Mount Rushmore of Raiders’ Quarterbacks

The Las Vegas Raiders, affectionately known as the Silver and Black, have a storied legacy when it comes to signal callers. Since the inception of professional football, many Raider quarterbacks have found themselves in historical games.

Raiders Have Had A Wide Variety of Quarterbacks

The Raiders have had a total of 43 different signal callers in franchise history. The team has witnessed a myriad of both talented, and abysmal quarterbacks.

First pick overall in the 2007 NFL Draft, Louisiana State quarterback JaMarcus Russell, stands with NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell (L) after being chosen by the Oakland Raiders, in New York April 28, 2007. REUTERS/Brendan McDermid
The Raiders 2007 1st overall draft pick (JaMarcus Russell) stands with NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell. Photo by Reuters

The infamous story of Jamarcus Russell is one that will not be forgotten in Raider history books. While Russell was arguably the worst first overall draft pick in NFL history; the team has also had effective choices at the position.

The Raiders 2014 second round draft selection has become the franchise leader in the following passing categories:

  • Completion Rate – 64.0%
  • Total Completions -2,120
  • Passing Yards – 22,793

For a player that has only played six total season in his career, those numbers may appeal to the naked eye. However, Carr’s 39-55 regular season record, combined with his non-existent postseason performances are the reason why he is not a top four signal caller in franchise history. As you will see below, the Mount Rushmore of players at the position feature some of the most decorated passers in NFL history.

4 . Rich Gannon (1999-2004)

My Super Bowl: Rich Gannon
Oakland Raiders quarterback Rich Gannon tries to avoid the pass rush of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in Super Bowl XXXVII. Photo by USA TODAY Sports
  • 2002 AP MVP
  • 2x First Team NFL All-Pro (2000, 20020
  • 3x AFC Player of the Year (2000-2002)
  • 4x NFL Pro Bowler (1999-2002)
  • 45-29 QB record (4-3 postseason record)
  • Led NFL in passing yards in 2002 (4,689)

*All stats while with the Oakland Raiders

Arriving at No.4 on the Silver and Black’s Mount Rushmore is journeyman quarterback Rich Gannon. He was originally drafted by the New England Patriots in the fourth round of the 1987 NFL Draft. The Patriots desired for the Philadelphia, PA native to be a running back in their offense. Gannon refused and was promptly traded to the Minnesota Vikings, where he remained for six seasons. Following his tenure with the Vikings, Gannon signed with the Washington Redskins in 1993. In 1994, the former Delaware Blue Hens quarterback sat out the season due to a shoulder injury. He then took his talents to the Kansas City Chiefs before finally making his way to the Oakland Raiders in 1999.

After being a backup quarterback for the majority of his career, he finally received his chance to thrive as the unquestioned starter in Jon Gruden’s west coast offense. The pairing of Gruden and Gannon almost led the team to a Super Bowl appearance in 2001, if not for the most infamous game in the franchise’s history during the AFC Divisional game against the New England Patriots.

After that game, Jon Gruden was then traded to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. In 2002 Rich Gannon won the regular season MVP without his former head coach, but lost to him and his new team in Super Bowl XXXVII.

Tennessee alum Albert Haynesworth fuels rumors about Jon Gruden ...
Getty Images

Rich Gannon’s legacy with the Raiders sustained an impressive four-year run from 1999-2002. His 2002 campaign alone featured some of the greatest quarterback feats in NFL history.

Had he led the organization to a championship victory, he would undoubtedly be higher on this list.

3. Daryle Lamonica (1967-1974)

Oakland Raiders Quarterbacks and the Hall of Fame - Last Word on ...
Associated Press
  • 1967 AP AFL Player of the Year
  • 1967 AFL Champion
  • 4x NFL Pro Bowler (1967,1969,1970,1972)
  • 2x First Team NFL All-Pro (1967,1969)
  • 2x API AFL Player of the Year (1967,1969)
  • 66-16-6 QB record (6-7 postseason record)

*All stats while with the Oakland Raiders

Daryle Lamonica is the only quarterback in franchise history to play in both the AFL and the NFL. Prior to the merger of the two leagues in 1970, he led the Raiders to an 40-7 AFL Championship victory over the Houston Oilers in 1967.

Oakland Raiders quarterback Daryle Lamonica is shown in a game against the Houston Oilers in 19 ...
Oakland Raiders quarterback Daryle Lamonica is playing against the Houston Oilers in 1969. AP Photo

As you can see below, the “Mad Bomber” got his nickname by fearlessly and consistently throwing the football deep downfield. Lamonica leads the franchise to this day in touchdown percentage on passes attempted with 6.8%.

His 1969 season proved he was on another level when he led the Raiders’ league best offense:

  • 12-1 QB record
  • 34 TD passes
  • 221 completions
  • 3,302 passing yards
  • 8.0 TD % on passes attempted

While his AFL success with the Silver and Black was immense, once the AFL and NFL merged in 1970; Lamonica did not produce at the same elite level. Nonetheless, the Mad Bomber still managed to have a 26-12-5 record from 1970 to the 1974 NFL seasons. If Lamonica had led the Raiders to a championship victory in the modern era, he would be in the same company as the top two players on this list.

