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”

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.