By RICHARD PALOMA
When 209 area football fans think back to the 1970s and the days of Oakland Raider football, one can’t help to remember the amusing cast of outlaws, misfits and anomalies that made up one of the greatest pro football teams of that era.
Regardless of whether you loved or hated them, the Raiders’ roster consisted of a collection of mavericks and rebels who were passed over or disregarded by other NFL teams. To say that this group of outlaws had “attitude” would be a gross understatement. They were the Oakland Raiders with Al Davis’s instilled mottos of “Just win, baby” and “Commitment to Excellence.”
But the Boys of the Silver & Black had another saying, one that was posted on the locker room at the Oakland Coliseum and at training camp in Santa Rosa: “Cheating is Encouraged.”
It was an adage that led to a run of success from 1970 to 1977 where the team won six division titles and reached the AFC Championship Game six times with a .776 winning percentage. In the decade they won the Super Bowl in SB XI and SB XV after the 1980 season.
The book “Cheating is Encouraged: Hard-Nosed History of the 1970s Raiders” by Dr. Kristine Setting Clark and Mike Siani is straight from the mouths of Raider legends and recapitulates the many infamous stories from the last team to play “outlaw” football.
Clark, a San Francisco State University and University of San Francisco graduate who now lives in Stockton, has collaborated for other books with NFL greats such as NY Giants and 49er QB Y.A Title, Dallas Cowboys defensive tackle Bob Lilly, and ‘60s Packers running back Jim Taylor as well as members of the undefeated University of San Francisco football team from 1951. She also was feature writer for the San Francisco 49ers’ and Dallas Cowboys’ Gameday Magazine.
“This book is not just for Raider fans,” Clark said of her latest gridiron publication, “but all fans – especially the ones that haven’t got to see these guys. Football is so different now.”
Clark said she was contacted by former Raider wide receiver of that period Mike Siani to write a book about the team once classified as “The Winningest Team in Football.”
“I didn’t tell him I didn’t like the Raiders,” said Clark, a longtime San Francisco 49er fan with roots back to the days of a 1958 Kezar Stadium team as she rattles off her heroes of Bob St. Clair, Y.A. Title, Joe Perry, Hugh McElhenny, and Leo Nomellini. “But I did remember the players, all who were fun and crazy, and Mike did have some great stories of the bunch.”
Dr. Clark and Siani paired up to give the reader an intimate, rough-and-tumble look at a bygone era of professional football in Oakland lore.
Relying on first-person interviews with key members of the ‘70s Raiders, including John Madden, Phil Villapiano, the late Ken Stabler, and many others, the 1977 Super Bowl champion Siani tells firsthand in the book the rough tales of players like John Matuszak, Fred Biletnikoff, George Blanda, and others who helped make Al Davis’s dream of “Just win, baby” come to life.
“As I’m writing this stuff, I’m laughing and tears are coming down my cheeks,” Clark said. “I did have to leave out some of the more colorful and ‘X-rated’ scenes.”
Last year the book was published by Sports Publishing, a division of Skyhorse Publishing in New York.
From the publisher: “Cheating is Encouraged defines an era that can only be considered as the last of the glory days of ‘real football played by real men’; a game where hurt players kept playing and the injury as turf toe had yet to be defined.
“So belly up to the bar, gents, and read about the good ol’ days of Raiders football. It is as close as most of us will ever get to sitting in the locker room, opening a few cool ones, and listening to these gridiron greats talk about famous and infamous legendary wars and warriors of Oakland’s glory years.”
Dr. Kristine Setting Clark is available for book signings and speaking engagements. She can be contacted at [email protected].