History of the Oakland Raiders
This article describes the history of the Oakland Raiders.
Early years (1960–62)
A few months after the first AFL draft in 1959, the owners of the yet-unnamed Minneapolis franchise accepted an offer to join the established National Football League as an expansion team (now called the Minnesota Vikings) in 1961, sending the AFL scrambling for a replacement. At the time, Oakland seemed an unlikely venue for a professional football team. The city had not asked for a team, there was no ownership group and there was no stadium in Oakland suitable for pro football (the closest stadiums were in Berkeley and San Francisco) and there was already a successful NFL franchise in the Bay Area in the San Francisco 49ers. However, the AFL owners selected Oakland after Los Angeles Chargers owner Barron Hilton threatened to forfeit his franchise unless a second team was placed on the West Coast. Accordingly, the city of Oakland was awarded the eighth AFL franchise on January 30, 1960, and the team inherited the Minneapolis club's draft picks.
Upon receiving the franchise, a meeting of local civic leaders and businessmen was called, chaired by former United States Senator William F. Knowland, editor of the Oakland Tribune; Edgar Kaiser of Kaiser Steel; developer Robert T. Nahas; and Oakland City Councilman Robert Osborne. Also attending the meeting were Oakland Mayor Clifford E. Rishell; City Councilmen Frank J. Youell, Felix Chialvo, Glenn E. Hoover, Fred Maggiora, John C. Houlihan, Dan Marovich, and Howard E. Rilea; Alameda County Board of Supervisors President Kent D. Pursel; and County Supervisors Emanuel P. Razeto, Leland W. Sweeney, and Francis Dunn. The gathering found a number of businessmen willing to invest in the new team. A limited partnership was formed to own the team headed by managing general partner Y. Charles (Chet) Soda, a local real estate developer, and included general partners Ed McGah, Oakland City Councilman Robert Osborne, F. Wayne Valley, restaurateur Harvey Binns, 1928 Olympic gold medalist Donald Blessing, and contractor Charles Harney, the builder of San Francisco's Candlestick Park, built on a bleak parcel of land he owned; the road leading to the stadium is known as Harney Way.
A "name the team" contest was held by the Oakland Tribune, and the winner was announced April 4, 1960 as the Oakland Señors. After a few days of being the butt of local jokes (and accusations that the contest was fixed, as Soda was fairly well known within the Oakland business community for calling his acquaintances "señor"), the fledgling team (and its owners) changed the team's name nine days later to the Oakland Raiders, which had finished third in the naming contest. The original team colors were black, gold and white. The now-familiar team emblem of a pirate (or "raider") wearing a football helmet was created, reportedly a rendition of actor Randolph Scott.
Oakland Raiders games were broadcast locally on KNBC (680 AM; the station later became KNBR), with Bud (Wilson Keene) Foster handling play-by-play and Mel Venter providing color analysis. Foster the "Voice of the California Golden Bears", had a long career in radio, 1945–1955 as the "Voice of the Oakland Oaks" of the defunct Pacific Coast League; Foster was the first 1946–49, 1951–53, "Voice of the San Francisco 49ers". After the 1962 season, Foster would only call CAL (University of California at Berkeley) football until his retirement. Raider games, 1963–65 were heard on KDIA 1410 AM, with Bob Blum and Dan Galvin. In 1966. KGO Radio 810 signed a contract with the Oakland Raiders. Bill King was hired for the play-by-play and Scotty Stirling (an Oakland Tribune sportswriter) was color commentator.
When the University of California refused to let the Raiders play home games at Memorial Stadium in Berkeley, they chose Kezar Stadium in San Francisco as their home field. The team's first regular season home game was played on September 11, 1960, a 37–22 loss to the Houston Oilers.
The Raiders were allowed to move to Candlestick Park for the final three home games of the 1960 season after gaining the approval of San Francisco's Recreation and Park Commission, marking the first time that professional football would be played at the new stadium. The change of venue however failed to attract larger crowds for the Raiders during their time at Candlestick Park, with announced attendance of 12,061 (vs. the Chargers in a 41–17 loss on December 4), 9,037 (vs. the New York Titans in a 31–28 loss on December 11) and 7,000 (estimated, vs. the Broncos in a 48–10 victory to close out the season on December 17) at Candlestick.
