The Oakland Raiders are a professional American football team based in the city of Oakland, California. They currently play in the Western Division of the American Football Conference (AFC) in the National Football League (NFL). The Raiders began play in 1960 as the eighth charter member of the American Football League (AFL), where they won one championship and three division titles. The team joined the NFL in 1970 as part of the AFL-NFL Merger. Since joining the NFL, the Raiders have won twelve division titles and three Super Bowls (XI, XV, XVIII), and have appeared in two other Super Bowls. Thirteen former players have been enshrined in the Pro Football Hall of Fame.
During their first three seasons, the Raiders struggled both on and off the field. In 1963, Al Davis was brought to the team as head coach and general manager. Davis immediately turned the Raiders into winners, and from 1963 until 2002 the team had only seven losing seasons. He also initiated the use of team slogans such as "Pride and Poise," "Commitment to Excellence," and "Just Win, Baby"—all of which are registered trademarks. Except for a brief term as AFL Commissioner in 1966, Davis has been with the team continuously. Upon his return to Oakland in 1966, he became a managing partner of the franchise.
After a few years of legal battles, Davis moved the team from Oakland to Los Angeles, California in 1982. While in Los Angeles, the Raiders won their third Super Bowl, but made just two playoff appearances through the rest of the 1980s. In 1995, Davis moved the team back to Oakland. In 2000, head coach Jon Gruden led Oakland to a 12–4 season and their first division title since 1990 which was the first of a 3 year winning steak for the Raiders in the AFC West Division the following two seasons, the first two would belong to Gruden. In 2000, head coach Jon Gruden led the Raiders to the AFC Championship Game where they fell in Oakland to the Baltimore Ravens 16–3. In 2001, they won their second AFC West Division Title and went 10-6 but fell in the Divisional Round to the New England Patriots in the famous but controversial "Tuck Rule" game in the snow. In 2002, Under head coach Bill Callahan, Oakland faced Gruden's Tampa Bay Buccaneers in Super Bowl XXXVII, where the team lost a lopsided affair, 48–21. Following the loss, the Raiders won a league-worst 19 games during the five full seasons from 2003-2007 (seven fewer wins than the 26 posted by the next worst team, the Detroit Lions). In January 2007, the team named 31-year-old Lane Kiffin as its fourth head coach since Gruden's departure in 2002. Kiffin was fired September 30, 2008, after the team started the 2008 season with a 1-3 record.
Upon receiving the franchise, Oakland civic leaders found a number of businesspeople willing to invest in the new team. A limited partnership was formed to own the team headed by managing general partner Y. Charles (Chet) Soda, a local real estate developer, and included general partners Ed McGah, Robert Osborne, F. Wayne Valley, restaurateur Harvey Binns, Don Blessing, and contractor Charles Harney as well as numerous limited partners. A "name the team" contest was held by a local newspaper, and the winner was the Oakland Señors. After a few weeks of being the butt of local jokes the fledgling team (and its owners) changed the team's name to the Oakland Raiders, which had finished third in the naming contest. The original team colors were black, gold and white. The now-familiar team emblem of a pirate (or "raider") wearing a football helmet was created, reportedly a rendition of actor Randolph Scott.
When the University of California, Berkeley refused to let the Raiders play home games at Memorial Stadium in Berkeley, they chose Kezar Stadium in San Francisco as their home field. The team's first regular season home game was played on September 11, 1960, a 37-22 loss to the Houston Oilers. Raiders games were broadcast locally on KNBC (680 AM; the station later became KNBR), with Wilson K. (Bud) Foster handling play-by-play and Mel Venter providing color analysis.
The Raiders were allowed to move to Candlestick Park for the final three home games of the 1960 season after gaining the approval of San Francisco's Recreation and Park Commission, marking the first time that professional football would be played at the new stadium. The change of venue failed to attract larger crowds for the Raiders, with announced attendance of 12,061 (vs. the Chargers in a 41-17 loss on December 4), 9,037 (vs. the Oilers in a 31-28 loss on December 11) and 7,000 (estimated, vs. the Broncos in a 48-10 victory to close out the season on December 17) at Candlestick.
The Raiders finished their first campaign with a 6-8 record, and lost $500,000. Desperately in need of money to continue running the team, Valley received a $400,000 loan from Buffalo Bills founder Ralph C. Wilson Jr.
