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Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Oakland Raiders Uniform and Team History



Please click on the evolution of the Raiders uniform poster above for a close-up version of the poster. The descriptions below give you some insight and background about the uniforms and/or eras depicted in the poster.


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Oakland Raiders 1960 uniform
1960
To tell the story of the Raiders we need to start with the birth of the American Football League (AFL), which began in 1960 as an 8 team rival league to the NFL. Both leagues competed head to head for players, fans and broadcast revenue. This was the way it was from 1960 to 1965 - two separate leagues, two separate champions, although few people would have honestly believed that the AFL champion could have beaten the NFL champs. Then in 1965 the two leagues agreed to merge. It was decided that beginning in 1970 there would be only one league, the NFL. In the interim, between 1966 and 1969, the AFL Champion would play the NFL Champion for the “World Championship”. It was only after the first World Championship had been played in 1966 that the name “Super Bowl” came into being.

With the birth of the AFL, the city of Oakland is awarded the 8th and final franchise after the Minnesota franchise opts out of the AFL for the NFL before they play a single game. Thus the Raiders joined the following teams in the AFL: New York Titans (now Jets); Dallas Texans (now Kansas City Chiefs); Los Angeles Chargers (now San Diego Chargers); Houston Oilers (now Tennessee Titans); Boston Patriots (now New England Patriots); Buffalo Bills; and Denver Broncos.

A group of 8 headed by Chet Soda, Ed McGah, Wayne Valley and Robert Osborne constitute the ownership. The franchise held a contest to determine the nickname of the team with the fans choosing the name “Senors”. Ownership, however, opted for the “Raiders”. With Babe Parilli and Tom Flores at QB, and the legendary Jim Otto at Center, the Raiders took to the field compiling a respectable 6-8 record their first year.

To the astute football observer, the Raiders’ black 1960 home uniform somewhat resembles a Pittsburgh Steelers’ jersey with a black & gold color scheme. The use of unusual ‘round’ numbers is something that both the Steelers and the Chicago Bears have previously, and still do, use. The look of the jersey is very clean and elegant with 3 gold stripes on each sleeve and white numbers with gold trim. This would be the only time in Raiders’ history that the franchise used this numeric style. The helmet style was simple: black with no logo.

The first three years of Raiders’ history were pretty bleak – the team went a combined 9-33-0 and averaged fewer than 11,000 fans per game. But don’t despair, help is on its way.


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Oakland Raiders 1963 uniform
1963
The year 1963 was a very significant one in Raiders’ history! Coming off a disastrous 1-13 season in 1962, Al Davis was brought in as head coach. With his infamous ‘Just Win Baby’ attitude, the 33-year old turned the organization around, and won Coach of the Year honours for helping guide the Raiders to a 10-4 record in ’63. Amazingly, the Raiders didn’t make the playoffs as the AFL playoffs at the time consisted of the East Division winner playing the Western Division winner, and although the Raiders finished 10-4, the San Diego Chargers finished 11-3 to win the West and therefore the right to play the 7-6-1 Boston Patriots.

The 1963 road uniform was very simple, but still unique: there was no sleeve striping; the uniform numbers took on a less rounded, more ‘varsity’ or traditional look; both the chest and sleeve numbers were gold with black trim. The most dramatic change from year one, however, was the addition of the infamous Raiders’ logo to the helmet. This logo, which has remained virtually identical to the present day, captures the essence of the Raiders’ organization and their fans…tough, gritty, pirates that will do almost anything to win!
Did you know…the logo’s centerpiece (the helmeted face with the eye patch) was supposedly modeled after actor Randolph Scott?


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Oakland Raiders 1967 uniform
1967
In 1966, Al Davis – Oakland’s coach from 1963-65 - is named Commissioner of the AFL. He is replaced by John Rauch, who goes a remarkable 33-8-1 from 1966-68. The Raiders start the 1967 season off by absolutely annihilating Denver 51-0…and go on to finish the regular season an amazing 13-1 and thus make the playoffs for the first time in their history! They go on to play the Eastern Division Champion Houston Oilers, and crush them 40-7 to become ‘AFL Champions’. Next up? The NFL Champion Green Bay Packers and Vince Lombardi’s Packers.

