Day 16: Life is just a box of controversy

Raiders writer Bill Soliday

Posted by Bill Soliday, Raiders beat writer for ANG Newspapers
In honor, they claim, of Terrell Owens, SI.com, Sports Illustrated’s website, has culled what writer Andrew Perloff considers a list of the 20 most controversial NFL players of all time. I liked the idea, but didn’t care much for the list.

The No. 1 most controversial player on the list was Joe Namath.

Joe Namath? The right breast of that Jackson lady was more controversial than Joe. He was more beloved than controversial as I recall. And his recent slip on TV with a sideline reporter was more funny than controversial.

Conclusion: this rating is strictly a New York thing.

Owens made No. 2 on the list and I won’t dispute that. The rest of the list is as follows:
3. Jim Brown; 4. Conrad Dobler; 5. Ricky Williams; 6. Duane Thomas; 7. Paul Hornung; 8. John Riggins; 9. Randy Moss; 10. Jim McMahon; 11. Deion Sanders; 12. Lawrence Taylor; 13. Ryan Leaf; 14. Thomas Henderson; 15. Bill Romanowski; 16. Michael Irvin; 17. John Matuszak; 18. John Elway; 19. Mark Gastineau; 20. Warren Sapp.

You may note that four Raiders made the list, which isn’t too bad until you consider that the undisputed most controversial Raider didn’t even make the top 20. Uh, did somebody forget Jack Tatum?

As for John Matuszak down there at No. 17, I don’t get it. I suppose it’s so John Elway is No. 18. What was controversial about Elway other than the draft day issue where he said he wouldn’t go to the Colts? If that qualifies, I’d say Eli Manning belongs as well.

At this point I would like to issue an invitation for readers to submit a list of their own top 20 controversial Raiders. For argument’s sake, here’s one man’s list after having been exposed to Raideriana since 1969.

1. Jack Tatum. The hit on Darryl Stingley, the mystery of the Immaculate Reception and the style with which Jack played not to mention the accusations of Chuckles Noll that he was part of the NFL’s “criminal element” puts him atop any list.

2. Barret Robbins. Maybe time will un-do some of what has been done, but I have my doubts. So sad it almost makes you cry.

3. Ken Stabler. Namath didn’t do anything Stabler didn’t do and Stabler did it with just as much machismo, if not more. Put him in New York and watch his rating jump.

4. Chip Oliver. The younger generation probably isn’t even aware of him, but old-timers are. He was his generation’s Ricky Williams. He quit to be an organic hippie and the smoke that came out of that was very big in 1970.

5. Todd Marinovich. All I can think to say is “wow, dude. Gnarly”

6. Bill Romanowski. What he did on just one afternoon in his two year tenure in Oakland earns the nod.

7. Ben Davidson. How could anybody leave the guy out?

8. Darrell Russell. Unbelievable headline-maker, unbelievable waste of talent.

9. George Atkinson. Radio Free George was the other half of Noll’s criminal element accusation. Ask Lynn Swann about the guy teammates called “Weasel.”

10. Lyle Alzado. A badder boy, if a bit less goofy than Matuszak. Of course, the machete that Hayward police found under Tooz’ car seat one night on Hesperian Boulevard does get Matuszak brownie points. Let’s make them an entry.

11. Sebastian Janikowski. He’s cleaned up his act, but for a while there, between the controversy of his selection in Round 1 to his night time achievements, nobody could touch him.

12. Dan Birdwell. The day this defensive tackle vomited all over the ball (and the Denver center’s hands) after a night on the town, may have been the top fable in 45 years of Raider trivia. Let’s not forget the time he tried to cheat on bed-check by sticking a floor lamp under the covers of his bed at the El Roacho Tropicana in Santa Rosa to go out on a carousing binge. Didn’t work. When the bed-check coach got to Birdy’s room and flipped the wall switch, he nearly keeled over when what was supposed to be Birdwell’s snoozing body began to glow.

13. Randy Moss. Although he’s been anything but controversial in Oakland so far, his mighty reputation precedes him.

14. Phillip Buchanon. Yikes. The Raider Nation is famous for sticking up for its Raiders but Showtime didn’t get a hall pass. Controversy is his middle name.

15. Cole Ford. And in case you need evidence, you might put together an animal act and move to Las Vegas. Also once hijacked the team bus in Kansas City and wrecked the thing. Once told me not to write about him because he didn’t want his name to appear on the same page of the newspaper as the penile enlargement ads. A genuine space cadet.

16. Jeff George. Hello. How’s your groin? Goodbye.

17. Rickey Dudley. Living proof how difficult it is to replace Andrew Glover.

18. Chester McGlockton. Tried to woo Marty Schottenheimer to trade for him during a game, wore a trench coat to practice and once hinted to me that he was right when he jumped offsides. He’s now serving burgers in Pleasant Hill. As for his cable company, don’t ask.

19. Steve Wisniewski. Killer on the field. Man of God off.

20. Marcus Allen. Still two words not mentioned in the House of Al and all sorts of theories as to why it is so.

List of honorable mentions: Warren Wells (what talent, what a waste); Billy Cannon (what a character, what a lousy counterfeiter); Frank Middleton (came with a reputation he rarely failed to live up to); Andre Rison (a one-eyed girlfriend, a burning house, a rebirth and pffft, he was gone); Charles Woodson (Just ask Bill Callahan).

Eyes and Ears
Not much to report with a light workout and a travel day, but here are a few notes to feed the beast.

