Thursday, May 03, 2007

An open letter to JaMarcus Russell

Dear Mr. Russell:

As a voluntary minicamp is opening for the Raiders this weekend, I thought perhaps someone might set you up on-line while you're in town, and maybe you'd have occasion to see this. I hope that you do. No doubt other members of the Raider family will add their thoughts to the comments below.

Welcome to Oakland, the birth place of the Raider Nation. When you have a few days off, take a look around and experience the beauty, the magic, and the excitement that is the San Francisco Bay area. Nearby the Raiders' headquarters is a place that many refer to as McAfee Coliseum. We, of the Raider Nation, refer to it as Mecca, the Black Hole, or the HOT (coined by the great announcer, Bill King, as Al Davis' House of Thrills).

While working at the Raider facility you will encounter legends of the game who played before you were born. You will meet Jim Otto, Jim Plunkett, Fred Biletnicoff, Jack Tatum, Kenny Stabler, George Atkinson, Tom Flores, and more, too numerous to name. Honor them, and give them your respect. On their shoulders, everything around you has been built. Someday soon, when you put on the Silver and Black and walk out onto the turf of the House of Thrills, they will become your second family. They will be your new grandfathers, fathers, and uncles. You will have been given the honor only given to a happy few, the opportunity to become one of them.

I hope you will take the time to learn about the rich history of the Oakland Raiders. And, in the mean time, we have rested much weight upon your shoulders. We would not have done so without being firm in the belief that such weight is rightly placed. I would like to tell you a story of legends past, and if you remember it, you will do well.

The House of Thrills was the sight of a game many consider to be the most exciting football game in the history of the NFL. It was a playoff game in 1974. John Madden was our head coach, and Kenny Stabler was our quarterback. In 1973, the Miami Dolphins had posted the NFL's only undefeated season. In 1974, the Dolphins were attempting to appear in their 4th straight Super Bowl and to win their 3rd straight.

With the HOT filled to the rafters with Raider fanatics waving black socks, the game began with a 93 yard kick off return by the Dolphins, and the two teams battled each other for the changing lead the entire game. Finally, with time down to just over 2 minutes in the 4th quarter, the Dolphins powered over the Raider goal line for a 5 point lead. It looked like Miami was on its way to another Super Bowl, and the Raiders were on their way home.

Stabler and company took over deep in their own territory, but Stabler was the master (some say the inventor) of the two minute drill. And Stabler proceeded to pick the Dolphin defense apart. Stabler worked through his receivers, going left and right, working his way past mid field, with time falling below one minute. Stabler called a time out and came to the sideline to talk to John Madden. Madden hadn't signaled for Stabler to call the time out, and when Stabler arrived on the sideline Madden waited to hear what he had to say. When he got to the sideline, Stabler looked up to the stands surrounding the field and surveyed the Raider Nation. Then he looked at Madden and said, "they're getting their money's worth today, aren't they, Coach." Then he turned and went back to the huddle.

Finally, with only a handful of seconds on the clock, and on 4th down with the Raiders near the Dolphin 5 yard line, Stabler dropped back to take one last shot at the end zone. With nobody open, he decided to run for it. A defensive player on the ground reached up and caught him by one ankle. On his way down, Stabler looked to the end zone and threw like throwing the shot put into a "sea of hands." Standing on the goal line, and surrounded by Dolphins, HB Clarence Davis' hands prevailed as he fell backward into the end zone with the winning touchdown.

"Great victory," you're thinking, "but what's the point of the story?"

The point is this. In a playoff atmosphere, with the entire season and the history of the franchise on the line, nobody more clearly understood the "bottom line" as clearly as Ken Stabler. "They're getting their money's worth today, aren't they Coach." A football game is not an earth shattering event. Nobody will live or die based on the outcome of a Raider game. Football is, after all, entertainment. That said, football is not unimportant.

The Raider Nation, just like fans of any other team, go to a game to forget all of those things that ARE life and death to them. They seek to blanket the stress of their lives, momentarily, behind a symbolic struggle. They seek to find from the game an example of tenacity as an example for themselves. The game teaches them to never give up until their time has run out, until their last second has run off the clock.

Such is the example that you must set for your teammates and the Raider Nation. Such is the Raider way, the Raider tradition. No matter how poorly we seem to be managing things, no matter the odds against us, no matter our fears, we WILL prevail and only the death of time will defeat us. If you set this example, we will love you for it, and we will never forget you. Wherever you go, whatever you do, you will always be a member of our international family. You will walk among legends.

Now, get your contracts signed, and let's have some fun.


Blogger Calico Jack said...

Love it BR! I love that JRuss had 8 4th Quarter comebacks at LSU.

1:57 PM  
Blogger Raider Raza said...

Hey Blanda,
Great Post!!
Check out this link it has a pic with a different angle that I haven't seen of the very famous play.

I would have posted just the photo but i wasn't sure how. I encourage you to add the photo to the headline of your blog.

3:59 PM  
Blogger BlandaRocked said...

Raider Raza:

Great picture. I read the article too, and it belies my memory of it a little. Still the greatest game of all time.

I saved the picture. I'm a little slow to learn this stuff, I'll have to remember how I put up the Blanda picture.


4:57 PM  
Blogger Raider Raza said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

5:08 PM  
Blogger Raider Raza said...

Hey why was my post deleted..j/k

Thats a great pic!!

To me that photo is up there with the Curry one hand leap in the snow catch against Denver.

Damn its good to be Raider..

7:03 PM  
Blogger Calico Jack said...

BR: The vintage black & white photo is a nice touch. I'm really looking forward to the new JRuss era where we can forge ahead with adding more awe inspiring history. Let's have some fun!

10:00 PM  
Blogger Guamanian Raider said...


Nice welcoming letter. Just one thing, a little known thing too. The "birthplace" of the Oakland Raiders, if you take the actual location the team ever first assembled, was Santa Cruz, CA. The team practiced on the Santa Cruz High School practice field and stayed at a hotel called the Palomar, back in the days of 1960.

JaMarcus will sign, and then his passes will be signature marks for future quarterbacks to be measured. This is a very exciting time. Dreams of Super Bowls abound. Let's get back to Just winning, baby.

Raider on

11:12 AM  
Blogger Raider Ran said...

Great article. Had tingles running up my spine while reading it. This is the essence of the "Commitment to Excellence". This is what "Just Win" is all about. This is the kind of Raider football I grew up with. Lets hope we can bring back the greatness of the Raiders soon.

8:08 AM  
Anonymous Roxanne said...

Good post.

9:35 AM  
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