Other Stuff 02.19.06....

Super Bowl XVIII
Los Angeles 38, Washington 9

Tampa Stadium
Tampa, Florida

January 22, 1984

Attendance: 72,920
MVP: Marcus Allen, RB, Los Angeles

The Los Angeles Raiders dominated the Washington Redskins from the beginning in Super Bowl XVIII and achieved the most lopsided victory in Super Bowl history, surpassing Green Bay's 35-10 win over Kansas City in Super Bowl I.

The Raiders took a 7-0 lead 4:52 into the game when Derrick Jensen blocked Jeff Hayes's punt and recovered it in the end zone for a touchdown.

With 9:14 remaining in the first half, Raiders quarterback Jim Plunkett fired a 12-yard touchdown pass to wide receiver Cliff Branch to complete a three-play, 65-yard drive.

Washington cut the Raiders' lead to 14-3 on a 24-yard field goal by Mark Moseley. With seven seconds left in the first half, Raiders linebacker Jack Squirek intercepted Joe Theismann's pass at the Redskins' 5-yard line and ran it in for a touchdown to give Los Angeles a 21-3 halftime lead.

In the third period, running back Marcus Allen, who rushed for a Super Bowl-record 191 yards on 20 carries, increased the Raiders' lead to 35-9 on touchdown runs of five and 74 yards, the latter erasing the Super Bowl record of 58 yards set by Baltimore's Tom Matte in Game III. Allen was named the game's most valuable player.

The victory over Washington raised Raiders coach Tom Flores' playoff record to 8-1, including a 27-10 win against Philadelphia in Super Bowl XV.

The 38 points scored by the Raiders were the highest total by a Super Bowl team. The previous high was 35 points by Green Bay in Game I.
Super Bowl XV
Oakland 27, Philadelphia 10

Louisiana Superdome
New Orleans, Louisiana

January 25, 1981

Attendance: 76,135
MVP: Jim Plunkett, QB, Oakland

Jim Plunkett passed for three touchdowns, including an 80-yard strike to Kenny King, as the Raiders became the first wild-card team to win the Super Bowl.

Plunkett's touchdown bomb to King – the longest play in Super Bowl history – gave Oakland a decisive 14-0 lead with nine seconds left in the first period.

Linebacker Rod Martin had set up Oakland's first touchdown, a 2-yard reception by Cliff Branch, with a 17-yard interception return to the Eagles' 30-yard line. The Eagles never recovered from that early deficit, managing only Tony Franklin's field goal (30 yards) and an 8-yard touchdown pass from Ron Jaworski to Keith Krepfle.

Plunkett, who became a starter in the sixth game of the season, completed 13 of 21 for 261 yards and was named the game's most valuable player.

Oakland won 9 of 11 games with Plunkett starting, but that was good enough only for second place in the AFC West, although they tied division winner San Diego with an 11-5 record.

The Raiders, who had previously won Super Bowl XI over Minnesota, had to win three playoff games to get to the championship game. Oakland defeated Houston 27-7 at home followed by road victories over Cleveland (14-12) and San Diego (34-27).

Oakland's Mark van Eeghen was the game's leading rusher with 75 yards on 18 carries. Philadelphia's Wilbert Montgomery led all receivers with six receptions for 91 yards. Branch had five for 67 and Harold Carmichael of Philadelphia five for 83.

Martin finished the game with 3 interceptions, a Super Bowl record.

Jim Plunkett's Raiders were the first wild card team to win the Super Bowl. (AP)
Super Bowl XI
Oakland 32, Minnesota 14

Rose Bowl
Pasadena, California

January 9, 1977

Attendance: 103,438
MVP: Fred Biletnikoff, WR, Oakland

The Raiders won their first NFL championship before a record Super Bowl crowd plus 81 million television viewers, the largest audience ever to watch a sporting event.

The Raiders gained a record-breaking 429 yards, including running back Clarence Davis's 137 rushing yards.