  • Alvis Whitted makes off with a couple of long gainers off rookie cornerback Fabian Washington.
  • On the last drill of Wednesday’s practice, the first unit is lined up at the 30 and told there is 1:30 to play and a touchdown is needed to win. Kerry Collins completes two in a row and then Nnamdi Asomugha steps in front of Collins’ receiver and intercepts with an open field in front of him.
  • On Tuesday, linebacker Danny Clark makes a nice break on the ball and has himself an interception only to drop it and start hopping up and down like a kangaroo.
  • Wide receiver John Stone seems to alternate between impossible catches and equally impossible drops.
  • Strong safety Derrick Gibson has made a flock of interceptions in camp and appears to still be in possession of his knack of making life miserable for tight ends. This time he makes a nice breakup of a pass intended for Teyo Johnson. He seems to be gaining confidence daily after being elevated to the first unit. Also swelling: coaches’ confidence.
  • Linebacker DeLawrence Grant got a good chewing out for letting a swing pass to LaMont Jordan go undefended for a 10-yard gain.
  • Warren Sapp’s weight may or may not be an issue but his resolve doesn’t seem to be. He has been active and animated throughout much of camp and those who choose to believe he’s done might be well advised to re-assess.
  • After spending two days in his hotel room with an illness, quarterback Bret Engemann is reportedly reconsidering his commitment to the NFL. He did not accompany the team to Houston.
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    Bill Soliday - Raiders Writer

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    • Wow!

      That’s awesome!

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    • Can you find out about Dexter Manley and how he is doing. I was there went he got busted in Memorial Park. Last time I saw him he was working for his Atty
      John O’Quinn. (1995?)

      Also, Where is Warren Wells. I once had to fight him as an inmate in Texas Dept. of Corr. strip him, throw him in solitary and put him on suicide watch. I have no idea where he is or is he still alive. He was mentally fried probably crack cocaine. (1979?)

    • one who studies

      WW lost his youngest brother on October 29, 2008. He lives in Beaumont, Texas.

      It’s interesting you made reference to “suicide watch.” We certainly know there is more than one way to do that.

      The only pro player I have done research on is WW.

      Let’s pray for him.

    • one who studies

      Analysis of the First Five Years
      Clearly, Wells had more peaks than many of his senior colleagues during the first five year of their respective careers. Furthermore, there is a quote, “Lamonica holds the Raiders single season record for touchdown passes, he threw for 34 in 1969.” Of those 34 passes in 1969 the ratio of successful completions for Wells is shown
      Wells: 14/34 = .4117
      Biletnikoff 12/34 = .3529
      Another way to look at the data is to calculate the rate of TDs over the career length. Take a good look at this data:
      Biletnikoff 5.423 76/14 (total TDs over a 14 year career)
      Wells 8.4 42/5 (total TDs over a 5 year career)
      The data shows that Wells’ rate of touchdowns over a shorter career is more intense. In fact, if you compare Wells to Biletnikoff and calculate the rate of Wells’ successful completions in four years with Oakland, it is .5526 (42/76). Theoretically, we can conjecture that if Wells had continued with Oakland he would have had 84 touchdowns in 10 years, thereby exceeding Biletnikoff’s 76 touchdowns in 14 years.
      Logical thinking will force an analyst to consider that a quarterback cannot be a successful quarterback unless the ball he throws lands in the hands of a receiver for completion; otherwise, NO TOUCHDOWNS. Therefore, the historical 34 touchdown passes in 1969 are directly correlated to the successful completions by Biletnikoff and Wells. So, the arm of the hand of the quarterback is connected to the hand on the arm of the wide receiver who completes the passes.
      The Last Eight Seconds
      This article discusses the statistics of two teammates who had overlapping careers during the first five years which is the focus of the analysis. Another teammate George Blanda is recognized for last minute victories. The research shows: “George Blanda played pro football for 26 seasons – longer than any other person. However, he’ll probably be remembered best for his 1970 season with the Oakland Raiders. That year, in a five-game period, George provided Oakland with four wins and one tie with last-second touchdown passes or field goals – at age 43.” One of those 1970 games was played at Shea Stadium in December 1970. I was at Shea Stadium witnessing the last minute, or better, last seconds turnaround on the football field. Oakland was trailing the Jets in the last eight seconds of the fourth quarter and a 33-yard pass was successfully completed by Warren Wells to tie the score; and then the 43 year old George Blanda made the kick to give Oakland the miraculous victory. A New York Times article documented the feat of Wells. The article was titled, “Wells Hero in Final Reel of Oakland’s Late Show,” dated December 7, 1970, and written by Joseph Durso. A photographer snapped a picture that still flashes in my mind. The headlines hailed Wells as a hero in the last eight seconds and it was a powerful moment which I will never forget. Also, Daryl Lamonica said on the Oakland Raiders website:
      Q: Is there one play that you can remember from your career?
      Daryle Lamonica: I guess it would have to be a game against the New York Jets. We were behind by four points and it was the last play of the game. I was throwing into the end zone to Warren Wells, the ball was in the air, the gun went off and Warren made a great catch in the end zone for a touchdown.

      A Destiny of Connections
      A remarkable reality is that the type of play that Daryle Lamonica remembers as the one play that stands out in his career is the one and only game and type of great play that I personally witnessed at Shea Stadium in New York on December 6, 1970. Let’s embrace the history and accomplishments of a great team which included Warren Wells.