Biletnikoff Believes In Our Future...

Angry Pope

All Raider
Feb 2, 2006
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Fred is optimistic about our future....

Lincoln sees a Raider invasion

Biletnikoff finds a silver lining in his ex-team's changes

By: Tim Menicutch, Gold Country News Service
Tuesday, May 23, 2006 12:04 AM PDT

Fred Biletnikoff sees the world in two colors.

After spending 14 years as one of the NFL's premier receivers while playing for the Oakland Raiders, Biletnikoff is nearing his 17th season as an assistant coach for the Silver and Black.

Now 63 years old and a resident of Roseville with his wife Angela, Biletnikoff has seen enough of the dark side lately - the Raiders have won only 13 games over the last three seasons - to know when something's sparkling on the horizon.

Art Shell is set to begin his second tour-of-duty as the Raiders' head coach. And with the arrival of his former NFL teammate (who is also Oakland's third head coach in four seasons), Biletnikoff believes the Raiders are primed for an NFL resurgence.

"I'm having fun again," said the four-time Pro Bowler, who returns this year for his 15th season as Oakland's receivers coach. "We needed somebody like Art back here."

The Fred Biletnikoff Celebrity Golf Classic was back in Lincoln on Monday at Catta Verdera Country Club, while enough Hall of Fame players were expected to be on hand to make Canton envious.

Proceeds from the event benefited The Biletnikoff Foundation, a non-profit organization dedicated to supporting young people at risk, particularly to the realities of drug and alcohol addiction and domestic and gender violence.

Hall of Famers scheduled to appear included Biletnikoff, former Raider linebacker Ted Hendricks, and defensive back Willie Brown. Other Canton-inductees included Bob St. Clair and Joe Perry (San Francisco 49ers), Deacon Jones and Tom Mack (Los Angeles Rams), and Lions defensive back Lem Barney.

Further notable former Raiders on the guest list included quarterback Daryle Lamonica, wide receivers Tim Brown and Cliff Branch, safety Jack Tatum, linebacker Phil Villapiano, defensive end Ben Davidson, and running backs Kenny King and Marv Hubbard.

As head coach for the Raiders from 1989-94, Shell compiled a 54-38 record. He was scheduled to make an appearance at the Sunday pairings party but had to return to Raiders headquarters in Alameda the following day.

Biletnikoff's college alma mater owned a pass-happy reputation when the Raiders drafted him out of Florida State in 1965. He went on to trips to four Pro Bowls (and two AFL All-Star Games) during his 14 pro seasons, all of which were spent in a Raider uniform.

The Super Bowl XI MVP also played 11 years playing alongside Shell, known as one of the league's most fearsome offensive tackles during his own Hall of Fame career. Biletnikoff said the new head coach quickly earned his team's respect at minicamp last week.

"When Art walks into a room, he can be intimidating," Biletnikoff said. "He believes the (team) wants discipline and they want structure. He can be very, very stern. He provides tough leadership."

Biletnikoff said halfway into one portion of a minicamp workout, an angry Shell stepped in and made his players start the entire drill from scratch.

"He believes in player accountability," Biletnikoff said. "He tells the players, 'this is your job and you are expected to do your job.'"

Biletnikoff was impressed by the minicamp performance of quarterback Aaron Brooks, acquired in the offseason from the New Orleans Saints.

"He's a very nice kid and he's very intelligent on the field," Biletnikoff said. "He came in here with a new offense and ran it really well. He's a big plus for us because of his maneuverability in the pocket and his excellent arm."

In his first season as a Raider, Randy Moss also left a positive impression on his receivers coach.

"Randy's an excellent team player," Biletnikoff said. "He played a majority of the season last year injured. And he still made some great plays. That says a lot about his character."

Last week also saw Biletnikoff also get his initial firsthand look at Oakland No. 1 draft pick Michael Huff. As a safety for national champion Texas, Huff won the Jim Thorpe Award a season ago as college football's top defensive back.

"He's everything the scouts thought he would be," Biletnikoff said. "He had a chance to cover our receivers one-on-one and did very well."

Biletnikoff realizes the Raiders face yet another transition season with a new coach and a new quarterback, but he remains unconcerned.

"The transition takes effort from everybody," Biletnikoff said. "But it's happening quicker - a lot quicker - than I thought it would."
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