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Wednesday, August 03, 2005

Oakland Raider DVD reviews: One Plunkett, one Marinovich.

Oakland Raider football fans suffer in August. The new season is so tantalizingly close, the last so terribly distant. At work we use our offices’ high speed connections to visit Raidernews.com five to ten times a day, hoping for yet another glimpse of some un-drafted free agent running a drill. (Is that CWood’s elbow on the bottom left corner of that pic?!? Could it be?!? Should I email all my friends and ask?) At home we watch our Raider game DVD-Rs, which we converted from our old tapes, which we bought from some dude on the net 5 years ago because we wore out our even older tapes seven years ago, to revisit old games. Last week I watched all three Super Bowl victories, reveling in Tatum’s behelmeting, King’s 80 yard touchdown catch, and Squirek’s interception.

Imagine my joy, then, at discovering Netflix had, (wait for it) 2 Raider highlight reels I’d never seen!!! YES!!!

They are:

NFL: History of the Oakland Raiders (2 Disc Series) and NFL Team Highlights: The Story of the 2002 Oakland Raiders

NFL Team Highlights: The Story of the 2002 Oakland Raiders is Todd Marinovich. It is Jay Schroeder. It is Marc Wilson. I was more than disappointed, I was infuriated. I can only imagine Al Michaels was asked to write the narration and choose the highlights- only someone as incompetent and Raider-hating could have produced this foul mediocrity. I’ve already wasted more electrons writing this meager paragraph than the damn thing deserves. (I know you’ll still order and watch it and I don’t blame you, by the way. I would.)

NFL: History of the Oakland Raiders (2 Disc Series), on the other hand, is Stabler, Plunkett, and Gannon, all rolled into one. I cannot recommend it enough. A complete breakdown of both discs follows.

Disc 1 has 10 Chapters.


If you’re a 2nd or 3rd generation Raider fan like me you might have heard Grandpa talk about watching the Raiders play HOME games at Candlestick Park, or reminisce about Yuell field. Chapter one describes those early, pre-Davis days. Funny and very interesting. Did you know the Raiders exist today because the then-owner of the Bills provided $400,000 dollars which kept the Raiders, and the AFL, solvent?


Talks about the early core of players, from Otto to Flores to Clem Daniels, and about the hiring of 33 year old Al Davis. Talks about Davis’s philosophy and inspiration. Davis was a huge fan of the Yankees, “who personified… power, the home run, and intimidation and fear.” Also he liked the Dodgers, who “represented speed, and the ability to take chances, and pioneer, in professional sports.” I had no idea that Davis crafted his image of a great organization by taking the best of two baseball organizations.

Also Davis gives a great explanation of the vertical game, and the targeting of “misfit” players is discussed. Davis’ defensive theory holds 1. with pressure 2. diversification of defense and 3. utilization of bump and run corners- all to disrupt the flow of the offense.


Davis took a leave of absence from the Raiders in order to merge the NFL and AFL. New head coach John Rauch brought in new players, including Upshaw, Willie Brown, and Darryl Lamonica, and The Mad Bomber. Biletnikoff, it turns out, was a deep threat in the mid-60’s. I had no idea. 4 seasons after being the worst team in football, the Raiders would face the Packers in Super Bowl 2.

The next season’s Heidi game is discussed. I’d heard of that of course, but what I didn’t know was that, in the AFC championship game that same year, the Raiders were down by 4, and on the New York 12 yard line with just 2 minutes left, when Lamonica lost his grip during a pass attempt, resulting in a backwards pass; a fumble that was picked up by the Jets and led to them winning. Namath would guarantee victory in the Super Bowl, and win, becoming a legend. But hell, we should have been there.

Next year 33 year-old John Madden took over, and Raider fans enjoyed the season of George Blanda. His 5 straight clutch-performance games made him a legend.

(On a personal note, this is the year my mom cajoled box seats from the secretary at Raider HQ. The family legend goes like so… Blanda kept making these incredible plays and the Raiders kept securing come from behind wins, and my Mom, 5’3”, never saw any of it. Everybody in the bleachers section would stand up and, though she stood on her seat, she STILL missed all the good stuff. In a fit of pique she went to Raider HQ and demanded better seats on a Monday. Better seats weren’t available. She rather vocally refused to take no for an answer. A voice from the inner office (could it have been Al Davis himself?) asked the secretary what the ruckus was about. When the secretary told him the voice said “Give her what she wants and get her the hell out of here.”

“Okay,” said the secretary, taking out a stadium seating map “where do you want to sit?”

“I want to sit there,” my mom said, pointing to a box next to the broadcasting box, “and I need four seats.”

“You can’t have- wait a moment please.” The receptionist went into the office and returned. “He says you can have four seats. The total is XXX.”

“I can’t afford that!”

“Ma’am, that’s the price.”

“That’s crazy! I want to watch the game but I can’t sell my house!”


