Once a Raider ALWAYS a Raider
Captain Jack Rack 'em Levy – Apr 13, 2012
I wrote a scathing article this past week on Warren Sapp, and through the vitriol and content, it was apparent that I didn’t like the gentleman; think his recent ‘negative karma’ is deserved; and feel that somewhere up above Al Davis is smiling down upon the earth as most broadcasting outlets (especially those local to the Captain here in Tampa) continue to ‘cook’ Sapp’s persona over a hot-coaled grill on ‘media simmer’ due to all his past negative aspersions on the Raider patriarch and his beloved team.
Wow. Eighty-seven words. Sure as heck sums up an article that originally was a thousand words or so, but then again, most of the Captain’s articles usually spit out a ‘grand’ or so in content… I fear I probably couldn’t craft a made to order bacon double-cheeseburger at Wendy’s with less than a hundred print words, but I digress… yet again.
My loathing of Sapp, who the Captain did have a quick ‘chance meeting’ a few years past, is personal. It was however something that probably shouldn’t have been strewn all over an article here – although if you wish to see the original piece and don’t mind ‘cleaned up adult terms’ then check out my Facebook page.
It did however lead me to think about other things, such as… 1) what the heck am I going to write about this week? And 2) isn’t there something more positive to impart out there to our readers?
One of the things that bugged me about Sapp is that he truly doesn’t personify the adage ‘Once a Raider, ALWAYS a Raider’ we come to expect from members of the Silver and Black; that mantra
was imparted upon the team by Al Davis himself, whose actions towards former players is legendary.
If you wish to hear my choice as best post-Davis death TV segment, go to YouTube and query Howie Long’s piece from The NFL on Fox.
Sapp, however, seemed to go out of his way to stir negative content about the Raiders through his time on the NFL Network, Showtime, or whomever held a microphone to his ever-present open pie-hole!
(Before we get off subject, and yes readers I KNOW what you're thinking... I’ll leave the Marcus Allen debate for another time, as THAT piece could take days to write with incoming comments non-stop, locking up our new server. Full disclosure – I admire Marcus’ time as a Raider. ‘Nuff said for now…)
It is keeping with ‘Once a Raider, ALWAYS a Raider’ we need to remember our team has lost an inordinate number of former greats who have donned the legendary colors of the Silver and Black.
Within the last two years alone, our Raiders lost its leader (Mr. Al Davis); the ‘Grand Old Man’ and former NFL points’ leader (George Blanda); and half of the storied ‘Soul Patrol’ – Jack ‘Assassin’
Tatum and Alonzo ‘Skip’ Thomas – aka ‘Dr. Death’… and that doesn’t include…
… long-time Raider trainer George Anderson, the creator of the widely used athletic knee brace; controversial 1st round draft pick Chester McGlockton; and beloved defensive-terror-turned-movie-star ‘Bubba’ Smith, who played two years for the Raiders before finishing his football career in Houston alongside his brother ‘Tody’ (although most state correctly that ‘Bubba’ was finished following his knee-injury in Baltimore, but got paid for another four years of ball…)
While we’re talking about Raider greats turned Hollywood actors, let’s not forget John ‘the Tooz’
Matuszak and Lyle Alzado, whom were key cogs in the Raiders first and last Super Bowl wins. Oh, in case you missed the ‘acting’ part, tune into Goonies, Caveman and Who’s Harry Crumb… on second thought, don’t… remember them for the great defensive studs they were.
Departed Raiders have met their ends via untimely, controversial, and mysterious means as well – epileptic seizure (Leon Bender – tragically before he played an official down on the field); suicide (Mike Wise – I suggest reading here: http://articles.latimes.com/keyword/mike-wise); drive-by shooting (Tim Hall); boating accident (Marquis Cooper – remember the pigeon that took his place on the kick-off team in the Eagles at Raiders game? Teammates were sure that the pigeon encompassed Marquis' spirit); along with five by auto accident (Roger Hagberg, Stacey Toran, Dave Dalby, Scott Whitaker, and Darrell Russell).
Of note, Russell’s death is a bit more personable to the Captain, as my mother garnered an autographed Raider football during the retirement ceremony of his father, a Navy Captain in the Medical Field here at Tampa’s MacDill AFB. Aaaaaaah what could’ve been with Russell and Bender playing alongside each other…?
Cancer (Elijah Alexander, Eugene Upshaw, Dan Turk, Eric Turner, Bob Chandler, and Alzado) and Heart Attacks/Failure (McGlockton, Thomas, Tatum, Brad Van Pelt, ‘Run Run’ Jones, Dwayne O’Steen, Neil Colzie, Dave Waymer, and Matuszak) appear to have taken the majority of our warriors… a Who’s Who of Hall of Famers, perennial Pro-Bowlers, and Super Bowl heroes.
