Las Vegas Raiders: 50 greatest players in franchise history

A video board displays an Al Davis quote (Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images)
A video board displays an Al Davis quote (Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images) /
21 of 50
Oakland Raiders
(Photo by Buda Mendes/Getty Images) /

28. . OLB. Bowling Green State Falcons. Phil Villapiano. 30. player

When you think about all the great players that played for the Raiders during the 1970s, you would be foolish to overlook outside linebacker Phil Villapiano. Oakland used a second-round pick to take the linebacker No. 45 overall out of Bowling Green State University in the 1971 NFL Draft. Villapiano would spend his first nine of 13 NFL seasons with the Silver and Black.

As soon as he was drafted, Villapiano became an immediate impact player, starting 14 games as a rookie in 1971. He would be named AFC Defensive Rookie of the Year that same season. By year three in the league, Villapiano became a regular staple in the Pro Bowl. He would make four straight trips to the Pro Bowl from 1973 to 1976.

In 1976, the Raiders would win their first Super Bowl by handling the Minnesota Vikings in Super Bowl XI. Villapiano had a signature play in that game, where he forced a fumble in the red zone that ultimately swung the game in the Raiders’ favor. He would play the next three seasons with the Raiders before going to the Buffalo Bills in 1980.

Villapiano would play four years in Buffalo before retiring after the 1983 NFL season. Though he’s never going to earn Canton enshrinement, Villapiano is absolutely on the shortlist for not only greatest linebackers in Raiders history, but greatest defensive players in team history. In total, played in 118 games for the Silver and Black, making 117 starts.