Before we tell you who won, the years 1966-1969 warrant a bit of explanation. As mentioned earlier, the AFL began in 1960 as an 8 team rival league to the NFL - both leagues competed head to head for players, fans and TV revenue. And thus it was for 5 years, two separate leagues, two separate champions (although few people would have honestly believed that the AFL champion could have beaten the NFL champs).

Then in 1965 the two leagues agreed to merge. It was decided that beginning in 1970 there would be only one league, the NFL, and that between 1966 and 1969 the AFL Champion would play the NFL Champion for the "World Championship". It was only after the first World Championship had been played in 1966 that the name "Super Bowl" came into being. Thus in 1967 the AFL Raiders were actually competing for two titles, the AFL Championship and the Super Bowl Championship. They achieved the first goal, but came up short on the second as they succumbed to the mighty Packers 33-14 in Super Bowl II at the Orange Bowl in Miami.

This black home jersey, as worn by such Raiders’ greats as Jim ‘Double 0’ Otto, Ben Davidson, Daryl Lamonica, George Blanda & Willie Brown, is in the traditional ‘silver & black’ colours Raiders’ fans are now so accustomed to. There’s no striping, no trim around the numbers…just a black jersey with silver-grey uniform numbers. Nothin’ fancy, and that’s the way the Raiders like things.

Here’s one for you: Beginning in 1965, the Raiders had a winning record 19 of the next 20 seasons, and during that span they won 12 division championships and Super Bowls XI, XV and XVIII. The Raiders are the only team to play in the Super Bowl in the 1960's, 1970's and 1980's. We’re also told that in the 30-year period between 1963 and 1992, the Raiders' record 285-146-11 (.661) ranks as the best among all major sports teams.


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Oakland Raiders 1976 home uniform
Oakland Raiders 1976 road uniform
1976
The late 60’s to early 70’s brought change and success to the Raider organization. In 1969, managing general partner, Al Davis, brought in John Madden to coach and continue Davis’ handy work. In 1970, due in part to the continued efforts of Al Davis, the AFL & NFL merge. Under coach Madden, the Raiders continued to claw & scratch their way to victory, making the playoffs every year of Madden’s 1969-78 reign except one.

In 1976, Davis’ and Madden’s Raiders go a remarkable 15-1, beating all comers except New England (who beat the Raiders 48-17 on what had to have been an off day for the otherwise perfect Raiders). In the first round of the playoffs, the Raiders met the Patriots again, and had to score two unanswered touchdowns in the 4th quarter to eke out a 24-21 win.
A week later, they take on the mighty Pittsburgh Steelers, the defending Super Bowl champs.
But Oakland’s defence shuts down the vaunted Steelers attack, and the Raiders knock off the Steelers 24-7 to advance to the Super Bowl for the first time in their history.

Their opponents are the Minnesota Vikings, who dominated the regular season in the NFC – going 11-2-1. The Vikings capture the NFC Championship by beating the Redskins 35-20 and the LA Rams 24-13, and thus advance to the Super Bowl for the 4th time in 8 seasons.

And as all good Raiders fans know, the Raiders pound the Vikings 32-14, in front of over 100,000 people to win Super Bowl XI at the Rose Bowl in Pasadena. Sure handed Fred Biletnikoff is named the MVP of the game.

These home & road uniforms, as worn by Super Bowl Champions Ken Stabler, Fred Biletnikoff, Ray Guy, Mark van Eeghen, Gene Upshaw, Art Shell, John Matusak, Otis Sistrunk and Jack Tatum commemorate this spectacular season.

The black home jersey is quite similar to the ’67 version. Note the addition of a black belt, and zippered pant front, something the Raiders have kept right up to the present day. We’ve shown a foam neck collar because so many Raiders used them for protection.

The white road uniform hasn’t changed that drastically from the ’63 version except that the chest & sleeve numbers have gone from gold to black, and the numbers now have a silver trim. If you look closely, you can see small numbers on the back of the helmets, straddling the black stripe that runs from front to back.

A final note: The Raiders under John Madden compiled a truly remarkable record – from 1969 to 1978 the Raiders went 103-32-7, making the playoffs every year but one (and in that 1971 season they went 8-4-2 but didn’t make the playoffs).


