Raider Classics – Raiders Comeback to Win Over Jets in 1993 Enroute to Playoffs

One of my favourite games as a Raider fan came in 1993 against the Jets. It was still early in the year . After a 2-0 start with their new QB Jeff Hostetler the Raiders had lost two straight and went into the game 2-2. The Jets also had a new veteran QB in Boomer Esasion who was off to a hot start in 1993 with the Jets averaging nearly 30 pts per game over the first 4 games. 

The game started miserably for Hostetler (who was playing with a bad ankle). He went 4 for 12 and 2 ints including a pick 6 and lost a fumble as the Jets jumped out to a 17-0 lead.  Then Art Shell made the bold move of benching Hostetler for veteran Vince Evans, which would lead to one of the great comebacks in Raiders history and the greatest for Evans in his stint as Raiders QB. 

Evans got the Raiders back into the game by throwing a 42 yard TD strike to James Jett.  He then started out the second half hot throwing a perfect 68 yard TD bomb to Alexander Wright, which cut the Jets lead to 3 points. Another drive in the 3rd quarter set up a game tying Jeff Jaeger FG.

The Raiders defence would smother the Jets this day despite 5 turnovers from the Raiders offence. The Jets offence, which had been on fire  the opening 4 games, would only muster 13 pts on their own and only 3 without the help of Raiders turnovers. The Jets would fail to gain 300 yards of offence, and the Raiders defence would sack Esasian 3 times and create 2 turnovers of their own.

Those lone 3 points though would come in the 4th quarter, when a FG put the Jets up 20-17 with 4:29 left in the 4th quarter. 

On the ensuing drive Evans hit passes to James Jett and Tim Brown who would finish with 4 catches for 86 yards and a TD and 5 catches for 66 yards. Evans himself would finish 14 for 22 for 247 yards with 2 TDs and an INT and add another 24 yards on 3 carries on the ground. 

The Raiders drove the ball down to the 1 yard line and with only seconds left on the clock instead of grounding the ball to set up a game tying FG Evans would hand off to RB Nick Bell who would roll into the Endzone for a 24-20 victory. 

This would end up as a huge win for the Raiders as they would finish the season 10-6 and make the playoffs and the Jets finishing the year 8-8. If the Jets would have won this game both teams would have finished 9-7 with the Jets having the tie breaker via a head to head win. 

Below is the Full Game and highlights of the Game

Raider Classics , Raiders Beat the New York Giants Enroute to Super Bowl 18 

This is the 40th anniversary of the Raiders last Super Bowl win so I have to discuss some of the games that lead them to this victory. Late in the season in 1983 Raiders who were on a roll would play a struggling NY Giants team that would win only 3 games in 1983. It was Bill Parcells first year as coach and he himself admitted years later he was almost fired after that season. 

The game had a strange start with Jim Plunkett fumbling a snap and being touched down by the Giants for a safety. 

The Raiders then put a drive together that ended in a 13 yard TD pass to backup TE Don Hasselbeck (who yes is related to Matt Hasselbeck).  The Raiders would score two FGs more and the Half ended in a strange score of 13-5. 

The Raiders opened the second half with a 36 yard TD Bomb to speedster WR Malcolm Barnwell who would end the day with 5 Catches for 83 yards and a TD and Cliff Branch adding 5 catches for 82 yards. 

Marcus Allen would finish off the game with a TD run making the score 27-5 as the three headed monster of Allen, Kenny King and Frank Hawkins would finish with 125 yards rushing. 

The Giants Mark Brunner threw for over 300 yards but was picked 3 times. Including the first interception by Mike Haynes in a Raiders jersey. The Giants would get a garbage time TD late and the game finished 27-12 an easy win for the Raiders on the way to winning Super Bowl 18!! 

Below is the condensed  game.

Why are the Raiders in this Plight? Gruden and Mayock are Also to Blame in a Major Way 

This site is about great Raiders of the past and class games. However, with the current situation with the team I had to comment. Please note after this week we will focus on Raiders of the past and classic games. While we are all relieved that Josh Mcdaniels is gone. Him and Ziegler do not share the entire blame or even most of it for the current state of the team. The narrative among many Raider fans is that Ziegler and Mcdaniels took a playoff team and turned them into a joke. Not entirely. I contend the 2021 team was a one time fluke that could not be repeated. 