After the conclusion of the first season Soda dropped out of the partnership, and on January 17, 1961, Valley, McGah and Osborne bought out the remaining four general partners. Soon after, Valley and McGah purchased Osborne's interest, with Valley named as the managing general partner. After splitting the previous home season between Kezar and Candlestick, the Raiders moved exclusively to Candlestick Park in 1961, where total attendance for the season was about 50,000, and finished 2-12. Valley threatened to move the Raiders out of the area unless a stadium was built in Oakland, but in 1962 the Raiders moved into 18,000-seat Frank Youell Field (later expanded to 22,000 seats), their first home in Oakland. It was a temporary home for the team while the Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum was under construction. Under Marty Feldman and Red Conkright—the team's second and third head coaches since entering the AFL—the Raiders finished 1-13 in 1962, losing their first 13 games before winning the season finale, and attendance remained low.
In April 1966, Davis left the Raiders after being named AFL Commissioner. Two months later, the league announced its merger with the NFL. With the merger, the position of commissioner was no longer needed, and Davis entered into discussions with Valley about returning to the Raiders. On July 25, 1966, Davis returned as part owner of the team. He purchased a 10 percent interest in the team for US $18,000, and became the team's third general partner and head of football operations.
On the field, the team Davis had assembled and coached steadily improved. With John Rauch (Davis's hand-picked successor) as head coach, the Raiders won the 1967 AFL Championship, defeating the Houston Oilers 40–7. The win earned the team a trip to Super Bowl II, where they were beaten 33–14 by Vince Lombardi's Green Bay Packers. The following two years, the Raiders again won Western Division titles, only to lose the AFL Championship to the eventual Super Bowl winners—the New York Jets (1968) and Kansas City Chiefs (1969). In 1970, the AFL–NFL merger took place and the Raiders joined the Western Division of the American Football Conference in the newly merged NFL.
In 1969, John Madden became the team's sixth head coach, and under him the Raiders became one of the most successful franchises in the NFL, winning six division titles during the 1970s. The achievement was marred somewhat by three consecutive losses in AFC Championships from 1973 to 1975, two against the Pittsburgh Steelers. Then, after finishing 13-1 in 1976, the Raiders defeated the Steelers 24–7 in the AFC Championship game. Oakland then defeated the Minnesota Vikings, 32–14, in Super Bowl XI for the franchise's first NFL championship.
In 1972, with Wayne Valley out of the country for several weeks attending the Olympic Games in Munich, Davis's attorneys drafted a revised partnership agreement that gave him total control over all of the Raiders' operations. McGah, a supporter of Davis, signed the agreement. Under partnership law, by a 2–1 vote of the general partners, the new agreement was thus ratified. Valley was furious when he discovered this, and immediately filed suit to have the new agreement overturned, but the court sided with Davis and McGah. In January 1976, Valley sold his interest in the team, and Davis — who now owned only 25 percent of the Raiders — was firmly in charge.
After ten consecutive winning seasons and one Super Bowl championship, Madden left the Raiders (and coaching) in 1979 to pursue a career as a television football commentator. His replacement was former Raiders quarterback Tom Flores, the first Hispanic head coach in NFL history. In the fifth week of the 1980 season, starting quarterback Dan Pastorini broke his leg and was replaced by former number-one draft pick Jim Plunkett. Plunkett led Oakland to an 11-5 record and a wild card berth. After playoff victories against the Houston Oilers, Cleveland Browns, and San Diego Chargers, the Raiders clinched their second NFL championship in five years with a 27–10 win over the Philadelphia Eagles in Super Bowl XV. With the victory, the Raiders became the first ever wild card team to win a Super Bowl.
The team finished 8-1 in the strike-shortened 1982 season, first in the AFC, but lost in the second round of the playoffs to the New York Jets. The following season, the team finished 12–4 and won convincingly against the Steelers and Seattle Seahawks in the AFC playoffs. Against the Washington Redskins in Super Bowl XVIII, Los Angeles built a 21–3 halftime lead en route to a 38–9 victory and their third NFL championship. The next two seasons, the Raiders qualified for the playoffs but lost in the wild card round and the divisional round, respectively. From 1986 through 1989, Los Angeles finished no better than 8–8 and posted consecutive losing seasons for the first time since 1961–62. After finishing 5–10 in 1987, Tom Flores moved to the front office and was replaced by Denver Broncos offensive assistant coach Mike Shanahan.
After starting the 1989 season with a 1-3 record, Shanahan was fired by Davis, which began a long-standing feud between the two. He was replaced by former Raider offensive lineman Art Shell, who had been voted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame earlier in the year. With the hiring, Shell became the first African American head coach in the modern NFL era. In 1990, Shell led Los Angeles to a 12-4 record and an appearance in the AFC Championship, where they lost a lopsided affair to the Buffalo Bills, 51-3.
