Who Really Are The Top 5 Raiders of All Time?

Raiders Twitter has been embroiled in some heated debate over the last couple of days. This piece will try to take a somewhat scientific approach to settle the debate. I’m sure this won’t create any more controversy.

On Tuesday, Bonta Hill of the Bay Area sports radio station 95.7 The Game sent out this explosive Tweet:

Obviously, Twitter was immediately up in arms, and Raiders fans quickly became divided on this topic. Relatively younger fans felt he was deserving of this honor, but the older ones were more hesitant. Then, the conversation moved towards who the actual top five Raiders of all time were. So, I decided to try to find a quantitative way to hash out the best Raiders of all-time.

Methodology

In order to compare players of different positions and eras, I came up with five categories, each one having a 1-5 score. Basically, 25/25 points = the ultimate Raider, and 5/25 = some guy that was on the team at some point. I then looked at dozens of Raiders legends and evaluated each one. Here was the criteria:

A. Was he his team’s best player?

5 points: Clear-cut best player for most or all of his time with the Raiders

4: Arguably the best, but others in contention

3: Top player, but not the best

2: Above average player

1: A guy

B. Was he the best Raider ever at his position?

5: Clear-cut best ever

4: Arguable, but not clear

3: Top 5-ish

2: Top 25

1: A guy

C. Personal Accolades

5: Hall of Famer or future Hall of Famer

4: Multiple All-Pros, awards, statistical titles, etc. Almost HOF

3: Long run of Pro Bowls/All-Pros

2: A Pro Bowl or two

1: Nothing

D. Team Success

5: Multiple Super Bowl rings

4: One ring

3: Several deep playoff runs, maybe a Super Bowl appearance

2: On some good teams, maybe a playoff appearance

1: Nothing of note

E. Raider for life?

5: No more than one season with another team

4: Spent a few years elsewhere, but those seasons are forgettable

3: Significant years with another team, but still primarily thought of as a Raider

2: Significant time with the Raiders, but associated equally or more with another team

1: Had a cup of coffee with the Raiders

So, who made the top five according to this formula? Where did Charles Woodson fall?

C-Wood: Close, But No Cigar

Score

A: 4/5

B: 4/5

C: 5/5

D: 3/5

E: 3/5

Total: 19/25

Charles Woodson’s score puts him squarely into the top 25 Raiders of all time. He missed the honorable mention section by just two points. He was really hurt by not winning a Super Bowl with the Raiders. Also, he spent a good chunk of his prime in Green Bay. Finally, you’ll notice that I don’t think Woodson is the clear-cut best corner in Raiders history. It’s a heated debate between him, Nnamdi Asomugha, Mike Haynes, and Willie Brown.

Honorable Mention

Dave Casper, Tight End

A: 3/5

B: 5/5

C: 5/5

D: 4/5

E: 4/5

Total: 21/25

Casper’s lowest score came in category ‘A’. That’s not his fault. The ’70s Raiders just had so much talent. It would have been next to impossible for him to be in the conversation for best on the team.

Ray Guy, Punter

A: 2/5

B: 4/5

C: 5/5

D: 5/5

E: 5/5

Total: 21/25

Punters are people too. They almost count as real players. That’s why Guy only got a ‘2’ in the first category. On any other team, he would have a ‘5’ for his position, but Shane Lechler makes it debatable.

Marcus Allen, Running Back

A: 4/5

B: 4/5

C: 5/5

D: 4/5

E: 4/5

Total: 21/25

Why didn’t Marcus Allen get a 5/5 in category A? I’ll answer that question with another question. Can you really be considered the undisputed Raiders GOAT at your position if you lose your leading role in the middle of your prime? Bo was only a part-time Raider, but there is a strong case to be made that he was better than Allen. They would each get a 4/5 in that category.

Rod Martin, Linebacker

A: 3/5

B: 5/5

C: 3/5

D: 5/5

E: 5/5

Total: 21/25

As I mentioned in a previous article, Martin is clearly the best pure linebacker the Raiders have ever had. Martin never got much credit for his play, primarily because he was on such talented teams. This is why he only got 3/5 in the categories ‘A’ and ‘C’.