Related: Top Overlooked Raiders Players: RB Hewritt Dixon

2. Jim Plunkett (1979-1986)

Oakland Raiders starting quarterback Jim Plunkett in Super Bowl XV at the New Orleans, Louisiana Superdome. AP Photo
  • 2x Super Bowl Champion (1980, 1983)
  • Super Bowl XV MVP (1980)
  • 1980 NFL PFWA Comeback Player of the Year
  • 38-19 QB Record

Arriving in second place on the list is Jim Plunkett. He was the Patriots first overall pick in the 1971 NFL draft. After not fulfilling expectations in New England, he was then traded to the San Francisco 49ers in 1976. Again, Plunkett did not live up to what the 49ers were hoping for and released him after two seasons in 1978. He was out of the league in 1978 before joining the Oakland Raiders in 1979. In his first season in Oakland, he was the backup quarterback to Ken Stabler, who then left the team in 1980. Plunkett lost out the starting quarterback job that season to the former Houston Oiler starting quarterback Dan Pastorini.

Raiders starting QB Dan Pastorini against the Washington Redskins in 1980. AP Photo

Midway through the season, Pastorini broke his leg against the Chiefs. The Silver and Black had a choice between 23-year old rookie Marc Wilson, or 33-year old veteran Jim Plunkett. The team selected the latter as the starter for the remainder of the season. A choice they will never regret as the team finished 13-2 (including playoffs) that season. To cap off the impressive victory stretch, Plunkett threw three touchdown passes in the Raiders 27-10 Super Bowl XV victory against the Eagles. The second championship in the modern era for the Oakland Raiders and their quarterback earned Super Bowl MVP honors.

Fast forward to 1983 regular and the San Jose, California native became Wilson’s backup.

Marc Wilson during the 1986 AFC Championship Game. Photo by Getty Images

History repeated itself as Wilson suffered a midseason injury and the Raiders called on Plunkett yet again. The 36-year old assembled the best statistical season of his career by throwing for 20 touchdowns and 2,983 passing yards. Also, he led the Silver and Black to their third Super Bowl victory in modern era in a 38-9 rout of the Redskins.

tom flores, jim plunkett
Tom Flores and Jim Plunkett. Photo by Getty Images

Two Lombardi trophy’s should be enough to top the list of Raiders quarterback, shouldn’t it? Had Plunkett not predominately served as a backup throughout his career, he may have finished in the top spot. However, the man at the top is a NFL legend.

1. Ken Stabler (1970-1979)

Oakland Raiders quarterback Ken Stabler stands on the sidelines during the second half of the AFC championship game against the Pittsburgh Steelers in 1976. AP Photo
  • 1974 NFL AP MVP
  • 1974 NFL First Team All-Pro
  • 4x Pro Bowler (1973,1974,1976, 1977)
  • 1976 Super Bowl Champion
  • Inducted into the NFL Hall of Fame in 2016
  • 69-26-1 QB record

Ken Stabler sits at number one of Silver and Black signal callers. He is the only player in the top four the Raiders originally drafted. The team selected the former Alabama Crimson Tide standout in the second round of the 1968 NFL Draft.

Joseph Wright on Twitter:
Legendary Alabama head coach Bear Bryant and Ken Stabler. Photo by Getty Images

Stabler’s nickname, “The Snake,” was earned in his high school days.

“A second-round draft pick from Alabama in 1968, Stabler was 28-3-2 as a starter under the legendary Bear Bryant from 1965 to 1967. The nickname “Snake” came from a long, weaving scramble orchestrated as a high school star in Foley, Alabama.”~ via The Mercury News

In his 10 year career with the Raiders, Stabler amassed a 69-26-1 record as a starter. In those 10 years, he threw for 150 touchdown passes, a record that still stands in the organization to this day. Without a doubt, 1976 was a dream year for his career. He led all NFL passers in the following categories:

  • Completion Rate – 66.7%
  • Longest Completed Pass – 88 Yards
  • QB Rating -103.4
  • Touchdown Passes – 27
  • Yards Gained Per Game Played – 228.1
  • % of Touchdowns Thrown Per Pass Attempt – 9.3%

Elite is a word that does not just summarize his regular season accomplishments, but his postseason prowess that year as well. The Snake threw for 4 touchdowns and zero interceptions on his way to the Raiders’ first Super Bowl victory in the modern era against the Minnesota Vikings.

What Stablwr brought to the organization was excellence for 10 straight seasons. He was the epitome of what the late owner Al Davis envisioned every Raiders player to become. He was posthumously inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 2016.

NFL Hall of Fame Enshrinement
Photo by Getty Images

It’s a blatant injustice that Ken Stabler was not inducted into the Hall of Fame sooner. However, his legacy will never be tarnished as the greatest Raiders quarterback in franchise history. He is a pillar of excellence that may never be topped.

In Review

The Raiders Mount Rushmore of quarterbacks is full of winners. Two of them were journeyman players who made the most of new situations once they donned the Silver and Black. The Mad Bomber was a winner as with the Buffalo Bills, but proved to do the same in Oakland even when the leagues merged in 1970. The Snake is the epitome of greatness and the only player on this list that is in the Hall of Fame. As the Raiders begin a new era in Las Vegas, there are some that believe current starter Derek Carr is among the greats at the position. As of now, he pales in comparison to the likes of any of the four aforementioned quarterbacks based on their winning ability and postseason success. While Carr possesses some franchise passing milestones, he and any other future quarterback for the organization will have to accomplish much more than ‘efficient’ passing stats.

You May Also Like: Mount Rushmore of Raiders Offensive Linemen

Top Photo: Ben Margot/Associated Press

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