The Raiders finished their first campaign with a 6–8 record, and lost $500,000. Desperately in need of money to continue running the team, Valley received a $400,000 loan from Buffalo Bills founder Ralph C. Wilson Jr.
After the conclusion of the first season Soda dropped out of the partnership, and on January 17, 1961, Valley, McGah and Osborne bought out the remaining four general partners. Soon after, Valley and McGah purchased Osborne's interest, with Valley named as the managing general partner. After splitting the previous home season between Kezar and Candlestick, the Raiders moved exclusively to Candlestick Park in 1961, where total attendance for the season was about 50,000, and finished 2–12. Valley threatened to move the Raiders out of the area unless a stadium was built in Oakland, but in 1962 the Raiders moved into 18,000-seat Frank Youell Field (later expanded to 22,000 seats), their first home in Oakland. It was a temporary home for the team while the Oakland–Alameda County Coliseum was under construction. Under Marty Feldman and Red Conkright—the team's second and third head coaches since entering the AFL—the Raiders finished 1–13 in 1962, losing their first 13 games (and making for a 19–game losing streak from 1961 and 1962) before winning the season finale, and attendance remained low.
Oakland, the AFL, and Al Davis (1963–69)
After the 1962 season, Valley hired Al Davis, a former assistant coach of the San Diego Chargers, as head coach and general manager. At 33, he was the youngest person in over 30 years to hold the position of head coach, and the youngest person ever to hold the position of general manager, in professional football. Davis immediately changed the team colors to silver and black, and began to implement what he termed the "vertical game", an aggressive offensive strategy based on the West Coast offense developed by Chargers head coach Sid Gillman. Under Davis the Raiders improved to 10–4, and he was named the AFL's Coach of the Year in 1963. Though the team slipped to 5–7–2 in 1964, it rebounded to an 8–5–1 record in 1965. He also initiated the use of team slogans such as "Pride and Poise", "Commitment to Excellence", and "Just Win, Baby"—all of which are registered trademarks.
In April 1966, Davis left the Raiders after being named AFL Commissioner. Two months later, the league announced its merger with the NFL. With the merger, the position of commissioner was no longer needed, and Davis entered into discussions with Valley about returning to the Raiders. On July 25, 1966, Davis returned as part-owner of the team. He purchased a 10 percent interest in the team for US $18,000, and became the team's third general partner — the partner in charge of football operations.
On the field, the team Davis had assembled and coached steadily improved. With John Rauch (Davis's hand-picked successor) as head coach, the Raiders won the 1967 AFL Championship, defeating the Houston Oilers 40-7. The win earned the team a trip to Super Bowl II, where they were beaten 33-14 by Vince Lombardi's Green Bay Packers. The following two years, the Raiders again won Western Division titles, only to lose the AFL Championship to the eventual Super Bowl winners—the New York Jets (1968) and Kansas City Chiefs (1969).
John Madden becomes head coach
In 1969, John Madden became the team's sixth head coach, and under him the Raiders became one of the most successful franchises in the NFL, winning six division titles during the 1970s.
AFL–NFL merger and era of success (1970–1981)
In 1970, the AFL–NFL merger took place and the Raiders joined the Western Division of the American Football Conference in the newly merged NFL. The first post-merger season saw the Raiders win the AFC West with an 8-4-2 record and go all the way to the conference championship, where they lost to the Colts. Despite another 8-4-2 season in 1971, the Raiders failed to win the division or achieve a playoff berth.
In 1972, with Wayne Valley out of the country for several weeks attending the Olympic Games in Munich, Davis's attorneys drafted a revised partnership agreement that gave him total control over all of the Raiders' operations. McGah, a supporter of Davis, signed the agreement. Under partnership law, by a 2–1 vote of the general partners, the new agreement was thus ratified. Valley was furious when he discovered this, and immediately filed suit to have the new agreement overturned, but the court sided with Davis and McGah. That year would see the team achieve a 10-3-1 record and another division title. In the divisional round of the playoffs, they were beaten by the Steelers 13-7 on a play that would later be known as the Immaculate Reception.
In 1974, Oakland had a 12-2 regular season, which included a nine-game winning streak. They beat the Dolphins in the divisional round of the playoffs in a see-saw battle before falling to the Steelers in the AFC Championship. The playoff game against the Dolphins is known in NFL lore as the Sea of Hands game in which running back Clarence Davis caught a late 4th-quarter touchdown amid three Miami defenders to win 28-26 and end the Dolphins' chances of a three-peat and a fourth consecutive Super Bowl appearance.