Wide receiver Fred Biletnikoff made four key receptions, which earned him the game's most valuable player trophy. Oakland scored on three successive possessions in the second quarter to build a 16-0 halftime lead.

Errol Mann's 24-yard field goal opened the scoring, then the AFC champions put together drives of 64 and 35 yards, scoring on a 1-yard pass from Ken Stabler to Dave Casper and a 1-yard run by Pete Banaszak.

The Raiders increased their lead to 19-0 on a 40-yard field goal in the third quarter, but Minnesota responded with a 12-play, 58-yard drive late in the period, with Fran Tarkenton passing eight yards to wide receiver Sammy White to cut the deficit to 19-7.

Two fourth-quarter interceptions clinched the title for the Raiders. One set up Banaszak's second touchdown run, the other resulted in cornerback Willie Brown's Super Bowl-record 75-yard interception return.

Fran Tarkenton's Vikings tasted Super Bowl defeat for the fourth time. (AP)
Ahhh, the good old days. Time to bring them back. What's up Coach Shell? Get on with it.
Ah yes...the good 'ol days to be sure.

Make the adrenaline pump...

I want the Raiders back in the Super Bowl. Art Shell is going to bring back the toughness and the mystique of the Raiders.

Just win, Baby!!!!
joe avezzano not returning and we hired irv eatman

Avezzano won't return
Shell appears set to add Walsh, Slater to staff
By Jerry McDonald, STAFF WRITER
Inside Bay Area

With a mayor and another Hall of Fame left tackle poised to join the coaching staff, one only knows what the Oakland Raiders might come up with for their newest opening — special teams coach.
Joe Avezzano, whose silver mane was a conspicuous figure along the Raiders sideline the past two years, is on the market for another job, with the club declining to extend an offer after his contract expired.

The decision comes as no surprise, given owner Al Davis' observation that ''there is no question that while we had two of the prime kickers in the NFL, we still weren't there with our special teams," during the conference call announcing the firing of Norv Turner.

Kicker Sebastian Janikowski was 20-for-30 on field-goal attempts, while punter Shane Lechler underwent a rare late-season slump and did not have the Pro Bowl season he did in 2004.

Coverage units were inconsistent at best.

Two offensive staff positions could be filled early next week. Tom Walsh, a former assistant who worked for the Raiders from 1982-94 and coached under Art Shell, is expected to resign as mayor of Swan Valley, Idaho, and rejoin Shell in Oakland.

"Tom and Art are copacetic in their thought process with regard to the design of an offense," said Danny More, who represents both men. "Nothing's final yet, but we expect him to be in Oakland."

Swan Valley is a 10.3 mile patch of land in Bonneville County near the Snake River. Its population was 226 in 2004. Walsh, who won the last mayoral election unopposed, runs a bed and breakfast ranch with his wife. He last coached in 1998, when he resigned under pressure after two years at Idaho State with a record of 6-16.

Walsh has referred all questions to the Raiders but did tell the Idaho Falls Post Register, "I'm going to have to resign, if I go. I cannot be mayor long distance. I don't think it'd be fair to the community, to the citizens as far as the issues and concerns out there."

City clerk Ann Lockridge said she was expecting a letter of resignation but hadn't received it yet.

Meanwhile, Jackie Slater, a 20-year veteran of the Los Angeles and St. Louis Rams inducted into the Hall of Fame in 2001, was due in town for an interview Monday for a position as an offensive line coach, a team source said. He is expected to be added to the staff.

The Raiders have already hired Irv Eatman, a line assistant the past two years with Kansas City. It is not known whether Slater or Eatman will coach the offensive line, or whether they will share the job under the direction of Shell, a Hall of Fame left tackle.

Slater, 52, has not been a college or pro coach. He has worked as a TV analyst and runs clinics and seminars for young offensive linemen.

Just Win, Baby!

