It has been since 1960 since the City of Brotherly Love won a NFL title. Lives of many Eagles fan have come and gone since Hall of Famers Chuck Bednarik and Jim Taylor crashed to the turf in the Eagles 17-13 championship victory over the Green Bay Packers.
Bednarik, the greatest defensive player in Eagles history, laid on top of the Packers fullback seven yards short of the end zone as time expired. It was the only time Hall of Fame coach Vince Lombardi lost a postseason game with the Packers.
Hard times soon befell the franchise after that win. They were generally in the basement of their division yearly until Dick Vermeil arrived in 1976. The Eagles had had just one winning season from 1961 up until that point.
After a few years of molding his team with the players he wanted, Vermeil led Philadelphia to Super Bowl XV. Though the Eagles lost that game, and Vermeil soon retired due to exhaustion and burn-out, a winning culture was reborn with the Eagles.
Since then, the Eagles have mostly fielded competitive teams. "Gang Green" was a famous defense led by Hall of Famer Reggie White in the 1980's. Yet the teams of that day could not quite reach the title game.
One of the biggest moments in Eagles history came in 1994, where Jeffrey Lurie bought the team for $195 million. Lurie had the team worth over a billion dollars by 2007 due to his excellent leadership.
One of Lurie's best characteristics is how he lets his team speak for him, instead of seeking the limelight like so many other NFL owners do. He is not afraid to take chances on players with shaky pasts, yet these players do not seem to get in trouble once they sign a contract with the Eagles.
I had the pleasure of seeing Lurie in action firsthand before the 2009 season. I had written an article lamenting the exclusion of Eagles legend Al Wistert from the Eagles Honor Roll. Lurie's office contacted me, asked me for Wistert's facts, then had him inducted into the Honor Roll in just six months.
Not only was I happy for the then-88-year old Wistert, who I had interviewed, but I saw an owner with real love for his team and the history it has.
To put things in better perspective, Norm Braman was the man who created the Eagles Honor Roll. The former Eagles owner from 1985 - 1994 had even written a letter to the Pro Football Hall of Fame calling for Wistert's induction. Yet even Braman failed to induct the first Eagle to ever have his jersey retired, let alone the fact Wistert invented stand-up blocking in the NFL.
Lurie has helmed an Eagles franchise that has seemingly been on the brink of a title almost every year since he bought the team. He is obviously loyal, sticking with head coach Andy Reid since 1999. Joe Banner has been the president of the Eagles since 1995. Howie Roseman, now the general manager, has been with Philadelphia since 2000, replacing Tom Heckert. Heckert held the position from 2001 to 2009.
These men help Lurie bring in better talent than many teams in the NFL. Players who helped the Eagles win the NFL East six times since 2001. Philadelphia reached Super Bowl XXXIX in 2004, but lost 24-21.
Lurie has always had his eye on a title and this season will be a prime example of that. Philadelphia has been quiet since the players strike ended in words, but enormous in actions.
After quickly signing their draft picks, along with a slew of undrafted free agent rookies, the team fleeced the Arizona Cardinals in a trade. They dealt promising quarterback Kevin Kolb, who was destined to be a backup this year, for Pro Bowl cornerback Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie and a second-round draft pick next year.
They then replaced Kolb with two-time Pro Bowler Vince Young. While Kolb has an upside, he is just one year younger than Young and has a losing record as a starter. Young, who will backup Michael Vick this year, has won 30 of his 47 starts in the NFL.
If that wasn't enough, Philadelphia surprised everyone a few by signing Nnamdi Asomugha to a contract when most "experts" expected the Dallas Cowboys or New York Jets to do so.
Asomugha was perhaps the best player to hit the free agent market in the last decade. He now gets to pair up with Rodgers-Cromartie at cornerback, which does not bode well for the rest of the league.
Asante Samuel is four-time Pro Bowler entering his prime. Unlike Rodgers-Cromartie, he is not entering the last year of his contract. It seems highly unlikely the Eagles will retain all three Pro Bowl cornerbacks this season, so Samuel should command a good return in a trade.
With an explosive offense that just got better by signing speedy wide receiver Johnnie Lee Higgins and veteran tight end Donald Lee, the team showed in 2010 it can pile up points in a hurry. Yet the one remaining Eagles weakness has dogged Reid most of his time in Philadelphia.
For all the skilled players Reid has led, the Eagles seem annually weak in the trenches on both sides of the football. Undersized defensive linemen that can be run on, and offensive linemen who can't seem to get that extra push on short-yardage plays.
Eagles fans have often gone crazy seeing a passing play called on a 3rd or 4th and one, but that was all Philadelphia could do with the personnel they had. What makes this more baffling is that Reid has coached the offensive line as an assistant in the past, and he even played along the offensive line while in college.
While Trent Cole is a force as a pass rusher along the defensive line, the rest of the group is an assortment of guys who can be run on. Philadelphia brought back Jason Babin, who played with them in 2009, to try to help out.
Babin was a bit of a journeyman since being drafted in 2004. Yet he had his finest year in 2010 after collecting 12.5 sacks and a Pro Bowl nod for the Tennessee Titans. He came to Philadelphia after former Titans defensive line coach Jim Washburn took a job with the Eagles earlier this year. Washburn is one of the most respected defensive line coaches in the NFL.
Linebacker could use some bodies as well, so the Eagles drafted three of them and signed another off the undrafted free agent pool. These guys are expected to help the defensive line have opponents seeing the ghost of late great Eagles defensive coordinator Jim Johnson.
When opponents are forced to pass, they will have a difficult time finding a man to throw to not wearing an Eagles jersey. Juan Castillo is the teams new defensive coordinator, but has been with the team since 1995 coaching the offensive line and tight ends, as well as being an offensive assistant.
The Eagles will dial up the blitz and send seven or eight guys at the opposing quarterback because of their excellent secondary. Philadelphia fans hope the impact of these blitzes are as effective as the times that Johnson or Buddy Ryan drew them up in the past.
The Eagles 2011 schedule is no cake walk, which is typical in the tough NFC East, but they will face many teams that rely on the pass to generate offense. The month of November may be an interesting time for the team.
After hosting the Chicago Bears on Monday night, they will face Kolb in Arizona before going to New York and facing their long-time rival Giants. They then host a New England Patriots team most pundits expect to be very good this year. How Philadelphia comes out of that month could dictate the rest of their story in the 2011 season.
The joke amongst many other football fans is that the Eagles battle cry was "Wait until next year!" With the aggressive and sound leadership of Lurie and Reid, the 2011 season just may be that year where the Eagles put a trophy on their mantle next to that 1960 title.
Centers was drafted in the fifth round of the 1990 draft by the Phoenix Cardinals. He was used strictly as a part time kick returner as a rookie, returning 16 kickoffs. He matched that total again the next year, and also returned the only five punts of his career.
The Cardinals began using him as a third down back in 1992, and he had 50 receptions and the first two touchdowns of his career. He continued increasing his receiving totals each year, culminating with 101 receptions in 1995. It is a NFL record for receptions by a running back, and he was named to his first Pro Bowl.
His 1996 season was probably his best. He had 99 receptions, and set career best marks of 425 rushing yards on 116 attempts while scoring nine times. After catching 123 balls over the next two years, he signed with the Washington Redskins as a free agent for the 1999 season.
Washington used him primarily as a receiver in his two years with them, and he had 150 catches over that time. He then joined the Buffalo Bills in 2001 and had 123 receptions in the two seasons he played for them. He also made his last Pro Bowl in 2001.
Centers then joined the New England Patriots in 2003, and was used sparingly. He caught 19 balls and scored his last touchdown, as the Patriots went on to win Super Bowl XXXVIII. He then retired.
His 827 career receptions are the most by any running back in NFL history, and the second most ever by any non-wide receiver. His 535 receptions with the Cardinals is the second most in franchise history.
Though Larry Centers is known as one of the greatest receiving fullback in NFL history, he was also an excellent blocker who helped paved the way for several 1,000 yard backs.
Atlanta Falcons : William Andrews
Andrews was drafted in the third round of the 1979 draft by the Falcons. He earned a starting job immediately and ran for 1,023 yards along with 39 receptions and five touchdowns.
He piled up 1,308 rushing yards the next year, at a career best clip of 4.9 yards per carry, to go with 51 receptions and five scores. Atlanta reached the playoffs after winning 12 games, but lost in the first round. Andrews was named to his first Pro Bowl that year, and would be return to the Pro Bowl in each of the following three seasons as well.
Andrews led the NFL with 2,036 yards from scrimmage via rushing and receiving in 1981, and was second in all-purpose yards. He had a career best 81 receptions for 735 yards and 12 total touchdowns, along with 1,301 rushing yards.
That season saw him, along with O.J. Anderson, join Hall Of Famers Earl Campbell and Tony Dorsett as the first four running backs in NFL history to rush for over 1,000 yards in each of their first three seasons.
The strike shortened season of 1982 stopped his streak of 1,000 yard seasons. He still was able to average a career best 12 yards on 42 receptions, including an NFL long 86 yard touchdown reception, and run for 573 yards in just nine games.
He was the main offensive weapon for Atlanta in 1983. He carried the ball a whopping 331 times and also caught 59 balls. His 390 touches were the second most in the NFL that year, and is still the 51st most in league history.
Gaining a career best 1,560 yards that still ranks 50th best in NFL history, along with 609 receiving yards, his 2,176 all-purpose yards were second best in the NFL that year, and is still the 51st most in league history for one year. He also scored 11 times.
While he was already a star, he was also considered a player on his way to being inducted in the Pro Football Hall Of Fame. As the Falcons prepared for the 1984 season,
Andrews suffered a devastating knee injury. It was so severe that it kept him off the field for two seasons.
Though he tried to return in 1986, he had to adjust his role to being a blocking back for Gerald Riggs. Though he still averaged a respectable 4.1 yards per carry, he only had 52 carries and five receptions and scored the last touchdown of his career. He then retired.
He still ranks second in team history with 5,986 career rushing yards. His 277 receptions is the most ever by a Falcons running back, and ranks seventh best overall.
Andrews has his jersey retired by the Falcons, and is a member of the teams Ring of Honor. He is also in the Georgia Sports Hall of Fame.
There is no question that William Andrews is the best fullback and pass receiving back in Falcons history.
Baltimore Ravens : Ray Rice
Rice was drafted in the second round of the 2008 draft by the Ravens. His rookie season saw him start four games, but he impressed the coaches enough to be named the full-time starter the next two years.
For a young franchise that has existed since 1996, Rice has already found himself near the top of the Ravens record books in several categories. He is already second in carries and rushing yards on their all-time list.
Yet he is also excellent in the passing game and is a frequent target for quarterback Joe Flacco. He has already made one Pro Bowl, which was in the 2009 season.
His 174 receptions with them is the seventh most in team history and 14 more than Jamal Lewis, who ranks second in running back catches.
Buffalo Bills : Thurman Thomas
Thomas was drafted in the second round of the 1988 draft and won a starting job right away. The 1989 season began streaks of five straight Pro Bowls and eight years of running for at least 1,005 yards.
He led the NFL in yards from scrimmage four consecutive seasons as well. Thomas was named NFL MVP by both the Newspaper Enterprise Association and Pro Football Writers Association in 1991. He was named 1992 Offensive Player of the Year by both the AP and UPI.
While an exciting player when handed the football, Thomas was equally as explosive when attempting to catch a pass. Buffalo could line him up all over the field to put pressure and fear on the opposing defenses. This helped the Bills go to four Super Bowls while he was with the team.
The 1998 year was his last as a starter because a young Antowain Smith began leading the team in most rushing categories. Thomas stayed with the Bills until 1999, then joined the Miami Dolphins for one season in 2000 before retiring.
Thomas is a member of the Pro Football Hall of Fame and NFL 1990s All-Decade Team. He has the most rushing yard in Bills history, even surpassing the legendary O.J. Simpson.
His 456 receptions with them is the third most in team history and 281 more than Simpson, who ranks second in running back catches.
Carolina Panthers : DeShaun Foster
Foster was drafted in the second round of the 2002 draft by the Panthers. His first two seasons with the team were inhibited by injuries, limiting him to 18 total games played.
His rookie year saw the Panthers reach Super Bowl XXXVIII. He backed up Stephen Davis, but still contributed to the team. Foster led the team with 95 yards rushing on 21 carries in the Panthers division playoff overtime win against the Saint Louis Rams.
Foster split carries with Davis the the NFC Championship Game, but sealed the game with a touchdown run to help Carolina defeat the Philadelphia Eagles 14-3. He has just three carries in the Super Bowl, but he took one carry 33 yards for a touchdown in the Panthers 32-29 loss to the New England Patriots.
Despite five starts in 2005, he caught a career high 34 passes and ran for 879 yards. He was elevated to the starting lineup after that. His next two years saw him gain 1,773 yards on the ground while catching 57 passes.
He signed a free agent contract with the San Francisco 49ers in 2008 and spent the year backing up Pro Bowl halfback Frank Gore. He has not played in the NFL since then.
Brad Hoover tops the Panthers running backs receiving list with 145, 19 more than Foster, but it took him five more seasons to get his totals.
Chicago Bears : Walter Payton
Payton was the first round draft pick of the Bears in 1975. Chicago didn't seem to know what they had, so they had him returning kickoffs as a rookie. He was so good at it, Payton led the NFL with a 31.7 return average that year.
When the Bears finally decided to start in on offense, Payton grabbed it and started every game the rest of his career. He would eventually set an NFL record with 170 straight starts.
Chicago leaned on the man simply known as "Sweetness" from that point on. Beginning in 1976, he led the NFL in rushing attempts four straight seasons. This is an NFL record. He also began a run of five straight Pro Bowl appearances.
His 1977 season was his first of five total First Team All-Pro nods. He had 1,852 rushing yards at a 5.5 yards per carry average. Payton had 2,121 yards from scrimmage, averaged 132.3 yards rushing per game, ran for 14 touchdowns and had 16 total. Not only were all career high marks, they led the NFL that year.
He was named the 1977 NFL MVP by the Associated Press, Pro Football Writers Association, and the Newspaper Enterprise Association. He was also named the Offensive Player of the Year by the UPI. He would win the Pro Bowl MVP in 1978.
His streak of six straight years of at least 1,000 yards rushing was halted by the 1982 players strike, which cut the season to just nine games. He resumed that streak for four seasons until it was halted by the 1987 players strike. Payton never rushed for less than 1,222 yards or had 311 carries in a year minus his rookie season and the two strike years.
After carrying the Bears with little help as every opponent just keyed on him play after play, Payton got surrounded by good talent in 1985. The Bears won Super Bowl XX that year.