In the 1975 season opener, the Raiders beat Miami and ended the Dolphins' 31-game home winning streak. With an 11-3 record, they defeated Cincinnati in the divisional playoff round, but again fell to the Steelers in the conference championship.
In 1976, Valley sold his interest in the team, and Davis — who now owned only 25 percent of the Raiders — was firmly in charge. The Raiders beat Pittsburgh in a revenge match on the season opener and continued to cement their reputation for hard, dirty play by knocking WR Lynn Swann out for two weeks in a helmet-to-helmet collision. Al Davis later tried to sue Steelers coach Chuck Noll for libel after the latter called safety George Atkinson a criminal for the hit. The Raiders won 13 regular season games and a close victory over New England in the playoffs. They then knocked out the injury-plagued Steelers in the AFC Championship to go to Super Bowl XI. Oakland's opponent was the Minnesota Vikings, a team that had lost three previous Super Bowls. The Raiders led 16-0 at halftime. By the end, forcing their opponent into multiple turnovers, they won 32-14 for their first post-merger championship.
The following season saw the Raiders finish 11-3, but lose the division title to 12-2 Denver. They settled for a wild card playoff berth, beating the Colts 37-31 in two overtimes, but then falling to the Broncos 20-17 in the AFC Championship.
During a 1978 preseason game, Patriots WR Darryl Stingley was tragically injured by a hit from Raiders FS Jack Tatum and was left paralyzed for life. Although the Raiders achieved a winning record at 9-7, they failed to qualify for the playoffs.
After ten consecutive winning seasons and one Super Bowl championship, John Madden left the Raiders (and coaching) in 1979 to pursue a career as a television football commentator. His replacement was former Raiders quarterback Tom Flores, the first Hispanic head coach in NFL history. Flores led the Raiders to another 9-7 season, but not the playoffs.
The following offseason, the popular gun-slinging quarterback Ken Stabler was traded to the Houston Oilers, a move which was unpopular and criticized at the time. In the fifth week of the 1980 season, starting quarterback Dan Pastorini broke his leg and was replaced by former number-one draft pick Jim Plunkett. Plunkett led Oakland to an 11-5 record and a wild card berth. After playoff victories against the Houston Oilers, Cleveland Browns, and San Diego Chargers, the Raiders went to Super Bowl XV, and clinched their second NFL championship in five years with a 27–10 win over the favored Philadelphia Eagles in Super Bowl XV. With the victory, the Raiders became the first ever wild card team to win a Super Bowl." Two Super Bowl records of note occurred in this game: 1) Kenny King's 80-yard, first-quarter, catch-and-run reception from Jim Plunkett remained the longest touchdown Super Bowl pass play for the next 16 years; and 2) Rod Martin's three interceptions of Eagles' quarterback Ron Jaworski still stands today as a Super Bowl record. Reflecting on the last ten years during the post-game awards ceremony, Al Davis stated "...this was our finest hour, this was the finest hour in the history of the Oakland Raiders. To Tom Flores, the coaches, and the athletes: you were magnificent out there, you really were."
The team would not see a repeat performance in 1981, falling to 7-9 and a losing record for the first time since 1964.
Los Angeles era (1982–1994)
Prior to the 1980 season, Al Davis attempted unsuccessfully to have improvements made to the Oakland–Alameda County Coliseum, specifically the addition of luxury boxes. That year, he signed a Memorandum of Agreement to move the Raiders from Oakland to Los Angeles. The move, which required three-fourths approval by league owners, was defeated 22–0 (with five owners abstaining). When Davis tried to move the team anyway, he was blocked by an injunction. In response, the Raiders not only became an active partner in an antitrust lawsuit filed by the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum (who had recently lost the Los Angeles Rams), but filed an antitrust lawsuit of their own. After the first case was declared a mistrial, in May 1982 a second jury found in favor of Davis and the Los Angeles Coliseum, clearing the way for the move. With the ruling, the Raiders finally relocated to Los Angeles for the 1982 season to play their home games at the Los Angeles Coliseum.
