Oakland/Los Angeles Raiders history is filled with many football greats and legends. From its owner, to trendsetting coaches, and players synonymous with greatness. While the list is quite extensive, there are some names in Raiders’ history that are missing from the Pro Football Hall of Fame. Here’s the first part of our countdown, stay tuned for the second part.
Raiders’ Magnificent Seven
Here is a countdown of the seven Raiders omissions from the Hall of Fame and the case for them getting in.
- Jim “Plunk” Plunkett
There’s quite the debate about whether or not Plunkett should be inducted into the Hall of Fame. Plunkett is a two-time Super Bowl winner and was awarded the Super Bowl MVP in 1980, becoming the first minority to win the award. As of now, he is still the only player of Native American heritage to have won the award. He came into the league as a Heisman Trophy winner, and the number one overall selection in 1971.
Plunkett’s overall career numbers are most likely what is causing the delay on his induction. Over his 15-year career, his record was 72-72, going 8-2 in the playoffs, 164 touchdowns and 198 interceptions with a career passer rating of 67.5. However, his success when it was needed is what should be the driving argument for his induction.
Plunkett started his career in New England, in five years there he never produced a winning season. Then, Plunkett spent two seasons with the San Francisco 49ers as a back-up quarterback before crossing the bay in 1978. However, everything changed for him in 1980, when then-starter, Dan Pastorini, fractured his leg in Week 5.
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Plunkett’s first game for the Raiders coming off the bench and his first appearance ended in disaster, a 17-31 loss to the Kansas City Chiefs. But, without any other options, Plunkett was called upon to start the remaining 11 games of the season, and the rest is Raiders history. Plunkett led the Raiders to a 9-2 record over those games earning a wild card berth. Storming through a 4-0 run in the playoffs, and becoming the first wild card team to win the Super Bowl. Producing a stunning 27-10 defeat of the Dick Vermeil led Philadelphia Eagles in Super Bowl XV.
Plunkett returned to the backup role until 1983, when Marc Wilson went down with an injury. Plunkett filled in again and guided the Raiders to a victory in Super Bowl XVIII over the Washington Redskins.
- Daryle “The Mad Bomber” Lamonica
Lamonica is the only player mentioned who’s major success came in the AFL, rather than the NFL. Several Raiders greats got their start in the AFL, and were inducted into the Hall of Fame, it’s time Lamonica joined that list. Lamonica was the prototypical “Al Davis quarterback”, nicknamed the â€œMad Bomber” for his affinity for throwing it deep, whenever.
With Lamonica at the helm, the Raiders won five division titles (four consecutive between 1967 and 1970). He was a two-time AFL MVP and selected to two Pro Bowls. In his career, he amassed a (66-16-6) record in the regular season, and was 6-7 in the playoffs. He threw for 164 touchdowns and tallied 138 interceptions while eclipsing the 3,000-yard mark twice. He had a career rating of 72.9 but only completed 49.5 percent of his throws.
Lamonica started his career with the Buffalo Bills where he won the AFL Championship in 1964. He was traded to the Oakland Raiders in 1967, ironically, one of the players involved in the trade was Tom Flores. Lamonica propelled the team to the 1967 AFL Championship title, the first in Raiders history.
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- Todd Christensen
Christensen, a five-time Pro-Bowler, between 1983 and 1987, essentially paved the way for players like Rob Gronkowski, George Kittle, Travis Kelce and so many others. Christensen forced teams to re-imagine what a tight end could bring to a team. His best season was 1983 where he posted a league-leading 92 catches for 1,247 yards and 12 touchdowns. He would lead the league in receptions in 1983 and 1986, eclipsing the 1,000-yard mark three times in his career, 1983, 1984, 1986.
Originally drafted in the second round of the 1978 draft, as a fullback, by the Dallas Cowboys. After being released by Dallas and the New York Giants, he finally agreed to convert to tight end in 1980 with the Oakland Raiders. During the strike-shortened seasons of 1982 and 1987, he caught 42 passes for 510 yards and four touchdowns and 47 catches for 663 yards and two touchdowns, respectively.
Christensen’s case could be muddled because of who played around him during his career. Talents like Marcus Allen and Cliff Branch could have led to his contributions being overlooked and understated. However, the Hall of Fame is about having the best of the best, and players who change how a certain position is played. Christensen definitely falls into the latter category and his legacy is deserving of a gold jacket.
Round the rest for the Raiders
- Jack “The Assassin” Tatum
Tatum, the enforcer of the “Soul Patrol” was a three-time Pro-Bowler, he snatched 37 interceptions, recovered 10 fumbles and returned one for a touchdown. He was nicknamed â€œThe Assassin” and man did he live up to that moniker. Tatum took pride in being feared. He loved laying out receivers as they came across the middle of his field. He was apart of the team that steamrolled the Vikings in Super Bowl XI. During that game, he hit Vikings receiver Sammy White so hard it knocked his helmet off. In what is considered one of the biggest hits in Super Bowl history.
Tatum was the prototype of physical safeties, and a constant source of fear for receivers. While a couple of big hits and memorable plays are not enough to get you enshrined in history forever; Nevertheless, Tatum’s many contributions to the game and changing the style of play at safety are why he should be enshrined forever among football’s greats.
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*Top Photo: Paul Sakuma/Associated Press