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 27, 1961

The Raider coaching staff held a surprise scrimmage today and afterward head coach Eddie Erdelatz offered only the very faintest of praise. “This wasn’t too bad a scrimmage for the first time,” he said, “but we’ve got an awful long way to go.”

He did single out a handful of players that performed well in his estimation. He had good words for the blocking of fullbacks Jetstream Smith and Alan Miller and said the team had “good, healthy competition” for the position. He was also happy with the effort shown by Jack Stone and Wayne Hawkins on the offensive line and by tight end Doug Asad’s much-improved work running pass patterns.

Prior to the scrimmage Scotty Stirling had filed a camp report in the Tribune the included bad news for the team involving running back Tony Teresa. In previously unreported news, Teresa had spent a week and a half in a hospital in June because of back pain and it was acting up on him again. According to Teresa it didn’t bother him during practice but got bad at night.

The hospital told him there was “swelling, causing pressure back there and the only thing that will clear it up is lots of running, and time.”

Despite the news, trainer George Anderson was pleased with the way things were going so far. “We had at least a half-dozen guys on the sidelines with muscle pulls after the first couple of days work last year,” he said. “So far this year we’ve had only one pull and that wasn’t serious. I’m keeping my fingers crossed.”

Stirling also reported that linebacker Al Bansavage was continuing to impress his coaches. Secondary coach George Dickson said, “he has good size and speed and one other quality I greatly admire, ruggedness.”

Eddie Erdelatz said he was happy with the defense, overall: “They seem to be getting much better—greatly improved over last year at the same time. I liked the way our defensive line and linebackers were moving.”

Dickson added, “We’re not doing things too differently from a technique point of view, but (the players are) making a real effort to improve. They must set a high standard and achieve consistency. The secret of pass defense is aggressiveness, cohesion, and unity, and they’re working toward it.”

Other injury news

Guard Jim Green had his nose broken during the scrimmage, but wouldn’t miss any practice after getting a more protective facemask for his helmet

Lineup change

John Harris, who spent most of last year as a reserve in the secondary, was promoted to a starting corner position ahead of the reigning team leader in interceptions, Eddie Macon. Erdelatz said Harris had been the top defensive back in camp so far and deserved the spot.

Read more “July 27, 1961”

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”

March 1, 1961

Contract Talk

Scotty Stirling, in the Oakland Tribune, reported that there was unhappiness among some of the players over their 1961 contract offers. Wayne Crow, Charlie Hardy, Jack Larscheid, Tom Louderback, and Tony Teresa all voiced some degree of disappointment according to Stirling. Crow and Louderback said they received pay cuts, while Hardy, Larscheid, and Teresa said their raises were too small or non-existent. Tom Flores, on the other hand, said he was “reasonably happy” with his deal and Stirling said the general consensus was that he had received a hefty increase over last year. No specific dollar figures were mentioned anywhere in the story.

Quotes

Crow, explaining that part of his 1960 deal included the withholding of part of his salary to be paid to him during the offseason while he completed his degree at Cal: “The withheld money was not a bonus, but part of my basic salary and it isn’t included in my new contract. That represents a big cut in pay. The withholding setup did not work too well, and I don’t want a similar contract, but that money was a part of my salary so I feel there may be a mistake somewhere. At any rate, I’m not signing until I’ve thrashed the thing out with club officials.”

Hardy: “My contract had a bump in it, all right, but I’m not satisfied with it.”

Larscheid: “I sent (my contract) back, and I’ve since received a letter requesting I drop into the office to discuss the matter. I know, too, that Wayne Hawkins isn’t pleased with the terms in his contract, and he was a starter all of last year.”

Louderback who, like Larscheid, returned his contract unsigned: “They included a big cut in the salary and I’m not signing. When I first got the contract in the mail I thought it was a misprint. I feel I had a good year for the club. I was a starter all season and didn’t get any complaints about my play from the coaches.”

Teresa: “I just gave (my offer) a quick look when I saw the small raise and I threw it in a drawer. I’m thinking it over and I may send it back unsigned.”

Oakland Tribune

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 11, 1960

Just yesterday the team said defensive end Charley Powell was unlikely to play on against the Bills, but today trainer George Anderson said Powell had responded to treatment and would be ready to go on Sunday. “Charley has that good attitude and wants to play,” said Anderson, “and that always helps in injuries.” Fellow lineman Ramon Armstrong and guard Wayne Hawkins were pronounced fully recovered from recent ailments and would be on the field, too.

Eddie Erdelatz was pleased with the way his team had been looking in practice this week. “They appear more ready for this game than for any other in recent weeks,” he said. “I think revenge has a lot to do with it. The Bills did a pretty good job on us in Buffalo and the kids want to make up for it, both for the fans and for themselves.”