The team finished 8–1 in the strike-shortened 1982 season, first in the AFC, but lost in the second round of the playoffs to the New York Jets. The following season, the team finished 12–4 and won convincingly against the Steelers and Seattle Seahawks in the AFC playoffs. Against the Washington Redskins in Super Bowl XVIII, the Raiders built a 21–3 halftime lead en route to a 38–9 victory and their third NFL championship. The team had another successful regular season in 1984, finishing 11-5, but a three-game losing streak forced them to enter the playoffs as a wildcard, where they fell to the Seahawks. The 1985 campaign saw 12 wins and a division title, but that was followed by an embarrassing home loss to the Patriots.
The Raiders' fortunes declined after that, and from 1986 through 1989, Los Angeles finished no better than 8–8 and posted consecutive losing seasons for the first time since 1961–62. Also 1986 saw Al Davis get into a widely publicized argument with RB Marcus Allen, whom he accused of faking injuries. The feud continued into 1987, and Davis retaliating by signing Bo Jackson in Allen's place. However, Jackson was also a left fielder for the Kansas City Royals, and could not play full-time until baseball season ended in October. Even worse, another strike cost the NFL one game and prompted them to use substitute players. The Raiders fill-ins achieved a 1-2 record before the regular team returned. After a weak 5-10 finish, Tom Flores moved to the front office and was replaced by Denver Broncos offensive assistant coach Mike Shanahan. Shanahan led the team to a 7-9 season in 1988, and Allen and Jackson continued to trade places as the starting RB. Low game attendance and fan apathy were evident by this point, and In the summer of 1988, rumors of a Raiders return to Oakland intensified when a preseason game against the Houston Oilers was scheduled at Oakland Coliseum.
As early as 1986, Davis began to seek a new, more modern stadium away from the Coliseum and the dangerous neighborhood that surrounded it at the time (which caused the NFL to schedule the Raiders' Monday Night Football appearances as away games). In addition to sharing the venue with the USC Trojans, the Coliseum was aging and still lacked the luxury suites and other amenities that Davis was promised when he moved the Raiders to Los Angeles. Finally, the Coliseum had 100,000 seats and was rarely able to fill all of them, and so most Raiders home games were blacked out on television. Numerous venues in California were considered, including one near Hollywood Park in Inglewood and another in Carson. In August 1987, it was announced that the city of Irwindale paid Davis USD 10 million as a good-faith deposit for a prospective stadium site. When the bid failed, Davis kept the non-refundable deposit.
Negotiations between Davis and Oakland commenced in January 1989, and on March 11, 1991, Davis announced his intention to bring the Raiders back to Oakland. By September 1991, however, numerous delays had prevented the completion of the deal between Davis and Oakland. On September 11, Davis announced a new deal to stay in Los Angeles, leading many fans in Oakland to burn Raiders paraphernalia in disgust.
After starting the 1989 season with a 1–3 record, Shanahan was fired by Davis, which began a long-standing feud between the two. He was replaced by former Raider offensive lineman Art Shell, who had been voted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame earlier in the year. With the hiring, Shell became the first African American head coach in the modern NFL era, but the team still finished a middling 8-8. In 1990, Shell led Los Angeles to a 12–4 record. They beat the Bengals in the divisional round of the playoffs, but Bo Jackson had his left femur ripped from the socket after a tackle. Without him, the Raiders were crushed in the AFC Championship by the Buffalo Bills.
The team's fortunes faded after the loss. They made two other playoff appearances during the 1990s, and finished higher than third place only three times. The Todd Marinovich fiasco overshadowed the Raiders' 1991 and 1992 efforts. Marinovich, who was groomed from childhood to play football, struggled on field and was cut after the 1992 season due to repeated substance abuse problems. In 1991, they got into the postseason as a wild card after a 9-7 regular season, but fell to Kansas City. 1992 saw them drop to 7-9. The Raiders went 10-6 in 1993 and lost to Buffalo in the divisional round of the playoffs. Shell was fired after posting a 9–7 record in the 1994 season.
Back in Oakland (1995–present)
On June 23, 1995, Davis signed a letter of intent to move the Raiders back to Oakland. The move was approved by the Alameda County Board of Supervisors the next month, as well as by the NFL. The move was greeted with much fanfare, and under new head coach Mike White the 1995 season started off well for the team. Oakland started 8–2, but injuries to starting quarterback Jeff Hostetler contributed to a six-game losing streak to end the season, and the Raiders failed to qualify for the playoffs for a second consecutive season.