I will give credit where credit is due after the Henry Ruggs accident and firing of Gruden the Raiders could have imploded in 2021. Instead they banded together and won 4 games to end the season and squeaked into the playoffs. They won 6 games in walk off fashion, which was an NFL record. They beat a third strong Browns team whose roster was half out due to Covid in the first win, a terrible Broncos team in the second then did have impressive wins over the Colts in Indianapolis week 17 and the Chargers in a defacto playoff game in week 18. 


The team scored 374 points and allowed 439, which is the point differential of a 7-10 team. This is why I contend the Raiders were really a 7-8 win team in 2021 that won some close games that got them to 10 wins. This has happened before. The 1980 Browns known as the Cardiac Kids won a ton of games late in dramatic fashion then were never able to repeat that feat as in the NFL you just can not depend on winning close games week after week. 

The issue of the Raiders starts with player development going back to the Del Rio years. McKenzie did not draft as poorly as people thought. The Raiders just did not develop a lot of these players. If you look at Defensive Linemen the Raiders drafted or signed in recent years, Mario Edwards, Jihad Ward, Shelby Harris, Arden Key, Maurice Hurst and Darnell Autry they have all become solid NFL players at some point in the past few years. If they had developed or kept these players they would have had one of the best Dlines in the NFL even with the trading of Khalil Mack.

The trade of Mack brings us back to Gruden and Mayock and why the roster is where it is. I was in the minority but I agreed with the Mack and Cooper trades. The Raiders wanted to give Mack Von Miller money but Mack wanted something closer to Aaron Donald money and I don’t think Mack was worth it. 2 first round picks were fine compensation especially as they did not have to sign his contract.

Mack’s current contract has to be restructured every year because it costs too much to keep him. He will probably be cut from the Chargers next year as he is due to make 38 million and only costs 15 million to cut next year. Mack also has not lived up to his contract . Mack hasn’t had double digit sacks since 2018 his first year with the Bears. Since joining the Chargers Mack has 9 sacks in 3 games against the Raiders and only 6 in 21 games against the rest of the NFL!! That’s with Bosa on the other side in many of these games. Also Mack’s huge cap numbers and loss of 2 first round picks have played a major role in the Bears being one of the worst teams in the league in the last two years. 

Amari Cooper is a fine WR. He is good for roughly 1100 yards every season but he disappears at times and is not worth elite number one money. He is up and down and has hot and cold stretches.  A first round pick was solid compensation. 

However, the issue is the Raiders bungled away these picks. Since the Mack Trade in 2018 here are the Raiders First Round Picks: Clelin Ferrell, Josh Jacobs, Jonathan Abram, Henry Ruggs, Damon Arnette, Alex Leatherwood, *Davante Adams (they gave up 1st and 2nd Round picks for Adams), Tyree Wilson. 

The jury is out on Wilson. He was raw coming out of college and is coming off a foot injury and not 100 percent. However, many fans would say there were better players available. Josh Jacobs is one of the best RBs in the NFL and even if they get 3-4 elite years out of Adams that is worth the pick. The rest are all busts. Ruggs has gone to prison and Arnette has been indicted on felony charges. Leatherwood couldn’t even make the Bears (who have maybe the worst Oline in the NFL) after being cut by the Raiders. 

(I will give Mayock credit where it is due and his mid round picks of Maxx Crosby, Hunter Renfrow, Foster Moreau in the 2019 draft were solid).

Mayock and Gruden’s Free Agent signings and contracts were almost as bad. In 2023 they still have nearly $19 million in dead money on contracts of Kenyan Drake, Corey Littleton and Carl Nassib all of whom have not been on the team since the 2021 season. 

You can not miss out on this many high draft picks and free agent signings and expect your roster and team not to suffer. 