And that’s how my parents got box seats at regular seat prices, seats they would have until the Raiders left after 1980. The last game of that season my parents and the other fans in that box unfurled a huge banner from the box which read, for all the stadium to enjoy:


and barricaded the door so that stadium security could not remove it. The banner remained until the Oakland police arrived and demanded the door be opened. End of family legend. Sorry ‘bout that.)

2 years later came the Immaculate Reception… Can I just say, for all of us- BULLSHIT! (I’d always thought the Steelers won the Super Bowl that year, but they did not. They would lose to Miami.)

Next year came the Sea of Hands game against Miami. Can I just say, for all of us, AWESOME!


Talks about the great 1970’s Raider teams, and the multiple AFC championship games the Raiders ALMOST won, starting in 1974 with the game after the Sea of Hands game, which we lost to the Steelers. (The Raiders didn’t take the Steelers seriously enough after beating the two time Super Bowl champion Dolphins.)


Then came the frozen field in Pittsburgh, which neutralized Cliffy Branch’s speed in 1975. And finally, shows how the Raiders beat Cincinatti to make sure they would play Pittsburgh in the playoffs again in 1976. They destroyed Pittsburgh 24-7 that year. In fact they beat them so thoroughly Chuck Knoll would take them to court in San Francisco. HA!!!

I didn’t know the ’76 Super Bowl ring had 24-7 on the side of it. It does. That’s how powerful the rivalry between the Raiders and the Steelers was.


The Raiders again made it to the AFC Championship game in 1977, this time by beating the Colts in the famous Ghost to the Post game. But only to get screwed by the refs, who refused to acknowledge that the Broncos fumbled on the Raider goal line. The fumble would have been returned 99 yards for a Raider touchdown. It is fun watching Al Davis talk about this game- he’s STILL pissed- he grits his teeth, he wants to smack somebody- and as he says regarding the non-fumble- “We’d a won that game- we’d a gone to the Super Bowl.” (Again, I had no idea this ever happened. I was six at the time, and my family never mentioned it. Odd. Maybe they blacked it out.)

Next comes the Holy Roller game against San Diego (hahahahhaa!).

Then Plunkett’s resurgence and the Cinderella 1980 season are shown. (This is where my football memories begin, with Lester Hayes sacking Stabler in his Oiler uniform, and with Mike Davis’ interception in the end zone in Cleveland, and with that tipped pass run for a touchdown against San Diego.)

All culminating in a 2nd Super Bowl victory.

Then comes the season culminating in a Super Bowl victory against the Redskins. Jim Plunkett says that that 1984 was the strongest Raider team he’d been a part of, btw. Interesting.


This chapter begins with Tiger Woods talking about how he is a big Raider fan. Er- whatever. There is some talk about Raider greats of the that era, including Howie Long, Marcus Allen, Mike Haynes, and Bo Jackson.


Talks about Art Shell becoming the head coach, and the brief resurgence of the Raiders while he was coach. He won coach of the year, and led us to win the AFC West with a 12-4 season in 1990, and to victory against the Bengals in the first playoff game. (let’s not talk about Buffalo). Discusses the 1988 come from behind win on Monday night football against the Broncos. We were down 24-0, but managed to force the game into overtime and then win. Shows how, in 1992, the Raiders overcame a 17 point deficit to beat the Broncos in overtime in a game the Raiders needed to win to make the playoffs. They played and beat the Broncos again the following week! (again, let’s not talk about Buffalo.) Two things you have to say for Art Shell- we won a lot when he was the coach, and we simply pwn3d the Donks.


This chapter skips over the post-Shell mid-90’s era to talk about the Gruden era- 3 AFC West championships- the Tuck game. Talks about Tim Brown and Jerry Rice. Another Super Bowl attained.


Claims the Super Bowl loss is a minor blemish on a beautiful legacy, and, after watching the first nine chapters, I have to agree. Talks about today’s Raider Nation and the Black Hole denizens. Discusses Raiders in the Hall of Fame.

Now you might think that’s all. (Geeze this review is long, I almost wish it WERE all.) But that’s NOT all.

The special features section features 5-10 minute documentaries on:

John Madden

George Blanda’s miracle season

Lyle Alzado

Holy Roller

The Immaculate Reception

Sea of Hands

The Heidi Game

The Raiderettes

Okay, that’s it for now. I’ll post about disc 2 of this series tomorrow. It is also the goods.


Comments are greatly appreciated, even criticism, so don't be shy. For more Harkonnendog Raider articles visit:

5. 8 Oakland Raider Predictions for 2005 6/28/2005

4. Plunkett: Best Raider QB Ever? 5/19/2005

3. And yes MORE incompetent Raider reporting! 3/17/2005

2. More incompetence from the Bay Area media 3/4/2005

1. Monte Poole and Tim Kawakami = Sad but Funny 2/24/2005

(This is generally a political blog, with occasional short stories and such. If you're conservative this is for you. If you're a lefty, or a right for that matter, you might want to take a look at the UPC, which is a group blog made up of equal parts right and left-biased pundits which I'm proud to be part of.)


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