Gruden era (1998–2001)
After two more unsuccessful seasons (7-9 in 1996 and 4-12 in 1997) under White and his successor, Joe Bugel, Davis selected a new head coach from outside the Raiders organization for only the second time when he hired Philadelphia Eagles offensive coordinator Jon Gruden, who previously worked for the 49ers and Packers under head coach Mike Holmgren. Under Gruden, the Raiders posted consecutive 8-8 seasons in 1998 and 1999, and climbed out of last place in the AFC West. Oakland finished 12-4 in the 2000 season, the team's most successful in a decade. Led by veteran quarterback Rich Gannon, Oakland won their first division title since 1990, and advanced to the AFC Championship, where they lost 16–3 to the eventual Super Bowl champion Baltimore Ravens.
The Raiders acquired all-time leading receiver Jerry Rice prior to the 2001 season. They finished 10-6 and won a second straight AFC West title but lost their divisional-round playoff game to the eventual Super Bowl champion New England Patriots, in a controversial game that became known as "The Tuck." The game was played in a heavy snowstorm, and late in the fourth quarter an apparent fumble by Patriots quarterback Tom Brady was recovered by Raiders linebacker Greg Biekert. The recovery would have led to a Raiders victory, however the play was reviewed and determined to be an incomplete pass (it was ruled that Brady had pump faked and then "tucked" the ball into his body, which, by rule, cannot result in a fumble – though this explanation was not given on the field, but after the NFL season had ended). The Patriots retained possession of the ball, and drove for a game-tying field goal. The game went into overtime and the Patriots won, 16–13.
Callahan era (2002–2003)
Shortly after the season, the Raiders made an unusual move that involved releasing Gruden from his contract and allowing the Tampa Bay Buccaneers to sign him. In return, the Raiders received cash and future draft picks from the Buccaneers. The sudden move came after months of speculation in the media that Davis and Gruden had fallen out with each other both personally and professionally. Bill Callahan, who served as the team's offensive coordinator and offensive line coach during Gruden's tenure, was named head coach.
Under Callahan, the Raiders finished the 2002 season 11-5, won their third straight division title, and clinched the top seed in the playoffs. Rich Gannon was named MVP of the NFL after passing for a league-high 4,689 yards. After beating the New York Jets and Tennessee Titans by large margins in the playoffs, the Raiders made their fifth Super Bowl appearance in Super Bowl XXXVII. Their opponent was the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, coached by Gruden. The Raiders, who had not made significant changes to Gruden's offensive schemes, were intercepted five times by the Buccaneers en route to a 48–21 blowout. Some Tampa Bay players claimed that Gruden had given them so much information on Oakland's offense, they knew exactly what plays were being called.
Callahan's second season as head coach was considerably less successful. Oakland finished 4–12, their worst showing since 1997. After a late-season loss to the Denver Broncos, a visibly frustrated Callahan exclaimed, "We've got to be the dumbest team in America in terms of playing the game." At the end of the 2003 regular season Callahan was fired and replaced by former Washington Redskins head coach Norv Turner.
Coaching carousel (2004–2015)
The team's fortunes did not improve in Turner's first year. Oakland finished the 2004 season 5–11, with only one divisional win (a one-point victory over the Broncos in Denver). During a Week 3 victory against the Buccaneers, Rich Gannon suffered a neck injury that ended his season and eventually his career; he never returned to the team and retired before the 2005 season. Kerry Collins, who led the New York Giants to an appearance in Super Bowl XXXV and signed with Oakland after the 2003 season, became the team's starting quarterback.
In an effort to bolster their offense, in early 2005 the Raiders acquired Pro Bowl wide receiver Randy Moss via trade with the Minnesota Vikings, and signed free agent running back Lamont Jordan of the New York Jets. After a 4–12 season and a second consecutive last-place finish, Turner was fired as head coach. On February 11, 2006, the team announced the return of Art Shell as head coach. In announcing the move, Al Davis said that firing Shell in 1995 had been a mistake.
Under Shell, the Raiders lost their first five games in 2006 en route to a 2–14 finish, the team's worst record since 1962. Oakland's offense struggled greatly, scoring just 168 points (fewest in franchise history) and allowing a league-high 72 sacks. Wide receiver Jerry Porter was benched by Shell for most of the season in what many viewed as a personal, rather than football-related, decision. The Raiders also earned the right to the first overall pick in the 2007 NFL Draft for the first time since 1962, by virtue of having the league's worst record.