Yes we know McDaniels was a terrible coach. Yes we know Ziegler and McDaniels made horrible signings and contracts such as those for Chandler Jones and Jimmy Garropollo. However, failed draft picks and Free Agent signings by Gruden and Mayock have played a major role in where the Raiders are today. 

On a final note let me say I really like what I saw of Antonio Pierce press conference. He grew up a Raider fan and has a lot more energy than McDaniels. This reminds me of when the Raiders fired Mike Shanahan in 1989 when they were 1-3 and a lifetime Raider Art Shell took over the team finished the season 7-5 narrowly missing the playoffs. In addition, we also must remember that Rich Bisaccia also went 7-5 after Gruden started 3-2 in 2021. 

Raiders Classics – Bo vs Barry the Last Raiders win in Detroit in 1990

There are times when legendary players surpass teams and games. In 1990 two of the greatest RBs in NFL history and probably two of the exciting ones faced off. The Detroit Lions played the Los Angeles Raiders with Barry Sanders facing off against Bo Jackson. 

The Raiders were a great team in 1990 going 12-4 winning the AFC West and going to the AFC Championship game. The Lions were 6-10 but were an exciting team featuring Barry Sands and a Run n Shoot offence. 

The game was wild out of the gate. Sanders scored on an incredible 35 TD yard run and Jay Schroader threw  a bomb to Willie Gault for a 68 yard TD. Later in the quarter Barry scored another TD and Marcus Allen added one for the Raiders. The game was 21-14 Lions after the first quarter, the second most points ever scored in a first quarter to that point in NFL history!

The Lions kicked a FG to go up 24-14 then the Raiders took over the game. Bo Jackson scored on a 55 yard TD run in the second quarter and Mervyn Fernandez and Tim Brown added TD catches of 10 and 3 yards in the third quarter to give the Raiders a 35-31 lead. Rodney Peete cut the lead to 35 to 31 with a TD run and then the Raiders added a FG to make the game 38-31.

When it was all said and done Sanders ran for 176 yards and two TDs and Jackson ran for 129 yards and a TD.  Willie Gault added 101 yards receiving and a TD for the Raiders.

What the game became remembered for was instant replay failures. Rodney Peete fumbled , but it might not have been a fumble, replay barely looked at it and the Raiders got the ball back. When the Raiders were running out the ball Bo Jackson fumbled and the Lions recovered, but it was ruled not a fumble on the field. Again, replay did not look at it closely and the Raiders retained the ball.

All in all it was a great game 69 total points scored, over 300 yards rushing and 3 TDs from Sanders and Jackson combined. However, what it is most famous for is the failure of instant replay at the time. It should also be noted that this game was the last Raider win in Detroit, although they have only played 2 games in Detroit in the last 33 years since!

Below is an excellent recap of the game and the infamous blown replay calls. And below that is a video that has the Barry and Bo highlights!

Reasons to Fire Josh McDaniels  

This blog is supposed to be about classic Raider games and Raiders of the past but after the embarrassing disgraceful loss to the Bears this past week I thought I would chime in on the current situation. 

In his two years and 7 games as Raider coach McDaniels record is 9-15. This is mediocre. There are teams that are worse, the Bears have 5 wins, the Cardinals 5 wins, the Texans and Colts have 6 and 7 wins and Panthers have 7 wins over the same time span. However, I feel the issue is the way the team has lost, in game decision making and the way the franchise is being managed. Here are the examples:

Blown Losses

Last year the Raiders blew a NFL record 5 leads of games of 10 plus points . Including a 20 pt blown loss against the Cardinals which was a franchise record. If you include the Pittsburgh game they blew 6 games with leads of at least 7 points in 2022. 

Embarrassing Losses 

  1. The team lost to Jeff Saturday who had just come off the couch and never coached anything higher than High School football. This managed to be Saturday’s only win as a NFL head coach last year for the Colts. 
  2. The team lost to the Rams when Baker Mayfield had just been signed and got about 2 days of practice. In that game the Raiders became the first team in the modern NFL era to let a team score a game winning TD drive of more than 90 yards with less than 2 minutes left and no time outs. 
  3. This past week they lost to a 1 win Chicago team that was the worst team in the NFL in 2022. The Bears had not won a game at home in a year and were starting a Division 2 rookie QB.  It was only the second time in 50 years that a Division 2 QB had won a game.

