Oakland Raiders, professional football team and one of five teams in the Western Division of the American Football Conference (AFC) of the National Football League (NFL). The Raiders play at Network Associates Coliseum in Alameda, California, and wear uniforms of silver and black.
The Oakland Raiders were professional football’s most consistent team from the mid-1960s through the mid-1980s, reaching the playoffs 15 times and earning four NFL or American Football League (AFL) titles in 19 seasons. As AFL champions, they played in the second Super Bowl, in 1968, and lost to the Green Bay Packers. During John Madden’s ten years as head coach (1969-1978), Oakland played in seven league or conference championship games and won one Super Bowl, in 1977. From 1980 to 1993 the team reached the postseason eight times, winning the Super Bowl in 1981 and 1984. The Oakland Raiders are the only team that appeared in at least one Super Bowl each decade during the 1960s, 1970s, and 1980s.
The Oakland Raiders joined the AFL as a charter member in 1960. The team spent its first three seasons changing stadiums and recording losing records. Al Davis, a former assistant coach for the San Diego Chargers, was hired as head coach and general manager in 1963. He reorganized the Raiders, and the team improved to a 10-4 win-loss record. Four years later, the club captured the 1967 AFL title under head coach John Rauch. Quarterback Daryle Lamonica won the first of his two passing titles as Oakland advanced to the Super Bowl to face the NFL-champion Green Bay Packers. Green Bay won 33-14, but the Oakland Raiders had established themselves as an AFL power. The Oakland Raiders reached the AFL Championship Game under Rauch in 1968 and again in 1969, this time under former Oakland Raiders assistant coach John Madden, who had taken over the head coaching duties. Madden was named AFL coach of the year in 1969 when, at age 32, he was the AFL’s youngest coach.
Oakland joined the NFL in 1970 when the NFL and AFL completed their merger. The team promptly won the 1970 Western Division crown and advanced to the AFC Championship Game, where they lost to the Baltimore Colts (now Indianapolis Colts). Under Madden the Oakland Raiders gained a reputation as one of the most intimidating teams in professional sports. Their character was exemplified by center Jim Otto and offensive linemen Art Shell and Gene Upshaw, who fiercely protected quarterbacks George Blanda and Kenny Stabler. The Oakland Raiders lost three consecutive AFC Championship Games from 1973 to 1975 before winning the game in 1976. In the subsequent Super Bowl, veteran wide receiver Fred Biletnikoff played an outstanding game as the club defeated the Minnesota Vikings, 32-14.
Madden left the Oakland Raiders after the 1978 season and was replaced by Tom Flores, who had been the team’s first quarterback. In Flores’s nine seasons as head coach he led the club to five postseason appearances and two Super Bowl championships. Quarterback Jim Plunkett, playing his first full season in Oakland in 1980, commanded a potent offense that also starred wide receiver Cliff Branch and running back Mark van Eeghen. That year the Oakland Raiders became the first wild-card playoff team to win a Super Bowl, defeating the Philadelphia Eagles 27-10.
With hopes of a better-equipped stadium and more fan support, the Oakland Raiders franchise moved to Los Angeles, California, following the 1981 season. At its new home in the Los Angeles Coliseum, the team put together a 12-4 record in 1983 and returned to the Super Bowl. Plunkett, running back Marcus Allen, and tight end Todd Christiansen powered an offense that crushed its three postseason opponents by an average of 24 points. The Raiders’ defensive stars were cornerback Lester Hayes and end Howie Long.
From 1986 to 1989 the Oakland Raiders failed to make the playoffs. Coached by former Oakland Raiders player Art Shell, the club rebounded with three postseason appearances in four years from 1990 to 1993. Shell was named coach of the year in 1990. Tim Brown emerged as one of the league’s swiftest wide receivers and most skilled punt returners during the 1990s. Following the 1994 season Shell left the team and the Raiders moved back to Oakland, as fan support in Los Angeles reached an all-time low and disagreements over renovations of the Los Angeles Coliseum continued between the city and owner Al Davis. After the 13-year hiatus, the Oakland City Council welcomed the team back with a remodeled, expanded stadium and helped the franchise pay for relocation expenses. Despite the move, the club remained near the bottom of the division through the mid- and late 1990s.