Inspiration comes to us in many forms. From the news media, television shows, a comment made by a friend, a memory of a favorite game or player, or any number of other ways. It floods our minds until it is the only thing that we think about. This morning I saw a request on our Twitter account, @JustBlogBaby. The person asked Just Blog Baby to write a throwback story about one of the greatest Oakland Raiders’ to play the game. I, of course, am speaking about “The Mad Stork” Ted Hendricks.
Theodore “Ted” Paul Hendricks was born in Guatemala City, Guatemala, in 1947. His father was employed in Guatemala City, and he met Ted’s mother there. The family moved to Miami Springs, Florida, and Hendricks attended school at Hialeah High School. He was a multi-sport athlete who excelled at track, basketball, baseball, and football.
He attended college at the University of Miami, and he was a three-time All American choice at defensive end for the Hurricanes. Hendricks was a strong, fast, and devastating tackler. His 6’ 7” frame and wide-ranging arms led his teammates at the University of Miami to dub him “The Mad Stork.” He was considered the prototypical linebacker to enter the National Football League (NFL).
Hendricks was selected in the second round of the 1969 NFL Draft by Head Coach Don Shula of the Baltimore Colts. Midway through his rookie season, he became the starting right linebacker. In 1971, Hendricks played a key role in the Super Bowl V victory for the Baltimore Colts. Baltimore Colts Center Bill Curry (1967-1972) said, “Running into Ted Hendricks was like running into a piece of angle iron. You’d get an elbow to the side of the head, bounce off, and wonder where he went.”
Hendricks was traded to the Green Bay Packers in 1974 and played heroically, at an All-Pro level, for a losing team. Hendricks was granted free agency at season’s end, and, in 1975, Al Davis brought Hendricks to the Oakland Raiders. This haven for talented misfits, the Oakland Raiders seek-out and destroy defensive philosophy was a perfect fit for Hendricks. His new position was at Roving Linebacker, and it was suited for his set of skills. With his ability to dole out punishment and enhance the Raiders Mystique, he took the moniker of being “The Mad Stork” into a whole other dimension.
Oakland Raiders Defensive End Lyle Alzado (1982-1985) said, “Ted Hendricks probably lives in his own space, his own time.” He continued, “We all went out there for practice one day, and it was blistering hot. It must have been close to 100 degrees. We were in full pads and guys were sweating before we got on the field. We got onto the field and there it was, an umbrella, a chair, and a table. There were two lemonades. One particular player (Hendricks) was sitting with his feet up fanning himself. He was screaming to us, Come on boys, it’s fun time! It’s fun time! Heyahahahah!”
Hendricks was notorious for changing the course of the game with just one big play. Due to the high level that he played at, he helped the Oakland Raiders win three Super Bowls in 1976 (XI), 1980 (XV), and 1983 (XVIII). One of the greatest quotes made about a player was given by John Madden about Ted Hendricks. Madden said, “Ted was a great natural athlete, an intense competitor. Once a game started, he went like gangbusters. Great players make great plays and I can’t think of any defensive player who made more big plays for us than Ted Hendricks.”
Ted Hendricks had a long and distinguished NFL career. He was known for his all out style of defensive play, his powerful athletic ability, and an intellectual understanding of the game. Not only was he one of the best, but he was one of the most durable players. He played 215 straight games before retiring in 1983. His last start was his last game. Winning Super Bowl XVIII was a fitting end to an outstanding career. In recognition for Hendricks’ dominance that he displayed on the field, he was enshrined into the NFL Hall of Fame in Canton, Ohio, on August 4, 1990.
His time in the NFL did not end there. Ted Hendricks has continually hosted charitable golf and bowling tournaments. His charitable organization, the Hendricks Foundation, has raised money and aided the Special Olympics, Alzheimer’s & Dimentia Research, Shake-a-leg of Miami, Birth Defect Survivors Grant in Aid, Youth Golf and Learning Academy, Youth Football Enrichment Program, Cystic Fibrosis, ALS Research, Children’s Hospital (s), Literacy Programs, Iraq Veterans, and Child Abuse Victims.
Currently, Hendricks serves as the Vice President of the Hall of Fame Players, he is founder of the Ted Hendricks Defensive End of the Year Award, and he spends much of his time dedicated to helping both youth and seniors. As part of his Community Outreach Program, he uses his native Spanish Fluency to talk to students about the importance of setting goals and education excellence. The Ted Hendricks Foundation’s motto is: “Making a difference in the lives of today’s seniors and tomorrow’s leaders.”
During his football career, Hendricks was a difference maker on the field. As a retired player, he is a difference maker for the community he represents. Though Raider Nation will never see “The Mad Stork” play football in person again, his many achievements and accolades are forever ingrained upon our memories. He is a reason why we, the Raider Nation, will follow and support our team through these tough times.