History of the Los Angeles Raiders

The professional American football team Oakland Raiders played in Los Angeles from 1982 to 1994 before relocating back to Oakland. This article chronicles the team's history during their time as the Los Angeles Raiders during that period.



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.[1] 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.[2][3][4] 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.

1986–1989: Struggles, beginning of the end

The Raiders' fortunes declined after that, and from 1986 through 1989, the team 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.[5]

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.[6] 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 Inglewood and another in Carson. In August 1987, it was announced that the city of Irwindale paid Davis $10 million as a good-faith deposit for a prospective stadium site.[7] When the bid failed, Davis kept the non-refundable deposit.[8][9]

1989–1994: Final years

Negotiations with Oakland

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.[10] 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.[11][12]

New coach

After starting the 1989 season with a 1–3 record, Shanahan was fired by Davis, which began a long-standing feud between the two.[13] 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.[14] 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. Jackson was forced to quit football as a result, although surgery allowed him to continue playing baseball until he retired in 1994.

Postseason Losses

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 was groomed from childhood to play football; his strict upbringing led to him being called "Robo QB" in the sports press. He attended USC and was the 24th overall pick in the 1991 draft. However, he 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. This period was marked by the injury of Jackson in 1991, the failure of troubled quarterback Todd Marinovich, the acrimonious departure of Marcus Allen in 1993, and the retirement of Hall of Fame defensive end Howie Long after the 1993 season, where the Raiders went 10–6 and lost to Buffalo in the divisional round of the playoffs. Shell was fired after posting a 9–7 record in the 1994 season.

Shell's five-plus-year tenure as head coach in Los Angeles was marked particularly by a bitter dispute between star running back Marcus Allen and Al Davis. The exact source of the friction is completely unknown but it has been reported by players that Marcus Allen had sex with Al Davis's mistress, but a contract dispute led Davis to refer to Allen as "a cancer on the team."[15] By the late 1980s, injuries began to reduce Allen's role in the offense. This role was reduced further in 1987, when the Raiders drafted Bo Jackson—even though he originally decided to not play professional football in 1986 (when drafted by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in the first round).[16] By 1990, Allen had dropped to fourth on the team's depth chart, leading to resentment on the part of his teammates. In late 1992 Allen lashed out publicly at Davis, and accused him of trying to ruin his career.[17][18] In 1993, Allen left to play for the rival Kansas City Chiefs.

End of the Los Angeles Raiders

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,[19] as well as by the NFL. The move was greeted with much fanfare,[20] and under new head coach Mike White. Ironically enough, Hollywood Park would become the site of an NFL Stadium for their former rivals, the Los Angeles Rams.

Possible return to Los Angeles

On February 19, 2015, the Raiders and the Chargers announced that they would build a privately financed $1.78 billion stadium in Carson, California if they were to move to the Los Angeles market.[21] Both teams stated that they would continue to attempt to get stadiums built in their respective cities.[22]

On April 22, 2015, the Carson City Council bypassed the option to put the stadium to public vote and approved the plan 3–0.[23] The council voted without having clarified several issues, including who would finance the stadium, how the required three-way land swap would be performed, and how it would raise enough revenue if only one team moved in as tenant.[24][25]

On May 19, 2015 the Chargers and Raiders announced that they had finalized a deal to secure land in Carson which was transferred to a joint powers authority in Carson after the 157-acre site was purchased by Carson Holdings a company set up by the two teams.[26]

The League was skeptical of the site and seemed to prefer Inglewood. In response, Jerry Richardson, owner of the Carolina Panthers, who supported the plan, convinced Dean Spanos to recurit Bob Iger, CEO of The Walt Disney Company. Iger was appointed non-executive chairman of the Carson stadium project.[27]

On January 4, 2016 the Raiders Filed for relocation alongside the Chargers and Rams.[28][29]

Despite the sales pitch from Bob Iger, many owners held reservations about the Carson site, with Jerry Jones even making a wise crack about Bob Iger.[30] The Committee set up by the league initially recommended the Carson Site,[31] but the Chargers and Raiders were unable to secure the votes they needed to move. After hours of debate, the league voted to allow the St. Louis Rams to move on January 12, 2016 with the San Diego Chargers having the option to join them within a year.

It is still possible, however, for the Raiders to move as they can move into the Rams new stadium in Inglewood with the Rams if the Chargers opt to stay in San Diego.[32]

On March 21, 2016, Mark Davis said he loved the site, but didn't know much about it, "other than pretty pictures" when he was asked about the Rams' new stadium in Inglewood.[33]


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  2. Dickey, Just Win, Baby. p. 172.
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  32. Breech, John. "Rams headed to Los Angeles for 2016, Chargers have option to follow". CBS Sports.
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