July 26, 1961

Jim Otto dropped a bombshell on the team today by announcing he would play out his option after the season and seek a spot in the NFL next year, according to George Ross of the Tribune. Unsurprisingly, money was at the heart of it. He and the Raiders were “several thousand dollars” apart from an agreement and Otto said he wasn’t “going to budge.” He also said he knew of three NFL teams that would pay him what he was asking for.

Otto, who made $8,000 last year, said he “was disappointed after winning the all-league honor last season. This usually brings a bonus from the club, $500 to $1,000 from some clubs. I got just one thing, a (newspaper) clipping somebody sent me. I want to be able to retire with something when I finish playing. It’s not just the salary, either. It’s a matter of off-season opportunities, too.

“We have a great bunch of guys on this club and this is the best coaching staff I’ve ever played under. But this is, after all, a profession. I had to prove I could make the team last year and after making it, I went out to prove I was the best. I think that’s worth a good raise.”

Bud Hastings, who was also trying to come to an agreement with Tom Louderback, said, “We’re still trying to work the thing out. We’ll talk to him (Otto) in a couple of days.”

Thinning the crew

Raider training camp was in full swing today and a new series of cuts were in. Five men, all of whom where free agent signings during the offseason were placed on waivers: running back Bo Bankston, defensive back Clive Bullian, linebacker Dick Carlsen, defensive back Grover Garvin, and defensive back Ed Whittle. Also, the team finally got in touch with defensive lineman Ramon Armstrong, who told them he was retiring from football to help run his father’s ranch back home in Texas.

Armstrong’s decision left the Raiders short on both lines. Eddie Erdelatz said, “We’ll have to figure on some position changes to strengthen both spots,” and suggested that some prayer wouldn’t hurt, either.

Camp news

Scotty Stirling’s camp report in the Tribune included news of a “near fight” between Al Bansavage and Bob Coolbaugh, and Tommy Kalmanir’s praise for the work of running backs Oneal Cuttery, Alan Miller, Jetstream Smith, and Tony Teresa. Joe Cannavino, Wayne Crow, and Bob Voight also looked good.

Stirling said Erdelatz was already installing his new defense and that he was pleased at how fast the veterans were catching on. “We are throwing the stuff at them fast,” he said, “and they seem to like the change.”

Linebacker Bob Dougherty concurred, “Coach Erdelatz is doing a lot more coaching with the defense than he did last year and I’m confident we’ll be a lot tougher.”

Read more “July 26, 1961”

July 19, 1961

Scotty Stirling of the Tribune reported today on a conversation with Eddie Erdelatz wherein the Raider coach gave a summary of what the team would try to accomplish in training camp.

“I had been away from pro football for almost ten years when I took the Raider job,” he said, “and a lot of things had changed. There is a great difference between college and pro football. We went along last year doing pretty much what everybody else in pro football was doing, but with that first season behind us we’re going to do more coaching and try a few things.

“We were hurt badly late in the season because of defensive weaknesses, not all of them due to personnel failures. We stayed strictly with the standard pro defense, and it just didn’t work in certain situations. Our big job at Santa Cruz and during the exhibition season will be to install a new defense. It’s almost a 100 percent change from last year, although it may not look too different to the fans. We’re still going to use the standard pro defense as a base but we’re putting in a lot of modifications to correct the soft spots.”

One thing that set an Erdelatz camp apart from that of other teams was his emphasis on having shorter practices with higher activity levels, including running everywhere during practice. “Running pays off in two ways,” he said. “First, it gets the team in shape. We had fewer injuries by far last year than any team in the league. Secondly, the constant hustling builds spirit. We had keen desire last year and it will be stronger this season. Running and hustling are the keys. The veterans know what is expected and their enthusiasm will rub off on the new men.”

Full workouts were scheduled to begin on the 24th with two-a-days until some of the early player cuts had happened. According to Erdelatz, that game the team plenty of time to prepare for the preseason opener against Houston in Honolulu on August 11. “We had the same amount of time last year,” he said, “and lost to Dallas by a touchdown, so we should be sufficiently well prepared for Houston to give them a ball game.”

Columns

Also in today’s Tribune, George Ross took Oaklanders to task for not supporting the Raiders while the team continued to work toward getting a playing site in Oakland. Ross said the team was making a good-faith effort, but that it was hindered by the lack of Oaklanders willing to cross the bay to watch the team in the meantime. To heighten the shame, he pointed to news that the Reno Chamber of Commerce had “adopted” the Raiders as the closest thing to a hometown team and that several hotels there had bought or were planning to buy blocks of season tickets to support the team.

March 29, 1960

George Ross’s column in the Tribune today took on “a fellow who writes for one of the lesser papers across the bay” who complained that “Oakland is a bush league town,” said he’d give 50-to-1 odds that Oakland never built a stadium, and wouldn’t support the team even if they did. Ross didn’t identify the writer or the paper.1 To counter the other writer’s argument, Ross provided quotes from the Raider owners.

Ed McGah: “For the benefit of the few readers the guy might have on this side of the bay, I’ll cover some of that 50-to-1 money right now.”

Robert Osborne: “I’ve got 10-to-1 we’ll get a stadium and the Raiders will be in it, and so will an American League baseball team.”

Wayne Valley: “We wouldn’t be here today if we weren’t sure a stadium is going to be built in Oakland. We’re preparing for the 1961 season, our preseason ticket sales campaign is under way, we’re expecting better crowds than last year, we see no reason to think the Raiders won’t be playing football in 1962, 1963, 1970, and in Oakland as soon as possible.”

Oakland Tribune

1. I poked around but couldn’t find who the author or the paper was.

March 27, 1961

Columnist George Ross argued in today’s Tribune that if Raider fans didn’t support the team when it played in San Francisco they’d never get a chance to support them in Oakland. “Our golden egg,” he wrote, “will wind up in somebody else’s nest–in Sacramento, or San Jose, or Fresno, or out of state–and we’ll be in Bushville, by the Bay.” He cited an assertion by the city of Minneapolis that the addition of the Twins and Vikings represented “a $15 million addition to the local economy,” and exhorted his readers to start buying up those season tickets or say goodbye to the team forever.

Oakland Tribune