July 29, 1961

The team held another scrimmage today and Eddie Erdelatz said the results were “not bad.” He pointed out that many of the players were still out of shape and that, as expected, the defense was looking better than the offense, partly because the coaching staff had placed much of their emphasis on that side of the ball following last year’s poor showing.

The defense finished seventh in yards allowed last year, ahead of only the Broncos, and Erdelatz said, “I was embarrassed, even humiliated, because defense has always been an important part of my coaching. I had been away from pro ball for ten years, didn’t realize how much had changed, and depended too much on other people’s opinions and coaching theories. I discovered that the style of covering on forward passes was new to me. I didn’t do much actual coaching with the defense, figuring I’d get my bearings, see what was going on, and then try to figure our best moves.”

This year, he was making a number of changes, but said they “will be new to pro football, so I don’t think I want to elaborate,” except to say they were designed to improve the pass rush.

“I don’t care how great a defensive halfback is,” he continued, “he can’t handle a good receiver by himself if the passer has enough time to let the receiver make a lot of fakes. Pass defense is the toughest part of this game and we’re trying to give those guys back there all the help we can.”

Regarding today’s scrimmage, he said, “The defense figures to be a bit ahead at this state of the going. Then, too, our offense was handicapped because they didn’t have blocking assignments for some of the new defenses. We’ll be able to tell much more from the movies. Today, I devoted most of my attention to the defense because we’re installing new stuff. The movies will give me a chance to look at the offense more thoroughly.”

He did add that the offense was largely in the hands of assistants Marty Feldman and Tommy Kalmanir, saying, “We had a fine attack last year and Kalmanir and Feldman can handle their end without trouble.”

There was some special teams work getting done too, with incumbent Wayne Crow working on his punting, along with possible competitors Nick Papac, Herm Urenda, and Larry Barnes. Barnes, who had a rough 1960 kicking field goals was working on that side of his game as well, with Dave Williams as another placekicking possibility.

At this early stage, the staff was focusing on the positives and nearly every participant received some good words from their coaches.

 

That professional attitude

When asked he if wished he were back in college ball coaching Navy, Erdelatz said, “No. The players have the same attitude which I found in college, an attitude as good as any team I’ve been associated with.”

 

Camp injuries

Guard Wayne Hawkins suffered a mild knee injury during the scrimmage while rookie linemate Jim Green dislocated a shoulder, though apparently this was a recurring problem for him, and he was expected to be back on the field in a couple of days.

 

At the table

The “World of Women” page of today’s Tribune included a primer from Raider trainer George Anderson on how the team’s wives can help keep their husbands’ weight under control. According to Anderson, those players who put on a few (or a bunch of) extra pounds over the winter would benefit from the following guidelines: “plenty of protein, light on the starches, no sweets, and no in-between meal ‘soul soothers.’ Trim all fat from meat, (serve) lots of plain vegetables, and (replace) the sugar bowl with artificial sweetener.”

At the team’s so-called “Fat Man’s Table” in training camp, the following meals were offered:

Breakfast
7 ounces orange juice
2 eggs, not fried
1 piece of dry whole wheat toast
Coffee, black

Lunch
Cup of soup
Cold plate with scoop of cottage cheese
Slice of roast beef, ham, or turkey
Slice of cheese
Iced tea or coffee
Canned fruit

Dinner
¼ cantaloupe
12-ounce broiled beef steak
String beans
Iced tea or coffee
1 scoop sherbet

On game day, the team would offer to all players a meal of an eight-ounce steak with either scrambled eggs and toast or vegetables and potatoes with orange juice. The meal would be offered four hours before the game, with no eating after that until after the game. According to Anderson, players play better “when they’re a little hungry.”

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”

March 30, 1961

The Tribune’s Scotty Stirling reported today that the Raiders were looking to trade up to two of their offensive backs in return for some help on defense, particularly at defensive tackle, outside linebacker, and cornerback. The team wouldn’t mention which players were on the block.

“We look, first of all, for the best football player, regardless of position,” said line coach Marty Feldman, “so in any trade we may get a man for a position other than those we feel need the most help.”