We must look at who these losses were against. The 4-13 Cardinals, the 4-win Colts (who lost 10 of their final 11 games with the Raiders being the only win), the 5-12 Rams with a QB off the street and a Chicago team that had been 4-19 in their previous 23 games with a backup undrafted rookie QB. 

Awful Game Management 

McDaniels continues to make mistakes with his game management. In the Patriots victory he let the clock run down to under a minute before halftime instead of taking a timeout  after a third down to stop the clock, giving the Raiders a better chance at a score. 

In the Packers game with the team up 17-13 with about 90 seconds left he went for a FG instead of going for a short 4th down or punting the ball to make the Packers  go the length of the field with only 1:30 left and a timeout. Remember when you miss a FG it gives a team an extra 7 yards of field position if you miss. Better off just going for it on 4th down.

In the loss to the Steelers the team was down 23-15 with a few minutes left, he opted to Kick a FG in the Redzone putting pressure on his defence to get a stop rather than going for a potential game tying score.  

In the loss to the Bears when the Raiders were down 21-3, with a defence that could not stop the Bears, he went for a FG to make it a two TD game instead of trying to make the game a FG and TD game with a TD. This was made mute when the Bears drove right down the field and kicked the game clinching FG at 24-6. 

This has led to the Raiders having an awful offence, they have spent over $100 million this year on the offence and have yet to surpass 20 points in a game through 7 games, the first team in decades to do so. They have only scored 20 points or more on offence once in the past 10 games going back to last season.

Awful Roster Management

Then there is the awful roster management, some would argue (including myself) that the Raiders were not a true playoff team in 2021. They were a 7-8 win team that got lucky in 2021 with a lot of close wins that would not be repeated. They also drafted poorly under Gruden and Mayock and these personal decisions would catch up to them.  Rational fans knew the team would have to improve the roster to remain a playoff team. 

However, McDaniels and Ziegler have not made the roster or team better. 

They completely screwed up Chandler Jones signing. He was “their guy” and they knew about his past mental health issues. They paid him $45 million over 3 years and got 4.5 sacks and one season out of him and now have $24 million in dead money in 2022 and 2023 in Jones. 

The core of the team from 2019 to 2021 was Derek Carr, Darren Waller and Hunter Renfrow. If you wanted to move on from these players I would have been ok with that. I thought it was time for the team to move on from Carr and I would have not given Waller his contract extension and pay raise. However, they extended all three of these players just to cut Carr, trade Waller and probably trade Renfrow. It makes zero sense to throw around signing bonuses and new contracts just to trade or cut players months or a year later. In addition, in the case of Waller and Renfrow, not producing in McDaniels’ offence hurt their trade value. 

Raiders Have Talent and Should Be Better

Finally, the Raiders are different from other bottom feeder teams because they have 4 (maybe 5) elite players. Maxx Crosby is maybe the best DE in the NFL, Davante Adams a top 3 WR, Josh Jacobs was the best RB in the NFL in 2022, Kolton Miller is a top 5 LT and you could argue that Jacobi Meyers is becoming a top 5 number 2 WR. Despite this the team is worse than it was 2 years ago. 

At some point something has to change. The continued in-game blunders, embarrassing losses and personal fumbles have made McDaniels tenure a disaster to date. Can he turn it around? I doubt it. The only hope is that Aiden O’Connell comes in and plays lights out. Depending on a 4th round rookie QB to be a saviour is probably not a great strategy. All and All McDaniels tenure is looking like past Patriot coaches when they got a second chance (Mangini, Crennell were disasters on the Browns and Chiefs) . If the blunders continue it is time for McDaniels to go somewhere else and become a permanent Offensive Coordinator. 