Payton won the Bert Bell Award and Newspaper Enterprise Association NFL MVP Award that year. He was also named the 1985 Offensive Player of the Year by the UPI.
Sweetness retired after the 1987 season and would have his number retired by the Bears. He is a member of the Pro Football Hall of Fame, both the 1970s and 1980s NFL All-Decade Team, and is on the NFL 75th Anniversary Team.
While 10 NFL records he set have been broken or tied, no one would consider comparing those players who broke them with Payton. He could do it all on the field. Running, catching, blocking, or passing were things he could do with excellence and ease.
He tossed eight touchdowns on 11 passing completions in his career. Payton was even asked to punt once, and he boomed the ball 39 yards.
His 492 receptions with the Bears is the most in team history. He is one of the greatest offensive players to ever play the game.
Cincinnati Bengals : James Brooks
Brooks was drafted in the first round of the 1981 draft by the San Diego Chargers. While he was a steady contributor to the offense his first three years, he mainly came off the bench and starred on special teams.
He led the NFL in all-purpose yards in his first two years, as well as kickoff returns and yardage in 1982. Yet the Chargers traded him to the Bengals before the start of the 1984 season.
Brooks rarely played special teams for Cincinnati because the team found an explosive running back able to score every time he got his hands on a football. He caught a career high 55 passes for five touchdowns in 1985 while running for 929 yards and seven more scores.
His 1986 season may have been his best. It was his first Pro Bowl season as well. Brooks ran for 1,087 yards while leading the NFL with a 5.3 yards per carry average. He also averaged a career best 12.7 yards on 54 receptions.
After the 1987 strike season, Brooks split carries with All-Pro rookie Ickey Woods. The duo ran for 1,997 yards and 23 touchdowns, while catching 50 passes for six more touchdowns. Brooks would go the Pro Bowl for three straight years.
Cincinnati would reach Super Bowl XXII. Brooks, who scored a touchdown in the Bengals AFC Championship win, had just seven touches as the San Francisco 49ers won 20-16 by scoring with 34 seconds left in the game.
Woods got hurt early in 1989, so Brooks was asked to carry the load. He set career highs of 221 carries for 1,239 yards while averaging 5.6 yards per carry. He also caught 37 passes.
After running for 1,004 yards in 1990, he carried the ball less the next year as he caught 40 balls. He then joined the Tampa Bay Buccaneers for two games in 1992 before getting hurt and release. The Cleveland Browns signed him and Brooks played four games for them before retiring.
Brooks was the Bengals all-time leader in rushing yards until Corey Dillon passed him a decade later. He still ranks second in that category, while averaging an impressive 4.8 yards per attempt.
His 297 receptions and 27 touchdowns with the Bengals are the most in team history by a running back, which is 105 more than Archie Griffin and Corey Dillon.
Cleveland Browns : Greg Pruitt
The other half of the Browns famous "Do It Pruitt" backfield. Pruitt was a second round pick in the 1973 draft. Greg made his impact as a return specialist initially.
Pruitt made the Pro Bowl his first two seasons in the NFL on special teams. He did get 540 yards rushing in his second year in part time status, while taking the only kickoff in his career for a touchdown.
He was a starter by 1975, and ran for 1,067 yards. He also caught 44 balls, and scored a career high nine touchdowns total. Pruitt ran for 1,000 yards the next season, while catching 45 passes.
In 1977, Pruitt went to the Pro Bowl again. He ran for 1,086 yards and had 37 receptions. This would be the last year he ran for over 1,000 yards.
He averaged 5.5 yards per carry in 1978, when he gained 960 yards rushing. He got injured, and missed four games. Pruitt was only able to play six games the following year, but rebounded in 1980.
With Mike Pruitt doing the bulk of the running, he was utilized as a receiver. He caught 50 balls, and scored 5 times via the pass. He followed that up with a career high 65 passes caught in 1981.
Pruitt ended up an Oakland Raider the next season, as was used mainly as a punt returner. In 1983, Pruitt went to his final All Pro game after averaging 11.5 yards per return on 58 attempts. He also scored the only punt return of his career, when he took it 97 yards.
He also scored the last two touchdowns rushing the ball that year, when he gained 154 yards on 26 attempts at a rate of 5.9 yards per rushing attempt. The Raiders went on to win Super Bowl XVIII. He played one more season in 1984 before retiring.
His 323 receptions with them is the fifth most in team history and 36 more than Eric Metcalf, who ranks second in running back catches.
Dallas Cowboys : Emmitt Smith
Drafted in the first round of the 1990 draft by the Dallas Cowboys, Smith became the primary ball carrier immediately. He ran for 937 yards and scored 11 times on the ground.
He was named Rookie of the Year for his season after making the first of six consecutive Pro Bowls. He would then start a run of 11 straight seasons of at least 1,021 yards rushing in 1991.
Smith was the National Enterprise Association NFL MVP in both 1992 and 1993. He was named First Team All-Pro four straight years beginning in 1992. He won the Bert Bell Award and Pro Football Writers Association NFL MVP in 1993 after winning the MVP award in Super Bowl XXVIII, the second straight year Dallas won the title.
His finest season came in 1995, a year he set career high marks of 377 carries for 1,773 yards for 25 rushing score and 62 receptions. He also averaged a career best 4.7 yards per carry and ran for 110.8 yards per game.
His performance that year led the Cowboys into Super Bowl XXX after Smith ran for 150 yards and three scores in the NFC Championship Game against the Green Bay Packers. Dallas defeated the Pittsburgh Steelers 27-17 in the Super Bowl behind Smith's two touchdowns, their third title in four years.
He left Dallas after running for 975 yards in 2002, ending his 1,000-yards rushing streak. He joined the Arizona Cardinals and had the worst season of his career in 2003 by running for a career low 256 yards and two scores.
Most experts considered the 35-year old washed up in 2004, especially after so many touches in his previous 14 seasons. Smith proved that theory false by running for 937 yards and nine scores before retiring at the end of the year.
Now inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame, as well as being a member of the NFL's 1990s All-Decade Team, Smith has the most rushing yards ever in NFL history. But he did more than just run the ball by being a sound blocker and good receiving option.
His 486 receptions with the Cowboys is the fourth most in team history and 107 more than fellow Hall of Famer Tony Dorsett, who ranks second in running back catches.
Denver Broncos : Floyd Little
Little was drafted in the first round of the 1967 draft by the Broncos. He didn't do a lot on offense in his rookie year, but he did excel on special teams. He averaged 27 yards on a career best 35 kickoff returns and a career high 17 yards on 16 punt returns, returning one a career long 72 yards for a score.
His second season was hist first of four straight Pro Bowl seasons. Though he missed three games that year, he averaged a career high 17.4 yards on 19 receptions and took another punt return for a score.
The 1971 season was the only year he exceeded 1,000 yards rushing by getting 1,133 on a career high 284 carries. Yet his 1973 may have been his best.
Not only did Little run for 12 score, he churned out 979 yards and set career high marks of 41 receptions for 423 yards. He then became the second running option the next two years to Otis Armstrong before retiring after the 1975 season.
He was the Broncos all-time rushing leader in yards gained, attempts, and touchdowns until Terrell Davis passed him over 20 years later. Yet Little's impact is still resounding to this day.
The Broncos were a struggling franchise until his arrival. There was even murmurs of moving the team elsewhere because Denver had spent their AFL days with one .500 record and the rest losing seasons.
The team struggled at first with Little, but he put the team on his back and was one of the more exciting players of his era. He helped Denver post their first winning season in 1973. The franchise has had just seven losing seasons since.
Besides being called one of the best players of his era by several of his his peers, the Hall of Famer has been credited by many as the man who saved the Denver Broncos. He is the first first-round draft choice to ever sign with Denver and is known as "The Franchise".
His 215 receptions with them is the 13th most in team history and eight more than Gerald Willhite, who ranks second in running back catches.
Detroit Lions : James Jones
Drafted in the first round of the 1983 draft, Jones rookie year saw him catch 46 passes and score seven times while serving as an excellent blocking fullback for Pro Bowl halfback Billy Sims as Detroit won their division. They would lose 24-23 in the first round to the San Francisco 49ers.
His second season saw him grab a career best 77 balls and lead the team with 137 carries after Sims suffered a career ending injury in the eighth game of the year. Detroit played three overtime games in their first 10 games and won four games all year.
With Sims gone. Jones became the primary ball carrier. He missed two games because of injury, yet still toted the ball 244 times for 886 yards. He also grabbed 46 passes and scored nine times.
His best year came in 1986, where he set career high marks of 252 carries for 903 yards and nine rushing touchdowns. He caught 52 passes as well.
Jones next two years saw him become more of a blocker, as he carried the ball 96 times each year while catching 63 total passes. Detroit traded him to the Seattle Seahawks for cornerback Terry Taylor before the 1989 season.
After playing just two games in 1989 because of injuries, Jones spent his next three years mostly blocking for Seattle. He was even used as a tight end. Jones retired after the 1992 season.
He had 285 receptions in his six years with Detroit, the second most ever by a Lions running back and it is the eighth most in team history. Hall of Famer Barry Sanders leads all Detroit running backs with 352 receptions.
Green Bay Packers : Ahman Green
Green was a third round draft pick of the Seattle Seahawks in 1998. He spent two years there mostly riding the bench, carrying the ball 61 times total before being traded to the Packers.
Green Bay put him to work immediately as their featured back, and he churned out five consecutive seasons where he gained over 1,000 yards on the ground. He also went to the Pro Bowl four straight years. He also caught 267 passes over those five years, displaying what a complete weapon he was for the team.
No other player gained as many yards in those five seasons than he did. He also was explosive, running for touchdowns from 98 and 90 yards out. He is one of just two players in NFL history to have touchdown runs of 90 yards or more.
After an injury plagued 2006 season that saw him play just five games, Green rebounded the next year with his sixth 1,000 yard season in seven years. He then joined the Houston Texans for two injury riddled years before rejoining he Packers in 2009 to add depth to a depleted backfield.
Though he played just eight games as a reserve, he gained enough yards to become the Packers all-time leader in rushing yards and carries. No Packers halfback has appeared in more Pro Bowls that his four.
He played for the Omaha Nighthawks in the United Football League in 2010. He tried to join the Montreal Alouettes of the Canadian Football League in 2011, but was cut after the first practice.
A lot was made of the fact Green fumbled 34 times as a Packer, but he only fumbled one more time with 40 more carries than Hall of Famer Jim Taylor. Taylor is considered by many the greatest fullback in Packers history. Ahman Green may very well be the best halfback the team ever had.
His 350 receptions with them is the seventh most in team history and 30 more than William Henderson, who ranks second in running back catches.
Houston Texans : Domanick Williams
The Texans started play in 2002 and Williams is all over their record books. He was drafted in the fourth round of the 2003 draft by Houston.
He quickly earned a starting job as a rookie. He ran for 1,031 yards and caught 47 balls. He was used even more the next season, setting career high marks of 302 carries for 1.188 yards, 68 receptions, and 14 total touchdowns.
Williams was having an excellent 2005 season with 919 rushing yards and 36 receptions after 10 games. He had run for 57 yards and a touchdown, while catching three balls for 53 yards, in the 11th game when he incurred a devastating knee injury.
He sat out the next season, but was released before the 2007 year. He retired as the Texans leader in virtually every category for a running back.
His 154 receptions with them is the fifth most in team history and 57 more than Steve Slaton, who ranks second in running back catches.
Indianapolis Colts : Don McCauley
McCauley was drafted in the first round of the 1971 draft by the Colts, where he spent most of his rookie season contributing on special teams. He carried the ball a career high 178 times the next year while taking one of his 45 career kickoff returns 93 yards for a touchdown.
After running the ball 144 times in 1973, McCauley never carried the ball more than 83 times again the rest of his career. His main duties came on third down.
While excellent at picking up the blitz, McCauley also displayed a soft pair of hands. His best year may have come in 1979, where he caught 55 passes for 575 yards. After 70 receptions over the next two years, he retired at the end of the 1981 season.
Edgerrin James had 356 receptions with the Colts, which is most in team history by a running back and 23 more than McCauley. Hall of Famers Lenny Moore and Marshall Faulk, along with Lydell Mitchell, also must be mentioned.
Jacksonville Jaguars : Fred Taylor
Taylor was drafted in the first round of the 1998 draft by the Jaguars. He was put to work right away and scored a career high 14 rushing touchdowns on 1,233 rushing yards. He also caught 44 passes and scored a career best three times.
Despite such a great year, he was overlooked by many and Randy Moss would win the Rookie of the Year Award even though Taylor had arguably a better season. Being overlooked would become a theme for Taylor.
After a year cut short by injuries in 1999, Taylor led the NFL with an average of 107.6 yards rushing per game in 2000. He also scored 14 times on 1,399 yards and 36 receptions.
Taylor's 2001 season was cut short to two games in 2001, but he rebounded well. He ran for at least 1,146 yards in five of the next six seasons. He also remained a steady threat in the passing game for Jacksonville.
Every football fan knew Taylor was an elite running back, and had been in his 10 years as a player. Yet he was always overlooked when it came to the Pro Bowl. Whether it was the lack of media attention or lack of knowledge by generally most NFL fans, Taylor continued to be a standout in relative obscurity.
That all changed in 2003 when he made his first Pro Bowl. He played one more season for the Jaguars before joining the New England Patriots in 2009. He has played just 13 games in two seasons for them, usually splitting carries with several other running backs.
Taylor is the Jaguars all-time leading in rushing yards, attempts, yards per game, and rushing scores. He is probably the most underrated player of his era.
His 286 receptions with them is the third most in team history and 51 more than Maurice Jones-Drew, who ranks second in running back catches.
Kansas City Chiefs : Kimble Anders
Anders signed with the Chiefs as an undrafted free agent rookie in 1991. He spent his first two years mostly blocking and playing special teams.
He earned a starting job in 1993 and never carried the ball in a season more than 79 times in his career. He was a bruising blocker who also displayed soft hands when running a pass route.
Anders got recognized as one of the top fullbacks in the game in 1995 by being named to the Pro Bowl. Though he had just 58 rushing attempts that year, he averaged a very impressive 6.9 yards per carry while catching 55 passes as well.
After making the Pro Bowl the next year, he went back for the final time in 1997 after averaging five yards on a career best 79 carries while snagging 59 passes. After catching a career high 64 balls the next year, he got hurt early in 1999.
Anders had already piled up 181 yards on 32 carries when he was injured in the second game of the season. After coming back in 2000, he started just seven games and then retired.
His 369 receptions with them is the sixth most in team history and 81 more than Ed Podolak, who ranks second in running back catches.
