider inducted into the Hall of Fame and then eventually include Raider greats from each era. Tell me that a Jack Tatum Bobblehead Doll game wouldn’t be a complete sell-out?
Raiders vs. Eagles Observations:
1. The Raiders won the Hall of Fame game on Sunday 16-10 but didn’t look sharp by any means. With only 2 weeks of training camp under their belts, I was expecting a glorified, sloppy scrimmage. In the 1st quarter, the Raiders 1st unit teams were destroyed by the Eagles.
2. Shoddy run defense and a few 3 and outs on offense showed that the team is a long ways off from playing playoff caliber football. It’s only early August but the Raiders offensive line really needs to tighten things up over the next 5 weeks.
3. In his first game as a converted linebacker, rookie Darnell Bing demonstrated a real nose for the football. He was the most active defender in the 2nd quarter. Both Grant Irons & Ryan Riddle played well in the 2nd half.
4. All 3 QBs looked tentative and shaky at times. I am hopeful that Courtney Anderson will continue to be used as a red zone target for Aaron Brooks. Their 12 yard TD hookup provided one of the few highlights of the game. Fabian Washington made a nice break on the ball for a pick and 40 yard scamper.
5. It was nice seeing Sea Bass drill 2 long field goals of 51 and 50 yards. The Raiders need Sea Bass to return to his form from a few years ago in order to compete and win the close games.
6. I will be a very interested observer of the Raiders 2nd exhibition game on 8/14 vs. Minnesota. Will the 1st unit defense do a better job stopping the run and clogging the line of scrimmage? Will the 1st unit offense execute the running attack with more efficiency? Steady improvement is needed in preparation for our 1st regular season game on 9/11 vs. San Diego.