The team's fortunes faded after the loss. They made two other playoff appearances during the 1990s, and finished higher than third place only three times. This period was marked by the career-ending injury of two-sport athlete Bo Jackson in 1990, the failure of troubled quarterback Sid Hyet, the acrimonious departure of Marcus Allen in 1993, and the retirement of Hall of Fame defensive end Howie Long after the 1993 season. Shell was fired after posting a 9–7 record in the 1994 season.
Shell's five-plus-year tenure as head coach in Los Angeles was marked particularly by a bitter dispute between star running back Marcus Allen and Al Davis. The exact source of the friction is unknown, but a contract dispute led Davis to refer to Allen as "a cancer on the team." By the late 1980s, injuries began to reduce Allen's role in the offense. This role was reduced further in 1987, when the Raiders drafted Bo Jackson—even though he originally decided to not play professional football in 1986 (when drafted by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in the first round). By 1990, Allen had dropped to fourth on the team's depth chart, leading to resentment on the part of his teammates. In late 1992 Allen lashed out publicly at Davis, and accused him of trying to ruin his career. In 1993, Allen left to play for the rival Kansas City Chiefs.
As early as 1987, Davis began to seek a new, more modern stadium away from the Coliseum and the dangerous neighborhood that surrounded it at the time (which caused the NFL to schedule the Raiders' Monday Night Football appearances as away games). In addition to sharing the venue with the USC Trojans, the Coliseum was aging and still lacked the luxury suites and other amenities that Davis was promised when he moved the Raiders to Los Angeles. Numerous venues in California were considered, including one near Hollywood Park in Inglewood and another in Carson. In August 1987, it was announced that the city of Irwindale paid Davis USD $10 million as a good-faith deposit for a prospective stadium site. When the bid failed, Davis kept the non-refundable deposit.
In the summer of 1988, rumors of a Raiders return to Oakland intensified when a preseason game against the Houston Oilers was scheduled at Oakland Coliseum. Negotiations between Davis and Oakland commenced in January 1989, and on March 11, 1991, Davis announced his intention to bring the Raiders back to Oakland. By September 1991, however, numerous delays had prevented the completion of the deal between Davis and Oakland. On September 11, Davis announced a new deal to stay in Los Angeles, leading many fans in Oakland to burn Raiders paraphernalia in disgust.
After three unsuccessful seasons under White and his successor, Joe Bugel, Davis selected a new head coach from outside the Raiders organization for only the second time when he hired Philadelphia Eagles offensive coordinator Jon Gruden, who previously worked for the 49ers and Packers under head coach Mike Holmgren. Under Gruden, the Raiders posted consecutive 8-8 seasons in 1998 and 1999, and climbed out of last place in the AFC West. Oakland finished 12–4 in the 2000 season, the team's most successful in a decade. Led by veteran quarterback Rich Gannon, Oakland won their first division title since 1990, and advanced to the AFC Championship, where they lost 16–3 to the eventual Super Bowl champion Baltimore Ravens.
The Raiders acquired all-time leading receiver Jerry Rice prior to the 2001 season. They finished 10-6 and won a second straight AFC West title but lost their divisional-round playoff game to the eventual Super Bowl champion New England Patriots, in a controversial game that became known as the "Tuck Rule Game." The game was played in a heavy snowstorm, and late in the fourth quarter an apparent fumble by Patriots quarterback Tom Brady was recovered by Raiders linebacker Greg Biekert. The recovery would have led to a Raiders victory; however, the play was reviewed and determined to be an incomplete pass (it was ruled that Brady had pump faked and had not yet "tucked" the ball into his body, which, by rule, cannot result in a fumble - though this explanation was not given on the field, but after the NFL season had ended). The Patriots retained possession of the ball, and drove for a game-tying field goal. The game went into overtime and the Patriots won, 16–13.
Shortly after the season, the Raiders made an unusual move that involved releasing Gruden from his contract and allowing the Tampa Bay Buccaneers to sign him. In return, the Raiders received cash and future draft picks from the Buccaneers. The sudden move came after months of speculation in the media that Davis and Gruden had fallen out both personally and professionally. Bill Callahan, who served as the team's offensive coordinator and offensive line coach during Gruden's tenure, was named head coach.
Under Callahan, the Raiders finished the 2002 season 11–5, won their third straight division title, and clinched the top seed in the playoffs. Rich Gannon was named MVP of the NFL after passing for a league-high 4,689 yards. After beating the New York Jets and Tennessee Titans by large margins in the playoffs, the Raiders made their fifth Super Bowl appearance in Super Bowl XXXVII. Their opponent was the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, coached by Gruden. The Raiders, who had not made significant changes to Gruden's offensive schemes, were intercepted five times by the Buccaneers en route to a 48–21 blowout. Some Tampa Bay players claimed that Gruden had given them so much information on Oakland's offense, they knew exactly what plays were being called.