Miami Dolphins : Tony Nathan
Drafted in the third round of the 1979 draft by the Dolphins, Nathan spent his rookie season mostly playing special teams.He returned 45 kickoffs for 1,016 yards and returned 28 punts for 306 yards.
Both are career highs, as is the 86-yard punt return he took for a touchdown. He was named First Team All-Pro for his performance that season.
Nathan did return 23 punts the next year, but spent the rest of his time on offense. After starting six games and grabbing 57 passes and a career best five scores, he had perhaps his finest season in 1981.
After leading the NFL with a 5.3 yards per carry average, after grinding out a career best 782 yards and catching 50 passes, he shone brightly in the Dolphins first round playoff game. The game is simply known as "The Epic In Miami".
Played in 80% humidity, the Dolphins squared off against the San Diego Chargers in a see-saw affair. After the Chargers bolted out to a 24-0 lead in the first quarter, the Dolphins put up 17 points in the second quarter.
Nathan scored on a 25-yard hook and lateral play to close the gap within seven. Duriel Harris caught a pass and then pitched it to a streaking Nathan, who took it the rest of the way.
After Miami tied up the game, Nathan rumbled 12 yards to give the Dolphins the lead. San Diego would eventually win late in overtime. Nathan led the Dolphins with 114 yards on nine receptions and 48 rushing yards.
The 1982 season was shorted to nine games because of a strike, yet Miami reached the playoffs. In a rematch with San Diego, Nathan ran for 83 yards and threw a 20 yard pass as Miami won 34-13.
The Dolphins lost Super Bowl XVII to the Washington Redskins as Miami quarterbacks were able to complete just four passes all game. They would return to Super Bowl XIX just two seasons later.
Nathan led Miami with 76 yards rushing in their 31-10 divisional playoff win over the Seattle Seahawks, which included a 14 yard touchdown run to open the scoring. He followed that up with eight catches for 114 yards and 64 yards rushing, including another rushing score, to help Miami win the AFC Championship.
While the San Francisco 49ers trounced the Dolphins 38-16 in Super Bowl XIX, Nathan led Miami with 10 receptions and just 18 yards rushing. He followed that up with a career high 72 receptions in 1985, the most ever by a Dolphins running back until Terry Kirby passed him by three receptions in 1993.
He spent his next two years as a reserve who came on the field during pass plays. Nathan retired after the 1987 season.
His 383 receptions with them is the sixth most in team history and 162 more than Jim Kiick, who ranks second in running back catches.
Minnesota Vikings : Rickey Young
Young was drafted in the seventh round of the 1975 draft by the San Diego Chargers. In college at Jackson State University, he shared the ball with Hall of Famer Walter Payton and Eddie Payton while Hall of Famer Jackie Slater blocked.
Young soon earned the starting job with the Chargers as a rookie. He quickly established himself as one of the most well-rounded backs in the game.
San Diego traded him to the Vikings for Pro Bowl guard Ed White just before the 1978 season. While he shared carries with Pro Bowl fullback Chuck Foreman , Young led the NFL with 88 receptions.
Young led the Vikings with 708 rushing yards and 72 receptions in 1979. He made some excellent catches for an aging Vikings team trying to rebuild after dominating the NFC during the 1970's.
He carried the ball less after that, as 1979 first-round draft pick Ted Brown became the feature back. The duo combined for 126 receptions in 1980, with Young snagging 64 of the passes.
After 43 receptions the next year, he lost his starting job to 1982 first-round draft pick Darrin Nelson. He retired after the 1983 season.
Ted Brown's 339 receptions is the most in team history, just ahead of the great Chuck Foreman by five catches, but Young had 292 catches in just six years and his 88 receptions was an NFL record for running backs at the time.
New England Patriots : Kevin Faulk
Faulk was the Patriots second round pick in 1999. He started occasionally at running back and even returned punts, but he spent a better part of his first four years as a third-down back and kick returner.
New England won Super Bowl XXXVI in 2001. Faulk's main contributions that year came on special teams and the 30 passes he caught that season.
In 2002, he took two kickoff returns for touchdowns. Faulk would be asked to return 45 kickoffs the rest of his career because his value on third down was much too valuable for New England. Faulk became the only Patriot to score multiple touchdowns in rushing, receiving, and kick returns.
He started eight games in 2003 and ran for a career high 638 yards while catching 48 passes. He helped the Patriots win Super Bowl XXXIV that year. His two-point conversion off of a direct snap helped the Patriots defeat the Carolina Panthers 32-29 in Super Bowl. XXXVIII.
He resumed his duties as the third-down specialist in 2004. New England would go on to repeat as champions by defeating the Philadelphia Eagles 24-21 in Super Bowl XXXIX.
The 2008 season may have been his finest. He averaged 6.1 yards on 81 rushing attempts and caught a career best 58 passes. He was hurt in the second game of the 2010 season, ending his year.
He is a member of the Patriots 50th Anniversary Team and holds team records in all-purpose yards, kickoff returns, kickoff return yards, and receptions by a running back.
Faulk's 424 receptions is 214 more than the next Patriots running back, Sam "The Bam" Cunningham. He intends to keep playing to add to his totals.
New Orleans Saints : Dalton Hilliard
Hilliard was drafted by the Saints in the second round of the 1986 season. He spent most of his career as a spot starter and third down specialist.
His finest year came in 1990, which was his lone Pro Bowl season. He led the NFL with 18 rushing and receiving touchdowns after running for a career best 1,262 yards on 344 carries and 13 scores. He also caught a career high 52 passes for 514 yards and five scores.
After getting hurt and missing 10 games the next year, Hilliard went back to being a third-down specialist and spot starter. He caught 98 balls over his last two years before retiring after the 1993 season.
He is a member of the Saints Hall of Fame. He ranks second all-time in Saints history in rushing touchdowns and attempts, as well as third in rushing yards. He leads all Saints running backs in receiving yards and touchdowns.
Reggie Bush has 294 catches so far, 45 more than Hilliard. It is the most ever by a Saints running back and the fifth most in franchise history.
New York Giants : Frank Gifford
Gifford was selected by the Giants in the first round of the 1952 draft. He spent his rookie season helping the team out as a reserve on offense, defense, and special teams. He picked off one pass and threw a touchdown pass.
He became a bigger part of the offense in his second year, but he still played defense as well. Gifford picked off a pass and took it 62 yards for a touchdown. New York also liked him passing the ball. He threw a touchdown pass in each of the next seven seasons.
Gifford made his first Pro Bowl in 1953, an honor he would earn until the 1959 season. While being an electric runner, he was an intelligent receiver who could go deep at any time. He wa also known for tossing the ball to open teammates when the opponents least suspected it.
Beginning in 1955, Gifford was named First Team All-Pro in four of the next five seasons. His best year was in 1956, where he was named NFL MVP.
Gifford toted the ball for a career high 819 yards while averaging 5.2 yards per carry. He also snagged a career best 51 passes, and his 1,422 yards from scrimmage led the NFL.
His performance that season helped the Giants reach the title game. He led all players with 131 receiving that day, as he grabbed four passes and scored once in the Giants 47-7 trouncing of the Chicago Bears.
The Giants team was stacked with future Hall of Famers like Gifford, Emlen Tunnel, Andy Robustelli, Roosevelt Brown, Alex Webster, and Sam Huff. Two assistant coaches, Vince Lombardi and Tom Landry, would also be inducted in Canton years later.
Gifford would later become the 1958 Pro Bowl MVP in front of a Pro Bowl record attendance of 72,250 fans. He is the first Giants player ever to win the award, an award only two Giants have won since.
The 1960 season was his last as a running back. Gifford's season ended in the eighth game when Philadelphia Eagles Hall of Fame middle linebacker Chuck Bednarik blindsided an unsuspecting Gifford on a crossing-route pass. The hit was so harsh, Gifford did not return to the NFL until 1962.
Upon his return, the Giants switched him to wide receiver. He averaged a career best 20.4 yards on 39 receptions that year, showing he was back. Gifford was still asked to run and throw the ball on occasion as well.
He went to the 1963 Pro Bowl after grabbing 42 pass and seven touchdowns. He played one more season before retiring for good to become a broadcast journalist.
His number has been retired by the Giants and he is a member of the NFL's 1950s All-Decade Team and Pro Football Hall of Fame.
No other Giants running back has been to more Pro Bowls or been named First Team All-Pro more than Gifford. His 367 career receptions still rank as the seventh most in team history.
The 257 receptions he had as a running back is the second most ever by a Giant, and Gifford's 25 touchdown catches as a running back is the most ever in team history.
Tiki Barber's 586 receptions is the second most in franchise history. Joe Morrison, who played fullback, halfback, and flanker, also deserves mention.
New York Jets : Freeman McNeil
The Jets used their first-round pick in 1981 to select McNeil. He missed five games in his rookie year and started six games total.
Now the Jets feature back in 1982, McNeil led the NFL with 786 yards rushing at a league-leading 5.2 yards per carry average. He played in nine games because the season lost seven games due to a players strike.
He was named First Team All-Pro and went to the Pro Bowl. McNeil did throw a touchdown pass the next season, but missed seven games because of injury.
McNeil did return to the Pro Bowl in 1984 despite missing four games. He ran for 1,070 yards. His next year was his best, as well as being his last year as a Pro Bowler.
Despite missing two games, he ran for 1,331 yards. He missed four games in 1986, but still caught a career best 49 passes. He missed seven games the next year.
McNeil's 1988 season was the only one of his career where he started every game in a season. He ran for 944 yards and a career best six scores. It was his last season as the Jets primary ball carrier.
Though he spent four more years with the team, he never had more than 99 carries. He retired after the 1992 season as the Jets all-time leader in rushing yards. He now ranks second.
Curtis Martin's 367 receptions are 72 more than McNeil and is the seventh most in Jets history. Yet he averaged just 6.6 yards a catch and scored five times.
McNeil averaged 10 yards a reception and scored 12 times, while never having a season in his career where he averaged less than four yards per carry.
Oakland Raiders : Clem Daniels
Daniels was an undrafted free agent rookie who signed with the Dallas Texans of the American Football League in 1960. He spent that year backing up Rookie of the Year Abner Hayes. He was also used on defense and intercepted three passes.
Daniels was traded to the Raiders the next year and carried the ball just 31 times. Oakland liked what they saw though, so he was elevated to the starting lineup in 1962 and scored a career-best seven rushing touchdowns off 761 yards.
In 1963, Daniels had perhaps the greatest season by a Raiders running back, where he made the first of four consecutive Pro Bowls and was named first-team All-Pro. He led the AFL with 1,099 rushing yards, 1,784 yards from scrimmage and 78.4 rushing yards per game while averaging a career-best 5.1 yards per carry.
Daniels also led the AFL with a whopping 22.8 yards per catch average on 30 receptions, which is still a Raiders record for running backs with 30 receptions or more.
Though he never ran for more than 1,000 yards again, Daniels ran for more than 800 yards in each of the next three seasons and matched his career-high of seven rushing touchdowns in 1966. He was named first-team All-Pro that year as well.
His 1967 season was cut short to nine games, though he did churn out 575 rushing yards. The Raiders won the AFL title that year. It was Daniels last year with the Raiders, as he joined the San Francisco 49ers the next year and carried the ball just 12 times in nine games before retiring.
His 22.8 yards per catch average in 1963 has only been surpassed by Warren Wells, Mervyn Hernandez, Cliff Branch and James Jett as the best ever by a Raider with at least 30 receptions. All four played wide receiver.
Daniels ranks third in Raiders history in rushing attempts and yards, as well as sixth in rushing touchdowns. His 58.7 rushing yards per game is third behind Bo Jackson and Hall of Famer Marcus Allen.
While he finished his career with the most rushing yards ever in AFL history, what made Daniels even more exceptional was his way to beat opponents several ways. He is a member of the AFL's All-Time team.
His 201 receptions are the third-most ever by a Raiders running back, and he averaged an excellent 16.4 yards per catch, an unheard of average for a running back. His 24 touchdown catches are the most ever by a Raiders running back, and he completed four of nine passes for 143 yards.
Daniels 4.5 yards per carry average and explosive receiving ability show that he was a threat every time he touched the ball. He is certainly one of the greatest players the Raiders ever had play for them.
Hall of Famer Marcus Allen's 446 receptions are the fourth most in franchise history.
Philadelphia Eagles : Keith Byars
Byars was drafted by the Eagles in the first round of the 1986 draft. He spent his first two seasons starting occasionally, though he did carry the ball for a career high 177 attempts and 577 yards as a rookie.
By 1988, Byars became Pro Bowl quarterback Randall Cunningham's safety net. If the scrambling Cunningham found no receivers open and had no place to run, he could depend on Byars to find a soft spot in the defense to complete a pass.
While his rushing attempts lessened each year, he caught 339 balls over five years. He was a good enough blocker to even line up at tight end several times.
Byars left the Eagles after the 1992 season to join the Miami Dolphins. He made his only Pro Bowl in 1993 after collecting 61 catches. He played with the Dolphins into the fourth game of the 1996 season, where he was released.
The New England Patriots signed him for the final 10 games of the season. His excellent blocking ability had him soon in the starting lineup and he also caught 27 passes.
The Patriots would reach Super Bowl XXXI that year. Byars caught four balls in the divisional playoff game, including a 35-yard touchdown pass. He had four more receptions in the AFC Championship Game.
While the Patriots lost the Super Bowl, Byars did grab four balls and score once. After starting half of the next season, he rejoined head coach Bill Parcells, who had left the Patriots after the Super Bowl loss, with the New York Jets in 1998.
Byars started in nine of the 13 games he appeared in, catching 26 passes. The three games he missed were the only games he failed to suit up in his entire 14-year career. He retired at the end of the season.
His 371 receptions with them is the fifth most in Eagles history and 96 more than Duce Staley, who ranks second in running back catches.
Pittsburgh Steelers : Merril Hoge
Hoge was a 10th round draft pick of the Steelers in 1987. He rarely saw the field during his rookie season, but did manage to snag a touchdown pass.
Hoge started half of 1988, and piled up 705 rushing yards and 50 receptions for 487 yards. He also scored six times.
Firmly entrenched as the starting fullback, he scored eight rushing touchdowns in 1989 and was named to the All-Madden Team.
In 1990, Hoge ran for a career-high 772 yards and scored a career-best 10 touchdowns.
During the 1992 season, Hoge suffered a severe concussion. He ended up with the Chicago Bears in 1994, but retired following that season due to the effects of several concussions.
In his seven seasons as a Steeler, he led the team in rushing four times. Hoge also caught 241 passes for them.
Merril Hoge is the only Steeler, other than Hall of Famer Franco Harris, to run for 100 yards in consecutive playoff games.
Hall of Famer Franco Harris had 306 receptions, the most by a Steelers running back and the sixth most in franchise history.