Man, I had to go watch my DVD --- The Oakland Raiders -- Complete History. If you haven't seen it or don't own it -- go buy it TODAY! Whew! :)

That did the job. I think we can do it this year. We can get this thing back on the right track. I believe Art shell will bring back the Mystique of the Riaders. Sooner the better.

Just Win, Baby!
Right on, CB! Thanks for letting us know about the DVD...I really need to get out and buy that ASAP.
Here is the scouting report for Dave Casper entering the draft...shows how much scouts really know...

Dave Casper, offensive tackle/tight end, Notre Dame (6-3, 248)

Has the talent to do a lot of things as a blocker but doesn’t, at least not consistently. … Has strength, blocking quickness and balance, but if he is not directly involved in the play he is just a stand-around. … They say he sort of walks like a farmer plugging through a plowed field but he sure runs with fluidness. … As a TE, he got open short and caught the ball. … I don’t think he can contribute as a pro TE. … Can be good but will tax the best of coaches.

Projection: Make roster and improve; fourth-, fifth-round pick
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Here is the scouting report for Cliff Branch...

Cliff Branch, flanker, Colorado (5-10½, 169)

[Scouted during ’72 Hula Bowl] Still feel the same way about Branch, although he did catch the ball in practice a little better than I thought he could but not much. … He’s a little bigger than I thought he was. … Don’t believe this boy is very tough. … The footing wasn’t the best but he fell down too many times. … A couple of times I got the impression he was hunting for a place to lay down. Could be wrong on this. … I still feel this is a very dangerous football player but it’s going to take a far better passer than these QBs to hit him cause I don’t think he is going to catch the off-thrown ball well. … There is also no doubt that with his great speed he can kill a club.

Projection: Make roster and improve; fourth-, fifth-round pick
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Here is the same thing but these were not Raiders...

Mel Blount, cornerback, Southern University (6-3, 201)

Perfect size and speed. … Very tall and rangy, but still moves feet well. … Comes up to hit good in drills. …Covered man-to-man well and they have some fast kids here. … Quick, but seems to lose something when receiver makes a break. I don’t know if it’s a lack of acceleration or a coaching point. … I would like to get more of a line on his hitting ability. … His coaches say he hits and I saw him crack a kid in practice. … I think he could help us at free safety. …I ’d like to say for sure he could be a cornerback but I don’t know how he would do with a guy like [Roy] Jefferson all the way deep. … Maybe I am too cautious about this.

Projection: Potential starter; second-round pick

Jack Ham, linebacker, Penn State (6-2, 220)

Pittsburgh-area boy who is a top player. … I think he would be playing regular for us by the middle of his first year. … A middle ’backer at school but would be an OLB for us. However, he improved so much each game at MLB that I feel he’d play there for us with a little more weight and strength. … He has the frame to get bigger and stronger. … Does a good job of pursuing and getting to the wide plays. … Plays off blockers well and fills holes good. … Shows toughness in use of arms. … Pass coverage is impressive. … Good hands on interceptions. … I think he is the type of kid we need.

Projection: Potential starter first year; first-, second-round pick
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Lynn Swann, flanker, USC (5-10½, 173)

Fine, quick athlete who reminds me of [Steelers WR] Jon Staggers. … Good body control and quickness. … Makes use of the talent he has, which is not great but good. … Good field vision as a punt return man. Has a burst and a smooth gait. … Hands are good. … Can adjust or catch in noise. … Can make the over-the-shoulder catch of the bomb. … Routes are disciplined but not mechanical. … A fair blocker but on the semi-tough side. … I don’t feel he is a starter but he can make it and contribute.

Projection: Potential starter; fourth-, fifth-round pick

Jack Lambert, linebacker, Kent State (6-4½, 206)

Narrowly built guy but has gotten stronger since last spring. … Looks like a smart and great effort player. … Seems to play with reckless abandon at times. … Flexibility and quickness in his pass drop. … With his height he is a big obstacle to the passer. … At times gets his legs tied up but his balance is good and clears his feet good for the most part. … Must get a bit more buck and develop some strength. … I feel he will make it and develop into an NFL starter.

