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 24, 1961

The Raiders conducted their first organized training drills today and according to Scotty Stirling of the Tribune Eddie Erdelatz was happy with how things went, especially at quarterback. “The quarterbacks in this camp are much better than what we started with last year,” he said. He added that rookies Mike Jones and Nick Papac “were impressive in our passing drill and, of course, Tommy Flores is an exceptional thrower. Tom obviously has been practicing prior to coming here, so we’ll be much further along with our quarterbacking than in 1960.”

Several players commented on how quickly things were moving this year, including linebacker Bob Dougherty who said, “We’ve got more hustle and spirit than we had last year. With a year’s experience behind us and with a couple of good rookies to fill in, we can have a real good team.”

Stirling noted that a few of the rookies stood out from the crowd, including running back Oneal Cuttery, defensive back Herm Urenda, and ends Jerry Burch and Clair Appledoorn.

Position switch

Nyle McFarlane, who played on offense at halfback and flanker last year, was being given a shot in the defensive backfield. As McFarlane explained, “Before joining the Raiders I started on defense in six games for the Dallas Cowboys, so I’m familiar with the position.”

Crowded at the top

In today’s Examiner, Bob Brachman reported that the team’s plan to add as many as 35 limited partners to the ownership group was well on its way to fruition. According to general manager Bud Hastings, “the stuff (shares in the team) went like hotcakes. Most buyers were successful East Bay businessmen, which was heartening, because we took the quick sale to be indicative of the confidence they have in the team’s future. The most significant aspect is that the Raiders organization is now on its way to becoming a community enterprise. It has generated a broader interest base. Of course, none of the 35 will have any say about running the team.”

Read more “July 24, 1961”

July 23, 1961

The Examiner ran their season preview today under Bob Brachman’s byline. Brachman highlighted the ways things would be different for the Raiders this year, some good, some not so good.

In the not so good column, he pointed out that the team no longer had first dibs on 49ers and Redskins castoffs and, as Eddie Erdelatz pointed out, “It’s a cinch NFL releases will be funneled to Minnesota and Dallas (the two expansion teams) if at all possible.” And even the draft wasn’t much help as only six of the 30 players picked would report to camp with second-round choice George Fleming the only one from the first 12 rounds.

Erdelatz, again: “I don’t say any or all of these might not turn out (to be) good players, but it’s kind of slim pickings when you consider that San Diego picked up 11 of their first 14 draftees, Buffalo got 9 of 12, and Houston and Dallas did just about as well. They were the strong teams to start with, so we’ve got our work cut out.”

According to general manager Bud Hastings, parsimony on the part of the ownership, particularly before the reorganization in January, played a role. “If we had been able to offer a little extra inducement, as all other clubs did this past year, we could have hooked half a dozen of our top draft picks who got away,” he said. Hastings was now able to offer signing bonuses, but that change occurred well after the prime draft pick signing period.

Hastings also explained that the team’s scouting system had been improved. While most scouting last year had been via telephone, he said, “that gets you nowhere fast. Unless you have that personal contact with prospects, you don’t get very far. Our owners (now) recognize that you have to have a top scouting system and that it costs money. We’re going to have four or five people looking for talent across the country.”

In the Tribune, Scotty Stirling wrote that many of the Raiders had bulked up this year after being one of the lightest teams in the league last year. Most notable among the gainers was Jim Otto who, after starting last season at 210 pounds and finishing at 235, reported in at 248 pounds this year, putting him more on par with his counterparts across the AFL. On defense, Charley Powell came in at 245, some 30 pounds above his former boxing weight, but said he’d probably get down to 235 for the season.

There are quite a few guys who have grown considerably in a year,” said trainer George Anderson, “and most of them have been running and working out for several weeks so it looks like solid growth to me.” For the guys who were bigger but less diligent about their training he said, “We will set up the fat man’s training table immediately.”

In case the coach reads all the papers

Middle linebacker Tom Louderback was the subject of sports editor George Hower’s column in the Santa Rosa Press Democrat. After talking about Louderback’s work during the season ticket sales campaign, Hower reported the linebacker’s opinion of playing for his head coach, saying Erdelatz “drives us real hard and we like it.”