Saint Louis Rams : Marshall Faulk
Faulk was the second person chosen overall by the Indianapolis Colts in the first round of the 1994 draft. He was named NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year by the Associated Press and AFC Rookie of the Year by the UPI after running for 1,282 yards, catching 52 passes, and scoring 12 times.
He finished up the season by winning the Pro Bowl MVP. Faulk almost duplicated his rookie year in 1995, earning his second Pro Bowl nod. He struggled in 1996 by averaging a career low three yards per carry, yet he still grabbed 56 passes.
After a fantastic 1998 season where he led the NFL with 2,227 total yards after 82 receptions and a career high 324 carries, Faulk was traded to the Rams because he reportedly was considering holding out for a better contract.
He got his contract, the biggest in Rams history at the time, and rewarded them by leading the NFL with a career best 2,429 yards from scrimmage. He caught a career high 87 passes and gained 1,087 yards. He also ran for 1,381 yards while leading the NFL with a 5.5 yards per carry average.
Faulk's all-purpose yards were an NFL record until 2009, and he is joined by Roger Craig as the only players to ever gain over 1,000 yards rushing and receiving in the same season. He was named the NFL Offensive Player of the Year, an award he won the next two seasons as well.
His performance led the Rams to Super Bowl XXXIV. Though he was shut down in the ground attack, Faulk caught five passes for 90 yards in the Rams 23-16 win over the Tennessee Titans.
Faulk led the Rams in receiving again in 2000. He became the first running back ever to lead his team in receptions four straight years. He had five consecutive seasons of at least 80 receptions.
He also led the NFL with a career high 18 rushing touchdowns and a 5.4 yards per carry average. He caught eight touchdowns, giving him a then-NFL record 26 total touchdowns. He was named NFL MVP by both the Associated Press and Pro Football Writers Association.
Faulk scored an NFL leading 21 times in 2001, where he caught a career best nine touchdowns. He also led the NFL a third straight season in yards per carry average, gaining a career best 1,382 yards, and leading the NFL with 98.7 yards rushing per game.
He won the Bert Bell Award and Pro Football Writers Association NFL MVP Award. Faulk also won his third straight Daniel F. Reeves Memorial Award, where Rams players and coaches choose the team's most valuable player.
Faulk made his five straight Pro Bowl in 2002 despite failing to run for over 1,000 yards for the first time since 1996. His four-year streak of over 2,000 yards from scrimmage also ended.
He missed seven games over the next two years, but was still effective for Saint Louis. The 2005 season was marred by a coaching change after five games, and Faulk lost his starting job to Steven Jackson. He still managed 44 receptions.
Announcing he needed knee surgery, Faulk sat out the 2006 season and said he hoped to return. This did not occur, as the Rams retired his jersey in 2007. Faulk would be inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 2011.
He has the most receiving yards by a running back in NFL history, as well as the second most receptions and touchdowns caught by a running back
Faulk's 470 receptions with Saint Louis are the fourth most in Rams history and 143 more than Steven Jackson, who has the second most catches by a running back in team history.
San Diego Chargers : LaDainian Tomlinson
Tomlinson was the first round draft pick of the San Diego Chargers in 2001. He became he workhorse of the Chargers immediately.
In his first seven seasons, he never has less than 313 rushing attempts, 1,110 rushing yards, 51 receptions, or 10 touchdowns. He went to the Pro Bowl five times and was named First Team All-Pro three times.
Tomlinson led the NFL in yards from scrimmage one, rushing yards twice, and rushing touchdowns thrice. He was honored at the NFL MVP in 2006 by both the Associated Press and Pro Football Writers Association.
He was as much a part of the Chargers passing attack and he was the running game. Tomlinson had a career high 100 receptions in 2004. Yet the Chargers determined Tomlinson was slowing down and released him after the 2009 season.
The New York Jets signed him in 2010 to split touches with Shonn Greene. He piled up 914 yards and 52 receptions while averaging a health 4.2 yards per carry.
His 530 receptions, the third most in Chargers history, is 152 more that Ronnie Harmon, who has the second most receptions ever by a Chargers running back.
San Francisco 49ers : Roger Craig
Craig was drafted by the Niners in the second round of the 1983 draft, the 49th player chosen overall.
He was named the starting fullback in his rookie year, a position he would have his first four seasons, and showed a nose for the end zone by scoring twelve times. He also led the team with 725 rushing yards.
Craig scored 10 times the next year, and the 49ers would go on to win Super Bowl XIX. Craig scored three times in that game, the first player to have ever accomplished that feat.
He had the best year of his career in 1985, becoming the first player to ever gain a thousand yards in both rushing and receiving. Marshall Faulk is the only other player who has done this since.
Craig also became the first running back in NFL history to lead the league in receiving, when he caught 92 balls. He also scored a career-high 15 touchdowns, and averaged a career best 4.9 yards per carry.
He was named to his first Pro Bowl that season. After catching 81 passes, running for 830 yards, and scoring seven times the next year, the 49ers moved Craig to halfback in 1987.
He responded by being named to the Pro Bowl. This is a feat he would attain the next two years as well, becoming the first player to ever go to a Pro Bowl as a fullback and halfback. Only Stephen Davis has duplicated by this since.
His 1988 season saw him rush for a career-high 1,502 yards, catching 76 passes, and scoring 10 times. Craig was named the Newspaper Enterprise Association NFL MVP, the Associated Press NFL Offensive Player Of The Year, the UPI NFC Player Of The Year, and First Team All-Pro that year.
San Francisco would end the season by winning Super Bowl XXIII.
Craig ran for over a thousand yards for the final time of his career in 1989, getting 1,054 yards. The 49ers won the Super Bowl a second straight season, and Craig scored a touchdown in the game.
He was injured in 1990 and missed five games. The 49ers were trying to get back to a third straight Super Bowl, and were beating the New York Giants by a point as time was running out in the fourth quarter. Craig fumbled, and the Giants recovered. New York soon kicked a game winning field goal as time expired.
It was his last play as a 49er, as they would release him. He signed with the Oakland Raiders for the 1991 season. After starting in thirteen games, and scoring once on 590 rushing yards, the Raiders cut him.
He signed with the Minnesota Vikings and played two years with them as a backup, starting three times total. He scored six touchdowns over that time, and retired at the conclusion of the 1993 season.
Craig's 1,686 carries is the most in team history, nineteen more than Hall Of Famer Joe "Jet" Perry. His 7,064 rushing yards is the second most, 1,525 yards behind Perry, and his 50 rushing touchdowns are the second most, 18 behind Perry.
His 508 receptions are the most by any RB in Niners history, and the third most overall in team history.
Roger Craig may be a borderline Hall Of Fame candidate to some, but he is one of the finest players to have ever worn a 49ers jersey.
Seattle Seahawks : John L. Williams
Williams was a first round draft pick of the Seahawks in 1986, and was the 15th player chosen overall. Though the Seattle offense featured Pro Bowl running back Curt Warner, Williams offered them a versatile dimension the team was lacking.
He was starting right away, running for 538 yards and catching 33 passes in his rookie year. It was the only season of his career that he failed to score. He piled up 500 yards the next year, despite missing four games due to injury. He had career longs on a 48 yard run and 75 yards reception.
The 1988 season may have been his best. He gained a career high 877 yards rushing at a 4.6 yards per carry average, and had 651 yards on 58 receptions. His 1,528 yards from scrimmage that year was a career high total, as was the seven touchdowns he scored that year.
He scored seven times again the next year, and he also a career high 76 receptions. He had 71 catches the next year, gaining a career high 699 yards. He also rushed for 714 yards, and was given his first Pro Bowl nod.
The 1991 season was his second and last Pro Bowl season. He gained 741 yards and had 61 receptions. He was never the same running threat again after that year, but maintained his excellence in the passing attack.
After 132 receptions and six touchdowns over the next two years, he joined the Pittsburgh Steelers for the 1994 season. He was used mainly as a pass receiver by the Steelers in his two years, catching 51 balls his first year with the team. He showed signs of slowing down in 1995, having career lows of 24 receptions and 110 rushing yards.
The Steelers made it to Super Bowl XXX that year. Williams had scored on a run in their first round playoff victory over the Buffalo Bills. Pittsburgh lost in the Super Bowl, and Williams retired at the conclusion of the game.
He leads all Seahawks running backs with 471 receptions for 4,151 yards receptions and also 123 games played. His 76 catches in 1989 is the most ever by a Seattle running back, and he owns the top three slots for receiving years by a running back. His six touchdown reception in 1989 is the most ever by a Seahawks running back.
He currently ranks third on the franchise list in receptions, fourth in rushing yards, and sixth in receiving yards.
John L. Williams is not only the best pass catching back in Seahawks history, he may be the most complete running back who ever played for them. He easily is the best fullback they ever had.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers : James Wilder
Wilder was the Bucs second round draft pick in 1981 and was moved to fullback for the first three years of his career. After leading the team in rushing and receiving in his second and third seasons, they moved him to halfback.
He led the NFL with 407 carries, the first player ever with 400 carries, in 1984, gaining 1,544 yards, scoring 13 times, and catching a career best 85 passes. His 2,229 combined yards was second in the league and 15 yards behind Hall of Fame running back Eric Dickerson.
It still is a team record, and it was the sixth best total in NFL history at the time. It still ranks 42nd, and Wilder was named to his only Pro Bowl, the first Buccaneer running back ever to attain this honor, for his efforts.
The following season saw him run for 1,300 yards, catch 53 balls, and score ten times. It would be his last 1,000 yard season, because he gained 704 yards and grabbed 43 passes in 1986 after missing four games because of injury.
Tampa Bay moved him back to fullback in 1987, and he once again led the team in rushing yards and receptions. After missing nine games the next year due to injuries, Wilder was a backup in 1989.
He started the 1990 year with the Washington Redskins, but went unused and was released after one game. The Detroit Lions picked him up, but rarely used him. He retired at the conclusion of the season.
Not only are his two 1,000-yard seasons the highest totals in franchise history, he is the Buccaneers all-time leader in rushing attempts and yards.
James Wilder is not only the most productive running back in Buccaneer history, but he is the most versatile. Though he had two exceptional seasons still firmly entrenched in the teams record books, he gave the team nine excellent years where he mostly carried the offense by himself.
His 430 receptions still is a franchise most, over 100 more than wide receiver Mark Carrier in second place. It is 124 more than Warrick Dunn, who has the second most ever by a Buccaneers running back.
Tennessee Titans : Eddie George
The Houston Oilers used their first-round draft pick in 1996 to select George and began feeding him the ball right away. He won the Rookie of the Year Award after toting the ball 335 times for 1,368 yards and eight scores.
The Oilers moved to Tennessee after the season and would rename themselves the "Titans" in 1999. George spent these years being the bell cow of the offense.
He made the first of four consecutive Pro Bowls in 1997 and never had fewer than 312 carries in his eight years with the team. He failed to gain 1,000 yards rushing just once for the team.
George helped the Titans reach Super Bowl XXXIV in 1999. He ran for 354 yards and a score, along with eight receptions, to carry the Titans in three playoff wins.
Though George had 95 yards rushing , two receptions, and two touchdowns in the Super Bowl, they lost 23-16.
His 2000 season was probably his best. It was his last Pro Bowl year and the only season he was named First Team All-Pro.
George carried the ball 405 times that year. It is still the fifth most carries in NFL history. He gained a career high 1,509 yards and ran for a career best 14 scores. He also caught a career high 50 passes.
He left Tennessee after the 2003 season having started in 128 straight games. He joined Hall of Famer Jim Brown as the only running backs to reach 10,000 rushing yards with at least 100 consecutive starts to begin their careers.
Joining the Dallas Cowboys in 2004, he was less effective and lost his starting job after eight games. He also missed the only three games of his career, which ended at the conclusion of the season.
His 259 receptions is 75 more than Lorenzo White, who has the second most ever by a Titans running back.
Washington Redskins : Larry Brown
Brown was drafted in the eighth round of the 1969 draft by the Washington Redskins. What happened next is a well known story by football historians.
Hall of Fame Vince Lombardi, in his first season with the Redskins and dying of cancer, noticed the rookie was not getting off the snap quickly. Instead, Brown seemed to reacting after the ball was hiked.
Lombardi ordered Brown to undergo a hearing test, where is was found he was partially deaf in his left ear. A hearing device was installed in Brown's helmet, allowing the rookie to fire out on the snap count with the rest of the team.
It also allowed him to have a Pro Bowl season as a rookie after running for 888 yards and catching 34 passes. He finished behind Dallas Cowboys halfback Calvin Hill, a future teammate of Brown's, for Rookie of the Year honors. Hill gained 54 more rushing yards but had 14 less receptions.
Lombardi died before the start of the 1970 season, so Bill Austin took over. Brown ran for 1,125 and caught 37 passes. Yet Washington finished 6-8 and Austin was replaced by Hall of Famer George Allen.
Brown's first year under Allen saw him dinged up and missing one game. Even though he caught a career low 16 balls, Brown still churned out 948 yards on the ground.
Washington would make the playoffs for the first time since 1945. It set the stage for the finest year of his career in 1972.
Not only did Brown win the NFL MVP Award, he won the Bert Bell Award, the NFL Offensive Player of the Year Award, and the UPI NFC Player of the Year Award.
He was honored with his second First Team All-Pro nod and fourth straight Pro Bowl. It would be the last time in his career he would achieve either honor.
Setting career high totals 0f 285 carries for 1,216 yards and eight scores, averaging a career best 101.3 rushing yards per game. Brown grabbed 32 passes and scored four times while averaging a very impressive 14.8 yards per catch.
He took one pass a career long 89 yards for a score. Brown also piled up a career high 1,689 yards from scrimmage. His performance that year led the Redskins to an 11-3 division winning record. It was the first division title in 27 years for the franchise.
After churning out 101 rushing yards in the Redskins first postseason win since 1943, he gained 88 yards in Washington's 26-3 NFC Championship victory over the Dallas Cowboys.
Reaching the franchises first NFL title game since 1945, Washington lost to the perfect Miami Dolphins 14-7 in Super Bowl V. Brown led the team with 72 rushing yards and five receptions, but the "No Name Defense" prevailed against the "Over The Hill Gang" in a defensive struggle.
Though he failed to reach the Pro Bowl in 1973, Brown was still very effective and led the Redskins to the playoffs again. He scored a career best 14 times by catching a career high 40 passes and running for 860 yards.
Averaging 12.6 yards per catch, he scored a career best six times off of receptions while matching his career high total of eight rushing touchdowns. Then injuries began to derail his career.
