Thursday, February 13, 2014
Who's on Raiders' Mount Rushmore?
By Paul Gutierrez
LeBron James says by the time all is said and done, he will be on the NBA’s Mount Rushmore. And with the game-winning 3-point dagger he dropped on the Golden State Warriors Wednesday night, James brought out a chisel.
The only massif the Warriors’ Oakland neighbors feature, meanwhile, is a tarped-off piece of concrete aptly named Mt. Davis. So if the Raiders were to erect a Mount Rushmore of their own, whose four faces would be featured?
It’s not an easy answer, not with so many characters, stories and, well, iconic figures in the franchise’s history. Go ahead give it a try. Here’s my Silver and Black-clad Mount Rushmore.
Al Davis – Any questions? No other person personified their franchise more than the late Raiders owner. He was a coach, general manager, owner and commissioner of the AFL who, to borrow a line from Paul Anka (look it up), did it his way. And even if he did become a caricature of himself in later years, you’d be doing yourself a disservice if that’s all you remembered of him. He was a pioneer in equal opportunity, both in the front office and on the field as he took on the establishment. Just don’t ever forget that he was in charge.
John Madden – Not as slam-dunk a choice as you’d think. Not with five straight trips to the AFC title game and only one Super Bowl trip and victory to show for it. Sure, his regular-season record was impeccable, but to a newer generation of fans he’s known more for being a broadcaster than a game-changing coach. Yet, his persona still casts a large shadow over Silver and Blackdom. Make room for Madden. BOOM!
Tom Flores/Jim Plunkett – Wait, what? Yeah, I know, it’s a cop-out. But there simply is no way to separate the two so we need to hire a sculptor who can give us a face that is half Flores, half Plunkett. Not only was Flores the Raiders’ first-ever quarterback, predating even Davis’ arrival in Oakland, he won twice as many Super Bowls as Madden and was the first minority coach in NFL history to win a title. But he probably does not do it without Plunkett under center, his Lazarus tale becoming reality with the Super Bowl XV MVP trophy and his steady leadership three years later in Super Bowl XVIII.
Jim Otto – The man has literally given a limb to the franchise – he has shown off his prosthetic leg covered with the Raiders logo – and it’s a crying shame that he retired a year before the Raiders finally broke through to win Super Bowl XI. Otto is the ultimate Raider, a 10-time All-AFL selection at center who lasted 15 years in the trenches and even longer as one of Davis’ most trusted advisors. He still bleeds Silver and Black. Just listen to him spin a yarn like he spun nose tackles back in the day.