Projection: Potential starter; second-, third-round pick

Dwight White, defensive end, East Texas State (6-3, 234)

Good athlete who plays very inconsistently. … Looked good against every type of play and then looked just as bad. … Effort was OK. … In fact, he worked hard in practice and didn’t seem to be a “hot dog” but he blew a lot of plays and the coach yelled at him a bit. … They told me he wasn’t a dumb kid and took coaching well, but I wonder what kind of smarts he has. … Not a coward. … Gets off with the ball very well, but did not show a burst of speed in pursuit. However, his lateral moves are good and he did chase a runner down once. … His balance is good in as much as he is never on his rear end. … Has the talent to make a club and develop into a good starter.

Projection: Make roster and improve; fourth-, fifth-round pick.
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Mike Wagner, safety, Western Illinois (6-1½, 196)

Has size, effort and pretty good movement. However, backpedal is a little labored. … Seems to keep good position on the receivers. … More of a chest catcher than a hand catcher. … I was impressed with the way he comes up to hit. However, he had some of his tackles broken. It seemed to be due to lack of strength and technique rather than guts. … Has frame to get a bit stronger. … I think he has the tools to merit a good look.

Projection: Good prospect; 13th-, 14th-round pick

Franco Harris, fullback, Penn State (6-2, 225)

Top physical prospect. … The type of kid we’re looking for. … Breaks down like a 5-11, 190 guy only he’s bigger. … Fine body control and quickness. … Does a good job of running pass patterns. … Only a fair blocker but shows the tools to develop into a good blocker as a pro. … Has strength and speed to be a big threat outside or in open field. However, I feel he doesn’t use his strength to break tackles as much as he should. … Not a straight-line runner. … Lots of movement and wiggle. … Would give us a big gun in the backfield. … I question his competitiveness. … Has the talent to be a star, but I don’t know if he will be. … Worth the gamble.

Projection: Potential starter first year; first-round pick

Brian Sipe, quarterback, San Diego State (6-1, 195)

An exciting player at times but plagued with a scatter-arm. … Short on passing talent. … Moves well in pocket and can scramble but has trouble finding second receiver. … Can get it close enough to make you think it is the receiver’s fault on an incompletion. … Can get the ball deep. … Had some big games in college, but not any better than a camp player.

Projection: Questionable prospect; 17th-round pick, free agent

Duane Thomas, fullback, West Texas State (6-2, 213)

Has all the equipment to be a great one. … Intangibles are questionable. … [West Texas] Coach Harris says he’s a fine kid who has some small character flaws like running up credit-card bills, not showing up for practice, poor schoolwork, walking off the field, and not playing with pain. … He also has a black militant for a brother, but the brother isn’t supposed to get to him. … He isn’t a fine practice player but didn’t “dog it.” In fact, he showed flashes of brilliance in practice. … Big, strong and fast, can explode through a hole. … Hard for one tackler to bring him down. … Durable, even if the coach said he didn’t like pain. … Does a good job of picking his way through traffic and running over people in the open field. … If his character would hold up, I think he would be a terrific offensive weapon as a pro. … Let someone else motivate him.

Projection: Potential starter; first-round pick

Dan Dierdorf, offensive tackle, Michigan (6-3, 255)

A squatty-built guy. … Looks like if he got any heavier he would be a fatso. … Strong kid with a good pop but inconsistent sustain and follow-through. … Did not pull for sweeps or traps but from his pregame workout and the way he covered punts I’d say he’d have difficulty in those techniques. Effort is OK. … I wasn’t impressed with his foot movement or his potential to be a good pass protector as a pro. … Did show good one-on-one strength and pop on a goal-line drive. … Perhaps he would have some defensive possibilities.

