As my passion was emboldened, the years that followed I was deeply engulfed in all things Raiders. The team was up and down, but we won two more Super Bowls and then we had some tough years. Al Davis seemed to lose that innovation he brought to the game. His bravado was strong and he relished the tradition of the Raiders, but the game was changing. Moving away from brute force, to schemes and player packages. His vision for the Raiders was staunch and cemented by his many years of being a masterful talent evaluator. But he was being beat to the party by technology. I can't imagine how much he could have done had he just embraced some of the basic advances available to him. He had an amazing football mind. He was a risk taker and was willing to make a decision that other owners wouldn't and that was a gift and a curse. His choice to hire 1st time head coach John Gruden would be a move no one expected.
The Gruden years brought hope just in time. We had lost Marcus Allen, lost Bo Jackson, moved back to Oakland, and floundered with a number of QB's that either couldn't stay healthy or couldn't win. It was amazing to me to see the list of all the Raider QBs. After 1978-79 when Kenny Stabler played two16 game seasons, we would go on to have just 6 QB's out of 40 play an entire season as a starter.
1978-79 Ken Stabler (16)
1982 Jim Plunkett (9) (players strike)
1990 Jay Schroeder (16)
1994 Jeff Hostetler (16)
1997 Jeff George (16)
1999-2002 Rich Gannon (16)
2014 Derek Carr (16)
See the whole List of Oakland Raiders starting quarterbacks
I believe the Gruden teams of 2000, and 2001 should have won Super Bowls and essentially 2002 would have been ours against ANY other coach, except our once fearless "Chucky" who knew all our players. It was the ultimate FU to Al Davis, by not only Gruden, but I believe Bill Callahan. If he wanted to win that game...he should have changed the play calls, gone a different scheme and surprise Tampa Bay. I think that is why the team ultimately mutinied Callahan the next year. The team knew he sold them down the river. I truly can't believe Al Davis didn't fire him after the Super Bowl. It seemed so obvious.
After Al Davis passed away I suspected more stories would come out about his leadership over the Raiders. He was gone, NFL football would never be the same. Many wondered weather the raiders would change, lose the tradition he so coveted. I hope that day will never come. I am hopeful after a decade of complete crap, that the pieces are in place. We have some home grown leadership and players and a vision is begining to take hold. I'm much older but just as passionate. My wife was worried about me a few years back and asked, "Honey, you seem down. Is everything ok?" Thinking I would say I have a cold coming on or works been hard, I replied honestly, "Well, the Raiders have just been terrible and it makes ne upset." Thinking she would understand...WRONG! She actually laughed at me. She said, "Oh I thought it was something important." If you are not RAIDER NATION, you just don't get it.This shit is for real for us! I guess because we grew up with it, were born into it, or what ever got us in the NATION, it means something deeper than just being a game played by over paid athletes. These are our Warriors