One season into his second run as head coach, Shell was fired on January 4, 2007. On January 22, the team announced the hiring of 31-year-old USC offensive coordinator Lane Kiffin, the youngest coach in franchise history and the youngest coach in the NFL. In the 2007 NFL Draft, the Raiders selected LSU quarterback JaMarcus Russell with the #1 overall pick. Kiffin coached the Raiders to a 4–12 record in the 2007 season. After a 1–3 start to 2008 and months of speculation and rumors, Al Davis fired Kiffin on September 30, 2008. Tom Cable was named as his interim replacement, and officially signed as the 17th head coach of the Oakland Raiders on February 3, 2009.
Their finish to the 2008 season would turn out to match their best since they lost the Super Bowl in the 2002 season. However, they still finished 5–11 and ended up third in the AFC West, the first time they did not finish last since 2002. They produced an identical record in 2009; however, the season was somewhat ameliorated by the fact that four of the Raiders' five wins were against opponents with above-.500 records. At the end of their 2009 campaign, the Raiders became the first team in NFL history to lose at least 11 games in seven straight seasons.
In 2010, the Raiders had a good draft for the first time in several years and also cut Jamarcus Russell in May. Replacing him as starting QB was Jason Campbell, traded from Washington. The outlook for the team improved, but it was not apparent after they opened by suffering a 38–13 rout in Tennessee. Returning to Oakland, the Raiders defeated St. Louis and then lost a 21–20 game in Arizona. After a home loss to Houston, they beat their division rival Chargers 35–27 for the first time in seven years, and then lost the "Battle of the Bay" to San Francisco. The Week 7 game in Denver set records as the Raiders crushed their division rival with eight touchdowns (two passing, five rushing, and one interception return), setting a score of 59–14 for the most points in franchise history. After beating Seattle 33–3 and then Kansas City 23–20 for a third straight win, the Raiders went into their bye week with a winning 5–4 record.
But after the bye week, the Raiders fell to Pittsburgh and Miami before beating San Diego and losing to the Jaguars. A home win over Denver in Week 15 saw the team approach a playoff spot, but faltered in a loss to the Colts which ensured that they would miss the postseason for the 8th straight year. By beating Kansas City in Week 17, the Raiders became the first team in NFL history to sweep their division and still not make the playoffs.
Despite beginning to turn the team around, Tom Cable was fired by Al Davis soon after the season ended for remarking "I finally began to feel that we weren't losers." Davis then promoted offensive coordinator Hue Jackson to the head coaching position in his first public appearance since November 2009. The physically frail, but still sharp Davis explained his decision to fire Cable by saying "If .500 isn't losing, then I don't know what losing is." Some critics also argued that the Raiders failed to win a single game outside their own division or the weak NFC West.
During all this time, Al Davis, who was now past his 80th birthday and in increasingly poor health, refused to hire a general manager or relinquish his dictatorial control of the team's on-field activities and he continued to make all major decisions regarding draft picks, trades, or signings himself. He came under fire both for this and for strategies that were out-of-step with the contemporary NFL, in particular his attempt to recreate the vertical game used by Daryl Lamonica and Jim Plunkett. Jamarcus Russell was drafted due to Davis's assumption that he had the proper physical traits needed for this style of play. The signing of Randy Moss in 2005 also proved a costly mistake that consumed large portions of salary cap space.
The Raiders' biggest off-season moves were trading QB Bruce Gradkowski to Cincinnati and CB Nnamdi Asomugha to Philadelphia. With their new coach in place, the team opened 2011 in Denver for their first prime-time appearance in three years. On a rain-slicked Monday night, Oakland won an extremely sloppy game 23–20 after repeated penalties and Broncos mistakes. Kicker Sebastian Janikowski also booted a 63-yard field goal for only the third time in NFL history. In Week 2, the Raiders lost a wild shootout match in Buffalo 38-35, beat the Jets 34-24, and then lost to New England 31–19 for a 2–2 start.