Callahan's second season as head coach was considerably less successful. Oakland finished 4–12, their worst showing since 1997. After a late-season loss to the Denver Broncos, a visibly frustrated Callahan exclaimed, "We've got to be the dumbest team in America in terms of playing the game." At the end of the 2003 regular season Callahan was fired and replaced by former Washington Redskins head coach Norv Turner.
The team's fortunes did not improve in Turner's first year. Oakland finished the 2004 season 5–11, with only one divisional win (a one-point victory over the Broncos in Denver). During a Week 3 victory against the Buccaneers, Rich Gannon suffered a neck injury that ended his season. He never returned to the team and retired before the 2005 season. Kerry Collins, who led the New York Giants to an appearance in Super Bowl XXXV and signed with Oakland after the 2003 season, became the team's starting quarterback.
In an effort to bolster their offense, in early 2005 the Raiders acquired Pro Bowl wide receiver Randy Moss via trade with the Minnesota Vikings, and signed free agent running back LaMont Jordan of the New York Jets. After a 4–12 season and a second consecutive last place finish, Turner was fired as head coach. On February 11, 2006 the team announced the return of Art Shell as head coach. In announcing the move, Al Davis said that firing Shell in 1995 had been a mistake.
Under Shell, the Raiders lost their first five games in 2006 en route to a 2-14 finish, the team's worst record since 1962. Oakland's offense struggled greatly, scoring just 168 points (fewest in franchise history) and allowing a league-high 72 sacks. Wide receiver Jerry Porter was benched by Shell for most of the season in what many viewed as a personal, rather than football-related, decision. The Raiders also earned the right to the first overall pick in the 2007 NFL Draft for the first time since 1962 (as members of the AFL) and the first time as being members of the NFL, by virtue of having the league's worst record. One season into his second run as head coach, Shell was fired on January 4, 2007. On January 22, the team announced the hiring of 31-year-old USC offensive coordinator Lane Kiffin, the youngest coach in franchise history and the youngest coach in the NFL.In the 2007 NFL Draft, the Raiders selected LSU quarterback JaMarcus Russell with the #1 overall pick. Kiffen coached the Raiders to a 4-12 record in the 2007 season. After months of speculation and rumors, Al Davis fired Kiffen on September 30, 2008. Tom Cable was named as his replacement.
Ed McGah, the last of the original eight general partners of the Raiders, died in September 1983. Upon his death, his interest was devised to a family trust, of which his son, E.J. McGah, was the trustee. The younger McGah was himself a part owner of the team, as a limited partner, and died in 2002. Several members of the McGah family filed suit against Davis in October 2003, alleging mismanagement of the team by Davis. The lawsuit sought monetary damages and to remove Davis and A. D. Football, Inc. as the team's managing general partner. Among their specific complaints, the McGahs alleged that Davis failed to provide them with detailed financial information previously provided to Ed and E.J. McGah. The Raiders countered that—under the terms of the partnership agreement as amended in 1972—upon the death of the elder McGah in 1983, his general partner interest converted to that of a limited partner. The team continued to provide the financial information to the younger McGah as a courtesy, though it was under no obligation to do so.
The majority of the lawsuit was dismissed in April 2004, when an Alameda County Superior Court judge ruled that the case lacked merit since none of the other partners took part in the lawsuit. In October 2005, the lawsuit was settled out of court. The terms of the settlement are confidential, but it was reported that under its terms Davis purchased the McGah family's interest in the Raiders (approximately 31 percent), and for the first time owns a majority interest, speculated to be approximately 67 percent of the team. As a result of the settlement, confidential details concerning Al Davis and the ownership of the Raiders were not released to the public.
Recently, Davis has been attempting to sell the 31 percent ownership stake in the team he obtained from the McGah family. He has been unsuccessful in this effort, reportedly because the sale would not give the purchaser any control of the Raiders, even in the event of Davis's death. Full control of the team will be assumed by Davis's wife, Carol, upon his death.
According to a 2006 report released by Forbes Magazine, the Raiders' overall team value of US $736 million ranks 28th out of 32 NFL teams. The team ranked in the bottom three in league attendance from 2003–2005, and failed to sell out a majority of their home games. One of the reasons cited for the poor attendance figures was the decision to issue costly Personal Seat Licenses (PSLs) upon the Raiders' return to Oakland in 1995. The PSLs, which ranged in cost from $250 to $4,000, were meant to help repay the $200 million it cost the city of Oakland and Alameda County to expand Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum. They were only valid for 10 years, however, while other teams issue them permanently. As a result, fewer than 31,000 PSLs were sold for a stadium that holds twice that amount. Since 1995, television blackouts of Raiders home games have been common.
