A decade that began with so much promise devolved into dysfunction and disappointment.
While it wasn’t all bad, the last seven years of the decade have certainly overshadowed the stellar first three.
Here is a look back at the decade that was for the Oakland Raiders with hopes of a better future.
Record: 12-4, AFC West Champions, lost to Super Bowl Champion Baltimore Ravens in AFC Title Game
Head Coach: Jon Gruden
Summary: The Wonder Kid head coach with the Chucky scowl takes the Raiders out of 90’s mediocrity with a journeyman thrower that he helped to mold into a franchise QB.
Leading Passer: Rich Gannon 92.4 QB Rating, 3430 yards, 28 TDs, 11 INTs
Leading Rusher: Tyrone Wheatley 1046 yards, 9 TDs
Leading Receiver: Tim Brown 76 catches, 1128 yards, 11 TDs
Notable Draft Picks: Sebastian Janikowski, Kicker, Florida State (1st round); Shane Lechler, Punter, Texas A&M (5th Round)
Draft Notes: Al Davis draws laughs for picking a kicker in the first round. Funny thing is that he might be the best first round pick not named Nnamdi that the Raiders made in the 2000’s. Jano owns a boot like no other (see 61-yard field goal in the cold) and just happens to be the all-time leading scorer in franchise history. Super Shane is statistically greatest punter in NFL history and booms punts that make Ray Guy blush.
The Seed of the Tuck Rule: Raiders lose to Baltimore Ravens in AFC Title game after Tony Siragusa belly flops on Gannon’s shoulder. They now have rules that protect Tom Brady from being sneezed on but Gannon couldn’t get a roughing flag when Shamu was dry humping his arm. Andre Rison’s 4th quarter TD is waived off on phantom pass interference, Raider Nation paranoia level goes up a few notches as we all become aware that the NFL doesn’t want us to win.
Record: 10-6, AFC West Champions, lost to New England Patriots in Divisional Playoffs
Head Coach: Gruden
Summary: Raiders win 10 of first 13 only to drop three straight to end the season. The lat slide dooms then to competing on Wild Card Weekend where the prize for beating the New York Jets in Oakland is a trip to New England to play during a blizzard. This is the final year of the Seattle Seahawks in the AFC. One less divisional rival in the West looms large for Raiders later in the decade.
Leading Passer: Gannon 95.5 QB Rating, 3828 yards, 27 TDs, 9 INTs
Leading Rusher: Charlie Garner 839 yards, 1 TD; 72 catches, 578 yards, 2 TDs
Leading Receiver: Brown 91 catches, 1165 yards, 9 TDs
Notable Draft Picks: Derrick Gibson, Safety, Florida State (1st round)
Draft Notes: Davis begins his decade long quest to find the greatest defensive back to ever play the game. Gibson spent his entire pro career in Oakland, all five years of it.
The Tuck Rule is Invoked: With a 13-10 lead, late in the fourth quarter, Charles Woodson blitzes Tom Brady, ball comes loose, Greg Biekert dives on the rock, Pats have no timeouts, game over…right? Wrong. Adam Vinatieri becomes a legend, Brady becomes an NFL god and the Raider Nation paranoia level goes to orange.
Record: 11-5, AFC West Champions, AFC Champions, Lost to Tampa Bay Buccaneers in Super Bowl XXXVII
Head Coach: Bill Callahan
Summary: Callahan leads Raiders to the Super Bowl with the team that Chucky built where he meets Gruden led Buccaneers that Dungy built. High powered offense in Oakland rips through the AFC winning 7 of their last 8 regular season games after dropping four in a row to conclude first half of the season. Gannon is voted MVP by the associated press and Garner was everything that Darren McFadden should be as a do everything dynamo.
Leading Passer: Gannon 97.3 QB Rating, 4689 yards, 26 TDs, 10 INTs; NFL MVP
Leading Rusher: Garner 962 yards, 7TDs; 91 catches, 941 yards, 4 TDs
Leading Receiver: Jerry Rice 92 catches, 1211 yards, 7 TDs
Notable Draft Picks: Phillip Buchanon, cornerback, Miami (1st round); Napoleon Harris, linebacker, Northwestern (2nd round); Langston Walker, offensive tackle, Cal- Berkeley (3rd round); Ronald Curry, wide receiver, North Carolina (7th round).
Draft Notes: Buchanon’s selection makes it consecutive years of DBs in the first round. Harris would later be traded to Minnesota Vikings for Randy Moss. Walker and Curry would later make two of the most memorable plays of the decade for the Raiders on a snowy night in Denver.
