By Jerry McDonald
The Raiders went to Canton and made it their own, reveling in their glorious past as John Madden was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame.
Speaking of making it their own, are the Raiders ever going to have a Hall of Fame or their own?’
That was the talk when they moved back to Oakland in 1995, that some day the club would establish a Raider Hall of Fame.
The whole thing sort of faded away in the acrimony between the Raiders and the municipality, a great idea lost amid name-calling, finger-pointing and blame assessment.
Will there ever be one? Even a ring of honor or something along those lines would be good. Seems a shame a team that spends so much time talking about the good old days doesn’t have its own shrine.
Let’s say it happens. Al Davis, suddenly all chatty and cozy with the media, arrives at training camp one day and says all systems are go.
There’s nothing Davis likes more than getting suggestons from the media, so right here in this space I’ll give him his first 10 inductees.
— Al Davis. He’s got to be first. Otherwise, it will never happen. Besides, what would the Raiders be without Davis? They haven’t been good for awhile now, but they’ve never been boring.
— Jim Otto. Toughest man alive. If the Raiders ever break with tradition and retire a number, it will be “OO.” When Tim Brown called himself “Mr. Raider,” he wasn’t thinking clearly.
— Art Shell. One of the best left tackles ever, he ought to make it as a coach if he turns this thing around.
— Gene Upshaw. Davis doesn’t believe in locker room chemistry, but there’s little doubt Upshaw’s leadership _ plus his abiity to pull and combine with Shell to block out the sun _ were key components in Oakland’s success.
— Willie Brown. Charles Woodson never did his number 24 justice. Maybe Michael Huff can.
— Fred Biletnikoff. When was the last time you heard anyone say, “He reminds me of Biletnikoff.” A style all his own.
— Jack Tatum. They used to change the rules in the NBA to try and deal with Wilt Chamberlain. The NFL changed the rules on physical play in the secondary largely because of Tatum.
— Dave Casper. In today’s NFL there are receiving tight ends and blocking tight ends. Casper was the last to be truly great at both.
— Marcus Allen. Had the greatest single season any Raider has ever had, and saved his most memorable run for the game’s biggest stage. Have him sit at the opposite end of the row from Davis.
— Bill King. An announcer? Look, the guy belongs in someone’s Hall of Fame, and in the days where the NFL policy was to black out all home games _ regardless of whether they were sold out _ there are a lot of people whose most cherished Raiders memories are King’s calls of famous plays.
Notice there are no coaches in the first class. That’s in keeping with Davis’ reputation as a player’s advocate. Madden and Tom Flores can go in with the second class.