While the focus had again turned toward on the field matters, the stadium talk was still going on in the background. A divide was beginning to appear between those who favored an Oakland site and those who wanted more consideration to be given to south county sites. Francis Dunn, the chairman of the Alameda County Board of Supervisors acknowledged the challenge of getting a non-Oakland site approved. “Under the proposed financing, with Oakland and the county backing a loan from private financial sources to construct a stadium,” he said, “I doubt if anything farther south than Hegenberger would be accepted unless it were a great deal cheaper.”

Team co-owner Robert Osborne insisted “nothing specific has been settled on that. We will peruse all possible sites throughout the county. In fact, my heart is in your area (South Bay). I’d hate to believe that there would be less cooperation from those whose cities were not picked. This should be looked at from the broad viewpoint.”

San Leandro mayor JD Maltester seemed to be on board with the cooperative model. “I have no particular area in mind,” he said, “whether it be Hayward, San Leandro, or Fremont. Our only possible site is in the Trojan Powder Words area fronting on the bay, but I believe Hayward has several possible places. It’s important that the two cities work together. Certainly, there wouldn’t be any squabbling between us.”

In the end, though, Dunn was plumping for an Oakland site. “A multi-purpose stadium such as this would be a tremendous asset to the entire community. There are many things it could be used for, such as expositions. I hope people at our end of the county get behind the project. Personally, I favor the Hegenberger site. It is centrally located within the county, has as good a weather as anywhere west of the hills, has access to freeways, and is fairly close to the airport.”

Osborne said the team hoped that the project would be complete and ready for occupancy by 1962.

Hayward Daily Review
Oakland Tribune

November 8, 1960

The Raiders returned to the practice field today to begin preparing for the Buffalo game. The team was hopeful they could field a full complement of players on game day, reporting that Wayne Hawkins and Charley Powell were on the mend from their injuries and that Ramon Armstrong was recovering from his bout with the flu.

In the Oakland Tribune there was a Scotty Stirling article discussing the recent rumor that Eddie Erdelatz would be coaching the Giants next season. Stirling said the story was a fabrication made up by a pair of reporters, one in San Francisco and one in Boston, and that the Raider players were deeply loyal to Erdelatz.

Per Jack Larscheid: “We’d be nothing without Eddie. I don’t think we would have won one game, let alone four, if it hadn’t been for Erdelatz. I can tell you right now that I’d go through bricks for that guy and every ballplayer on the team feels the same way.”

Oakland Tribune
United Press International

November 4, 1960

Final statistics

On a chilly, breezy Friday night the Patriots turned three Raider turnovers into 17 points and held on late to win 34-28. Playing at Alumni Field before a gathering of 8,446 on the University of Massachusetts campus, the Patriots jumped out to a 14-0 lead in the first on two Butch Songin touchdown passes. The second one came following a Tom Flores interception and Eddie Erdelatz decided to go with Babe Parilli in his stead. Parilli put together a 13-play drive that resulted in a Tony Teresa touchdown early in the second. Gino Cappelletti’s two field goals late in the period made the score 20-7 at the half. Read more “November 4, 1960”

September 9, 1960

Eddie Erdelatz named his starting offense today. As mentioned a couple of days ago, Tom Flores would start at quarterback. Joining him in the backfield would be Jack Larscheid, Billy Lott, and Tony Teresa, who would man the flanker spot. On the ends would be Charlie Hardy and Gene Prebola. Ron Sabal and Dalton Truax were to start at the tackles, with Don Manoukian and Wayne Hawkins at guard, and Jim Otto in the middle.

On the practice field, the team ran through their last workout before the game and the next time they put on pads they would be facing the Houston Oilers to get the whole shooting match underway.

Hayward Daily Review
San Mateo Times

September 6, 1960: View from the Future

It’s a truism and probably a truth that we can’t tell much about football teams from their preseason performances, but it might have been a little less true for the AFL in 1960. With every team consisting of players who, in almost all cases, had never played together before, for coaches they’d never played for, there was plenty of uncertainty, and lots of incentive to find out just what they had before competing for keeps. Eddie Erdelatz, just as an example, said explicitly that he was playing to win and there’s no reason not to think that at least some of the other coaches felt the same way. It sure looked like Hank Stram and Sid Gillman felt that way. The Texans and the Chargers had gone undefeated in the preseason, affirming a sense among league observers, developed before the exhibition schedule began, that they, along with the Oilers were the class of the league. The jury was still out on Houston, though. At 2-3, they were no better than the Raiders at this point. The surprise was Boston at 4-1. No one expected much from them going in, so it would be interesting to see if they could translate their success into the regular season. Also-rans were the Bills and Titans at 1-4 and the Broncos at 0-5.

Read more “September 6, 1960: View from the Future”