The Tuck Rule Fallout: Chucky knows all of Gannon’s tricks, tells Dexter Jackson not to bite on pump fakes, Gannon throws 5 picks, Jackson gets Super Bowl MVP, Chucky gets last laugh as Bucs win with a flattering score of 48-21. Raiders play the game without All-Pro center Barret Robbins who went to Mexico to party the night before the big game. We later learn the haunting tale of Robbins who suffered a manic episode that tragic night; a sad tale that would ultimately be the impending sign of doom for the rest of the decade. Raider Nation paranoia level reaches new heights and actually registers on old Soviet satellites still orbiting in space.
Record: 4-12, Third in AFC West
Summary: Raiders begin their descent into the Black Hole. Win two of the first four games then only win two more the rest of the season. One of those first two wins was a 34-31 victory over San Diego Chargers and is the last time Oakland beats their Southern California rivals in the decade. Gannon battles injuries all year long. Callahan loses the locker room then loses his job. He later goes to the University of Nebraska and proceeds to make their program worse than it has ever been before.
Leading Passer: Gannon 73.5 QB Rating, 1274 yards, 6 TDs, 4 INTs
Leading Rusher: Wheatley 678 yards, 4 TDs
Leading Receiver: Rice 63 catches, 869 yards, 2 TDs
Notable Draft Picks: Nnamdi Asomugha, safety, Cal-Berkeley (1st round); Justin Fargas, running back, USC (3rd round)
Draft Notes: Asomugha makes it three straight years of selecting a DB in the first round. To Al’s credit, he saw a shut down corner in a safety at Cal. Nnamdi is the most feared DB in the NFL. Fargas becomes Oakland’s most consistent offensive producer not named Gannon during the decade.
Monday Night Misery: On Monday Night Football, Brett Favre tosses 4 first half TDs as Green Bay Packers route Raiders 41-7. Favre becomes the apple of the NFL’s eye after his inspired performance comes on the heels of the passing of his father. Oakland actually lost 7 games by 7 points or less in ’03. What could have been?
Record: 5-11, Last in AFC West
Head Coach: Norv Turner
Summary: Turner era begins with some hope as Raiders win two of first three including defeating Chucky and the Buccaneers. Revenge comes with a price as Gannon suffers career ending neck injury against Bucs. Season spins out of control and Oakland sinks to the bottom of the AFC West and the QB carousel officially begins to spin in the East Bay. Kerry Collins would be the last 3,000-yard passer of the decade for the Silver and Black.
Leading Passer: Kerry Collins 74.8 QB Rating, 3495 yards, 21 TDs, 20 INTs
Leading Rusher: Amos Zereoue 425 yards, 3 TDs
Leading Receiver: Jerry Porter 64 catches, 998 yards, 9 TDs
Notable Draft Picks: Robert Gallery, offensive tackle, Iowa (1st round)
Draft Notes: Gallery was said to be the can’t-miss-prospect of the draft prompting Davis to take the supposed franchise left tackle second overall. After a few penalty plagued years of watching Gallery get abused by NFL pass rushers, he became a dominating guard. Not a bust by definition but certainly a disappointment with regard to what was expected.
A Win for the Ages: On a snowy Sunday Night in November, the Raiders and Broncos clashed in what would become an NFL films classic. Ronald Curry makes an unbelieveable one-handed grab for a TD and Langston Walker blocks a late field goal to give Oakland a 25-24 win. The Raiders wouldn’t beat an AFC West opponent for almost three years after that night.
Record: 4-12, Last in the AFC West
Head Coach: Turner
Summary: Raiders trade for Randy Moss in a vintage Davis move. The move doesn’t pay off as Moss endures an injury plagued season and Turner’s offense disappears in the second half of the season as Oakland wins just one of its final eight games. Turner is shown the exit and pulls a Shanahan as he goes to a divisional foe just to stick it to Davis. As head coach of the Chargers, Turner never loses a game to Oakland during the decade.
Leading Passer: Collins 77.3 QB Rating, 3759 yards, 20 TDs, 12 INTs
Leading Rusher: LaMont Jordan 1025 yards, 9 TDs
Leading Receiver: Randy Moss 60 catches, 1005 yards, 8 TDs
Notable Draft Picks: Fabien Washington, corner back, Nebraska (1st round); Stanford Routt, corner back, Houston (2nd round); Andrew Walter, quarterback, Arizona State (3rd round); Kirk Morrison, linebacker, San Diego State (3rd round)
Draft Notes: Washington makes it three DBs taken in the first round of the draft this decade and Routt is the fifth DB drafted by Davis. Washington was later traded to Baltimore in order to make room for DeAngelo Hall. Morrison has become a fixture in the middle of the Oakland defense. Walter became an unwilling guinea pig in the Tom Walsh experiment.