Raiders Classics – The Raiders Last win in Chicago in 1993 

One of my favourite Raiders teams was the 1993 playoff team. They were a unique team that could beat you with the deep pass with their 5×100 team at WR , could pound the ball with a variety of backs or win with defence via their top tier Dline and Secondary. 

The Raiders would face the Bears in week 10 of the 1993 season. Both were fighting for wild card spots with the Raiders entering the game at a record of 4-3 and the Bears 3-4. The temperature was 28 degrees with a wind chill of minus 16 so this weather would negate the Raiders deep passing attack. 

On the day Hostetler would only complete 11 for 23 passes for 108 yards. However, the Raiders jumped out to a 13-0 lead using a three headed monster at RB consisting of Greg Robinson (12 carries 70 yards) , Steve Smith (15 carries for 51 yards) and Napoleon McCallum (9 Carries, 50 yards who had the teams lone TD which was set up by a 25 INT return by Eddie Anderson).  The 70 yards for Robinson were a career high for the rookie to that point in his career and McCallum’s 50 yards were his highest single game total since his rookie season of 1986. In the game the Raiders ran the ball a season high 39 times for a then season high 179 yards. 

The Bears clawed their way back into the game with a TD run by Neal Anderson then a 13 yard TD pass to Terry Obee from Jim Harbaugh. After the Obee TD the Bears then recovered an onside kick to set up the potential game winning drive. 

The Bears drove down the field and for a chip shot 30 yard FG by Kevin Butler, who at the time was one reliable kickers in the NFL. Butler shanked the kick and the Raiders would win the game 16-14 in another nail biting win which would help lead them to the 1993 playoffs! 

This was the Raiders last win in Chicago having lost 3 straight games in Chicago in the 30 years since. 

Below is the full version of the game which is followed by the NFL primetime highlights at the end of the video. 

Vince Evans – The Relief Pitcher 

As the Bears play the Raiders this week I have to cover a player that played his career for both the Raiders and Bears and became a cult star for each team. In addition, as Brian Hoyer came off the bench at 38 years of age throwing a bomb to help win the game for the Raiders last week against the Patriots, this same player was the original veteran “Relief Pitcher” who came off the bench numerous times and won games for the Raiders. 

Maybe it is ironic that I am a huge Vince Evans fan as his Rose Bowl MVP in 1977 was the same year I was born! 

If you look at the career of Vince Evans it looks pretty mediocre, more INTs than TDs, more losses than wins. As a Raider he was 2-5 as a starter and had an equal number of TDS to INTs. So why does Vince have such a cult/legendary following as a Raider? The reasons are numerous. Firstly, he was one of the very first true athletic QBs. Coming out of USC he was very raw and this dropped him to the 6th round, where the Bears took him. He was the first African American starting QB in Bears and Raiders history (Eldridge Dickey was taken in the first around as an African American QB for the Raiders but never started a game as one). He possessed WR speed and a bazooka arm. In today’s NFL he might have been a star. 

During his 4th season in the NFL in 1980 Evans became the Bears starter. In 10 starts Evans threw for over 2000 yards, ran for over 300 yards and had 19 total TDs. Evans threw 11 TDs in the air and had a NFL leading 8 TDs rushing for a QB and went 5-5 as a starter. That year in back to back games he would have his two more memorable moments as a Bear. 

In a Thanksgiving game against the Lions Evans scored a TD on a 4 yard scramble on the last play of the game to tie the game then Dave Williams returned the first KR TD in OT history to win the Bears the game 23-17. The next week in a record breaking 61-7 win over the Packers Evans would have his best day as a pro going 18-22-316 yards 3 tds 0 ints and a perfect QB rating of 158.3 in the largest margin of victory at Soldier Field. 

Evans regressed as a starter in 1981 throwing 11 tds to 20 ints and was relegated to the bench when the Bears drafted Jim McMahon. He then spent the 1984 and 1985 seasons with the USFL’s Chicago Blitz and Denver Gold and 1986 out of football. 

During the 1987 strike Evans got a second chance to play in the NFL. Evans would be the Raiders strike starter on their replacement “scab” team . Evans led them to a win over KC and played well enough in his other two starts throwing for 630 yards 5 tds 4 ints and running for 144 yards on only 11 carries ! In those 3 starts.