He missed three games in 1974, but still helped Washington reach the playoffs again by averaging 10.5 yards on 37 receptions and leading the team in rushing for a sixth straight season.
Though he caught 42 passes the next two seasons, his injuries inhibited his carries to just 117 carries. He retired at the end of the 1976 season.
Larry Brown was more than a fierce runner. He was an exceptional blocker as well. He was the Redskins all-time rushing leader in virtually every category until Hall of Famer John Riggins passed him.
His 238 catches and 20 touchdown receptions are the most ever by a Redskins running back. His 10.4 yards per catch average is also impressive.
Washington has had many fine receiving backs like Clarence Harmon, Mike Thomas, Kelvin Bryant, and Brian Mitchell . It also should be noted Hall of Famer Charley Taylor had well over 100 receptions at an impressive clip of over 15 yards per catch in just over two seasons before switching to wide receiver.
What a long and strange trip is has been for the Oakland Raiders. Born in 1960 in the expansion American Football League, the Raiders were first destined to call Minneapolis, Minnesota home. Yet the NFL countered by starting the Minnesota Vikings franchise.
Los Angeles Chargers owner Barron Hilton told the AFL he would rescind his franchise if the league did not get another West Coast team. There were few football stadiums that were appealing for professional football in California at that time.
The city of Oakland asked for the Raiders after a group of businessmen formed a group to purchase the team. They played their first season across the bay in San Francisco and even played their last three games on the NFL's San Francisco 49ers turf in Candlestick Park.
After a rough start, the Chargers helped the Raiders again. Al Davis was an assistant coach to Hall of Famer Sid Gillman with the Chargers. Davis was named the general manager and head coach.
The team started to improve, but Davis accepted the job to be AFL commissioner. The job was short lived because the AFL decided to merge with the NFL. Davis returned to the Raiders after buying a stake in the teams ownership.
Becoming a powerful team by this time, under head coach John Rauch, the Raiders won the 1967 AFL title before heading to the second ever Super Bowl and losing to the Green Bay Packers. The team continued to be one of the best in football, but it would take until 1976 for them to reach another Super Bowl.
After winning it all that year, the Raiders won Super Bowls in 1980. Davis had now become the managing general partner of the Raiders and was unhappy with the Oakland Coliseum. He moved the team to Los Angeles.
Though an unpopular move for the city of Oakland, Los Angeles accepted the Raiders with open arms. The city now hosted the Raiders and the Rams together. The Rams, who had been there since 1946, battled the Raiders for fans allegiance.
Oakland gained an edge by winning the Super Bowl in 1983. Though the Rams won a title in 1951, it would be the only championship they secured until moving to Saint Louis in 1995 and winning it all in 1999.
Oakland struggled somewhat after the 1985 season as they tried to rebuild. An 8-8 season was their best until 1989. Rumors of their return to Oakland began around that time and was a reality in the 1995 season.
Since then, it has been a bit of a roller coaster ride. The team did reach the Super Bowl in 2002 and lost. They began to struggle after that season and eventually became the first team in NFL history to lose at least 11 games in seven straight seasons.
Some fans of the Raiders think the 82-year old Davis is a lot like Bear owner George Halas was toward the end of his career. Out of touch and stubborn in his ways.
Other fans do not question the wisdom of the Hall of Famer and live by his created slogans like "Pride and Poise," "Commitment to Excellence," and "Just Win, Baby". With the teams recent improvement in 2010, it seems Davis has plenty left in his tank to give to his beloved Raiders.
This is a team rich in tradition and history with some of the most loyal fans in all of football. They have witnessed some of footballs greatest and even most controversial moments with their team.
There was the infamous "Heidi Game" in 1968, when the NBC network decided the New York Jets had the game in hand late in the fourth quarter and switched to a movie. The Raiders would storm back and win.
There is the "Immaculate Reception" in 1972, when the Steelers returned a deflected pass for a score late in a playoff game. Fans still question whether the ball touched the Steelers or Raiders first.
There is the "Sea of Hands" play in 1974, where halfback Clarence Davis caught a fluttering touchdown pass to win the game while three Miami defenders dove for the ball in a playoff game.
There is the "Ghost to the Post", where Hall of Fame tight end Dave Casper made a crucial 42-yard catch as time was expiring in double-overtime against the Baltimore Colts. The Raiders tied the game and Casper caught the winning touchdown in the next overtime period.
It is the fourth longest game in NFL history and was the last playoff game ever for the Baltimore Colts.
There is the "Holy Roller" in 1978, where three Raiders fumbled the ball forward before falling on the ball in the end zone for the winning score as time expired.
There is the "Red Right 88" play where Cleveland Browns quarterback Brian Sipe was on the Raiders 13-yard line with less than a minute to go in a 1981 playoff game. Instructed to throw the ball away if the play wasn't there, Sipe tried to force the ball to Hall of Fame tight end Ozzie Newsome and had the ball picked off by the Raiders Mike Davis.
There is the "Tuck Rule Game" in a playoff game in 2002 against the New England Patriots. Played in the snow, Patriots quarterback Tom Brady appeared to fumble the ball in a tie game. Oakland recovered the ball, but the referees declared that Brady's arm was going forward and it was an incomplete pass, allowing New England to kick the game-winning field goal shortly thereafter.
Many of these plays had impact on the game afterwards, as the NFL made rule changes to prevent them from happening again. The one thing that is certain is that the Raiders seem to be in the middle of some of footballs most historic moments.
Remember : this is a team of players who are not members of the Pro Football Hall of Fame.
Quarterback : Ken Stabler
Stabler was drafted by the Raiders in the second round of the 1968 draft. With Daryle Lamonica entrenched firmly as their starter, Stabler joined the Spokane Shockers of the Continental Football League.
When the league ceased operations after the 1969 season, Stabler joined the Raiders and appeared in three games. He started one game the next season and won. He lost his lone start the next year but played more than he had before.
Oakland started him 11 games in 1973 and led the NFL with a 62.7 completion percentage. He was also named to his first Pro Bowl.
The 1974 season was one of his best, where he went back to the Pro Bowl and earned his only First Team All-Pro nod. He led the NFL with 26 touchdown passes, a 8.4 touchdowns thrown percentage, a 7.9 yards adjusted per attempt average, a 7.1 net yards gained per attempt, and a 7.0 adjusted net yards gained per attempt.
He was also named the NFL MVP by the Associated Press, as well as the AP's Offensive Player of the Year, and the NFL MVP of the Newspaper Enterprises Association.
After missing out on the Pro Bowl in 1975, he returned to it in 1976 with one of his better seasons. He led the NFL with career best marks of 27 touchdowns tossed, a 9.3 touchdowns thrown percentage, 228.1 yards thrown per game, 8.2 net yards gained per attempt, an 88-yard pass, and a quarterback rating of 103.4.
His stellar season led the Raiders to Super Bowl XV, as he lost just one game he started all year, where the franchise won their first world championship. He was named the winner of the Bert Bell Award for NFL Player of the Year.
After making the Pro Bowl for the final time of his career in 1977, Stabler continued to lead an aging Raiders team to winning records as it rebuilt. He left after the 1979 season for the Houston Oilers in a trade that brought Oakland quarterback Dan Pastorini.
After a solid 1980 season for Houston, Stabler experienced his first year as a starter with a losing record in 1981. He joined the New Orleans Saints in 1982 and led them to a .500 record in two years before spending 1984 as a reserve. He retired after the season ended.
There were few quarterbacks in Stabler's era with as much grit, intelligence, and desire as him. Though a free spirit off the field, Oakland knew he would lead his team to victory on the field. He won 69 of his 96 regular season starts and 7-4 in the postseason.
Stabler was known to improvise, even if it meant breaking the rules, in order to win. Many opponents claimed he greased his jersey so he could slip out of their grasp. In a game in 1977 against the San Diego Chargers, the Raiders were down by six points with a few seconds left on the clock.
They were in the red zone and Stabler was attempting to pass one as the clock was expiring. His receivers were covered, so Stabler fumbled the ball forward as he was being dragged down to the turf by a Chargers defender.
Running back Pete Banaszak then batted the ball towards the end zone where tight end Dave Casper kick the ball into the end zone and fell on it. The Raiders won, despite the Chargers protesting the play.
Stabler confessed later on that he fumbled the ball forward on purpose. The NFL rules committee soon placed a rule that no more “lmmaculate Deceptions," or “Holy RoIlers” would be allowed ever again.
The rule stated that on fourth down or any down in the final two-minutes of play, if a player fumbles, “only the fumbling player can recover and/or advance the ball,” for the 1979 season.
Many fans believe Stabler should be inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame, but critics point to his predecessor Lamonica. Not only did Lamonica get one more Pro Bowl and First Team All-Pro nod, he won three AFL titles.
Lamonica's career yards passing and touchdowns thrown are very similar to Stabler, as well as the fact he won 62 of 84 starts for Oakland and was named AFL Player of the Year twice. Critics reason that Lamonica deserves induction into Canton just as much as Stabler, since he taught a young Raiders team how to win while Stabler stepped in with a seasoned roster.
Yet "Snake" Stabler holds a special place in Raiders lore. He helped the franchise win their first Super Bowl and was part of the most historic plays in NFL history. He may be the best quarterback the team ever had.
Daryle Lamonica, Cotton Davidson, Tom Flores, Jeff Hostetler, Jim Plunkett, and Rich Gannon deserve mention.
Fullback : Mark van Eeghan
van Eeghan was drafted by the Raiders in the third round of the 1974 draft. He was rarely used as a rookie, carrying the ball a career low 28 times.
Starting eight games the next year, he impressed by averaging 4.4 yards per carry and cemented himself in the lineup. He soon became the cowbell of the Raiders offense.
Beginning in 1976, van Eeghan had a string of three consecutive 1,000 yard rushing seasons. He led the charge against impressive run defenses like the Pittsburgh Steelers "Steel Curtain" and Minnesota Vikings "Purple People Eaters" as Oakland won Super Bowl XV.
The 1977 season was his best. He set career highs with 324 carries for 1,273 yards. He ran in a career best nine touchdowns the following season.
Though he never ran for 1,000 yards again, his 1979 was excellent. Besides rushing for 818 yards and seven scores, van Eeghan caught a career best 51 balls, he had caught a total of 75 balls his previous five years, and a career high two touchdowns.
After churning out 838 yards in 1980, he spent most of the next year injured and had just 39 carries. He then joined the New England Patriots for two seasons before retiring after the 1983 season.
van Eeghan was the Raiders all-time leader in rushing attempts and yards until Hall of Famer Marcus Allen surpassed him in 1987. He still ranks second, as well as tops amongst all Raiders fullbacks.
His 35 rushing touchdowns ranks third best in team history. van Eeghan was the definition of a plow horse in football vernacular. He never took a ball longer than 34 yards, but his was consistent and averaged a solid four yards per carry for his Raiders career.
He was also a solid blocker who often opened up holes for versatile halfback Clarence Davis. Davis was also a good blocker who complimented van Eeghan well enough to make the Raiders one of the NFL's true powerhouses of the 1970's.
The Raiders have a deep stable of excellent fullbacks who wore their uniform, yet Mark van Eeghan may be the best that they ever had.
Hewritt Dixon, whose four Pro Bowls are the most ever by a Raiders fullback, Alan Miller, Steve Smith, Jon Ritchie, Derrick Fenner, and Marv Hubbard deserves mention.
Halfback : Clem Daniels
Daniels was an undrafted free agent rookie who signed with the Dallas Texans of the American Football League in 1960. He spent that year backing up Rookie of the Year Abner Hayes. He was also used on defense and intercepted three passes.
He was traded to the Raiders the next year and carried the ball just 31 times. Oakland liked what they saw, so he was elevated to the starting lineup in 1962 and scored a career best seven rushing touchdowns off of 761 yards.
He then had perhaps the greatest season by a Raiders running back in 1963, where he made the first of four consecutive Pro Bowls and was named First Team All-Pro.
He led the AFL with 1,099 rushing yards, 1784 yards from scrimmage, and 78.4 rushing yards per game while averaging a career best 5.1 yards per carry. He also led the AFL with a whopping 22.8 yards per catch average on 30 receptions, which is still a Raiders record for running backs with 30 receptions or more.
Though he never ran for over 1,000 yards again, Daniels ran for over 800 yards in each of the next three seasons and matched his career high of seven rushing touchdowns in 1966. He was named First Team All-Pro that year as well.
His 1967 season was cut short to nine games, though he did churn out 575 rushing yards. The Raiders would win the AFL title that year. It was his last year for the Raiders, as he joined the San Francisco 49ers the next year and carried the ball just 12 times in nine games before retiring.
His 22.8 yards per catch average in 1963 has only been surpassed by Warren Wells, Mervyn Hernandez, Cliff Branch, and James Jett as the best ever by a Raider with at least 30 receptions. All four played wide receiver.
Daniels ranks third in Raiders history in rushing attempts and yards, as well as sixth in rushing touchdowns. His 58.7 rushing yards per game is third behind Bo Jackson and Hall of Famer Marcus Allen.
While he finished his career with the most rushing yards ever in AFL history, what made Daniels even more exceptional was his way to beat opponents several ways. He is a member of the AFL's All-Time Team.
His 201 receptions are the third most ever by a Raiders running back and he averaged an excellent 16.4 yards per catch, an unheard of average for a running back. His 24 touchdown catches are the most ever by a Raiders running back and he completed four of nine passes for 143 yards.
His 4.5 yards per carry average and explosive receiving ability show that Clem Daniels was a threat every time he touched the ball. He is certainly one of the greatest players the Raiders ever had play for them.
Napolean Kaufman, Pete Banaszak, Bo Jackson, Kenny King, Clarence Davis, Tyrone Wheatley, Justin Fargas, and Charlie H. Smith deserve mention.
Wide Receiver : Tim Brown
Brown was selected sixth overall in the first round on the 1988 draft by the Raiders. He was used mainly as a return specialist as a rookie, but he did snare 43 catches and carry the ball a career high 12 times. He scored seven times that year, including the only rushing touchdown of his career.
After missing all of 1989, except one game, because of injury, he was not used much on offense the next two years. That changed in 1992 when he started 12 of the 15 games at wide receiver.
Now entrenched in the starting lineup, Brown made the Pro Bowl five straight years. He had 472 receptions over that time, including leading the NFL with 104 catches in 1993.
Brown also began a run of nine straight years of over 1,000 yards receiving. He never had less than 76 receptions during that time, which was in 2000 when he had a career best 11 touchdown catches
Despite 81 receptions in 2002, his 1,000-yards streak ended with 930 yards that season. After 52 receptions the next year, Brown left the Raiders to join the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
He mostly was used as an extra receiver for the Bucs, though he did start four games. He had 24 receptions for just 200 yards and a score, prompting him to retire at seasons end.