The Coaching Carousel Continues to Spin: Davis fires Turner making it three different head coaches in five years with more changes to come.
Record: 2-14, Last in the AFC West
Head Coach: Art Shell
Summary: Davis goes Uncle Rico in attempting to relive his football past by hiring Shell who last coached the Los Angeles Raiders in 1994. Shell hires Tom Walsh to run his offense. Walsh hadn’t coached in over a decade and was running a bed in breakfast in Idaho. Raiders score just 168 points in a 16-game season and Shell becomes next ex-coach in the East Bay. Oakland lands the top pick in ’07 draft and uses that pick to select JaMarcus Russell. Davis trades an unhappy Moss to New England where he helps the Pats make NFL history with an unbeaten regular season only to loose to the New York Giants in the Super Bowl.
Leading Passer: Andrew Walter 55.8 QB Rating, 1677 yards, 3 TDs, 13 INTs
Leading Rusher: Justin Fargas 659 yards, 1 TD
Leading Receiver: Ronald Curry 62 catches, 727 yards, 1 TD
Notable Draft Picks: Michael Huff, safety, Texas (1st round); Thomas Howard, linebacker, UTEP (2nd round)
Draft Notes: Huff completes Davis’ plot for world domination as he becomes the fifth DB taken in the first round during the decade. Howard teams with Morrison to form one of the most athletic linebacker duos in the NFL.
The Ghost of Tuck Rule Past: Raiders have a 14-7 lead late in the fourth quarter against San Diego, Chargers have to convert a fourth down to keep a drive alive, Vincent Jackson makes a 13-yard reception and celebrates the play by spinning the ball on the ground. Nobody touched Jackson so the ball is live…right? Wrong. Officials rule it an incomplete forward pass, Chargers go on to win 21-14.
Record: 4-12, Third in AFC West
Head Coach: Lane Kiffin
Summary: Davis taps USC assistant Kiffin to be his newest coaching prodigy. Top pick JaMarcus Russell enters into a long contract dispute cutting his rookie season in half. Kiffin snaps the long dry spell against AFC West foes with a win in Kansas City. It would be the only positive thing the Boy Blunder would accomplish during his brief NFL tenure.
Leading Passer: Daunte Culpepper 78.0 QB Rating, 1331 yards, 5 TDs, 5 INTs
Leading Rusher: Fargas 1009 yards, 4 TDs
Leading Receiver: Curry 55 catches, 717 yards, 4 TDs
Notable Draft Picks: JaMarcus Russell, quarterback, LSU (1st pick in the draft); Zach Miller, tight end, Arizona State (2nd round); Mario Henderson, offensive tackle, Florida State (3rd round); Johnnie Lee Higgins, wide receiver, UTEP (3rd round); Michael Bush, running back, Louisville (4th round); John Bowie, corner back, Cincinnati (4th round)
Draft Notes: Davis rolled the dice on Russell and is still waiting for him to become the face of the franchise. Miller has become on of the premier receiving tight ends in the NFL. Higgins had a breakout season in ’08 as a kick returner but went MIA in ’09. Bush might have won a Heisman were it not for a leg injury and has become a deadly runner when given the chance to play. The Raiders used the 4th round pick they got in exchange for Randy Moss to select Bowie in the 4th round. Guess who got the better end of that deal.
JaMarcus Russell Watch: Before taking a single snap in the NFL, Russell posed for GQ in a fur coat stepping off a private jet. Is that a bad sign?
Record: 5-11, 3rd in AFC West
Head Coach(es): Kiffin, Tom Cable
Summary: Kiffin entered the season as a lame duck coach and lasted only a month. Davis proceeded to wheel out his overhead projector as he detailed Kiffin’s immature behavior as an NFL coach. Before the season started, Davis committed $255-million in contracts to DeAngelo Hall, Javon Walker, Tommy Kelly, Gibril Wilson and Kwame Harris. Only Kelly and Walker are still on the roster, Hall didn’t even make it through the first year of a 7-year deal. Cable did get some sweet revenge for Davis as the Raiders and Michael Bush ran Chucky out of the NFL on the last day of the season with a 31-24 win in Tampa. Davis got the last laugh and Cable got the interim tag removed from his job title.
Leading Passer: Russell 77.1 QB Rating, 2423 yards, 13 TDs, 8 INTs
Leading Rusher: Fargas 853 yards, 1 TD
Leading Receiver: Zach Miller 56 catches, 778 yards, 1 TD
Notable Draft Picks: Darren McFadden, running back, Arkansas (1st round); Tyvon Branch, corner back, Connecticut (4th round); Trevor Scott, defensive end, Buffalo (6th round); Chaz Schilens, wide receiver, San Diego State (7th round).