After flying to Houston for a match with the Texans, the Raiders were stunned by the news that Al Davis had died at his home on October 8 after having been with the franchise for all but its first three years of existence. A last-second interception from Texans QB Matt Schaub allowed the Raiders to win that game, but in the next week's match with Cleveland (a 24-17 win), Jason Campbell sustained a season-ending collarbone fracture. With backups Kyle Boller and Terrell Pryor considered unsuitable to replace him, the Raiders made a desperation bid with Cincinnati to acquire QB Carson Palmer, who had retired after a feud with that team, but was still under contract with them. With Al Davis's passing, Hue Jackson was effectively in charge of all on-field decisions and he finally convinced Bengals owner Mike Brown to give up Palmer in exchange for all of Oakland's first-round draft picks. The deal thus having been made, Palmer stood under center as the Raiders hosted Kansas City in Week 7. But the team lost as Kyle Boller threw three interceptions to open the game while Palmer replaced him early in the second half. However, he also threw three interceptions, losing 28–0.
With the AFC West extremely weak, the Raiders vacillated between 3rd and 1st place as the season progressed. A three-game losing streak in December badly harmed their playoff chances, but up to Week 17, they remained in contention to clinch the division. However, the Raiders lost a must-win game at home to San Diego and so for the ninth year in a row failed to make the playoffs or produce a winning record.
Despite rumors of selling the team, Al Davis's family indicated that they would retain ownership. At the conclusion of the 2011 season, Hue Jackson was fired and replaced by former Broncos DC Dennis Allen, the first defensive Raiders head coach since John Madden. At Davis's death, the one-elite franchise was a mess, with one of the NFL's oldest rosters, almost no salary cap space, and valuable first round draft picks squandered on bust players and Carson Palmer. Surveys of players across the league consistently showed that the Raiders had become one of the least desirable teams to play for. In addition, with the Miami Marlins obtaining their own ballpark in 2012, the Raiders became the last team in the NFL to still share a stadium with a baseball franchise. The outdated, deteriorating Oakland Coliseum, which also occupied a high crime neighborhood, was a further impediment.
The Raiders began 2012 by losing a very poorly executed home opener on Monday Night Football to San Diego 22-14. The team was plagued by fumbles and dropped passes, and did not score a touchdown until near the end. On the bright side, defensive performance was decent and helped contain the Chargers' passing game.
After another miserable loss in Miami, the Raiders returned home to take on Pittsburgh in Week 3. In the 4th quarter, trailing by 10, WR Darrius Heyward-Bey collided with Pittsburgh safety Ryan Mundy and was knocked out of the game. The loss of Heyward-Bey inspired the rest of the team, which rallied to tie the game 31-31, and with 4 seconds left, Sebastian Janikowski kicked a 43-yard field goal to win the game 34-31. In the end though, the Raiders finished the 2012 season 4-12.
During 2013, there was little apparent sign of improvement as the Raiders once again finished 4-12, including a particularly embarrassing loss to the Eagles in Week 9 when QB Nick Foles threw a record seven TD passes. In Week 15, they gave up 56 points to the Chiefs.
In 2014, Dennis Allen was fired after a 0-4 start and replaced by former Dolphins head coach and then-Raiders offensive line coach Tony Sparano for the remainder of the season. They became the first team to be mathematically eliminated from playoff contention and were guaranteed a fourth-place finish in the AFC West after a loss in Week 11 dropped them to 0-10. The Raiders were the last team in the league that year to win a game, finally doing so the next week against their division rival, the Kansas City Chiefs, but they were crushed 52-0 by the Rams the next week. The Raiders did manage to defeat their geographic rival, the San Francisco 49ers, and defeated Buffalo in Week 16, which mathematically eliminated the Bills from playoff contention for the fifteenth straight year. Oakland's final record that season was 3-13. Their offense struggled mightily, averaging just 282.2 yards per game (last in the league). There were some bright spots though, as 2014 Raiders second-round pick QB Derek Carr served as the starter for all of the season, and set a Raiders record for most passing yards in one season by a rookie. Also, first-round pick LB Khalil Mack had 75 tackles and 4 sacks. They secured the #4 pick in the 2015 NFL draft.
On January 14, 2015, Jack Del Rio, the then-Denver Broncos defensive coordinator and former Jacksonville Jaguars head coach, was hired by the Oakland Raiders to be their new head coach. Del Rio's new coaching staff includes former Minnesota Vikings offensive coordinator Bill Musgrave as offensive coordinator and former Vikings head coach Mike Tice as offensive line coach. The Raiders finished 7-9 in 2015.
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