The Raider Logbook began when I was a graduate student in history at the University of Washington. There, I found a microfilm archive of the San Francisco Chronicle and for the first time I could explore the history of the Raiders as it happened. Coincidentally, this being sometime in the fall of 1997, I was also getting seriously acquainted with that newfangled curiosity called the Internet. I had had an email address for about a year and had been poking around in Usenet newsgroups and, while doing so, had found the Raiders Fans Mailing List.
And what a find! Spokane has always been fertile ground for Raider fandom, a legacy of pre-Seahawk days, but it was far removed from the Bay Area and now I was suddenly corresponding with people who were as fanatic as I was and close to the action to boot. This was the good life. The RFML was chock full of rumors and stories and first-hand game day experiences. I couldn’t offer those, but I could offer the historical perspective that didn’t get all that much play there.
My first submission to the mailing list was a retrospective of a thoroughly uninteresting game from 1978, a 28-3 win over the Packers a week after the Holy Roller game. I continued to post game stories at random, some exciting, some boring, but soon I got an email from RFML member Bill Johnson, known to the list as the Quartermaster, asking if I’d like to be a contributor to his Raiderfans.com site. I jumped at the chance and began posting my retrospectives there.
After that, opportunities came fast. Raider “fan-addict” Manny Baldenegro, the editor of the online magazine, Silver and Black Electronic Report (SABER) asked if I’d like to write for him and now I was putting together weekly articles during the season, offering historical perspectives on the upcoming weekend’s matchup as well as writing pre- and post-game analysis pieces. Then, on top of that, Tim Del Rosario, publisher of the print weekly Raider Fan Magazine asked if I’d like to write for him and suddenly my pieces were being read on actual newsprint and I was watching Raider-Seahawks games from the Kingdome pressbox, as a foreign correspondent, seated not more than ten feet away from — holy shit! — Al Davis. Those were heady days.
Around this time I also began to post web pages detailing the team’s statistical history. This was before Pro Football Reference had come on the scene and there weren’t any comprehensive statistical databases to be found online back then. I purchased a domain, raiderlogbook.com, and set to work putting up some pretty simple html pages that listed the typical NFL Encyclopedia stuff, like career and season records for each player and added some of my own research like starting quarterback won-loss records. Pretty staid nowadays, but a lot harder to come by in those days.
But around the time of the team’s resurgence under Gruden and Gannon, my personal life went to hell for a while and I didn’t have the time or the interest in keeping up and expanding the site. Eventually, it fell on the scrapheap and I didn’t bother to keep anything but ownership of the domain name. However, I was still intent on bringing it back someday and a few years later I was able to focus on it again and the impetus was my joining the Professional Football Researchers Association and gaining access to their gamebook database. With access to play-by-play details of virtually every Raider game ever played, I could dive deeper into the team’s history than ever and that’s what has driven the current version of the Logbook with its daily narrative form and an increasing variety of compendia and analysis.
One thing this site isn’t is a rigorously academic enterprise. I have neither the time nor the resources to track down every available source, conduct interviews, or worry about whether someone else is working the same side of the street as I am. At the end of each blog entry I list my sources, but I don’t provide footnotes or citations. Where the information is based on conjecture or when sources contradict each other, I do my best to point that out. But everything on here is subject to revision as new information arises and if any readers can offer clarifications or corrections, I will be glad to incorporate that information and give the source full credit. Most of the blog entries are taken directly from newspaper accounts or official league gamebooks. I try to summarize, synthesize, and paraphrase as much as possible and avoid direct copying of style or word choice as I find it in the sources, with the exception of direct quotes from the principals. But make no mistake, the vast majority of the work here has not sprung from my own consciousness. For the most part, I am merely presenting the work of others in a single, searchable, easily browsed location. I do, from time to time, try my hand at analysis of games, teams, and players, but I also provide the opinions of those who were there at the time and when I do so, I am careful to let the reader know that’s what I’m doing.
So that’s what is going on here. I expect it to grow and change as my interests grow and change, and as I get new ideas about what to do with it, but I also expect the fundamental nature of the site to remain the same, dedicated to the history of the sports franchise I have loved the longest and with the most passion, the Oakland Raiders.
February 13, 2017