This replacement season play would lead to Evans being the Raiders third string or second string QB till 1995. 

In 1992 Evans came off the bench in the season finale leading them behind against the defending Super Bowl champion Washington Redskins 21-20 throwing a game winning TD on 4th down to Tim Brown with only seconds left on the clock. 

His most famous and important game in relief for the Raiders came against the Jets in 1993 when Jeff Hostetler was benched after throwing 2 INTs. Evans threw two bombs to James Jett and Alexander “if loving you was wrong I don’t want to be” Wright (as Chris Berman used to call him) with the Raiders winning the game on the final play of the game when Nick Bell ran in the game winning TD. This win would end up being the difference in the Raiders making the playoffs in 1993! 

In 1994 Evans came off the bench and threw a TD to Rocket Ismail in a Monday night win over the Chargers. 

In 1995 his final hooray came in a start against the Colts for an injured Hostetler. Evans had just turned 40 years old that summer. In the 1990s 40 year old QBs did not grow on trees like today as QBs took way more punishment 30 years ago and were forced to retire earlier.  Evans threw for 335 yards and two TDs both to Rocket Ismail (one on a 73 yard TD bomb and the other on a 46 yard TD bomb) to beat the Colts. This would be the final win of Evans career and at the time he became the oldest QB and the only QB over 40 years of age in NFL history to throw for 300 yards in a game!!! 

However, what Evans will be forever remembered for in Raiders folklore is coming off the bench to win games including that all important 1993 win against the Jets which would be the difference in the Raiders making the playoffs that year (the Jets would finish 8-8 that year and if the Jets had beaten the Raiders both teams would have finished 9-7 with the Jets winning the tie breaker). 

Below are Vince Evans Career Highlights, highlights of his perfect game against the Packers in 1980 and highlights of the 1995 against the Colts when he became the oldest player in NFL history to throw for 300 yards in a game! The final video is  an interview with him about his 1977 Rose Bowl MVP. 

Raiders Classics – Raiders Exact a Bit of Revenge over Patriots on Sunday Night in 2002

The stage was set. Both the Raiders and Patriots were 5-4 going onto the 10th game of the year and both needed a win to keep their playoff hopes alive. At this point in the season the Raiders were actually third place behind the Chargers and Broncos who both won early that Sunday and were 7-3 (both would fade down the strength and end up 8-8 while the raiders would surge). 

This was also the revenge game for the tuck rule. Both teams drove down the field in the first quarter and ended with FGs. 

In the second quarter the Raiders took control of the game. They put together a methodical drive that ended in a Zack Crockett TD run on 4th down then stripped and sacked Tom Brady (this time it was a fumble!) near half time , which set up a Gannon TD run and a Raiders led 17-6 at halftime.  This turnover was the turning point of the game. 

The Raiders would take another drive down the field to increase their lead to 24-6. The Patriots would get a bizarre pick 6 by Teddy Bruschi when  a pass bounced off Lawyer Milloy’s foot. After a Raider FG, which made the game 27-13 with only a minute to play, Kevin Faulk would return a KR for a TD which made the game look closer than it was. 

The Raiders dominated the game, out gaining the Patriots 386 to 185 yards by a near 2 to 1 margin. Gannon was 26 for 38 for nearly 300 yards and a rushing TD to go with Zach Crockett punching in 2 short yardage TDs. The Raiders would have 4 players (Charlie Garner (who had 122 total scrimmage yards), Jerry Rice, Tim Brown and Doug Jolley (including a circus catch by Jolley)) with at least 58 yards receiving. 

This game didn’t make up for the Tuck Rule in 2001, but the Raiders would exact a bit of revenge on that Sunday night that set the tone for their late season run that won them home field advantage in the playoffs and an eventual AFC Championship. 

In addition, this would be the only game Tom Brady would ever lose to the Raiders! 

Below are highlights of the game. 