In November 2005, the team announced that it was taking over ticket sales from the privately run Oakland Football Marketing Association (OFMA), and abolishing PSLs. In February 2006, the team also announced that it would lower ticket prices for most areas of McAfee Coliseum. Just prior to the start of the 2006 NFL season, the Raiders revealed that they had sold 37,000 season tickets, up from 29,000 the previous year. Despite the team's 2-14 record, they sold out six of their eight home games in 2006.
After relocating back to Oakland, the team sued the NFL for interfering with their negotiations to build a new stadium at Hollywood Park prior to the move. The Raiders' lawsuit further contended that they had the rights to the Los Angeles market, and thus were entitled to compensation from the league for giving up those rights by moving to Oakland. A jury found in favor of the NFL in 2001, but the verdict was overturned a year later due to alleged juror misconduct. In February 2005, a California Court of Appeal unanimously upheld the original verdict.
When the Raiders moved back from Los Angeles in 1995, the city of Oakland and the Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum Authority agreed to sell Personal Seat Licenses (PSLs) to help pay for the renovations to their stadium. But after games rarely sold out, the Raiders filed suit, claiming that they were misled by the city and the Coliseum Authority with the false promise that there would be sellouts. On November 2, 2005, a settlement was announced, part of which was the abolishment of PSLs as of the 2006 season.
In 1996, the team sued the NFL in Santa Clara County, California, in a lawsuit that ultimately included 22 separate causes of action. Included in the team's claims were claims that the Tampa Bay Buccaneers' pirate logo diluted the team's California trademark in its own pirate logo and for trade dress dilution on the ground that the League had improperly permitted other teams (including the Buccaneers and Carolina Panthers) to adopt colors for their uniforms similar to those of the Raiders. Among other things, the lawsuit sought an injunction to prevent the Buccaneers and Panthers from wearing their uniforms while playing in California. In 2003, these claims were dismissed on summary judgment because the relief sought would violate the Commerce Clause of the United States Constitution.
The original Raiders uniforms were black and gold, while the helmets were black with a white stripe and no logo. The team wore this design from 1960–1962. When Al Davis became head coach and general manager in 1963, he changed the team's color scheme to silver and black, and added a logo to the helmet. This logo is a shield that consists of the word "Raiders" at the top, crossed swords, and the head of a Raider wearing a football helmet. Over the years, it has undergone minor color modifications (such as changing the background from white to black in 1964), but it has essentially remained the same.
The Raiders' current silver and black uniform design has essentially remained the same since it debuted in 1963. It consists of silver helmets, silver pants, and either black or white jerseys. The black jerseys have silver numbers, while the white jerseys have black numbers. Originally, the white jerseys had gold numbers with a black outline, but they were changed to black with a silver outline for the 1964 season. In 1970, the team used silver numerals for the season. However, in 1971 the team again displayed black numerals and have stayed that way ever since (with the exception of the 1994–95 season where they donned the 1963 helmets with the 1970 silver away numbers).
The Raiders wore their white jerseys at home for the first time in their history on September 28, 2008 against the San Diego Chargers.
The nickname Raider Nation refers to the die hard fans of the team spread throughout the United States and the world. Members of the Raider Nation who attend home games are known for arriving to the stadium early, tailgating, dressing up in face masks, and black outfits. The Raider Nation is also known for the "Black Hole", a specific area of the Coliseum (sections 104, 105, 106, and 107) frequented by the team's rowdiest and most fervent fans. Notable Raider fans include Dave Mustaine from Megadeth, Metallica frontman James Hetfield, Will Smith, Jessica Alba, Joe Morgan, Carlos Santana, George Lopez, George Carlin, Tom Hanks, Tiger Woods, James Garner, Ice Cube, Hunter S. Thompson, Milkaukee Brewers pitcher C.C. Sabathia and heavy metal band Slayer (known for adorning their equipment with Raiders logos). On January 19, 2003, Metallica performed a free concert in the parking lot of Network Associates Coliseum before the 2002-2003 AFC Championship, which the Raiders won against the Titans.
|Oakland/Los Angeles Raiders Hall of Famers|
|No.||Player||Inducted||Positions||Years with Raiders|
|16||George Blanda||1981||QB, K||1967–1975|
|87||Dave Casper||2002||TE||1974–1980, 1984|
|—||Al Davis||1992||Team, League administrator||1963–1965, 1966–present|
|—||John Madden||2006||Head coach||1969–1978|