His 1,094 receptions for 14,934 yards are still the fourth most in NFL history. His 100 receiving touchdowns ranks sixth and he is fifth best ever in all-purpose yards.
Tim Brown still hold most of the Raiders receiving records and might be the greatest wide receiver in that franchises history.
Art Powell will slide in here when Brown is inducted into Canton.
Wide Receiver : Cliff Branch
Branch was drafted in the fourth round of the 1972 draft by the Raiders. While catching just three balls as a rookie, he did return nine kickoffs for 191 yards and returned 12 punts for only 21 yards. He was never asked to return kicks again in his career.
After 19 catches in his second season, Branch exploded onto the NFL scene. He had a career high 60 catches in 1974 while leading the NFL with 1,091 receiving yards, 13 touchdowns catches, and 78 receiving yards per game.
It was the first for four consecutive years he went to the Pro Bowl. It was also the first of three straight First Team All-Pro nods.
He led the NFL with 12 touchdown receptions and career high of 79.4 yards receiving per game in 1976, while averaging a career best 24.2 yards per catch. It was the only year of his career he exceeded 20 yards per reception, though he did average over 19 yards twice.
The Raiders reached Super Bowl XI in 1976 and defeated the Minnesota Vikings 32-14. The 1977 season was his last as a Pro Bowler.
Branch continued to be the Raiders best deep threat. They reached Super Bowl XV in 1980 after he averaged 19.5 yards on 44 receptions.
Oakland made the playoffs as a wild card team and began a magical run. Branch had two touchdown receptions in Super Bowl XV, including the first score of the game, as the Raiders won 27-10.
As he got older, it appeared Branch never lost his amazing speed. He tied a NFL record at the age of 35 in 1983 by taking a catch 99 yards for a touchdown.
He had 14 receptions for 192 yards in the postseason while scoring a touchdown in Super Bowl XVIII. Oakland would win the title with a 38-9 thumping of the defending champion Washington Redskins.
After 27 receptions in 1984, he appeared in four games during the 1985 season and failed to record a catch for the first time in his career. He retired after that, but did play the 1988 season for the Los Angeles Cobras of the Arena Football League before retiring permanently.
He has the third most receptions, receiving yards, and touchdown catches in Raiders history. This was done while maintaining an impressive 17.3 yards per catch average.
Cliff Branch has been a semi-finalist for induction into the Pro Football Hall of Fame twice. He was blazing fast with sure hands, making him one of the greatest wide receivers on Raiders history.
Art Powell, Warren Wells, Bo Roberson, James Jett, and Jerry Porter deserve mention.
Tight End : Todd Christensen
Christensen was drafted in the second round of the 1978 draft by the Dallas Cowboys, who put him at fullback. He broke his foot in a preseason game and was cut. The New York Giants signed him as a fullback in 1979 but cut him after he appeared in one game.
The Raiders signed Christensen and moved him to tight end. He caught just eight balls in his first three years with the Raiders while taking a fumble recovery in for a touchdown, which includes their Super Bowl XV winning season in 1980.
He began to get the ball in the strike-shortened 1982 by catching 42 balls in nine games. It set the stage for maybe the finest season of his career.
Christensen led the NFL with 92 receptions. He set career high marks of 1,246 receiving yards and 12 touchdowns. He was named First Team All-Pro and made the first of five straight Pro Bowls.
His performance helped carry the Raiders to Super Bowl XVII. He led the Raiders with 14 catches, tied with Cliff Branch, in the postseason as the Raiders would win the world championship.
From 1983 to 1986, Christensen had 349 receptions. It was an NFL record at the time.
His next two years were cut short by injuries, limiting him to 62 catches in 19 games. He retired at the end of the 1988 season.
The 461 receptions for 5,872 yards and 41 touchdowns by Christensen are the most ever by a Raiders tight end. He has the fourth most receptions and receiving yards in Raiders history, as well as the sixth most touchdown catches.
His five Pro Bowls is tied with Hall of Famer Dave Casper as the most ever by a Raiders tight end. His two First Team All-Pro nods is second most behind Casper's five.
Some will say Todd Christensen is the greatest tight end the team ever had.
Raymond Chester, Ethan Horton, and Billy Cannon deserve mention.
Tackle : Harry Schuh
Schuh was the Raiders first-round draft pick in 1965. Frank Youso began the year as a starter, but Schuh soon replaced him and would remain a starter the rest of his Raiders career.
He made his first Pro Bowl in 1967 while helping the Raiders win the AFL title. He returned to the Pro Bowl in 1969 while being named First Team All-Pro as well.
Schuh made his last Pro Bowl in 1970, but was then traded to the Los Angeles Rams for Hall of Fame tackle Bob Brown. He played three years for the Rams before joining the Green Bay Packers in 1974.
The Packers moved Schuh to left tackle that year, where he split starts with Keith Wortman. Schuh then retired at the conclusion of the season.
Harry Schuh was the first Raiders offensive tackle to go to a Pro Bowl and be named First Team All-Pro. His three Pro Bowls are still the second most in team history. He is the greatest right tackle in Raiders history.
Tackle : Lincoln Kennedy
Kennedy was drafted in the first round of the 1993 draft by the Atlanta Falcons with the ninth overall selection. After starting guard in his rookie year, he lost his starting job the next year and remained mostly a reserve until after the 1994 season.
He was traded to the Raiders before the 1995 season and quickly won the starting job at left tackle, which he would hold onto most of the rest of his career. He would make the first of three consecutive Pro Bowls in 2000.
Kennedy's 2002 season may have been his best. He made his last Pro Bowl while earning his only First Team All-Pro honor. It helped the Raiders reach Super Bowl XXXVII.
He appeared in just 12 games in 2003 because of injuries, starting in 10, and decided to retire. He later attempted a comeback with the Dallas Cowboys in 2005, but was cut in training camp. He then played for the Tampa Bay Storm of the Arena Football League in 2007 before retiring permanently.
Lincoln Kennedy's three Pro Bowls is tied with Harry Schuh as the second most ever by an offensive tackle in Raiders history. He is a player whose career was resurrected by the Raiders, something the team has often done, to become one of the finest blockers in that teams history.
Henry Lawrence, Bruce Davis, Bruce Wilkerson, and Barry Sims deserve mention.
Guard : Steve Wisniewski
Wisniewski was drafted with the first pick in the second round of the 1989 draft by the Dallas Cowboys. He was quickly dealt to the Raiders in one of the most lopsided trades in NFL history.
The Raiders got themselves a guard who started immediately and would start every game but two for the next 13 years. After playing right guard as a rookie, he moved to the left side in 1990 and stayed there the rest of his career.
The move worked out for both Wisniewski and the Raiders. He was selected to the first of six straight Pro Bowls on 1990 and quickly developed a reputation as one of the very best guards in the entire NFL.
He was named First Team All-Pro in 1991 and 1992. He was considered tough and surly, playing with a real mean streak that had opposing defensive tackles rue the days they had to square off against him.
After missing the Pro Bowl in 1996, he went back in 1997. He was passed over the next two years before returning for the final time in 2000. He retired after the 2001 season having started in every game he played in.
A decade after retiring, Wisniewski has returned to the Raiders as an offensive line coach. He will be coaching his nephew Stefen Wisniewski, whose dad Leo is Steve's older brother. Leo Wisniewski was an excellent NFL defensive tackle who had his career cut short by injuries.
Many Raiders historians consider Hall of Famer Gene Upshaw the greatest guard the team has ever had. Yet Steve Wisniewski went to eight Pro Bowls, one more than Upshaw. It is the most Pro Bowls ever by a Raiders guard.
One day Steve Wisniewski will be inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame. Not only was he a fine technical blocker against the pass, but he was an absolute mauler run blocking. He frequently was seen pancaking his opponents into the turf with ferocious desire.
He may be the greatest offensive guard in the history of the Raiders and he is a member of the NFL's 1990s All-Decade Team.
Guard : Wayne Hawkins
Hawkins was originally the first selection of the Denver Broncos in the 1960 AFL territorial draft, but was soon selected by the Raiders in the allocation draft of the fledgeling league.
John Dittrick, one of just four veterans who started games on offense that year, split a few starts with Hawkins that year. The rookie soon grabbed the job and would hold it until 1967.
After starting at right guard his first three seasons, Hawkins moved to left guard in 1963 and earned the first of five straight Pro Bowl nods. He moved back to right guard the next two years before playing on the left side in 1966.
Moving back to the right side in 1967, helping Oakland win the AFL title, he made his last Pro Bowl. His 1968 season was racked by injuries and he played just 10 games while second-year player Gene Upshaw, a future Hall of Famer, took over at left guard.
After spending 1969 on the bench, he retired having played his entire career with just the American Football League. He is one of only 20 men to have done this. His five Pro Bowls was a record for a Raiders guard until Upshaw surpassed him in 1975 and it is still the third most ever in franchise history.
Wayne Hawkins is a member of the Raiders All-Time Team and is one of the best guards to have ever played for them.
George Buehler, Max Montoya, Kevin Gogan, Charley Hannah, Mickey Marvin, and Jim Harvey deserve mention.
Center : Don Mosebar
Mosebar was drafted by the Raiders in the first round of the 1983 draft. He spent his rookie year on the bench learning from veteran Pro Bowler Dave Dalby as the Raiders would end up winning Super Bowl XVIII.
He played right guard the next year and started in the 10 games he played. He took over for Dalby in 1985 and would be named to the Pro Bowl in 1986.
Mosebar quickly showed his athleticism and versatility. He played left tackle for the Raiders in 1988 before moving back to center for the rest of his career.
The pinnacle of his career came in 1990 and 1991 when he was named to the Pro Bowl each year. He was the starter until the 1994 season and was annually considered one of the best centers in the NFL.
As he prepared for the 1995 season, he was accidentally poked in the left eye in practice. The injury was so severe that he lost sight in the eye and was forced to retire. His retirement ended a magnificent run at center for the Raiders.
Hall of Famer Jim Otto, Dalby, and Mosebar were the main starters at center for 34 straight years, minus the 1988 season where Mosebar played tackle and Bill Lewis played center.
Otto might be the greatest center ever, and Dalby was fantastic in his own right, but Mosebar's three Pro Bowls is second to Otto as the most ever by a Raiders center. His ability to play all over the offensive line, even at left tackle, also is an example of his greatness and gives him this slot.
Dave Dalby and Barrett Robbins deserve mention.
Defensive Tackle : Tom Keating
Keating was drafted by the Kansas City Chiefs in the fifth round of the AFL Draft. He was also drafted in the fourth round of the NFL Draft by the Minnesota Vikings.
The Chiefs dealt him to the Buffalo Bills before the season began and he spent the next two years appearing in nine games as a reserve. The Bills won the AFL title each season.
Buffalo then traded Keating to the Raiders before the 1966 season. He earned a starting job right away on one of the AFL's best defensive lines.
Oakland had four Pro Bowlers starting with Ben Davidson, Ike Lassiter, Dan Birdwell, and Keating when he earned the honor in his first season with the Raiders. The unit would lead Oakland to an AFL title in 1967.
Not only were they stout against the run, but the quartet helped the Raiders collect 67 sacks that year. It was perhaps Keating's finest season, as he was named to the Pro Bowl and became the first Raiders defensive tackle to be named First Team All-Pro.
After two more solid seasons, Keating appeared in just 15 games between 1971 and 1972 because of injuries. He joined the Pittsburgh Steelers in 1973 and backed up Ernie Holmes and Hall of Famer "Mean" Joe Greene. Pittsburgh would lose to Oakland 33-14 in the playoffs that year.
Keating then went to the Kansas City Chiefs for two years. After spending the 1974 season starting next to Hall of Famer Buck Buchanan, his 1975 season was bereft by injury and he played in nine games before deciding to retire.
His two Pro Bowls are still the second most ever by a Raiders defensive tackle. Many Raider fans may remember Keating for a unique four-point stance that was similar to Hall of Famer Bob Lilly, but he was also the point man on the team.
When many new players joined the team, they were sent to live with Keating. His house was also where the party was at most times. Raiders would frequently congregate at his residence, which helped the team develop a close bond amongst one another.
The wild stories on the rebel Raiders seemed to go down at Keating's house more often than not. He was one of the most popular teammates for good reason during that era.His play on the field exceeded his leadership off the field at times.
"He's a great defensive tackle," Chiefs nine-time Pro Bowl offensive tackle Jim Tyrer once said about Keating. "When they play him head-on the center, he occupies three players. The center knows he's there and both the offensive guards have to be aware of him, because he can go either way around the center and then they have to help."
Tom Keating is a member of the All-AFL Second Team, alongside of Buchanan, and is one of the greatest Raiders ever. He and his best friend Ben Davidson lined up together for years and dominated opponents with athleticism, intelligence, and teamwork.
These themes were just part of Keating's leadership as a Raiders team grew up together and became ingrained into football folklore.
Defensive Tackle : Chester McGlockton
McGlockton was drafted by the Raiders in the first round of the 1992 draft. After playing off of the bench as a rookie, he earned a starting job in 1993 and held the rest of the time he was with the Raiders.
He made the first of four consecutive Pro Bowls He had 29.5 sacks and averaged 61 tackles per season over that time while being regarded as one of the best defensive tackles in the AFC.
He left the Raiders after 1997, his last Pro Bowl year where he had a career best 64 tackles, to join the Kansas City Chiefs. The Chiefs moved him to defensive end and he appeared in just 10 games because of injury.
After two more uneventful seasons with the Chiefs, McGlockton moved on to the Denver Broncos in 2001. He spent two years there and scored the only three touchdowns of his career. Two came off of interceptions and the other off a fumble recovery.
The New York Jets signed him as a reserve in 2003, where he would retire at the end of the season. Of his 51 career sacks, 39.5 came with the Raiders. It is the second most ever by a Raiders defensive tackle.
The great Bill Pickel was considered for this slot, but the four Pro Bowls McGlockton had is the most by a defensive tackle in Raiders history. He is certainly one of the better defensive tackles the team has ever had.
Bill Pickel, Otis Sistrunk, Darrell Russell, Dave Costa, Bob Golic, Art Thoms, and Dan Birdwell deserve mention.
Defensive End : Ben Davidson
Davidson was drafted by the New York Giants in the 1961 NFL Draft, but went undrafted by the AFL. He was traded to the Green Bay Packers and was a reserve on a Packers team that won the 1961 NFL Championship, the first of five won by Hall of Fame coach Vince Lombardi.
He went to the Washington Redskins for the next two years, playing as a reserve, before joining the Raiders in 1964. After beginning the year on the bench, he quickly worked himself into the starting lineup and would remain there the rest of his career.
