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.”
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.
New Raiders Dick Christy and Alan Miller continued their media blitz with Mel Bowen of the Santa Cruz Sentinel. Christy and Miller were the first two arrivals in Santa Cruz for training camp that was scheduled to start in a few days. Neither Bud Hastings nor Eddie Erdelatz had yet put in an appearance so the two former Patriots were reduced to working out on the beach for several hours each day.
Christy was trying to get down to his playing weight and, by his account, still had eight pounds to go. Miller, for his part, was battling a sinus infection, and Christy said, “that’s what he gets” for laying “five hours on the beach.”
Miller said neither he nor Christy had met Erdelatz, but that he had played against his Navy teams while attending Boston College and said Erdelatz “always had the wagons then.”
The Tribune reported today that the Raiders had acquired 6’2”, 230-pound linebacker Al Bansavage from the Chargers in exchange for a “top choice” in the 1962 draft. The round was not identified in the story. Bansavage was at the center of a dispute last season between the two teams. He had been selected by Minneapolis in the first AFL draft, but was later signed by the Chargers without compensation, despite the AFL having awarded his signing rights to the Raiders. When Bansavage played in the first meeting between the two teams in November, Chet Soda petitioned the league to declare the game a Chargers forfeit. Commissioner Joe Foss conceded that the Raiders had a case but said any penalties would not include a forfeit. Eddie Erdelatz said he planned to try Bansavage on offense as a replacement for the departed Don Manoukian at guard.
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.”
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.
The team announced they had agreed to 1961 contract terms with four of their veterans: John Dittrich, Tom Flores, Charley Powell, and Tony Teresa. The news came as a welcome relief after all the public grousing about team parsimony back in March.
Said general manager Bud Hastings, “In Flores we believe we have the top quarterback in the league and we’re mighty happy to have him in the fold. Teresa was our top running back last year and we’re delighted he has come to terms.”
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.”
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.
General manager Bud Hastings was hard at work trying to reverse a change to ABC’s televised game schedule this fall. When the network first released their schedule, four of the Raiders’ away games were to be broadcast over KGO in the Bay Area, but a recent change reduced that number to three.
Said Hastings, “Apparently they were forced to change the schedule and reduce our number of games. We are going to check on the situation immediately.”
The three games currently on the schedule were September 17 at San Diego, November 5 at Buffalo, and November 26 at Dallas.
The team’s musical director, Del Courtney, announced a partnership with the Oakland Ballet Company to find 100 women to form a dance troupe to be known as the “Raiderettes.” Though there had been cheerleaders performing at the halftime of games last season, this year Courtney wanted, in his words, “a program that is as smooth, precise, and imaginative as a TV musical spectacular or a Broadway show.”
The company’s choreographer, Raoul Pause, would be in charge of developing routines, fashion designer Don Ransom would come up with the costumes, and former AAU baton-twirling national champion Diane Shelton, current head of the cheerleading troupe, would assist Pause in his work.
Hayward Daily Review
Members of the Raiders and 49ers met in yet another sporting contest, this time on the alleys at Rheem Bowl in Moraga. Led by YA Tittle, the Niners took the three-game series, 2-1.
The team announced they had signed a pair of former Cal Bears to contracts today. The first was 6’1”, 220-pound linebacker Dick Carlsen. At Cal he had earned All-America honorable mention and played in the Copper Bowl all-star game at the end of his college career. The other was 6’2”, 240-pound guard Jim Green. He had had his senior year of 1959 cut short by a serious shoulder injury, but had recovered enough to play in alumni games each of the following two years, which is where Raider scouts spotted him.