Nov 292016

It had been an uncomfortably hot day in Sacramento but by game time the sun had gone down and the temperature had dropped into the mid-70s. A pleasant breeze took any remaining heat off the air and clear skies promised a perfect evening for football. It was under these conditions that the Oakland Raiders and New York Titans took the field at Hughes Stadium, on the campus of Sacramento City College. Just 9,551 paying customers filled the 22,000-seat facility to see the 0-1 teams get acquainted for the first time.

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Nov 222016

With Bob Webb’s return to the land of the infirm, the Raiders went out and signed former El Cerrito High and Washington State star quarterback Bobby Newman to a contract. The 6’2″ Newman had led the country in total offense as a junior with the Cougars in 1957 and was drafted by the 49ers the next year in the second round. However, he had subsequently washed out of three different NFL camps before being picked up by the Raiders.

Newman was happy to be in Oakland. “It’s great to be with a local team again,” he said, “and from all I hear it will be a pleasure to play for (head coach) Eddie Erdelatz.” Still, with just one day in camp he wouldn’t be ready to take the field against the Titans.

The New York squad was coming into the game with an 0-1 record, having lost their exhibition opener to the Chargers 27-7. Erdelatz wasn’t taking them lightly, though. In his estimation, the Titans had a number of high caliber players including their quarterbacks, Al Dorow and Dick Jamieson. Like many of his teammates, Dorow had significant NFL experience, spending three seasons with the Redskins and another with the Eagles. Jamieson was still a rookie, but had done some camp time with the Colts. Others with an NFL pedigree were fullback Fran Rogel, an eight-year veteran with the Steelers, several of them on the starting platoon, and rangy flanker, Don Maynard, a former Giants receiver and rated by Erdelatz as “one of the best ends I’ve seen”. On defense, former 49ers, Eagles, and Browns defensive end Sid Youngelman was showing well. But maybe the best defender on the team was a rookie linebacker out of Mississippi, Larry Grantham. But fortunately for the Raiders, he had broken his ankle against the Chargers and would be out for several weeks.

Holding the team together, aches, pains and all, was head coach Sammy Baugh. Eight years removed from a long career with the Washington Redskins in which he redefined the quarterbacking position for generations to come, Baugh was back in pro football after a stint coaching at Hardin-Simmons where he took the Cowboys to the 1958 Sun Bowl. Under his tutelage, the Titans were expected to run a “pass and trap” offense similar to that of the Cleveland Browns in their All-America Conference heyday.

Baugh was unperturbed by the loss in the preseason opener. “We made the usual first game errors,” he said, “and were not quite as far along as the Chargers. We will be a good club before this year is over because we have some potentially fine pros.”

Hayward Daily Review
Oakland Tribune
San Mateo Times
Pro Football Reference

Nov 152016

The Era of Good Feelings in Raider camp was over after just one day. During a practice that was scheduled to last an hour and a half, quarterback Bob Webb and receiver Carl Isaacs each hurt a knee and head coach Eddie Erdelatz had seen more than enough, ending the workout in a fit of pique after just 40 minutes. The severity of Isaacs’ injury was not yet known, but Webb, who had returned to the practice field just the day before, was definitely out for the Titans game.

Hayward Daily Review
Oakland Tribune

Nov 142016

The Raiders did some work beneath the stars tonight. In anticipation of their Saturday night game against the Titans, the team held a workout under the lights of the Santa Cruz high school field. Fans were allowed to attend with the purchase of a ticket. Funds raised went toward a new swimming pool for the high school.

Tonight’s practice marked the first time the team’s roster consisted entirely of healthy players. Trainer George Anderson was pleased with the situation, particularly the return of defensive end Charley Powell and linebacker Tom Louderback, and said, “I’d wager that this is the best conditioned team in pro football right now.”

The evening workout also emphasized head coach Eddie Erdelatz’ focus on playing to win in the preseason. “Be it for money, marbles, or chalk, I play to win,” he declared. When asked about giving the rookies some in-game work, he said he was confident he could adequately assess his players’ skills just by observing them in practice.

He then expounded at length about his starting quarterback, Tom Flores, who continued to demonstrate that his once-injured shoulder had completely healed. “If this kid can get through without any injuries,” Erdelatz said, “he’s going to have a great season. He throws the ball extremely well, has great football sense and a marvelous attitude. He’s a real good one.”

The Raider coach said the team would carry just two quarterbacks during the season, which meant that Bob Webb, who had just returned to practice after a knee injury, and Paul Larson were fighting for the single available backup slot.

During the practice, it was evident that the players were enthusiastic and had fully bought in to Erdelatz’ high energy, hard working style. Louderback, in particular, approved. “It’s great being in a camp like this,” said the NFL veteran,” This team has more spirit than any college club I’ve seen. I’ll tell you this. We may lose some games, but you’ll never see this team quit.”

Hayward Daily Review
Oakland Tribune

Nov 112016

Getting back to work after a day off, the Raider coaches made some changes on the offensive line. Chris Plain, who had been at left tackle was now on the right side, replaced by Ron Sabal, who had been playing left guard. Taking Sabal’s place was Don Manoukian, who was returning from an injury. Wayne Hawkins was now on the right side with Joe Barbee, a defensive lineman moving to the other side of the ball, backing up. Jim Otto was still at center.

Hayward Daily Review

Nov 072016

The players had a day off today, but that gave head coach Eddie Erdelatz more time to talk with the press. His primary order of business was to complain about a ruling from the league office. Back in mid-July, the AFL made an arrangement whereby each team would have the exclusive negotiating rights to rookies cut from particular NFL teams. In the Raiders’ case, they had the rights to all cuts from the San Francisco 49ers and half the cuts from the Washington Redskins. However, Erdelatz had just learned that this excluded players who had been drafted by AFL teams. Those teams still had negotiating rights to their draftees, regardless of which NFL team had let them go.

The Raider coach was unhappy about the news. “It is one of the biggest blows we’ve had,” he said, “And means that we’ll have to go along pretty much with what we have.” The team was now limited to pursuing a reported eight unnamed ex-49ers.

Hayward Daily Review
Oakland Tribune
Sam Mateo Times

Nov 022016

The coaching staff returned from Los Angeles after their trip to scout the Chargers, the team got together for a brief workout of less than a half hour.

Oakland Tribune