Finally though, and thankfully not among those listed, we should always keep kind thoughts and warm wishes for two Raiders that have given their all in body, mind and spirit for the Silver and Black – “Mr. Raider” Jim Otto and Fullback Steve Smith.
The majority know of Otto’s dedication and perseverance to the Raiders through countless knee surgeries, ultimately leading to a titanium prosthetic - replete with the Raider logo of course. Smith’s battle with ALS, ‘Lou Gehrig’s Disease’ to most lay people, has been chronicled in HBO’s Real Sports; I suggest you find the video via YouTube if you haven’t already seen it.
The Mantra of ‘Once a Raider, ALWAYS a Raider’ rings true for all loyal and dedicated fans of the Silver and Black. It is something that the Faux Pirate aka Buc turned wannabe Raider Sapp direly needs to learn, although I’m sure he never will.
Once a Raider, ALWAYS a Raider. Rest in peace… for eternity.
George Anderson, trainer, 1960-1995: Died March 29, 2012, age 82 (complications from Parkinson’s and diabetes)
Chester McGlockton, defensive tackle, 1992-1997: Died November 30, 2011, age 42 (heart attack)
Allen Davis, coach/owner, 1963-2011: Died October 8, 2011, age 82 (natural causes)
Charles “Bubba” Smith, defensive end, 1973-74: Died August 3, 2011, age 66 (natural causes)
Alonzo “Skip” Thomas, cornerback, 1972-77: Died July 24, 2011, age 61 (heart attack)
George Blanda, quarterback/kicker, 1967-1975: Died September 27, 2010, age 83 (unknown/natural causes)
Jack Tatum, safety, 1971-1979: Died July 27, 2010, age 61 (heart attack)
Elijah Alexander, linebacker, 2000-2001: Died March 24, 2010, age 39 (bone marrow cancer)
Marquis Cooper, linebacker, 2008: Lost at sea March 1, 2009, and presumed dead March 6, 2009, age 26 (boating accident)
Brad Van Pelt, linebacker, 1984-1985: Died Feb. 17, 2009, age 57 (heart attack)
Gene Upshaw, guard, 1967-1981: Died Aug. 20, 2008, age 63 (pancreatic cancer)
Curtis Whitley, center, 1997: Died May 11, 2008, age 39 (unknown/natural causes)
George “Run Run” Jones, equipment manager, 1963-2006: Died Dec. 16, 2006, age 77 (heart attack)
Darrell Russell, defensive tackle, 1997-2001: Died Dec. 15, 2005, age 29 (auto accident)
Scott Whittaker, offensive tackle, 1997: Died Dec. 2, 2003, age 29 (auto accident)
Dave Dalby, center, 1972-1985: Died Aug. 30, 2002, age 51 (auto accident)
Dwayne O’Steen, defensive back, 1980-1981: Died Sept. 15, 2001, age 46 (heart attack)
Neal Colzie, defensive back, 1975-1978: Died Aug. 19, 2001, age 47 (heart attack)
Bo Roberson, wide receiver, 1962-1965: Died April 19, 2001, age 65 (unknown)
Dan Turk, center, 1989-1996: Died Dec. 23, 2000, age 38 (testicular cancer)
Eric Turner, safety, 1997-1999: Died May 28, 2000, age 31 (abdominal cancer)
Eldridge Dickey, quarterback/wide receiver, 1968-1971: Died May 22, 2000, age 54 (stroke)
Tim Hall, running back, 1996-1997: Died Sept. 30, 1998, age 24 (drive-by shooting)
Leon Bender, defensive tackle, 1998: Died May 30, 1998, age 22 (epileptic incident)
Bob Chandler, wide receiver, 1980-1982: Died Jan. 15, 1995, age 45 (lung cancer)
Dave Waymer, safety, 1992: Died April 30, 1993, age 34 (drug-related heart attack)
Mike Wise, defensive lineman, 1986-1990: Died Aug. 22, 1992, age 28 (suicide)
Lyle Alzado, defensive lineman, 1982-1985: Died May 14, 1992, age 43 (brain cancer)
Stacey Toran, safety, 1984-1988: Died Aug. 5, 1989, age 27 (auto accident)
John Matuszak, defensive lineman, 1976-1982: Died June 17, 1989, age 38 (heart failure)
Roger Hagberg, fullback/tight end, 1965-1969: Died April 15, 1970, age 31 (auto accident)
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