The Patriot Connection – The Bizarre Signing From the Patriots That Lead the Raiders to Winning Super Bowl XVIII 

This year is the 40th anniversary of the Raiders last Super Bowl win in 1983 so I will be writing many articles on that team this year. 

In 1978 and 1979 the Raiders had missed the playoffs two straight seasons ending each at 9-7. They revamped the team in 1980 and won a Super Bowl. A major part in that Super Bowl was signing Jim Plunkett, a former number 1 overall pick of the Patriots off the scrap heap in 1978 letting him sit for two years then coming off the bench in 1980 to lead them to the Super Bowl. 

The Raiders were again a contender in 1983. They had come off a fantastic 1982 season where they were the best team in football during the regular season amassing an 8-1 record. However, they were upset by a very good Jets team in the playoffs (the infamous Lyle Alzado throwing a helmet at a Jets offensive lineman game, which later became a NFL rule). 

In 1983 the Raiders got off to a strange start. Plunkett went down injured, Marcus Allen could not stop fumbling and they lost a few high scoring games. The defence was somewhat struggling; they had allowed 34 or more points in 4 games (granted one was due to a massive amount of turnovers against the Seahawks) and lost 3 of them. In a win against Dallas and a loss to Washington, the two best teams in the NFC, both teams threw the ball up and down the field on the Raiders and scored a total of 75 points in those two games.

A major issue with the Raiders defence was there no true starting corner playing across from Mike Haynes. Ted Watts was a solid number three CB but was getting picked on as a starter. Otis Mckenny was a solid ST player and backup CB but again no starter. 

Bring into the fold Mike Haynes. Haynes had been a former 5th overall draft pick of the Patriots and one of the premier cornerbacks in the NFL. He was Deion Sanders before Deion possessing speed, lock down abilities and the ability to make plays once he got the ball. Like Deion he returned punts and averaged over 10 yards a punt return with 2 touchdowns on over 100 punt returns with the Patriots.

Haynes was in a very strange contract situation. This was pre free agency and the Patriots claimed to signed him. At that time the Patriots were an average team going 5-4 in 1982 and making the expanded playoff format during the strike shortened 1982 season. In 1983 the Patriots would finish 8-8. However, Haynes wanted to play for a championship contender so he would not sign with the Pats. The Raiders laid a claim to the same contract and won an arbitration, which awarded them Haynes for a first round pick in 1984 and second round pick in 1985. Well worth compensation for one of the great CBs in NFL history. 

The acquisition was immediately positive with the Raiders winning 4 of their last 5 games giving up 14 or less points in 3 of those games after Haynes joined the team. 

Where it really paid dividends was in the playoffs. The Raiders defence laid waste to Pittsburgh and Seattle in the divisional playoff round and conference final as both teams were forced to throw away from Haynes and at Lester Hayes who picked off a ball in each game (including a pick 6 in the Pittsburgh game).  

In the Super Bowl the Raiders were able to lock down Charlie Brown and Art Monk (the best 1-2 WR duo in the NFL in 1983) with simple man on man coverage from Haynes and Hayes. This allowed them to blitz and pressure Joe Theisman and stack the box to stuff John Riggins. Theisman was sacked 6 times, threw 2 ints and lost a fumble. Riggins gained only 64 yards on 26 carries. Haynes had 2 passes defences and picked off Theisman. 

The Raiders were completely dominant during that playoff run beating the Steelers, Seahawks and Redskins by a combined 102-33, including allowing only 9 points to Washington who had set a NFL record for points scored that season! 

So a strange signing where the Raiders matched the Patriots contract then were awarded Haynes ended up resulting in the last Raiders Buper Bowl win!

Raider Greats – Bernie Custis – Barrier Breaker, Al Davis’ Roommate at Syracuse, My Grammar School Principal and a Great Man! 

This is a unique Raider great because (a) he never actually played for the Raiders yet had a strong Raider connection and (b) I had a personal relationship with him and a great story of what this relationship led to. 

Bernie was Al Davis’s roommate at Syracuse. In the history of the Raiders DVD released in 2004 on the second disc you will see an interview with Bernie where he talks about Al not looking at the colour of a person’s skin but rather the content of their character. 

