Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Good Times Long Gone in Oakland

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Good Times Long Gone in Oakland

Article excerpt

OAKLAND, Calif. -- The old Raider is sad.

Not teary-eyed sad because old Raiders, understand, are way too

tough to cry. But melancholy sad . . . the kind of sad you feel

when the radio moans out a forgotten song and you remember a

long, lost love. And you wonder what ever happened to her? Did

she ever marry that guy? Is she doing OK?

Except the old Raider doesn't have to wonder. He sees what has

happened to his lost love every time he picks up the sports

section or flicks on ESPN. He feels it -- the nostalgia gnawing

at his insides -- every time he talks to one of his former

teammates.

"I love Oakland, and I'll always love Oakland," says Pete

Banaszak, the old Raider who is now a member of the Jacksonville

Jaguars radio team. "I don't know how, but the mystique we once

had got lost somewhere along the line."

When the Jaguars play the Raiders today, they will not be

playing Pete Banaszak's Raiders. If they were, they'd be

tip-toeing into Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum, quaking in

their cleats, hoping not so much for a victory as praying for

the strength and good fortune to get out of town without being

maimed.

Those Raiders were the most feared, most intimidating, most

successful franchise in all of professional sports. Remember the

names -- Ben Davidson, Jim Otto, Ted Hendricks, Jack Tatum, Fred

Biletnikoff, Daryle Lamonica, Ken Stabler, Gene Upshaw and on

and on?

Banaszak, the pugnacious, pitbullish short-yardage fullback,

spent his entire 13-year NFL career with those Raiders. He was

there for their first AFL championship, their first Super Bowl

appearance and their first Super Bowl victory. He was there when

the Raiders were the RAIDERS.

Now, sadly, the Raiders are just like the Cardinals or any

other crummy, nondescript team that comes to mind. They're 0-2,

have lost eight consecutive games and are about as fearsome and

intimidating as Richard Simmons.

"Back when I played, the Raiders weren't just another team,"

Banaszak remembers. "We were a team everybody hated to play. …

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