Stirling also said Eddie Erdelatz was in the process of hiring another assistant and was currently conducting interviews.

Oakland Tribune

March 4, 1961

A Game in Hawaii

Raider general manager Bud Hastings announced that the team would open their 1961 preseason slate against the Houston Oilers in Honolulu. According to Scotty Stirling of the Tribune, the game was actually a gift to the Oilers players from the team’s management for winning the AFL championship and the Raiders were just lucky beneficiaries. The Oilers would open training camp in Hawaii three weeks prior to the game.

According to an Oilers official, the plan came from owner Bud Adams. “It will be a change from the hot, humid camp we had in Texas last year,” said the unnamed official, “and the trip certainly should be enjoyable to the squad.”

The Raiders had yet to schedule their other three preseason games, but said one would likely be played in Candlestick Park, another would take place in Sacramento or Stockton, and the last would probably be against the Chargers in their new San Diego home. The team was still deciding between Santa Cruz and Santa Rosa for their own training camp, with Eddie Erdelatz plumping for Santa Cruz.

Contract News

Wayne Crow, who reportedly had been at odds with management over his contract for 1961, said he thought his situation, which had involved confusion or disagreement over whether offseason payments were part of his 1960 contract, said he thought things had been “straightened out.”

John Dittrich, for his part, said he was “very happy” with his new deal. Stirling reported that Marty Feldman called Dittrich the team’s best guard.

Oakland Tribune
San Mateo Times

February 1, 1961

Ernie Jorge resigned his post as offensive line coach today, citing “the length of the pro season, the number of games, and the traveling” as his reasons. He had been hired by Eddie Erdelatz last February after having served under him at the Naval Academy in the 1950s and was the first of the four assistants he hired.  Jorge said he still wanted to coach and would “listen to any and all offers.” The news left the Raiders with just two assistants, Marty Feldman and Tommy Kalmanir, following last week’s departure of Ed Cody to Washington State.

 

Hayward Daily Review
Oakland Tribune
San Francisco Chronicle

January 24, 1961

The Raiders signed three more players today, but George Fleming was not one of them. The inking of the team’s second-round pick had been thought to be imminent, but Fleming was quoted today as saying, “I never said I’d decided on the Raiders. I haven’t decided on anything yet. So far as I’m concerned, everything is still open.”

A Raiders spokesperson said, “We can’t make any announcement until we actually sign him.”

The first player they did sign was their 21st-round choice, quarterback Mike Jones out of San Jose State, who had also been selected by the Steelers in the 20th round of the NFL draft. Jones, at 6’1” and 200 pounds, completed 71 of 152 passes for 1,049 yards with the Spartans in 1960 and had been an honorable mention All-America choice. Assistant coach Marty Feldman said Jones “has a strong arm and is a fine thinker.”

The team also signed 6’1”, 230-pound guard Roger Fisher of Utah State. The Raiders’ 23rd-round pick had been a two-year letterman on both sides of the line for the Aggies. He had started his college career at Modesto Junior College.

Finally, the Raiders signed free agent guard Arnold Metcalf from Oregon State. At 6’4” and 250 pounds, Metcalf was 25, having spent two years in the army after his college stint had ended.

Oakland Tribune
San Francisco Chronicle

November 15, 1960

While the Raider players enjoyed another day off, Eddie Erdelatz took time to again praise the team for their play against Buffalo. “They showed what the word desire means in the game Sunday,” he said. “You know, the Bills gave our kids a real licking in Buffalo and they wanted revenge. I knew all week long that they were really ready for a top effort and they certainly provided that. Unfortunately, the crowd was small. It was an enthusiastic bunch, however, and I’m sure our guys appreciate the support.”

Also offering his views was line coach Marty Feldman. He explained that since Ernie Jorge’s heart attack, he had been coaching both the offensive and defensive lines, then weighed in on the limitations of the Raider defense. “We need more weight on the defensive line,” he said. “The heaviest man we have now is 248 pounds. That might seem like a lot of beef, but the truth is that in this league they should go all the way up to 268 pounds. Just a couple of big boys to go with what we have now would be ideal.”