Bernie was born in Philadelphia,Pennsylvania and graduated from John Bartram High School in 1947 and received a scholarship to Syracuse University to play quarterback on their varsity football team. In high school he ran track, played football and basketball. Custis scored 3 TDs in his first high school game! Thanks to for most of this information.

At Syracuse he became the starting QB. This was a huge accomplishment at the time as there was still mass segregation in the United States. Bernie was the FIRST African American QB in NCAA Division 1 history and played from 1948 to 1950 at Syracuse. Custis became the first Syracuse player to record a 1,000-yard passing season, throwing for 1,121 yards in 1949. He finished his three-year college career with 2,617 yards and 12 TD passes.

He was drafted by the Cleveland Browns where he experienced the racism of the time. Paul Brown the Browns coach was not racist but informed Bernie due the racial issues in the country at the time he could not play QB. They offered him a shot to play running back and safety but he refused, was released on the basis he would not sign for another American team and would go to Canada to play. He went to play for the newly formed Hamilton Tiger Cats of the CFL in Canada (in 1950 the Hamilton Tigers and Hamilton had merged, becoming the Tiger Cats). In the 1950s and 1960s the CFL was about on par with the NFL in terms of talent, as believe or not, many CFL teams paid more and offered more opportunities to African American players. 

In 1951 he played every game at QB for the Tiger Cats leading them to a 7-5 record. He became the first African American to play QB in the CFL and by starting 12 games he became the first African American to become a primary starter for a professional football team. In 1952 he was switched to Running Back and in 1953 he was part of the Tiger Cats Grey Cup winning team.

Unfortunately, there are no official stats for Bernie’s 1951 to 1953 seasons as the first season of the modern CFL was considered to be 1954 at which time official stats were finally recorded. In 1954 Bernie was a dual threat on both sides of the ball running 104 times for 472 yards, 4.5 a carry and 4 TDs and caught 37 passes for 399 yards and 4 TDs. He also intercepted 3 passes that year and averaged 28 yards a kick return!! Truly a jack of all trades. He finished his career with the Ottawa Rough Riders before an injury in 1956 ended his football career. 

He went on to be a very successful coach at the junior and college level in Canada. He coached the Burlington Braves to a record of 74 wins and 20 losses. He then coached Sheraton College and won 6 OCAA and Eastern Canadian Titles. He ended his coaching career by coaching by Coaching the University of McMaster in the 1980s. At the time the program had been in ruins for well over a decade and in his second year he took them from 7th place (in a 8 team division) to 1st. He had a 31-23-1 record at his time at McMaster and was coach of the year of the OUAA in 1982 and 1984. Al Davis wanted to hire Bernie, but like John Madden Bernie had a fear of flying and did not want to make the constant flights from Canada to California to work for the Raiders. In 1998 he was inducted into the CFL Hall of Fame.  Bernie Custis Secondary School, a School next to Ivor Wynne Stadium where the Tiger Cats play, was opened and named after him in 2015.

Despite all these accomplishments I will always remember Bernie for the great man he was. As there was not much money in Canadian college football he became a principal in the Ontario education system. He was my principal at Greensville Elementary school from 1982 to 1987. At the time my parents were going through a divorce and I was diagnosed as having a learning disability. Bernie would take him into his office and help me out a great deal during this tough time as a child. During this time period he coached McMaster he would give one of my teacher’s Helen Wilson and myself tickets to McMaster games. 

Later on he went on to work at another school in Dundas, Ontario where my grandmother (my grandparents were blue collar immigrants from Europe) was employed as a janitor. He graciously showed up to her retirement party. 

In 2016 I sent an autographed picture of Bernie to Mark Davis, owner of the Raiders and Al’s son. His assistant got back to me and told me that any raider game I wanted to go to it would be on him. This was 7 years and I don’t know if the offer is still good, but it was very kind and generous! 

Bernie was a great man on the field and a greater man off it. He passed away in 2017 at the age of 88. 

Below are two videos on Bernie’s life and career.