Best linebackers in Las Vegas Raiders history: 15. Gerald Irons
Throwing it back to the infancy of the NFL post-merger brings us to a terrific linebacker for the Raiders during the 1970’s. Gerald Irons first appeared with the Raiders in 1970, their first season after merging from the AFL to the NFL. Irons was the team’s third-round selection in the 1970 NFL Draft out of Maryland East Shore.
Coincidentally enough, one of the greatest Raiders ever also went to East Shore, only slightly before Irons. Any guesses?
If you guessed Art Shell, you would be correct. However, the legendary offensive tackle is not the focus of this slide, Irons is. Irons spent six seasons with the Raiders before being traded to the Cleveland Browns in 1976. During those six seasons with the Raiders, Irons amassed 77 games, with 56 of them being starts.
Back in the day, teams only played 14 games per season, opposed to the 16 they play now. Impressively, Irons only missed time in one season, losing seven games from his 1971 season due to injury.
Irons was pivotal in laying the foundation for the Raiders defense that ended up winning the Super Bowl in 1977 over the Minnesota Vikings, two seasons after Irons departed.
He recorded seven interceptions during his stint with the Raiders, which at the time was impressive for a linebacker. Irons was a solid player that helped lay the ground work for three Super Bowls in eight years and barely makes the list at No. 15.