He also lamented the lack of speed at linebacker and in the secondary: “Guys like Alex Bravo and Eddie Macon are still good players, but let’s face it. They’re not kids anymore. We’re going to have to start shopping for replacements.”

He did admit that the Raiders were very much on the young side overall and that experience had its virtues. “The clubs that do (have experienced players) are the ones that are the roughest,” he said. “Some teams were able to get many men from the NFL and Canada. Our club, however, was only able to procure a few, so naturally we need experience.” He added that “we have no taxi squad. Because we want to keep expenses down, the only players we are carrying are the ones who play.”

Hayward Daily Review
Oakland Tribune

November 13, 1960

Giving what head coach Eddie Erdelatz called their best defensive effort of the season, the Raiders beat the Bills 20-7 to even their record at 5-5.

Before the game there was still noise about a pair of NFL games being televised in the area before the Raiders’ 1:30 start. After Chet Soda complained, Lamar Hunt was reportedly planning to lodge a formal protest with the NFL. The NFL’s commissioner Pete Rozelle was unmoved. “The new league appears to have a fixation that every action and policy of the National Football League is designed to impair their operation,” he said. “If they would expend more time and energy in the development of their own league, and less time worrying about the NFL, they would be much more successful than they apparently have been so far.” Rozelle added that the league had no control over broadcasts, explaining that once they sold the rights to networks, the league has “no control over utilization of these rights other than blacking out NFL cities from other NFL telecasts when our clubs play at home. This is in accordance with a 1953 decision of a US district court in Philadelphia. Telecasts of a game involving teams in the new league are beamed into all NFL cities when our teams play at home.” Read more “November 13, 1960”

October 29, 1960

While the players were taking a day off following the win over the Titans, a pair of controversies dominated Raider news today. The first concerned a report that Chet Soda had sold 50% of his share of the team to Frederick Sullivan, the president of a San Francisco travel agency. Sullivan, whose firm numbered the Raiders among its clients, was the source of the news and he also asserted that three other owners had sold part of their financial shares to other parties. These sales, according to Sullivan, did not include voting rights. Soda denied the story. However, the team’s PR director, Jack Gallagher, acknowledged there was a provision in the ownership agreement that allowed owners to sell a portion of their share as long as voting rights were not transferred with the sale. Sellers of partial shares did not have to reveal names of the buyers to the other owners.

The other controversy involved a dispute between Eddie Erdelatz and Titans owner Harry Wismer. What was being characterized in the press as a “feud”, began on the Wednesday before the game. Wismer had invited Erdelatz to a cocktail party thrown for the press. Erdelatz did not attend, citing previous obligations, but Wismer took it as a snub and called Erdelatz “uncooperative and a troublemaker.”

Erdelatz responded by saying, “Wismer himself is hardly the most popular man in (New York) and being on his ‘list’ doesn’t bother me a bit.”

Not letting matters stand there, Wismer, an old radio hand, said on the air that the Raiders had arrived late to the game and that Erdelatz missed the beginning altogether. Scotty Stirling, the Oakland Tribune’s beat writer verified that the Raider coach had accompanied the team to the game and that they had arrived on time.

Marty Feldman confirmed this, saying, “We were in the Polo Grounds at the normal time and Eddie was certainly with us.” Erdelatz was unavailable for comment.

In less incendiary news, Soda announced that the team was abandoning its pursuit of playing the last three home games of 1960 in the Pacific High School stadium in San Leandro.

Oakland Tribune

October 28, 1960

Final statistics

On a rainy Friday night in the Big Apple, the Raiders staged a ten-point comeback in the fourth quarter to beat the New York Titans, 28-27, before 10,000 spectators at the Polo Grounds. The Raiders entered the game coming off their worst loss ever, a 38-9 beating at the hands of the Bills. At 3-4, they had fallen back to the pack after challenging the Broncos for the Western Division lead just a week ago. They did come into the game mostly healthy, though. Larry Barnes, Tom Flores, and Charley Powell had all been suffering from various forms of mild illness in recent days but would be ready to go at game time. Read more “October 28, 1960”