Tuesday, December 14, 2021

The Franchise 9: Las Vegas Raiders

The Raiders have been living through a nightmare 2021 season. Their 2020 draft class is historically bad; both of their first-round draft picks are off the team before finishing even two seasons. This team has suffered through multiple nightmare seasons and busted draft classes in recent years. Historically, though, this is a franchise that has enjoyed a lot of success. So much so that this was one of the tougher teams to put together due to the number of great players who had to be left off.

1. Ken Stabler, QB (2006 UD Legends)

No quarterback has played more games for the Raiders than Ken Stabler. No quarterback has won more games with the Raiders. Current QB Derek Carr may have passed Stabler in yardage, but he still needs to win 16 more games to tie that record. He was a Super Bowl champ, a league MVP, and a Hall of Famer under center for Oakland.

2. Marcus Allen, RB (1990 Pro Set Super Bowl MVPs)

As a Raider, Marcus Allen rushed for 8,545 yards and 79 TDs. Since he left the team in 1992, the closest Raider rusher to Allen was Napolean Kaufman, who currently sits at fourth on the franchise all-time list, but barely eclipsed 50% of Allen's total yardage. Add in 4,258 receiving yards and 18 more TDs through the air, and Allen ranks second in team history in yards from scrimmage and total touchdowns. He led the NFL in rushing in 1985, earning one of his two All-Pro nominations.

3. Fred Biletnikoff, WR (2017 Panini Playoff)

Fred Biletnikoff sounds as much like the name of a ballet dancer as it does a Hall of Fame football player, but football player it is for Biletnikoff. Even though Tim Brown has eclipsed Biletnikoff in every receiving category in Raiders history, Biletnikoff gets the nod here. When he retired in 1978, he had more than doubled the number of catches, yards, and touchdowns of the guy he passed, Art Powell. He was the first Super Bowl MVP in Raiders history. But the reason I put him above Tim Brown is the fact that he was twice named 1st-team All-Pro, whereas Brown never was. Brown has the numbers because of a different era, but Biletnikoff was considered one of the best two or three receivers of his day. Brown was a Hall of Famer and an All-Decade performer, but never received the same league-wide accolades as Biletnikoff.

4. Jim Otto, C (1994 Ted Williams Roger Stabauch's)

Jim Otto was absolutely dominant from the get-go. He was a 1st-team All-Pro in his rookie year, 1960. Then he repeated that feat in nine of the next ten years. Pro Football Reference ranks him #1 in franchise history in approximate value. Though his career started before the Super Bowl Era, if we remove those years, he still ranks just below Marcus Allen on the team list and has four consecutive All-Pro nominations to boast of. He started all 214 games available to play in his NFL career, all for Oakland. He belongs here.

5. Art Shell, T (1982 Topps)

My first introduction to Art Shell was when he was named the Raiders' head coach in 1990. I didn't even know that he had been a Hall of Fame caliber player for the team when I first pulled his Pro Set coach card from a pack. In his playing days, though, he was a beast on the offensive line. He was Pro Bowler eight times, an All-Pro twice, and an All-Decade player before being inducted to the Hall of Fame.

6. Gene Upshaw, G (1989 Swell Football Greats)

As good as Shell was, Gene Upshaw was better. He was a five-time All-Pro and seven-time Pro Bowler. In the seven years that Otto, Shell, and Upshaw played together, the Raiders finished the season in top-10 in offense every year. In five of those years, they were top-five, and they fielded the league's top offense three times. Upshaw joined Shell on the All-Decade Team and in the Hall of Fame.

7. Howie Long, DE (1990 Pro Set)

Howie Long finished his career second on the Raiders' list in sacks. In his time with the team, Long racked up eight trips to the Pro Bowl, two All-Pro nominations, a spot on the All-Decade Team, and a bust in Canton. He currently ranks seventh in career AV for the team. He also gets bonus points here for playing every snap of his career with the Raiders.

8. Ted Hendricks, LB (1990 Score)

The man known as "The Mad Stork" started his career in Baltimore and played a season in Green Bay, but most of his time was spent in Oakland. It could be argued that his being named to the 1970s All-Decade Team could be due to his time before joining the Raiders. But from 1980-1983--as a Raider--Hendricks made four Pro Bowls and two All-Pro teams. And that was all he needed to earn a spot on the 1980s All-Decade Team.  He was inducted to the Hall of Fame in 1990. Here's a fun fact: he recorded four safeties in his career--good for the all-time NFL lead (tied with Doug English, Jared Allen, and Justin Houston).

9. Willie Brown, CB (2012 Panini Certified)

From 1967-1973, Willie Brown made seven consecutive Pro Bowls. In that span, he was named 1st-Team All-Pro four times. In 12 seasons with the Raiders, Brown picked off 39 passes, which places him atop the franchise record book. He also ranks fifth in team history in AV.

This was certainly one of the more difficult Franchise 9 teams to select. Every player on this list has a bust in Canton, but there are Hall of Famers who didn't make the cut. I'd hear arguments for Tim Brown, Steve Wisniewski, and Cliff Branch on the offensive side of the ball. On the defensive side, Rod Martin and Lester Hayes are high on the franchise AV list. Less heralded Terry McDaniel and Greg Townsend were strongly considered because they had strong resumes. As always, I'd love to know how your list would look. Let's hear it in the comments!

Some notes on this series:

  1. This includes Super Bowl Era players only.
  2. The "nine" in Franchise 9 is to fill a page in a binder. There is no intent to fill a roster or even a starting lineup.
  3. A player can represent multiple teams.
  4. I tried to find a balance between steady producers with longevity and explosive players with shorter careers. Time with the team does count for something, as does impact with the team.
  5. For a link to Franchise 9 lists that I have already posted, click here.
  6. This is all subjective, so I'd love to hear whom you would choose!


  1. How about a Raiders all time characters team such as John Matuszak, Otis Sistrunk, Matt Millen, Marv Hubbard John Madden (known as Pinky by his players),Al Davis, Ben Davidson. Of course Stabler & Hendricks also qualify.

  2. Looks good to me. Nice to see the offensive linemen getting respect.

  3. I don't think anyone could complain about this list!