“Just win, baby” said the late great owner of the Oakland Raiders Al Davis and that is something that the Raiders have always strived to do. The Raiders find themselves currently in the mid tier of the AFC where they seem to be a few more playmakers on offense and defense away from making a serious run. They did defeat the AFC Champion Kansas City Chiefs last year and almost beat them twice. The snow game between the Raiders and the Patriots back in the early 2000s will always be my favorite game even though Raiders fans still probably refuse to talk about it. I’m going to give them something positive to talk about and that’s my top 5 greatest Oakland Raiders of all time. Here we go.
Howie Long, Defensive End (1981-1993)
Howie Long is the best defensive lineman in Oakland Raiders history and it’s not close. He spent his whole 13-year career silver and black and ended his career with 84 sacks. Long’s physicality made him one of the best all-around defensive ends in the history of the NFL which was proven when he was named to the 1980s All-Decade Team. Howie was also part of the Raiders’ Super Bowl XVIII Championship team, was elected to eight Pro Bowls and was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 2000.
Jim Plunkett, Quarterback (1979-86)
Jim Plunkett led the Raiders to two Super Bowl Championships and despite a fairly short tenure with the team, he sits fourth on the franchise’s all-time passing list with 12,665 yards. Plunkett meant everything to the success of the Raiders in the 1970s and 1980s as they were known as a team that gave second chances to talented players that had issues with their previous teams. Jim always made it work and is one of the most important players in Oakland Raiders history.
Jim Otto, Center (1960-1974)
Jim Otto joined the Oakland Raiders in 1960 and didn’t miss a single game as their starting center for all 15 seasons of his career. For those wondering that equals 210 regular-season starts and 308 games overall. Otto was elected to the AFL All-Star game in each of his nine seasons there and was elected to the first three Pro Bowls. His double zero number will always be famous with Raider Nation as he was the marker for consistency and toughness in his tenure with the team and that’s the definition of what coaches want Oakland Raiders to be all about.
5.) Marcus Allen, Running Back (1982-1992)
Eleven seasons with the Raiders which resulted in almost 13,000 total yards, 97 touchdowns and over 2,500 touches of the football their is no doubt Marcus Allen was a beast. Allen was voted into the Pro Bowl six times , he was twice an All-Pro (both with the Raiders), he was the 1982 AP Rookie of the Year, the 1985 AP Offensive Player of the Year. He did finish his career with the rival Kansas City Chiefs but was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame, as a Raider, in 2003.
4.) Ken Stabler, Quarterback (1970-79)
The NFL has always been a quarterbacks league and that’s why Stabler is ranked this high on my list. Stabler is the all time leading passer in Raiders history. Finishing his whole 10-year career with Oakland he finished with 19,078 yards passing and 150 touchdowns and let’s not forget he led them to a Super Bowl victory over the Minnesota Vikings as well. He was the definition of a winner, having a record of 69-26-1. Just win baby win, right?
3.) Tim Brown, Wide Receiver (1988-03)
Tim Brown was the definition of a Oakland Raider. He played for the team for 16 seasons and was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 2015. Brown played through some years where Oakland had some bad quarterback play and still put up great numbers. He somehow managed to put up nine consecutive 1,000-plus-yard seasons, including a career-high 1,408 yards in 1997. It was the same season he also recorded 104 receptions as well. Don’t forget about how great his kick returning skills were as he had over 1,000 yards on kick returns in his rookie year that led to him making his first Pro Bowl. Tim Brown is the best wide receiver in Oakland Raiders history and it isn’t close.
2.) Art Shell, Offensive Tackle (1968-82)
Art Shell was a third-round pick in the 1968 NFL Draft who played his whole 15-year career with the Oakland Raiders. Shell was a eight time Pro Bowler and a two-time All-Pro and together with Gene Upshaw formed the most dominate left side of an offensive line in the history of the NFL. He won two Super Bowls and was voted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1989. Shell was potentially best known for keeping fellow Hall of Fame member former Minnesota Viking defensive lineman Alan Page off the stat sheet in the 1976 Super Bowl. Shell goes down in NFL history as potentially the best left tackle of all time. But lets go back to that running mate of his on that line…
1.) Gene Upshaw, Guard (1967-81)
Just like Art Shell, Gene Upshaw suited up his whole 15-year career with the Raiders and was the dominant interior piece that, paired with Shell on the left side, providing a superior force in both pass protection and the run game for 15 seasons for the Raiders. Starting an incredible 207 straight games, starting from when he won the left guard job out of training camp of his rookie year, Upshaw was rightfully the first guard-only player enshrined into the Hall of Fame in 1987. He finished his career with seven Pro Bowls, five All-Pro nominations, two Super Bowl titles, and one AFL championship under his belt. Upshaw barley beats out Shell for my top spot but you can’t go wrong with either.
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