"Commitment to excellence" was the motto that Al Davis preached during his reign as the Raiders' owner and general manager. He also instructed his teams to "Just win, baby," and his team responded by winning more games than any team in pro football from 1963-83. During that span, the Raiders won three Super Bowls, an AFL title, four conference titles and 11 division titles. They also made 11 conference championship game appearances while becoming the standard by which other NFL franchises were measured.
During that span, the Raiders featured colorful coaches and players who helped endear the Raiders to their passionate fan base. Those fans, appropriately known as "Raider Nation," gave the Raiders one of pro football's greatest home field advantages, as opposing offenses loathed playing just feet away from the dreaded Black Hole.
With the help of CBS Sports senior writer Pete Prisco, we present to you the Raiders' Franchise Five, the franchise's greatest coach, quarterback, and three non-quarterback players. We also included an honorable mention section for the Raiders' great players that just missed the cut.
Coach John Madden
Madden's .759 winning percentage is the second-best mark in NFL history. Just 33 years old when he took over as the Raiders' head coach in 1969, Madden posted a staggering 103-32-7 regular season record and a 9-7 postseason record. During his first season on the sideline, the Raiders went 12-1-1 during the regular season before falling just short against Joe Namath and the eventual Super Bowl champion Jets in the AFL Championship Game.
More championship game losses would come in the '70s, as Madden's Raiders would lose to the eventual champions in the 1970, '73, '74 and '75 AFC Championship games. Two of those losses came at the hands of the Steelers, who also handed the Raiders a devastating loss during the infamous "Immaculate Reception" game in the 1972 playoffs. While his teams won a lot of games, Madden, entering the 1976 season, was known as the coach who couldn't win the big one.
No one, however, could say that about Madden or the Raiders after the 1976 season. That year, Madden guided the Raiders to a 13-1 regular season record before Oakland dispatched the Patriots and the two-time defending champion Steelers in the AFC playoffs. Madden's team put on a clinic in Super Bowl XI, rushing for a Super Bowl record 266 yards in a 32-14 mauling of the Vikings. As the game's final seconds ticked off the clock, a jubilant Madden was hoisted onto the shoulder of his players, who gave their coach the victory he needed to solidify his place as one of the greatest coaches in NFL history.
QB Ken Stabler
One of the greatest characters in pro football history, Kenny "The Snake" Stabler posted a gaudy 76-30-1 record as the Raiders' starting quarterback. While his deep ball was second to none, Stabler was also an exceptionally accurate passer, as he led the NFL in completion percentage on two different occasions. Stalber was also extremely difficult to tackle, which is one of the reasons why he was given his nickname.
Stabler, who often said that he would read the Raiders' game plan "from the light of the jukebox," won league MVP honors in 1974 after pacing the league in touchdown passes. Stabler, who received sturdy protection from linemen Gene Upshaw, Jim "Double O" Otto, and Art Shell, was complemented by a formidable group of pass catchers that included Fred Biletnikoff, Cliff Branch and tight end Dave "The Ghost" Casper. With Stabler calling the plays, the Raiders' offense was among the best in football throughout the '70s, finishing first, fourth, fourth and first in the league in scoring from 1974-77.
Stabler, who was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 2016, did something Roger Staubach, arguably the best quarterback of that era, never did: beat Pittsburgh's vaunted Steel Curtain defense in a championship game. Stabler capped off his two-touchdown pass performance against the Steelers in the '76 AFC title game with another sterling outing in Super Bowl XI, as Stabler helped deliver the Raiders' first Lombardi Trophy.
G Gene Upshaw
A seven-time Pro Bowler and five-time All-Pro, Upshaw anchored an offensive line that overwhelmed the opposition. After the Raiders rushed for 157 yards and a touchdown in Oakland's 24-7 win over Pittsburgh in the '76 AFC title game, Upshaw led an offensive line that helped running back Clarence Davis and Mark van Eeghen rush for a combined 210 yards on 34 carries against the Vikings' famed Purple People Eater defensive front in Super Bowl XI. Oakland's offensive line also allowed just one sack, as Stabler had more than enough time to get the ball to Biletnikoff, whose four crucial catches help him earn game MVP honors.
Upshaw was one of the few remaining players from the Raiders' first Super Bowl team that was still on the roster when Oakland became the first wild-card team to win the Super Bowl in 1980. In Super Bowl XV, Upshaw and the rest of the Raiders' offensive line allowed just one sack against an Eagles defense that sacked Oakland quarterback Jim Plunkett eight times when the two teams faced off during the regular season. Aided by sterling protection, Plunkett threw three touchdown passes while winning MVP honors in Oakland's 27-10 win.
A member of the NFL's All-1970s team, Upshaw is also a member of the NFL's 75th and 100th All-Anniversary teams.
DE Howie Long
A second-round pick in 1981, Long became a full-time starter in 1983, the season that saw the Raiders become the first Los Angeles team to win the Super Bowl. With 13-year veteran Lyle Alzado serving as his mentor, Long earned his first of five consecutive Pro Bowl selections that season, recording 13 sacks while helping the Raiders go 12-4 during the regular season. In Super Bowl XVIII, Long and his teammates overwhelmed the favored (and defending champion) Redskins, holding reigning Super Bowl and league MVP John Riggins to just 64 yards on 26 carries. The Raiders' defense, a unit that also included Hall of Fame linebacker Ted Hendricks, Hall of Fame cornerback Mike Haynes, Pro Bowl cornerback Lester Hayes and linebackers Matt Millen and Rod Martin, sacked quarterback Joe Theismann six times while forcing him to commit three turnovers.
While the Raiders would not win another Super Bowl, Long continued to emerge as one of the greatest defensive players of his era, as he was named Defensive Player of the Year in 1985. An eight-time Pro Bowler and two-time All-Pro, Long, who was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 2000, is a member of the NFL's All-1980s Team.
RB Marcus Allen
After a glittering career at USC, Allen stayed in Los Angeles after being taken by the Raiders with the 10th overall pick in the 1982 draft. Allen made an immediate impact, winning Rookie of the Year honors after leading the league in rushing touchdowns. Allen enjoyed a monstrous postseason in 1983 that included his 191-yard, two touchdown performance that earned him MVP honors in the Raiders' 38-9 win over the Redskins in Super Bowl XVIII. His mesmerizing 74-yard touchdown run stood as the longest run in Super Bowl history for over 20 years.
Allen's star would continue to shine over the next four seasons, when he earned four consecutive Pro Bowl selections. He was named the NFL's MVP in 1985 after rushing for a league-high 1,759 yards. And in the 1990 playoffs, after an injury sidelined teammate Bo Jackson, Allen rushed for 140 yards to lead Los Angeles to a victory over the Bengals.
A member of the Pro Football Hall of Fame, Allen is still the Raiders' career leader in rushing yards and rushing touchdowns.
Jim Otto was the Raiders' first great player, earning 12 Pro Bowl and 10 All-Pro selections during his decorated career. Art Shell played a significant role in each of the Raiders' three Super Bowl victories, while "Old Man" Willie Davis' pick-six in Super Bowl XI highlighted his Hall of Fame career in Oakland.
You can't talk about the Raiders without talking about their legendary receivers. Along with Biletnikoff, Tim Brown, the Raiders' all-time leading receiver who helped lead the Raiders to an AFC title in 2002, currently has a bust in Canton., who put up Canton-worthy numbers while making big plays in Super Bowls XV and XVIII. Also deserving an honorable mention is former coach Tom Flores, who led the Raiders to their last two Super Bowl wins.