An Ode to Oakland: The Top Ten Moments in Oakland Raiders History

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9. The Divine Interception

The Divine Interceptions is one of the most emotional and awe inspiring moments for me as both a Raiders fan, and as a lover of football in general. The Raiders found themselves locking horns with a tenacious Texans outfit just one day after the passing of team owner and maverick Al Davis. A man whose own identity and philosophy was poured into the franchise unlike any other.

After a grueling contest with several lead changes, the Raiders found themselves on their back foot late in the 4th quarter. With the Texans marching down the field towards the Raiders end zone, the Texans snapped the ball on the Oakland 7-yard line, looking to punch it in for a 27-25 lead, and ultimately, the win.

With pressure in the pocket, Schaub rolled out to his left, and for a brief second seemed like he might run in for the score. Scanning right, Schaub opted to throw a last minute prayer into the end zone, and safety Michael Huff came up with the clinching the game-winning interception.

As the players leaped in ecstasy and no doubt relief, a figure in white kneeled on the sidelines, sobbing into his hands. It was Raiders head coach Hue Jackson. An image that has now forever been embedded into Raiders and NFL lore. Not to mention, that of Taiwan Jones pointing to the “Al” decal on the back of his helmet as he made his way to the locker room.

The real kicker? The Raiders only had 10 men on the final play. Al’s indomitable spirit was on the field for that last play, clinching the last second win and smiling down on the organization that he loved more than anything else.

8. The Heidi Bowl

17th of November, 1968. The Raiders trailed the New York Jets 32-29 with one minute remaining on the 4th quarter. NBC had anticipated that the contest would finish no later than 7:00pm, and with the Jets seemingly having locked up the game, the network made the decision to start the broadcast of the television film Heidi.

In a game that not only epitomized the late heroics that the Raiders became known for, not to mention, altered the nature of sports broadcasting to this day, the Raiders stormed back with two touchdowns in the final minute to win the game.

NBC was hit with immense public outrage over their decision to switch off their broadcast of the game, especially as they displayed the final score during the film. The display befuddled viewers who thought the Jets had easily closed out the final minute, and NBC President Julian Goodman was forced to apologize as a result.

The buildup to the game itself is often left out of its retellings, but is indicative of the “win at all costs” mentality of the Silver and Black in its early days. John Madden (as was the practice of the time) sent game tapes to the New York Jets via Chicago, knowing they would arrive a day later. Similarly, Al Davis had parts of the coliseum turf soaked with water to slow down the Jets speedy receivers.

For all the drama and delirium pertinent to the game, it is often mentioned as the most memorable and exciting regular season matchup in NFL history.

7. The Raiders Return to the Postseason

To be fair, this moment could probably be slotted anywhere in the last three picks. Maybe even higher if it wasn’t for Derek Carr’s injury. Whilst it may seem sacrilegious to place this over something like the Heidi Bowl, or even the Divine Interception, there is good reason. This moment is where it is because unlike the Heidi Bowl, it does not exist in a vacuum. Rather, it sets an exciting precedent for the franchise’s years ahead.

As Al Davis was known to say: “The greatness of the Raiders is in the future.”

The first year I started watching the NFL, and fell in love with the Raiders, was in 2006. I was an eight grader in high school. My first encounter with the team was when they were statistically and categorically the worst team in professional football.

I grew up sitting through the quarterback carousels of Kerry Collins, Andrew Walter, Marques Tuiasosopo, Daunte Culpepper. Obviously, I also watched Jamarcus Russell. I still remember the cascading disappointment that shot through my veins the moment I heard commissioner Goodell announce the name “Darrius Heyward-Bey” at Radio City Music Hall.

To be fair, I’d missed out on the previous few years of misery after the Super Bowl loss to Tampa Bay, and I’d had more than a generous helping of disappointment and utter despair.

That’s why the 2016 season was so memorable. It was a breath of fresh air. Like a once drowning organization had just reached the waters surface and recovered from its depths. Credit to General Manager Reggie Mckenzie, of course, but for the team itself, the postseason berth was a long awaited return to greatness. As aforementioned, it sets an exciting precedent for the future of the Raiders.