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Sideline II

Raiders owner makes return

By Times staff writer

© St. Petersburg Times, published January 21, 2003


Before Al Davis, there was Sid Gillman. What distinguishes Davis and the Raiders from other teams is what he learned from Gillman, who died this month, more than 40 years ago in San Diego. The upstart AFL moved its foundering Los Angeles Chargers franchise to San Diego for the 1961 season. Gillman, the coach, assembled a staff that included Chuck Noll, who would win four Super Bowls in Pittsburgh, and two future general managers, Jack Faulkner and Don Klosterman. There also was a kid from Brooklyn. Davis worked as an offensive assistant. From that pairing sprang the fundamental concept of the Raiders: attack with the passing game. Gillman's offense set the tone for the AFL. The Chargers reached the title game five times in the league's first six seasons. Gillman's offense averaged 26 points during that span, hitting its peak with 399 points in 14 games in 1963. San Diego culminated that season with the crowning achievement of Gillman's career, routing Boston 51-10 in the championship.

40 years later

The Raiders took Gilman's philosophy to the extreme this season. In the regular season, the Raiders led the NFL in passing yards per game at 279.7 and finished second in scoring at 28.1 points. In two victories during the AFC playoffs, quarterback Rich Gannon completed 49 of 71 passes for 569 yards and five touchdowns. The Raiders scored 71 in the victories.

Canada's view

The Ottawa Senators were in town Monday to take on the Lightning. Ottawa coach Jacques Martin picked the Raiders to win the AFC Championship Game. Now he is throwing his weight behind the Bucs. Asked what he liked about the Bucs, the coach of the NHL's No. 1 team said, "Good defense. It goes right in with my philosophy of coaching."

A different tact

John McGrath, a columnist at the The News Tribune in Tacoma, Wash., says forget about the offenses, defenses and special teams. He has come up with a fail-safe method to pick the winner. Some of his "factors:"

ORIGINAL LOGO FACTOR: The Oakland pirate always has worn an eye patch that we imagine was the consequence of a South Sea hatchet fight. The pirate on the old Tampa Bay helmet looked as though he were a bellhop at Caesars Palace. Raiders, one point.

EX-QUARTERBACK FACTOR: Critics of Steve Spurrier (Tampa Bay, 1976) liken him to a snake. Fans of Ken Stabler (Oakland, 1970-79) worshiped him as "The Snake." Raiders, two points.

EX-HEAD COACH FACTOR: Oakland's head coach in 1961 was Marty Feldman, not to be confused with the comedian. Tampa Bay's head coach between 1987-90 was Ray Perkins, never once confused with a comedian. Bucs, one point.

DISTINGUISHED RESIDENT FACTOR: Jerry Brown, the former "Governor Moonbeam," is mayor of Oakland. Tampa is the winter home of George Steinbrenner, the Boss of New York. Raiders, one point.

Can the Bucs rally? To find out, go to www.tribnet.com/sports/story/2489838p-2541196c.html

By the numbers

19: Years some Raiders fans say they have waited for a return to the Super Bowl, since Super Bowl XVIII when the Los Angeles Raiders routed the Redskins 38-9.

22: Years the Raider Nation officially says it has waited for a return to the Super Bowl, since Super Bowl XV when the Oakland Raiders beat the Eagles 27-10.

-- Compiled from Times wires.

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