Onto the top five. Thanks to two(?!?!) ties, it is actually a top six.

Related: Should Raiders Prepare for Worst Case Scenario?

T5. Ken Stabler, Quarterback

A: 4/5

Stabler was clearly the leader of those ’70s Raiders teams. However, you could argue that he was not the team’s best player. He is definitely in the mix though.

B: 5/5

Stabler may be falling behind Derek Carr statistically, and Plunkett may have more rings, but ‘Snake’ is still the best. His 69 wins give him the lead in the most important statistic. Stabler’s sustained success separates him from the likes of Lamonica, Plunkett, Gannon, and Carr.

C: 5/5

Being on the ’70s all-decade team is nice. So are all the Pro Bowls and All-Pros, but something was still missing. After a criminally long wait, Stabler was posthumously awarded his gold jacket in 2016.

D: 4/5

Stabler lost a point for team success because he only won one Super Bowl. His winning percentage is phenomenal, but we’re counting rings here.

E: 4/5

Stabler is a Raider through and through. However, the team was done with him before he was done with football. His twilight years spent in Houston and New Orleans cost him a point.

Total: 22/25

T5. Ted Hendricks, EDGE

A: 4/5

It is difficult to give a 5/5 to anyone on those ’70s Raider teams. Hendricks, Stabler, and a couple others all had legitimate cases as the team’s best player.

B: 5/5

When we look at EDGE as it’s own position, Hendricks is clearly the best. He practically invented the position. Since then, teams have coveted lanky defenders that can play up along the line but also drop into coverage.

C: 5/5

Yes, Hendricks is enshrined in the Pro Football Hall of Fame, giving him 5/5, but that doesn’t tell the whole story. Hendricks made four Pro Bowls with the Raiders and was a two-time All-Pro. He was on the 100th-anniversary team. Also, he made both the ’70s and ’80s all-decade teams.

D: 5/5

Hendricks is one of the few Raiders to be on all three Super Bowl teams. His nine seasons with the Silver and Black are arguably the best nine seasons in franchise history.

E: 3/5

This may upset some people. Hendricks will always be a Raider, but he did not join the team until his seventh year in the league. During his time with the Colts and Packers, Hedricks made Pro Bowls, All-Pro teams, and won a Super Bowl. He unfortunately gets punished for success here.

Total: 22/25

T3. Howie Long, Defensive Lineman

A: 4/5

I almost gave Howie a ‘5’ in this category because of how good he was throughout the ’80s. However, I think that most of those years it was too close between him and Marcus Allen.

B: 5/5

Long was technically a defensive end, but did his best work on the inside. I think that defensive lineman is a more accurate description. Regardless, he is clearly the best to ever do it. The guy was just unstoppable. His ability to command double and triple teams on every play made everyone around him look better.

C: 5/5

Hall of Fame, ’80s All-Decade team, 1985 Defensive Player of the Year, just for starters. He also was a three-time first-team All-Pro and made eight Pro Bowls. That’s a pretty solid resume.

D: 4/5

Long was just a year shy of getting a ‘5’ in this category. He was drafted a few months after the Raiders won their second Super Bowl. Unfortunately, this limits Howie to one ring.

E: 5/5

Howie spent his entire 13-year career with the Raiders. Even years after he retired, Al Davis tried to bring him back. He is a lifer.

Total: 23/25

T3. Tim Brown, Wide Receiver

A: 5/5

I only found three players that earned 5/5 in this category: Daryl Lamonica (’60s), Nnamdi Asomugha (mid-late 2000s), and Tim Brown (’90s). Brown was clearly the team’s best player for most of the ’90s. One thing you should notice by now is that guys that were on Super Bowl teams have a tough time getting a ‘5’

B: 5/5

Brown is far and away the best Raiders receiver ever. In fact, one could argue he’s one of the top five receivers in NFL history. Because of this, Biletnikoff and Branch had to settle for ‘3’ in this category.

C: 5/5

Brown was inducted to the Hall of Fame in 2015, cementing his legacy. He went to a ludicrous nine Pro Bowls. Also, Brown was named to the ’90s All-Decade team.