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Oakland Raiders 1980 uniform
1980
Here we go again!

Tom Flores, who has previously been employed by the Raiders as a quarterback and assistant coach, became the Raiders coach in 1979, and he leads to Raiders to something that has never been accomplished before or since – read on.

The 1980 Raiders go 11-5, but finish second to Dan Fouts’ Chargers. Thus the Raiders make the playoffs as a wild card team. In their first playoff game, they beat the Houston Oilers 27-7 in Oakland. They then went to Cleveland where they beat the Browns 14-12 on the strength of a Mark van Eeghen 4th quarter touchdown. Next stop was San Diego and the high flying Chargers. In a wild affair, the Raiders go out to a 21-7 lead, then hang on to win 34-27 and thus advance to Super Bowl XV.

And in Super Bowl XV, the Raiders down the Philadelphia Eagles 27-10 at the Superdome in New Orleans with QB Jim Plunkett earning MVP honours. Thus the Raiders become the only Wild Card team ever to win the Super Bowl, and Tom Flores becomes the first person to win a Super Bowl ring as a player (Kansas City 1969), assistant coach (1976 Raiders) and head coach (1980 Raiders).

This road white uniform, as worn by Raider stalwarts such as Jim Plunkett, Art Shell and Ted Hendricks, is almost identical to the ’76 version – with the exception that the pants now sport a black belt. As we did research on Oakland’s uniforms through the years, we were surprised to see how often players wore different coloured belts – even in the same photo. Thus we have tried to depict the most common belt color used in 1980, in this case it was a black belt.


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Los Angeles Raiders 1983 uniform - Oakland Raiders 1983 uniform
1983
The ’82 season was a sad one for the citizens and fans of Oakland as owner (and former coach) Al Davis moves the beloved franchise to Los Angeles, giving LA two NFL franchises (the other being the LA Rams). The ‘Raiders’ nickname and logo, however, remained the same, and thus you can’t tell an Oakland uniform from an LA one.

After going 8-1 in the strike shortened 1982 season, the ’83 Raiders keep it going with a 12-4 record. Once again Jim Plunkett lead the troops through the playoffs and on to Super Bowl XVIII – crushing the Steelers 38-10 and the Seahawks 30-14 along the way.

And Tom Flores’ team wastes little time in giving their new fans in LA the championship. In decisive fashion, the Raiders decimate Joe Theismann and his Washington Redskins 38-9 to capture Super Bowl XVIII at Tampa Stadium.

This home uniform, as worn by such stars as Marcus Allen, Lyle Alzado and Howie Long, is relatively similar to the classic, silver & black style shown in ’76. Look closely at the left hip, and you’ll notice a Raiders’ towel tucked into the black belt. It was not uncommon to see players such as Cliff Branch use them to help keep their hands dry. As mentioned earlier, it’s remarkable that the Raiders’ logo on their helmet basically doesn’t change from when it was first introduced in the early 60’s to the present.

We mentioned this earlier but it bears repeating: Beginning in 1965, the Raiders had a winning record 19 of the next 20 seasons, and during that span they won 12 division championships and Super Bowls XI, XV and XVIII. The Raiders are the only team to play in the Super Bowl in the 1960's, 1970's and 1980's. We’re also told that in the 30-year period between 1963 and 1992, the Raiders' record 285-146-11 (.661) ranks as the best among all major sports teams.


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Los Angeles Raiders 1991 uniform -Oakland Raiders 1991 uniform
1991
Between 1986 and 1999, the Raiders only made the post-season 3 times. And though the franchise had seen better days, their loyal, fanatic following still made going to a Raiders’ game an event beyond compare. Tailgating, costumes and attitude have always made cheering for opponents a very dangerous past time at Raiders’ games! In ’91, the Raiders did make the playoffs, but came out on the short end of a 10-6 score vs. their fierce AFC rival – the Kansas City Chiefs.

This home uniform, as worn by Tim Brown, Willie Gault and Ronnie Lott as a Raider, features the classic silver & black look Raiders’ fans have come to know and love. One other note about the uniform: If you look closely at almost all NFL uniforms worn from 1991 on, you’ll note a small NFL shield patch on the jersey’s neckline. Most NFL uniforms added the NFL logo patch to the neck, and to the upper left thigh of the pants, beginning in 1991.