July 21, 1961

Ed Schoenfeld of the Tribune reported that new Raider defensive coaches George Dickson and Bob Maddock were going to preach aggressive team play to their charges when camp got underway.

“I don’t think a guy can be a good football player defensively without being mean on the field,” said Dickson. “Football is a team game above everything else. You’ve got to have unity, unselfishness, and be willing to sacrifice. There’s never been a championship team in any sport that wasn’t extremely aggressive and competitive and if you don’t improve, the parade will pass you by. If a team can improve just one percent a day, it will be a pretty good team long before the end of the season. There is no point of stagnation. You either go forward or backward.”

Schoenfeld emphasized both coaches’ experience as players at Notre Dame and said both men saw defensive football as combat. Maddock said you prepare a player to go to war through “rigorous mental and physical training.”

In the same issue, Scotty Stirling offered a preview of the team with a focus on some of the new players that would be in camp, including a pair of free agents just signed today: 5’11”, 190-pound quarterback Nick Papac out of Fresno State, and speedy 6’2”, 195-pound halfback Ed Whittle from New Mexico State.

Stirling also coaxed some more from Eddie Erdelatz about the team’s prospects for the upcoming season. “We will be facing tougher, bigger, and faster clubs this year,” said Erdelatz. “We must completely overhaul our defensive team and add more polish and speed to our attacking unit. We’ll move much faster during training than we did in 1960, but it still will be the toughest part of the season, physically and mentally, for coaches and players.

“If we can improve the offense, which did a great job last year, and patch up that defense, we’ll be in there with all of them.”

When pressed to predict the team’s record in 1961, he said, “It’s much too early to talk about that. Right now, I’m concerned with getting our club down to a workable number and building a solid, eager organization.”

Erdelatz offered the usual bromides about every position being up for grabs, but Stirling identified players he thought had jobs already sewn up: cornerback Joe Cannavino, defensive tackle George Fields, quarterback Tom Flores, wide receiver Charlie Hardy, center Jim Otto, and halfback Tony Teresa.

More roster news

The Santa Cruz Sentinel reported that tackle Ray Schaack, signed by the Raiders as a free agent in February, told the team he was going to focus on his education and would not report to camp.

No radio?

The San Mateo Times reported that KNBC, the team’s radio broadcast partner last year, had yet to renew the contract.

July 13, 1961

John Simmonds of the Tribune reported that new Raiders Alan Miller and Dick Christy were in town ahead of the opening of training camp later this month and the pair had some nice things to say about their new teammates.

Miller: “With Jim Otto at center and John Dittrich and (the now retired) Don Manoukian at guards, the Raiders had the best offensive interior line in the league. The line can be the difference between a big gain or a loss, so you can understand why Dick and I are concerned over Don’s decision to quit the game.

And: “(Tom Flores) is well thought of all over the league. Just give him a little more experience and watch out.”

Christy: “Dittrich and Manoukian are particularly good on downfield blocking. They know just when to break upfield.”

Some other notes from Simmonds:

Miller plans to study law after his football career and is an accomplished pass catcher out of the backfield.

Christy is a speedy back who is adept at getting outside and turning the corner and will be an asset in the return game.

Miller on the comparative talent between the NFL and AFL: “There’s a couple of teams in the NFL that would lose to some of our top clubs right now. The real difference now is that there are more experienced players in the NFL but as they retire and new players take their places the quality of the two leagues will grow closer and things will even out. It’s just a matter of the AFL hanging in there for a few years. If the people will give us a hand this league will go places.”

Rumors

The Tacoma News Tribune printed a bit suggesting that former Washington State quarterback Bobby Newman “may hook on” with the Raiders. Newman was in camp with the Raiders for a few days last August before getting released.

July 9, 1961

Scotty Stirling reported that Raider guard and Pacific Northwest tag-team wrestling champion Don Manoukian was quitting football to pursue his wrestling career full time. Manoukian, one of the most well-liked players on the team, said the decision was a difficult one that took several months to make.

“I loved playing with the Raiders,” he said, “and will miss such great competitors as Jim Otto and Tony Teresa, but in thinking of my future I realize I’ve got to take advantage of my wrestling opportunities right now. I can only take the bumps for another three or four years and wrestling, I feel, is the answer. (The Raiders are) a great outfit and Bud Hastings was real understanding when I finally called him and told him I was quitting. It was hard for me because I somehow felt I was letting the team down. Besides, there are a few guys in the AFL that I would like to clobber again, like the corner linebackers at Boston.”

