The Oakland Raiders have had some pretty incredible linebackers in franchise history, but which 15 make the list for the best of all-time?
Over the course of nearly 60 years, the Oakland Raiders have been a beacon for what a successful franchise should look like. Obviously, in the last decade or so, things have not gone smoothly.
But when looking at the big picture, few teams have been as instrumental and successful as the Silver and Black. Part of that success stems from the team’s motto “Just Win, Baby!” coined by the late owner Al Davis.
For a long time, the Raiders were the pinnacle franchise in the NFL. People envied their success, were intimidated by their on-field actions and most of all…respected the hell out of them. “Commitment to Excellence” became more than a saying, it was ingrained in the fabric of the franchise.
A large part of the success of the Raider’s franchise was perpetuated by some insane (figuratively and literally) defenses that would send opponents back to the sideline wishing that the never stepped foot on the field. Guys like Lyle Alzado, Howie Long and of course, the great Ted Hendricks (who will be mentioned later) all instantly come to mind.
Now, before I begin, let’s clarify one quick fact. It is hard to compare linebackers across multiple decades of football. The game has changed, the linebackers have changed and perhaps more importantly, what linebackers are asked to do has changed.
Back when football was run-first, linebackers were asked to plug the rushing lanes on every down. There weren’t really “coverage” linebackers who were used primarily to mark tight ends and running backs like they do now. If they could excel in coverage, it was cherished, but it wasn’t their primary goal. Regardless of how difficult it is to transcend eras and compare players, let’s give it a go.
Honorable mentions: Napoleon Harris, Travian Smith, Thomas Howard, Bill Romanowski, Bill Laskey