Jan 062017
 

The Raiders finished preparations for tomorrow night’s game against the Chargers. The team began to work new quarterback Babe Parilli into the system, but he was not likely to be up to speed enough to play against Los Angeles. As in the previous two contests, Tom Flores was expected to carry the load for most of the game, if not the whole thing.

And it was going to be a big job. The Chargers, 2-0 in the preseason after wins over the Titans and Oilers, were thought to be among the best teams in the league. Led by head coach Sid Gillman, they had recruited a large number of players with extensive NFL experience and could be expected to hit the ground running. Gillman himself was coming off a six-year stint with the Rams, taking them to the NFL championship game in his first season. He had inconsistent results after that, amassing an overall mark of 28-31-1 that was dragged down by going 2-10 in 1959. When the AFL came calling, he was ready to jump, bringing his innovative offensive ideas to the new league.

Leading the Charger offense on the field was quarterback Jack Kemp, a Los Angeles native and graduate of Occidental College in the northeast part of town. Kemp, a 17th round pick of the Lions in the 1957 draft, had appeared in four games with the Steelers that season, but observers considered him a player who hadn’t lived up to his considerable talent. He later spent some time with the Calgary Stampeders, but hadn’t shown much with them, either. Now, in perhaps his last shot at pro football, Kemp had started slowly in training camp, but was beginning to show improvement under Gillman’s tutelage.

Joining Kemp in the backfield was halfback Ron Waller, a former NFL All-Pro with the Rams, and Royce Womble, a pass-catching back who had spent four years with the Colts. At fullback was former Packer stalwart, Howie Ferguson, backed up by Jim “Jetstream” Smith, who had put in some time in the Steelers organization. The Chargers lined up another NFL veteran at end in the person of Ralph Anderson, an ex-Chicago Bear.

There were a number of experienced men on defense as well, including end Glenn Holtzman, who had played for Gillman with the Rams, linebacker Charlie Brueckman, an ex-Redskin, Jimmy Sears, a defensive back and kick returner who had Cardinals experience to his credit, and defensive back Jesse Thomas, a former teammate of Womble’s in Baltimore.

If there was an area of concern in Charger camp, it was in the kicking game. The team had expected to turn placekicking chores over to defensive end Bob Reifsnyder, a 1959 Rams draft pick, but he wanted to play closer to his New York home and quit the squad when Gillman wouldn’t trade him. Several players were in the running to replace him, including 41-year-old Ben Agajanian, an itinerant kicker who had lost the toes on his kicking foot in a workplace accident in college, and who had last seen NFL work with the Giants in 1957.

EXTRAS

Raiders depth chart

Hayward Daily Review
Oakland Tribune
Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
San Mateo Times

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