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Oakland Raiders, American
professional gridiron football team based
in Oakland, California, that plays in the National Football
League (NFL). The Raiders have won three Super Bowl championships
(1977, 1981, and 1984), one American Football League (AFL) championship (1967),
and four American Football Conference (AFC) titles. Viewed by many as the
“villains” of the NFL because of their historic tendency for rough play, the
Raiders embody the motto coined by longtime owner Al Davis: “Just
win, baby.”

The Raiders were founded in 1960 as one of the eight original teams of the AFL. After three losing seasons, the franchise hired Davis in 1963 to serve as the team’s head coach and general manager. He implemented a “vertical” passing attack, which relied on long throws downfield to stretch the opposing defense, and quickly turned the team into a contender. After a three-month stint as AFL commissioner in 1966, Davis became a part-owner of the Raiders and began buying out (and, in some cases, forcing out) the other owners, ultimately gaining complete control of the team in 1976.

oakland riders

With an offense starring quarterback Daryle Lamonica and
centre Jim Otto, the Raiders won the AFL championship in December 1967, a
victory that sent the team to its first Super Bowl the following January (a
loss to the Green
Bay Packers
). John Madden was
hired as head coach in 1969, and under his guidance the Raiders became an elite
team, posting consecutive winning seasons during Madden’s 10-year tenure with
the team and taking the franchise’s first Super Bowl (1977).
It was during this period that the Raiders forged an image as a team of tough,
take-no-prisoners players—such as future Hall of Fame offensive linemen Jim
Otto, Gene
Upshaw
, and Art Shell; linebacker Ted (“the Stork”) Hendricks; defensive
end Ben Davidson; and cornerback Willie Brown—who would occasionally cross the
line into dirty play. Those teams also featured an additional trio of future
Hall of Fame players in tight end Dave Casper, kicker George
Blanda
, and wide receiver Fred Biletnikoff, as well as fiery
quarterback Ken (“the Snake”)
Stabler
. Madden’s successor, Tom Flores (who was the Raiders’ first
starting quarterback), shepherded the team to another Super Bowl victory
in 1981.

Davis had been long upset about the conditions of the Raiders’
home stadium when, in 1980, he signed a memorandum of agreement promising to
move the franchise to Los
Angeles
. The NFL blocked the move, but Davis won a landmark antitrust
lawsuit against the league in 1982, and the Raiders immediately relocated. The
team qualified for the playoffs in each of their first four seasons in Los
Angeles, which included another Super Bowl title in 1984. The teams of the
1980s featured three future Hall of Famers—running back Marcus Allen, defensive
lineman Howie Long, and cornerback Mike Haynes—and multisport sensation Bo Jackson, who
excelled in both Major
League Baseball
 and the NFL.

Davis soured on the stadium in Los Angeles over the years, and he
moved the franchise back to Oakland in 1995. The Raiders struggled in the years
after their second move, but, behind a high-powered offense led by quarterback
Rich Gannon and wide receivers Tim Brown and Jerry Rice, they
advanced to the Super Bowl in 2003, which they lost to the Tampa
Bay Buccaneers
. From 2003 to 2015 the franchise was marked by a lack of success
on the field, poor personnel decisions, and a fractious front office, all of
which considerably damaged the famed Raiders’ mystique.

In 2016 Oakland suddenly turned the corner, winning 12 games and
qualifying for a playoff spot, but it was a short-lived turnaround, and the
Raiders fell back to 10 losses the following year. In 2018 the Raiders rehired
head coach Jon
Gruden
 (who had previously coached the team from 1998 to 2001),
giving him the longest and richest coaching contract in NFL history, but the
team posted a 4–12 record in his first season back at the helm.

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