He missed two games that year, the only games he failed to play in throughout his entire career. At 6'8", Davidson was one of the biggest men in profession football. He was also one of the toughest.
For all the strength and grit Davidson had, he was also incredibly athletic. He could hurdle 6'6" Kansas City Chiefs offensive tackle Jim Tyrer on his way to the quarterback.
Davidson was an important member of a great Raiders defensive line where he, Ike Lassiter, Tom Keating, and Dan Birdwell would all go to the Pro Bowl in their careers. While they were all excellent pass rushers, they were equally excellent versus the run.
He made the first of three straight Pro Bowls in 1966. He and Keating lined up next to each other and were almost impossible to block. The duo went to the Pro Bowl two straight years together and were both named First Team All-Pro in 1967.
He was the first Raiders defensive end to be named First Team All-Pro, an honor no other Raiders defensive end would achieve until Hall of Famer Howie Long did it in 1984 and 1985. Davidson and Long are still the only defensive ends in franchise history to accomplish this.
After his final Pro Bowl in 1968, Davidson remained a consistent force until he retired after the 1971 season to focus on his burgeoning businesses off the field. His three Pro Bowls is second to Long as the most ever by a Raiders defensive end.
After football, Davidson acted in some legendary movies like M*A*S*H, Conan the Barbarian, Behind the Green Door, and Miller Lite commercials. He has also excelled in real estate while still maintaining a close bond with Raider fans by tailgating with them.
While Davidson and his best friend Tom Keating were known for creating havoc on the field and go on long road trips via motorcycles off the field, he also helped the league by playing within the rules.
In 1976, the NFL made a rule that prohibited a defender from "running or diving into, or throwing his body against or on a ball carrier who falls or slips to the ground untouched and makes no attempt to advance, before or after the ball is dead."
The inspiration came from a play in 1970 where Kansas City Chiefs Hall of Fame quarterback Len Dawson ran down field. He soon slid on the ground and waited on the referee's whistle.
Davidson barreled into Dawson helmet first. While the play was within the rules, a minor brawl broke out between the Chiefs and Raiders over the play with Chiefs wide receiver Otis Taylor squaring off on Davidson and led to the rules eventual emplacement.
The play resulted in offsetting penalties and forced the Chiefs to punt after it took away a first down that would have sealed a Kansas City victory. It helped lead the Raiders to tie the game and eventually win the AFC West.
The Raiders were known as rebels in that era and Davidson was one of the players most mentioned. His huge frame drew much of it even if Davidson played within the rules, but he would also do whatever it took to win.
Ben Davidson is a great Oakland legend for several reasons. He brought a winning attitude to a young team and helped develop the franchise to becoming a consistent winner. There is no question that he is one of the greatest members of the Oakland Raiders ever.
Defensive End : Greg Townsend
Drafted in the fourth round of the 1983 draft by the Raiders, Townsend ended up contributing mightily in his rookie year. He backed up Hall of Famer Howie Long and Lyle Alzado that year and the trio combined for 30.5 sacks.
Townsend had 10.5 sacks in the regular season, then 4.5 in the post season as the Raiders would win Super Bowl XVIII. He also had a safety and fumble recovery of 66 yards for a touchdown that year.
He spent the next two seasons as a pass rush specialist and collected 17 sacks. He started in four games during the 1986 season and had 11.5 sacks while recording another safety.
The 1988 season saw him start 11 games and get 11.5 sacks while scoring touchdowns on both a fumble recovery and 86 yard interception return. He became a full-time starter in 1990 and responded with a Pro Bowl season after collecting 12.5 sacks, getting a career high 67 tackles, and scoring the last touchdown of his career off a fumble recovery.
Townsend made his last Pro Bowl in 1991 after getting a career best 13 sacks and picking off the last pass of his career. His sack totals dwindled the next two years, getting 12.5 total, but he did see some time at defensive tackle when injuries hit the Raiders hard in 1993.
He joined the Philadelphia Eagles in 1994 and had a career low two sacks in 12 starts. Townsend rejoined the Raiders in 1995 and appeared in four games. It was the only season of his career he failed to record a sack.
He retired at the end of the season with 109.5 career sacks, which is currently the 16th most in NFL history. The 107.5 he had with the Raiders is the most in that franchises history.
His three touchdowns off of fumble recoveries is tied as the most in team history, and his two sacks are the second most in Raiders history. His 13 forced fumbles are also the second most in Raiders history.
Greg Townsend is one of the best pass rushers to have ever played for the Raiders, let alone one of the finest defensive ends in the franchises history.
Ike Lassiter, Derrick Burgess, Lyle Alzado, Anthony Smith, Tony Cline, Lance Johnstone, and John Matuzak deserve mention.
Linebacker : Rod Martin
Martin was drafted in the 12th round of the 1977 draft by Oakland, the 317th overall selection. Just five men drafted behind him played in the NFL.
Martin played just one game as a rookie, but started to earn a lot of playing time in his second year by starting half of the season. Oakland was impressed with his intelligence and solid all-around play.
After starting all of 1979, he did not start in six games in 1980. This inspired him to get better just as the Raiders reached the playoffs as a Wild Card team.
Bookending Hall of Fame linebacker Ted Hendricks, the duo helped the team reach Super Bowl XV. Facing the Philadelphia Eagles, Martin became a nightmare for Eagles quarterback Ron Jaworski.
He made three key interceptions to help lead Oakland to a 27-10 win. No other player in Super Bowl history has had three picks in a Super Bowl, and his three career swipes is tied with two others as the most in Super Bowl history.
He was somehow not named MVP of the game, despite such excellence.
The 1983 season was one of the best in his career. He led the NFL with two touchdowns off of interceptions, had a career high four picks, and chipped in six sacks.
He was named to his first Pro Bowl. Oakland reached the playoffs, where Martin had a sack in their AFC Championship win. In Super Bowl XVIII, he came up big again for his team.
Besides recording another sack, he recovered a fumble and made several key tackles. One came on a fourth-down play, where he stopped Hall of Fame running back John Riggins short of a conversion in the Raiders victory.
He was honored as First Team All-Pro in 1984, as well as being named to his last Pro Bowl. Martin had a career high 11 sacks, recorded a safety, and scored off a 77-yard fumble recovery.
Martin stayed in the starting lineup until after the 1988 season, where he decided to retire.
One of Martin's special abilities was reaching the end zone once he got his hands on the ball, which he did six times. Only Terry McDaniel's seven exceeds his total for a team record for a defensive player.
While the Raiders have had a few late round picks help them, none have been better than Martin.
His four touchdowns off of interceptions is the most by a Raiders linebacker and tied with three others as the second most in team history. Martin's 14 career interceptions are the second most by a Raiders linebacker.
The ten fumble recoveries he had are the second most in team history. The two he returned for touchdowns is tied with five other Raiders as the second most in team history and his 33.5 quarterback sacks, the seventh most in team history, tops the list of sacks by a linebacker in Oakland history.
While many NFL fans remember him for being superb in Super Bowls, Raider fans got to enjoy him for 12 seasons and several will say Rod Martin is the greatest linebacker in team history.
Linebacker : Dan Conners
Conners was the Raiders second round draft selection in the 1964 AFL Draft. He was also the Cleveland Browns fifth round choice in the NFL Draft.
After appearing in just five games as a rookie, he spent 1965 listed as the third-string middle linebacker behind starter Archie Matos, a three-time Pro Bowler, and Bill Budness. Budness was drafted two rounds after Conners the year before.
Matos left the Raiders after 1965 and Budness was named the starter. Conners soon supplanted him and began a run of three consecutive Pro Bowl years by taking one of his two interceptions for a touchdown.
His 1967 season was one of Conners best. He had a career high three interceptions, returning one for a score, and had a career best four fumble recoveries. He took one fumble for a touchdown of 73 yards.
Though his Pro Bowl run ended in 1968, Conners had a solid 1969 season. He took his lone interception for a career long 75 yard touchdown return and recovered three fumbles. One fumble was returned for a score, the last touchdown of his career.
Conners continued to start for Oakland until 1974, where he retired at the end of that season. His three Pro Bowls is the most ever by a Raiders middle linebacker.
Conners 15 interceptions are the most ever by a Raiders linebacker, and his three touchdowns off of interceptions is the most ever by a Raiders middle linebacker. His two touchdowns and 16 fumble recoveries are the second most in Raiders history.
Dan Conners was a play maker in his 11 seasons with the Raiders. He is the best middle linebacker the team has ever had.
Archie Matos, Matt Millen, Monte Johnson, and Greg Biekert deserve mention.
Linebacker : Phil Villapiano
Villapiano was drafted by the Raiders in the second round of the 1971 draft. He earned the starting job at left outside linebacker immediately and would hold it the next six seasons.
His 1972 season saw Villapiano pick off a career best three interceptions, returning one 82 yards for the only touchdown of his career. Villapiano then made the Pro Bowl in 1973, an honor he would earn until 1976.
Oakland would win Super Bowl XI in 1976. Villapiano had a solid playoffs for the Raiders by getting a quarterback sack in both the AFC Championship and Super Bowl victories. He was the only Raider to sack Hall of Fame quarterback Fran Tarkenton in the Raiders 32-14 Super Bowl win.
Villapiano's 1977 season was cut short after two games because of injury. He came back the next year and recorded a safety while playing right outside linebacker. After playing for Oakland in 1979, he joined the Buffalo Bills.
Villapiano spent four years with the Bills, playing as a reserve on an excellent Bills linebacking unit. His last two years were riddled by injuries, playing just 13 games over that time.
Retiring after the 1983 season, Villapiano's four Pro Bowls is still tied with Hall of Famer Ted Hendricks as the most ever by a Raiders outside linebacker. Though he was most noted for his excellent run defense, the 11 interceptions he had are the third most ever by a Raiders linebacker and his 17 fumble recoveries are the most ever by a Raider.
Stout, consistent, and tough is how many remember Phil Villapiano. He was a leader on and off the field as well. He is unquestionably one of the best linebackers in Raiders history.
Gus Otto, Willie Hall, Gerald Irons, Jeff Barnes, and Winston Moss deserve mention.
Strong Safety : George Atkinson
Atkinson was drafted by the Raiders in the seventh round of the 1968 draft. He played well enough to win the American Football League's Rookie of the Year Award, but was beaten out by Paul Robinson of the Cincinnati Bengals.
Atkinson led the AFL with 36 punt returns for 490 yards and two touchdowns. He also led the AFL with a kickoff return average of 25.1 yards on 32 attempts. He played cornerback on defense and swiped four passes, returning one for a touchdown, and recovered a career best three fumbles in just six starts.
The Raiders noticed how well he tackled, so Atkinson was moved to strong safety in 1969. While his kickoff duties lessened to just 16 attempts, he still returned 25 punts and picked off a pair of passes. He returned one for another touchdown.
He was named to the Pro Bowl in each of his first two years. The AFL officially merged with the NFL in 1970, and the hitting prowess of Atkinson quickly garnered the notice of his newer peers as well.
Though he returned just four punts that year, he did handle 23 kickoffs. He would be asked to return just five kickoffs for the rest of his career, because he was too valuable on defense.
In 1973, he led the NFL with 41 punt returns. After returning just 12 punts the next two years, he never fielded another punt in his career.
His tackling and fierce attitude was stuff of legend for Raiders fans in the "Black Hole". He was a fan favorite because Atkinson would do whatever it took to win.
He also drew the ire of opponents. After knocking Pittsburgh Steelers Hall of Fame wide receiver Lynn Swann unconscious in 1976 on a play away from the ball, a player Atkinson gave a concussion on a hit the year before in the AFC Championship Game, Steelers called Atkinson part of the "criminal element" in football.
But hitting opponents hard wasn't Atkinson's only skill. He frequently intercepted passes and returned a pair of fumbles for touchdowns. He was a play maker who left everything on the field.
That 1976 season may have been the highlight of his career. Though he failed to intercept a pass for the first time in his career, the Raiders defense became stingy in the AFC Championship Game, which carried over in helping them win Super Bowl XI.
He played one more season for the Raiders before retiring. He did attempt a comeback in 1979 and appeared in six games with the Denver Broncos before retiring for good.
His 26 interceptions for 382 yards are the most ever by a Raiders strong safety. His 30 career interceptions ranks fifth best in team history, and his 448 yards rank sixth.
Not only is George Atkinson one of the greatest Raiders leaders in team history, he is the best strong safety to have ever played for them.
Warren Powers, Howie Williams, Charlie Phillips, and Mike Davis deserve mention.
Free Safety : Jack Tatum
Tatum was a first round draft pick of the Oakland Raiders in 1971. He was the 19th player picked overall. Tatum did not start playing organized football until his tenth grade year. By the time he left Ohio State University, he had a career that later had him inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame.
Tatum made an immediate impact upon his arrival in the NFL. One game, he knocked out two Baltimore Colts from the game. Hall of Fame tight end John Mackey was one of the players.
He intercepted four passes that year, and returned them for 136 yards. Tatum intercepted four passes the next year as well, gaining 91 yards on returns. He also set an then-NFL record by returning a fumble 104 yards for the only touchdown of his NFL career.
By 1973, Tatum was one of the most feared and respected free safeties in the NFL. He missed the first game of his career that year, but was named to his first Pro Bowl squad.
Tatum would go on to be named to the Pro Bowl team until 1977. In 1977, Tatum snared six interceptions, and returned them for a career high 146 yard. He was a key ingredient to the Raiders team that would go on to win Super Bowl XI.
He was traded to the Houston Oilers prior to the 1980 season and responded by intercepting a career high seven interception for 100 yards despite not starting one game. He helped the Oilers win the AFC Central Division Championship.
Houston, coincidentally, would then lose to the Wild Card Oakland Raiders in the first round. Tatum retired after that game.
His 164 yards returned via fumbles ranks 16th All-Time in NFL history, and his 736 yards returned by interception ranks 38th All-Time in NFL history.
Tatum's 636 yards off interceptions ranks first in Raiders history. It is 12 yards more than Dave Grayson, the player he replaced at free safety.
No matter how one looks at Tatum, he in part of some of some of the most memorable moments in the NFL's history. The famous "Immaculate Reception", at the end of a playoff game in 1972, started when Tatum laid out Pittsburgh Steelers running back John Fuqua. Most fans recall Hall of Fame running back Franco Harris gathering the caromed ball and taking it for a game winning touchdown.
In Super Bowl XI, Minnesota Vikings Wide Receiver Sammy White was leveled by Tatum on a crossing pattern, but the Vikings great held onto the ball. During a 1978 pre-season game, Tatum hit New England Patriots Wide Receiver Darryl Stingley in a play that would paralyze Stingley for life.