D: 3/5

While not being on a Super Bowl team may have helped Brown in category ‘A’, it is hurting him here. Brown was on some good teams. He played a dozen playoff games, including a Super Bowl. Unfortunately, you need a ring to get past ‘3’.

E: 5/5

A swansong season with Tampa Bay aside, Brown is a Raider for life. Also, it’s worth noting that he went there to join Gruden. I think that makes it more reasonable.

Total: 23/25

T 1. Art Shell, Tackle

A: 4/5

Art Shell was arguably the Raiders’ best player throughout his career. The only issue is that several other guys from his era have legitimate claims as well.

B: 5/5

Shell was so dominant, especially for his time. At 6’5″ and 265 pounds, he was an absolute monster in the ’70s. He’s far and away the best tackle in Raiders history Sorry Lincoln Kennedy.

C: 5/5

Hall of Fame, ’70s All-Decade, 100th-anniversary all-time team, eight Pro-Bowls, and a handful of All-Pro nods. Shell has gotten about as much recognition as you can get, and he deserved every bit of it.

D: 5/5

Art Shell earned two Super Bowl rings, and was on several other playoff teams. He was part of an absolutely astounding 24 playoff games. The Raiders only had one losing season in Shell’s entire career.

E: 5/5

Shell spent his entire 15-year career with the Raiders. Immediately after, he spent another decade-plus with the team as a coach. He bleeds Silver and Black.

Total: 24/25

T1. Gene Upshaw, Guard

A: 4/5

Upshaw’s career started and ended a year earlier than Shell’s. They both anchored the left side of the line for over a decade. He gets a ‘4’ for a lot of the same reasons as his offensive linemate.

B: 5/5

What I think separates Upshaw from Steve Wisniewski is dominance in their respective eras. Upshaw was an unstoppable force in his time. ‘Wiz’ was just a very good left guard in his era.

C: 5/5

Upshaw was inducted to the Hall of Fame in 1987. He is right next to Shell on both the ’70s All-Decade team and the 100th-anniversary team. Upshaw made six Pro-Bowls and was a three-time first-team All-Pro.

D: 5/5

Upshaw experienced almost identical team success as Shell, with one exception. Upshaw was a rookie on the 1967 team that lost to the Packers in Super Bowl II. Other than that, see Art Shell.

E: 5/5

Upshaw, again, like Shell, spent his entire 15-year career with the Raiders. Upshaw, however, did not go into coaching. Instead, Upshaw continued his work in the NFL Player’s Association until his death in 2008.

Total: 24/25

Is this formula perfect? Absolutely not. But I think it puts everyone’s careers into perspective. Feel free to let me know what you think on Twitter @blackman_dalton.

Related: Raiders Players Will Get Mentorship from Former NFL Superstar

Stats and accolades courtesy of Wikipedia and Pro-Football-Reference

Top Photo: Kevin Levine/Getty Images

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Roc

Some of the GREATEST DB’S of all-time.Hayes,Haynes,Woods on and of course OLD MAN WILLIE

Anonymous

What? You don’t even mention Lester Hayes?! SMH

Anonymous

Tim Brown. BO. Marcus. Alzedo Stabler.

Mike

So Mr Raider Jim 0tt0 didn’t get a Mention hmmm..

Anonymous

Fairly solid but Marcus Allen has to be top 5. C Wood is my favorite raider of all time but he doesn’t make the cut when we take about the all time great raiders. Good article loved the breakdowns wish more of the all time greats were included on here as well.

Jason

5 Marcus Allen was the greatest offensive weapon in Raider history. He could throw for a touchdown, run for touchdowns, caught passes for touchdowns. Once the all time leader in touchdowns for running backs. Now, everyone in the football world has known that AL Davis HATED Marcus, to the point he hurt the Raiders by not allowing him to play . Ask Tom Flores…. 4 The Snake Ken Stabler is a Raider icon, and probably the first Raider thought of when you mention the Team, he played in some of the greatest games in NFL history. And won aSuper bowl… Read more »