Note also the small foam collar depicted in this painting – it seems to be a bit of a tradition with the Raiders that quite a few players were a foam collar – much like that worn by Howie Long.


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Los Angeles Raiders 1994 uniform -Oakland Raiders 1994 uniform
1994
This is the final season for the Raiders in Los Angeles before Al Davis would relocate the team again, this time back to its original location in Oakland (who says you can’t go back!).

During the ‘94 season, the NFL and its franchises were showcasing ‘throwback’ jerseys, or replicas of older uniforms to help commemorate the NFL’s 75th anniversary. The 75th anniversary was signified by the large, diamond patch on the left shoulder. This uniform, a throwback to the look of the ’63 Raiders, captured a similar jersey design feel all the while keeping the team’s modern ‘silver & black’ colour schematic. We’re not sure, but it may have been an oversight on the part of the NFL uniform design folks that saw this 1994 throwback jersey, designed to honour the ’63 Raiders, use silver uniform numbers instead of gold. Oh well, we’ll all far from perfect, and it makes for a good discussion. (PS - A few fans have contacted us and said that the Raider’s throwback used in 1994 was actually honouring/depicting the 1970 uniform - this wasn’t the case and we have NFL documentation showing that the 1994 throwback was honouring the 1963 uniform.)

One other note about the uniform: If you look closely at almost all NFL uniforms worn from 1991 on, you’ll note a small NFL shield patch on the jersey’s neckline. Most NFL uniforms added the NFL logo patch to the neck, and to the upper left thigh of the pants, beginning in 1991. The only major exception to this practice was in 1994 when the teams wore their throwback uniforms – in almost all of these cases, the throwback jersey did not have the small NFL patch. Yet once again, the Raiders jersey is a bit of an anomaly – in their case the throwback jersey does in fact have the NFL patch on the neck and upper left thigh. AS we said earlier, everyone loves a good mystery.


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Oakland Raiders 2000 uniform
2000
When the Raiders franchise returned to Oakland for the ’95 season, Coliseum fans, once again, had reasons to celebrate, dress-up, paint their faces, stomp, pound & scream!

And with the 2000 Raiders finishing 12-4 and making the playoffs for the first time since 1993, there was even more to cheer about. Led by the strong arm of Rich Gannon, the Raiders pounded the Dolphins 27-0 in the first round of the playoffs, then came up against the near perfect defence of the Baltimore Ravens, and succumbed 16-3 in a hard fought battle.

The familiar, yet simple design and colour scheme showcased by the black 2000 home uniform says it all for Raiders’ fans - there is no other team…our hearts bleed silver & black. Don’t change – we love you just the way you are!


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Oakland Raiders 2002 uniform
2002
Raiders owner AL Davis is known as one of the most controversial figures in pro football history. And at the end of the 2001 season, when Davis felt his popular head coach Jon Gruden was getting too much of the spotlight, he refused to extend Gruden’s contract and then traded him ( yes, that’s right, he traded a coach) to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers for draft picks.

Davis then hired Bill Callahan to lead the team in 2002 and the Raiders came out of the gate flying, winning their first four games with the offence scoring 162 points in those four games. However, the Raiders would suddenly go into a tailspin losing 4 straight games, including 2 in overtime and after 8 games they sat with a .500 record. In game 9 of the season the Raiders faced the Broncos on the road and won 34-10. WR Jerry Rice, in his second year in Oakland, established another career milestone as he scored his 200th career touchdown. The club’s streakiness continued as the victory over the Broncos launched the Silver and Black on a five game winning streak. During that streak, in a home game versus the New York Jets, Tim Brown became just the 3rd WR in NFL history to catch 1,000 passes in a career joining Rice, and Vikings great Cris Carter.

The Raiders finished the season 11-5 and advance to the playoffs as the AFC top seed. After a bye week they met the NY Jets in the Divisional playoff and won handily 30-10 in Oakland. They then met the Tennessee Titans in the AFC championship game and destroyed them 41-24, and it was off the Super Bowl - their first in 19 years - to face the NFC champion.