He happened to play on a team that was called the "Bad Boys" of the 1970's NFL. It was a unique roster full of characters.
Tatum was nicknamed the "Assassin" due to his hard hitting ability. The hit on Stingley, coupled with the Raiders already established reputation, gave Jack an unfair label of being a dirty player. He was vilified by casual observers, and anti-Raider media types after this play.
Tatum once said, “I always wanted to hit someone hard, and if they got hurt, that was just part of the game. But you always wanted them to be OK.” Tatum admitted his hitting prowess "borderlines on felonious assault."
The game was much rougher back then. Yet the media continues to try to spin this fabricated tale that Jack was a cheap shot artist. "They said on ESPN that I hit Stingley in the back and that's just a lie," Tatum said. "It's amazing to me that they lie like that when they can just look at the hit. They have it on tape."
Even then-Patriots Head Coach Chuck Fairbanks said the hit was far from dirty. Propaganda machines like ESPN are probably a big factor as to why Tatum has yet to be inducted into Canton.
Many media types tried to say he was remorseless about this play. Tatum has expressed sorrow on televised interviews, only to have that part edited out. "I feel sorry for what happened to him," said Tatum, "I tried to apologize to him a number of times, but people around him wouldn't let that happen."
Sports Illustrated's Paul Zimmerman, a Hall of Fame voter, are part of other big reasons why Tatum has yet to be inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame. It is sick, and unfair, that Tatum is being labeled for one play. A play no one wants to remember in its reality, rather to fabricate this villainous imagery.
This play is the main reason the NFL went from the 10-yard chuck rule to the current five-yard rule. Tatum was once part of the NFL as part of the Uniform Code Enforcement Team, commonly known as the “fashion police".
There needs to be one major enforcement. This on the media who lie. Tatum may have hit guys hard, but that is the way the game was played then. He played within the rules and was not flagged nor fined for his hit on Stingley. That is the reality.
Tatum is a player many look up to. Hall of Famer Ronnie Lott is on record for idolizing Tatum. That is another reality.
It is time for the voters to do away with spun fabrications and deal with reality. Just look at his statistics if you want to have disdain for his impact. Jack Tatum deserves his place in Canton.
David Grayson, Vann McElroy, Eddie Anderson, and Tom Morrow, whose eight consecutive games with an interception is an NFL record, deserve mention.
Cornerback : Lester Hayes
Hayes was drafted by the Raiders in the fifth round of the 1977 draft. Though the Raiders were the defending champions with an excellent defense, Hall of Fame head coach John Madden was so impressed with Hayes that he had the rookie start in a few games.
He earned the starting job the next year and would hold onto this honor the rest of his career. After four interceptions in 1978, he began to gain league-wide notice the next year by picking off seven balls and taking two in for touchdowns.
The 1980 season is considered the best of his career. Hayes led the NFL with a career best 13 interceptions and returned one for a score. He was named the NFL Defensive Player of the Year, helping lead the Raiders to a Super Bowl XV victory.
Hayes was named First Team All-Pro for the only time of his career that season, as well as beginning a run of five straight seasons where he would go to the Pro Bowl.
Business began to really pick up for Hayes and the Raiders during the 1983 season. They acquired Hall of Famer Mike Haynes to bookend Hayes and give the team the best cornerback tandem in the NFL.
The duo helped the Raiders reach Super Bowl XVIII, where they shut down the Washington Redskins passing game so effectively, the defense was allowed to concentrate on the vaunted Redskins game in the Raiders 38-9 blowout win.
Haynes went to the Pro Bowl three times opposite Hayes, who went twice himself. Hayes missed two games in 1988, the first games he missed since his rookie year. He retired at the end of the season.
He is a member of the NFL's 1980s All-Decade Team. He is on the second team behind Hall of Famers Haynes and Mel Blount. Hayes is the only Raider to ever be named NFL Defensive Player of the Year.
His 39 interceptions is tied with Hall of Famer Willie Brown as the most in team history. The four touchdowns he had off of interceptions is the second most, and his 572 yards off of interceptions are the second most by a Raiders cornerback, ranking fourth best in franchise history.
The images of Stickum all over his body is as memorable as the unusual stance Hayes took before the snap of the ball. When the NFL banned Stickum in 1981, after Hayes stuck to 13 thrown balls the year before, it was called the "Lester Hayes Rule".
He has been a finalist for induction into the Pro Football Hall of Fame four times and a semi-finalist six times. It seems the "only true Jedi" will one day join Willie Brown and Mike Haynes as a member of the Pro Football Hall of Fame.
Cornerback : Terry McDaniel
McDaniel was the Raiders first round draft pick in 1988, where he was the ninth overall selection. He was expected to be the next great Raiders cornerback, following legends like Willie Brown, Mike Haynes, and Lester Hayes.
His rookie season was cut short to just two games, but McDaniel quickly rebounded to become a top defender for the team. He scored the first touchdown of his career in 1990 by taking a fumble recovery 42 yards to seal the teams initial victory that season.
Though the 1991 season saw no interceptions by him, the only time besides his rookie year McDaniel failed to pick off a pass, it was one of his better years. He had a career best 77 tackles and two forced fumbles.
That was followed up by his first Pro Bowl season the next year. McDaniel made the Pro Bowl five straight years and scored at least one touchdown in four seasons.
His 1994 year may be his very best. McDaniel set career best marks of seven interceptions, three fumble recoveries, and three touchdowns. Two came off of interceptions, another career high mark.
The 1997 season saw him miss the first three games of his career since his rookie year. He then would join the Seattle Seahawks as a reserve the next year, appearing in nine games.
McDaniel did swipe one pass and took it 43 yards for a touchdown. He retired at the conclusion of the year and is all over the Raiders records books.
His five touchdowns are the most in franchise history and his two off of fumble recoveries are the most ever by a Raiders cornerback. His seven touchdowns lead all Raiders defenders and his 34 interceptions for 624 yards are both ranked second best in team history.
Though Terry McDaniel has yet to follow Brown or Haynes into Canton, he certainly is one of the best cornerbacks in team history.
Fred Williamson, Kent McGloughan, Lionel Washington, Nemiah Wilson, Skip Thomas, Eric Allen, Phillip Buchanon, and David Grayson deserve mention.
Kicker : Jeff Jaeger
Jaeger was drafted by the Cleveland Browns in the 1987 draft. Despite playing in just 10 games because of a players strike, he set a franchise scoring record by a rookie with 75 points.
Yet Cleveland replaced him with veteran Matt Bahr the next year and Jaeger spent the season out of football. He signed with the Raiders and replaced Chris Bahr, the older brother of Matt.
Handling the placekicking duties over the next seven years, Jaeger led the team in scoring for five consecutive years. He scored at least 103 points three times and was considered one of the better kickers in the AFC.
Jaeger made his only Pro Bowl in 1991, where he was also selected First Team All-Pro. His 85.3 field goal percentage that year was a career best mark.
His best season may have came in 1994. He led the NFL with a career best 132 points, while also leading the league with 44 field goal attempts and 35 makes. Gary Anderson, of the Pittsburgh Steelers, was chosen to the Pro Bowl ahead of Jaeger after missing just two kicks all year.
After missing five games because of injuries in 1995, Jaeger joined the Chicago Bears the next year. He was effective for three seasons before getting replaced after third game of the 1999 season. He then retired.
Jaeger ranks fourth in Raiders history in points scored, field goals attempted and made, and extra points attempted and made. His 132 point season in 1993 was a team record until Sebastian Janikowski broke it in 2010.
He is still the only placekicker in Raiders history to be named to the Pro Bowl or be named First Team All-Pro. His 44 field goal attempts and 35 makes in 1991 still stand as team records.
George Blanda may be the best kicker in team history, as the Hall of Famer seemed to always come through in the clutch. Janikowski is setting team records and seems to have several years ahead of him.
Yet Jeff Jaeger is chosen to man this position because he is amongst the best placekickers in Raiders history.
Chris Bahr deserves mention.
Punter : Ray Guy
Guy was a first round draft pick of the Oakland Raiders in the 1973 draft. He was the 23rd player picked overall.
He is the first punter to ever be inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame and is considered the greatest punter to have ever played college football and has a trophy named after him. The Ray Guy Award is given annually to the best collegiate punter in the nation.
Guy is the first punter to ever be drafted in the first round by the NFL. His impact was immediate. He was named to the Pro Bowl as a rookie, when he averaged 45.3 yards per punt.
He would be named the Pro Bowl Punter every year up until 1978. At the 1976 Pro Bowl, Guy became the first punter to hit the Louisiana Superdome video screen.
In 1979, he was named to the UPI All-Conference Second Team, and the Newspaper Entertainment. Association All-NFL Second Team. He was named to his final Pro Bowl in 1980 after averaging 43.6 yards per punt. He also booted a career long punt of 77 yards that year.
For some unknown reason, he was not named to the 1981 Pro Bowl, despite punting a career high 96 times and having a 43.7 average. He was named to the UPI All-Conference Second Team.
Guy booted the ball over 70 yards in four of his seasons, and kicked five balls over 60 yards in one season alone. His shortest season long was 57, in the strike shortened 1982 season. That season also was the only season of his career when he did not average over 40 yards per punt, finishing with a 39.1 average.
He ended the last three years of his career averaging 90 punts per season and retired after the 1986 season. Guy did more than just punt for the Raiders. He threw three career passes, completing two for 54 yards. He also rushed for 43 yards on 11 attempts.
In 1976, Guy was asked to kick an extra point, but missed. Ray only had three punts blocked in his entire career, and never had a punt returned for a touchdown. He led the NFL in punting three times and also kicked off for aging kicker George Blanda, a Hall of Famer.
He was an integral part of the Raiders. He also was on three Super Bowl winning teams in Oakland during his career.
The highlight of his Super Bowls was in 1983. His punt in Super Bowl XVIII pinned Washington inside their 12 yard line, which led to a Raiders touchdown via a turnover the next play.
Guy was also named the punter on the National Football League's 75th Anniversary Team, the Super Bowl Silver Anniversary Team and as a member of the NFL 1970's All Century team. He was inducted into the Bay Area Sports Hall of Fame.
If you saw Ray Guy, you must be scratching your head right now as to why he isn't yet in Canton. His punts were legendary. Other teams would test the balls that he punted for helium, due to the heights his punts attained.
I had thought, after seeing placekicker Jan Stenerud inducted in 1991, that the voters were FINALLY recognizing the importance of special teams. In 1994, Guy was the first punter to be nominated, but he still has not been elected.
I find myself often questioning the football knowledge of several voters. Some claim to be "purists", saying that specialist do not belong because they only get on the field for a few plays each game.
Still, isn't Canton's reason for existence based upon what players do once on the field? There is NO DOUBT that Ray Guy helped the Raiders win many games.
Even if you disregard his statistics, you cannot look past his impact on football at all levels. Guy belongs in the Pro Football Hall of Fame right now!
Jeff Gossett deserves mention.
Kich Returner : Chris Carr
Carr is still active, so there is a chance he returns to Oakland. Yet we place him here because of his statistical dominance as a kickoff returner in Raiders history at this moment.
He made the team as an undrafted rookie free agent for the Raiders in 2005. He earned the job as the return specialist. While he did return 77 punts over three years for the Raiders, he averaged just 5.9 yards per return.
Returning kickoffs is where he excelled. Carr led the NFL in kickoff returns and kickoff return yards in each of his first two seasons. He ranked fourth in returns and seventh in return yards in his third season.
Carr also began to see time as an extra defensive back for the Raiders. In 2006, he picked off a pass and ran 100 yards for a touchdown. It was his only interception with the Raiders.
He left Oakland after the 2007 season and spent a year with the Tennessee Titans. It was his last year as a full-time kickoff returner. Carr joined the Baltimore Ravens in 2009 and returned 32 punts while picking off a career best two passes.
He was rarely used on special teams in 2010, returning four total balls, as he became a starting cornerback for the Ravens and intercepted two passes. Carr is expected to duplicate that role when football resumes.
Carr has the most kickoffs and kickoff return yards in Raiders history. His return average was a healthy 24.1 yards per return. He ranks third best in all-purpose yards as well.
Though he may not be the flashiest kick returner in Raiders history, Carr's stats place him on top of the franchise list as one of the best.
Bo Roberson, George Atkinson, Terry Kirby, Justin Miller, Napoleon Kaufman, Tim Brown, Rocket Ismail, and Clarence Davis deserve mention.
Punt Returner : Tim Brown
When the Raiders used the sixth overall pick on the 1988 draft, they knew they were getting a player who did more than play wide receiver. Brown's career at wide receiver would last 17 years, grab 1,094 passes, attend nine Pro Bowls, and should one day be inducted into Canton.
Yet Brown showed in college he was excellent at special teams so well, he was inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame in 2010. The Raiders decided to let him play there in his first nine years, mainly as a punt returner. But his rookie season showed he was great at returning kickoffs as well.
He led the NFL with 41 returns for 1,098 yards at an average of 26.8 yards per return. One return was taken 97 yards for a touchdown. Brown would be asked to return kickoffs just nine more times in his career.
While also returning a career high 49 punts, Brown was named to the Pro Bowl as a rookie. His 2,317 all-purpose yards led the NFL.
The first four years with the Raiders saw Brown mainly used as a punt returner, though his role on offense enlarged yearly. He did get hurt in the first game of the 1989 season so seriously that he missed the rest of the year.
He returned to the Pro Bowl in 1991 after averaging 11.4 yards on 29 punt returns. He took one return 75 yards for a score and caught 36 passes. He began a string of five straight Pro Bowls in 1993 after returning 40 punts and scoring off a 74-yard return.
His best year returning punts was in 2004, where he averaged 12.2 yards on 40 returns and led the NFL with 487 yards. After 68 returns over the next two years, he returned just 25 punts the rest of his career. He did take one a career long 88 yards on just 6 returns in 2001.
He did leave the Raiders in 2003 and joined the Tampa Bay Buccaneers for one season before retiring after the 2004 season.
He ranks fifth best in all-purpose yards, fourth in punt returns and fifth in punt return yards in NFL history.
Brown holds the Raiders records for all-purpose yards, punt returns and yards, receptions, receiving yards, and receiving touchdowns. His 667 points leads all non-kickers in Raiders history.
Though he was never named First Team All-Pro, his nine Pro Bowls are the second most in Raiders history. He is on the second unit of the NFL's 1990s All-Decade Team and was a finalist for the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 2010.
It is just a matter of time for Canton's call, but Brown is the best punt returner in Raiders history and holds this spot until he is enshrined.
George Atkinson, Claude Gibson, Phillip Buchanon, Desmond Howard, Neal Colzie, and Greg Pruitt deserve mention.