Hastings and Eddie Erdelatz were very disappointed at the news. “The loss of Manoukian is hard to take,” said Hastings. “He was the heart of our fine offensive line last year.”

TV News

Hastings also announced that the team had resolved matters with ABC television and that a fourth away game was returned to the TV schedule: October 15 at Denver.

Oakland Tribune

December 28, 1960

Both the Associated Press and United Press International announced their all-AFL teams today and several Raiders found themselves named.

Center Jim Otto made AP first-team and UPI second-team. Defensive back Eddie Macon was picked first-team by the UPI but wasn’t mentioned by the AP. Defensive back Joe Cannavino and linebacker Bob Dougherty made second-team UPI. Honorable mentions for the AP were guard John Dittrich, linebacker Tom Louderback, guard Don Manoukian, and defensive end Charley Powell. Dittrich was also a UPI honorable mention as was fullback Billy Lott.

Associated Press
United Press International

December 24, 1960

The American Football League named their official all-league team today and three Raiders were included. On the first team was center Jim Otto. Making the second team were guard Don Manoukian and defensive back Eddie Macon. Selections were made by league coaches along with a handful of beat writers chosen by the league.

News of another meeting of team owners, scheduled for next week, appeared in the news today. The meeting’s agenda was, among other things, to discuss Eddie Erdelatz’s future with the team. Rumor had it that Chet Soda was planning to relinquish the role of general manager and he was quoted as saying Erdelatz “would be given every consideration” for the job.

United Press International

December 1, 1960

Heavy rain caused the cancellation of practice today and Eddie Erdelatz took time to offer a comment about last Sunday’s game. “We’re not that bad,” he said. “We must redeem ourselves the only way we know how.” He said only Tom Flores, Tony Teresa, Don Manoukian, and Jim Otto played well in the loss to the Chargers.

The team would seek redemption with a slightly different lineup. Alan Goldstein’s ankle injury was expected to keep him out of the next game. He would be joined on the sideline by George Fields who was expected to miss the game because of an unidentified ailment. Nyle McFarlane would take Goldstein’s flanker spot, while Don Deskins would replace Fields on the end of the defensive line. Erdelatz made two other changes for performance issues, moving John Dittrich in for Wayne Hawkins at right guard, and installing Doug Asad at the starting tight end spot in place of Gene Prebola.

Despite the rain, the crew at Candlestick Park continued their work and the field was almost ready. Goal posts were in place, the pitcher’s mound had been removed, and the yard lines had been laid out. A big concern was the presence of the infield dirt over much of the football playing area and a problem with an uneven playing surface due to drainage patterns put in place for the baseball layout.

When asked about the prospect of a muddy field on Sunday, Erdelatz said, “It’s bad on both sides of the field, so what’s the difference?”

Oakland Tribune
San Francisco Chronicle

November 24, 1960

Confirming what had been considered a foregone conclusion, the San Francisco Park and Recreation Commission formally, but conditionally, granted the Raiders permission to play their last three home games in Candlestick Park. As had been announced previously, the team would be responsible for stadium cleaning as well as converting the field and scoreboard to a football configuration and back to baseball after the season.

While the team continued to prepare for the critical matchup with the Chargers on Sunday, the Tribune’s Scotty Stirling ran a feature on center Jim Otto, saying he was considered by many observers to be the best at his position in the league. At under 230 pounds, the coaching staff thought he would be too small, but as his coach Eddie Erdelatz said, “This is a guy that puts out one hundred percent all the time. He’s my kind of ballplayer, combining desire with real ability. You can’t beat that combination. We’ve played all the clubs in this league and have looked at miles of films of each and we haven’t seen a center that comes close to Jim.”

He was also a fine special teams player with Tom Louderback saying Otto was the fastest person he’d ever seen in pro football on punt coverage. The story also said he had played through injuries, including a “chronic” chest problem he had suffered since a skiing accident in his youth and a bad knee and ankle. According to Stirling, despite Otto’s physical woes, he had missed less than a half-dozen plays all year.

Oakland Tribune