In Super Bowl XXXVII the Raiders’ season would come full circle as their opponent was the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, coached by the man Al Davis traded away for draft picks, Jon “Chucky” Gruden. Gruden who spent the 4 previous seasons building the Raiders into an elite team, knew all about his opponent and this would be his chance for “pay back”.

The Raiders opened the scoring in Super Bowl XXXVII by taking advantage of an interception on the first possession of the game, and an early field goal gave them a 3-0 lead. However, Tampa Bay’s defense seemed to know what was coming as they read Rich Gannon perfectly intercepting 2 passes and shutting down the Raiders offense as they (the Bucs) took a 20-3 lead into halftime.

Things would not improve for the Raiders in the second half as the Bucs extended their lead to 27-3 on a long drive that ate up time in the 3rd quarter. Now desperate, Gannon tried to get the Raiders back into the game, but he was picked off by DB Dwight Smith who returned it all the way to extend the Bucs lead to 34-3. The Raiders attempted a comeback scoring 3 consecutive touchdowns to cut the lead to 34-21. But in the final 2 minutes of the game Gannon was intercepted twice, both ran back for touchdowns and the Buccaneers won the Super Bowl going away by a 48-21 count.

In Super Bowl XXXVII Oakland wore their white road jersey like the one shown here, featuring uniform numbers that are black with silver trim. You may notice that this 2002 Oakland Raiders jersey features a Super Bowl patch. The practice of both Super Bowl teams wearing a Super Bowl patch begin with Super Bowl XXV in January 1991 when the Buffalo Bills and the New York Giants each wore a "Super Bowl 25th Anniversary" patch on their jerseys. Another seven years would pass before a specific Super Bowl patch would next appear, this time in Super Bowl XXXII in January 1998 when the Broncos played the Packers. Every year since then, the Super Bowl combatants have both worn an official Super Bowl patch during the Super Bowl. (Some keen observers may suggest that a "Super Bowl patch" was worn in Super Bowl X in January 1976 when the Steelers faced the Cowboys, but in that case the patch worn by both teams commemorated America's bicentennial, not the game itself.)


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Oakland Raiders 2007 uniform
2007
Text not yet written.

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Celebrate the Raiders' uniform history by owning a piece of history:
If you love the Oakland Raiders and the history of the Raiders franchise, you might really love to own an original piece of artwork celebrating the team's historic uniforms as seen in the poster at the top of this blog - you can actually own one of those original pieces of art! There are only 12 pieces of original art available for sale, and when these 12 are sold, that's it, they're all sold out.

These original watercolor paintings would make a great gift (birthday gift, anniversary gift, retirement gift, Christmas gift, etc.) for someone you love or even a great gift for yourself (one of these framed pieces would look fantastic in your home or office). Each piece can be bought one of three ways:
1. As unframed art that you could have framed or mounted yourself (the one on the left)
2. Framed in our "Classic" framed version (the middle version)
3. Framed in our "Deluxe" framed version (the version on the right)



If you would like more information about this great artwork including the three ways you could purchase each piece, please visit our Oakland Raiders YouTube video at www.youtube.com/watch?v=1zPG90JfP6k or go directly to the artwork website www.heritagesportsart.com/Oakland-Raiders-c125/ where you can see and purchase the artwork.

And if someone you know loves the history of sports uniforms (but maybe another team) and loves great art, please let them know that we have over 1500 pieces of great original artwork for sale at www.heritagesportsart.com (all NFL teams, all MLB teams, all NHL teams, all CFL teams, select NCAA football teams) or check out each team's video at the Heritage Sports Art YouTube Channel www.youtube.com/user/ssillcox

E. Stadium artwork
Please note that the actual original, hand drawn pen and ink sketches used for the 6 stadium images shown above are available for sale as a complete collection to one Oakland Raiders fan. If you are interested in being the owner of this complete and original collection of Oakland Raiders home stadium images, please contact me by email ssillcox@rogers.com and I can explain how they can all be framed in one beautiful piece.

And please search my blog archive http://heritagejerseys.blogspot.com/ for other blogs on the history of the Raiders.

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This blog was written by Scott Sillcox and was last updated August 18, 2010. I have tried to ensure the accuracy of the information, but I am human and can make mistakes. If you believe I have made a mistake, please let me know by email at ssillcox@rogers.com !

Many thanks!!!
Scott

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