Las Vegas Raiders: 50 greatest players in franchise history
By John Buhler
Few NFL franchises have as proud of history as the Las Vegas Raiders. You simply cannot tell the story of the NFL without several mentions of the Silver and Black, and the well-traveled Raiders.
Founded back in 1960 as one of the charter teams in the AFL, the Raiders have won three Super Bowls and one AFL championship. This team has sent several players into the Pro Football Hall of Fame on their time spent with the Silver and Black alone.
Besides having an elite fan base and the best uniforms in the NFL, it really comes down to the guys on the field. Whether it has been through drafting, trading or signing in free agency, the Raiders have boarded dozens of outstanding players over the years on their awesome rocking ship.
The purpose of this list is to separate the good from the better from the best. This exercise was extremely difficult because as many as 75 men could have made the cut.
Here are the 50 greatest players in Raiders history. You will see a few players still active with the team, so this list will almost certainly change in the years to come.
Honorable Mentions: Don Mosebar, Richard Seymour, Rod Martin, Tom Keating, Greg Townsend, Kent McCloughan, Darrell Russell, Vann McElroy, Derrick Burgess, Rod Woodson, Ronnie Lott, Barret Robbins, Billy Cannon, Jeff Gossett, Jeff Jaeger, Dan Birdwell, Archie Matsos, Bill Pickel, Tommy Morrow, Michael Crabtree
In totality, George Blanda will go down as one of the most versatile players in NFL history. The guy played forever, a record-setting 26 NFL seasons for that matter. Blanda played for three of the greatest coaches in football history during his 30-year career in the pros and in college with the Kentucky Wildcats: Paul “Bear” Bryant, George Halas, and John Madden.
So it should come as no surprise that Blanda was a first-ballot Pro Football Hall of Famer in 1981. After a 26-year career split between the Chicago Bears (1949-58), the then Houston Oilers (1960-66), and the Raiders (1967-75), the former standout quarterback/placekicker would earn Canton enshrinement. His classmates include Red Badgro, Willie Davis, and Jim Ringo.
So why isn’t Blanda up hire on this all-time list for the Raiders? Well, that would be because he was used primarily as a placekicker while with the Silver and Black. He would earn an AFL All-Star Game nod in his first year with the Raiders in 1967 but only attempted 235 career passes in his nine seasons in the Bay Area.
While his time with the Raiders ultimately helped him punch his ticket to the Hall of Fame, he was a more iconic player when he was with the Bears and Oilers.
Overall, Blanda made four trips to league All-Star Games, earning All-League honors once with the 1961 Oilers. He was the Player of the Year that season in Houston. Blanda would be named Man of the Year in the NFL in 1975.
In total, Blanda made 156 of his 249 field goal attempts for the Raiders. Simply put, he gave tremendous credibility to the growing importance of placekicking in the NFL. Though better with Chicago and Houston, Blanda was still really good for the Raiders.