Draft Notes: McFadden has had injuries his first two years in the NFL and has yet to live up to his draft status. Branch was moved to safety and is developing into a dominant defender. Scott is a quality pass rusher who led all rookies in sacks and has since converted into a linebacker. Schilens is a diamond in the rough who has become the best receiver on the roster in only his second year.
JaMarcus Russell Watch: For all intents and purposes, this was Russell’s rookie year. After some ups and downs, JaMarcus hit his stride late in the season and showed some real promise as he led the Raiders to wins in three of the last six games.
Record: 5-10, 3rd in AFC West
Head Coach: Cable
Summary: Cable makes it a six pack of head coaches in Oakland for the decade. This season is all about the regression of Russell as he broke the seal on the bust label. By season’s end, two journeymen quarterbacks jumped ahead of JaMarcus on the depth chart. Oakland has beaten the NFL elite with wins against the Philadelphia Eagles, Cincinnati Bengals, Pittsburgh Steelers and Denver Broncos yet have also lost to bottom dwellers like the Kansas City Chiefs, Washington Redskins and Cleveland Browns. Al Davis forbids quality NFL quarterbacks to step foot in the Coliseum for 2009 as Raider Organization bans Gannon from the premises for doing his job as a broadcaster.
Leading Passer: Bruce Gradkowski 80.6 QB rating, 1007 yards, 6 TDs, 3 INTs
Leading Rusher: Michael Bush 571 yards, 3 TDs
Leading Receiver: Miller 59 catches, 767 yards, 2 TDs
Notable Draft Picks: Darrius Heyward-Bey, wide receiver, Maryland (1st round); Michael Mitchell, safety, Ohio (2nd round); Matt Shaughnessy, defensive end, Wisconsin (3rd round); Louis Murphy, wide receiver, Florida (4th round)
Draft Notes: Fitting that a decade that began with draft day laughter ends the same way. DHB was considered a reach at 7th overall and his 9 catches in 11 starts haven’t stopped the jokes from coming in. Mitchell wasn’t on Mel Kiper’s radar but he has a lot of potential as a versatile defensive back. Shaughnessy is a talented pass rusher who has a bright future. Murphy is a big play receiver who makes the Heyward-Bey selection look worse with each game that passes.
JaMarcus Russell Watch: Currently Russell is backing up Charlie Frye who replaced the injured the Bruce Gradkowski. If this season isn’t a wakeup call for young JaMarcus then it is clear that nothing will get through to him.
There is no denying it. Since that fateful loss in the Super Bowl, this franchise has been caught in a downward spiral having concluded the worst seven years in NFL history. Replacing Gannon has also proven to be an impossible task.
Maybe if Al Davis didn’t spend an entire decade drafting defensive backs and instead focused on building a foundation with quality lineman things could have been different.
The coaching hires were about as inspired as a speech authored by Kim Kardashian. Kiffin and Callahan had no business being head coaches in the NFL. Turner is possibly the most overrated head coach in league history. Shell…well…there is no explanation for that one. Cable is the best coach in the Easy Bay since Gruden but his time is limited and he’ll have to start delivering some results soon or the new decade will begin with a new head coach too.
Then there is all the misspent fortune Al invested in worthless free agents and high draft picks who have yet to live up to their salaries.
All in all, it has been a recipe for disaster. Still, there is enough talent on this team to compete with any team in the league. However, with dwindling attendance and diminished support from the community, Davis is running out of real estate and cannot afford another 7 years of brutal football.
For Raider fans worldwide, there is still great pleasure taken in our rituals during Sundays in the fall. There’s just not enough money left in our wallets to continue to support an inferior product.
Only one thing has ever mattered to Al Davis – winning. We’re just hoping he hasn’t lost sight of his football morals along this bumpy, roller coaster ride of a decade
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Topics: Al Davis, Andre Rison, Art Shell, Barret Robbins, Bill Callahan, Brett Favre, Bruce Gradkowski, Charles Woodson, Charlie Frye, Deangelo Hall, Fabian Washington, JaMarcus Russell, Javon Walker, Jon Gruden, Lamont Jordan, Lane Kiffin, Langston Walker, Nnamdi Asomugha, Norv Turner, Randy Moss, Rich Gannon, Ronald Curry, Sebastian Janikowski, Tom Brady, Tom Cable, Tom Walsh, Tony Dungy, Vincent Jackson