Projection: Good prospect; 12th-, 13th-round pick

Jack Youngblood, defensive tackle, Florida (6-4, 242)

[From junior year] I feel Jack is a sure thing to make our club. However, I don’t feel he’s a sure thing to help us. … Doesn’t dominate his teammates in scrimmages. … Showed good lateral pursuit, not stiff at all. … I felt his pass rush was ordinary. … Low blocks tie him up but he won’t have that problem with us. … The best I saw him was a little OT he played in a drill. … Very raw and would have to be taught an awful lot to help us. … I was starting to question his meanness until he handled a fellow pretty well in a fight during a scrimmage.

Projection: Make roster and contribute; fifth-, sixth-round pick
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Ted Washington is an intern coach for NFL Europe....

Learning the ropes

February 17, 2006
By Henry Hodgson
NFL Europe

In addition to the numerous opportunities NFL Europe gives to players to prove that they can become one of the next generation of NFL superstars, the league has also run a successful intern coaching program – allowing former and current NFL players the chance to get a taste for coaching and seeing if they would be interested in becoming a coach.

Each team in NFL Europe has four such current or former players on their coaching staff, two of which remain with the team throughout the entire season, and two who will help them prepare through training camp.

The success of the program, which is entering its fourth season, is demonstrable in the number of ex-interns who are now coaching at the high school, collegiate or professional level.

Former Pro Bowl tight end Ben Coates spent a season with Frankfurt before being named as tight ends coach for the Cleveland Browns, Martin Bayless and Albert Lewis, both spent the last two years coaching for Oakland and Kansas City respectively, and Dana Stubblefield – another ex-Pro Bowler - parlayed his NFLEL experience into a high school position. Indeed, Mike Maslowski, the former Kansas City Chiefs linebacker, was a training camp intern with Scotland in 2003, and is now the linebackers coach for the Hamburg Sea Devils for NFL Europe’s 2006 season.

Among this year’s group of intern coaches are Oakland Raiders Pro Bowl defensive tackle Ted Washington, Kansas City Chiefs linebacker Shawn Barber and former offensive lineman Tim Grunhard, Detroit Lions tight end Marcus Pollard and former NFL quarterback Corey Sauter.

“It’s a real unique experience, and I would say that any player thinking about making a change to coaching after they retire should take advantage of the internship program in NFL Europe, because you get a great opportunity and good guidance from the coaches who are here,” said Shawn Barber, who is acting as a training camp intern coach for the Berlin Thunder’s linebackers.

Barber gets an opportunity to learn his potential new trade from Thunder head coach Rick Lantz, a long-time college positional coach who specialized in linebacker play and helped develop the careers of Jamie Sharper and James Farrior at the college level.

While Barber is on the sidelines for Berlin, one of his Chiefs teammates, Mike Maslowski, is solidifying his coaching career for the Hamburg Sea Devils. Maslowski actually began his playing and coaching careers in NFL Europe, making an NFLEL record 105 tackles in the 1995 season for the Barcelona Dragons, before going back to Kansas City and starting at middle linebacker. After a knee injury recently ended his playing days, Maslowski was able to fall back on the experience he gained in the NFL Europe intern coaching program.

“He is a guy that really understands the game because he played this position before in the NFL,” says Hamburg linebacker Byron Hardmon, who has been soaking up as much information as he can from Maslowski in the opening week of training camp. “He really has an inside approach on the linebackers and shows us some nice techniques.”

Despite being able to pass on great tips to his players, Maslowski is discovering that off the field there is another side to the coaching game.

“You are in the dark as a player because you don’t realize the things that take place and need to go on before practice or a game,” Maslowski explains. “The player’s improving is what is most important to me, which is a lot of pressure compared to being a player and just worrying about your game.”

Former Kansas City offensive lineman Grunhard believes that the opportunity to discover what type of sacrifice you need to make to be a coach – at any level – is one of the factors that makes his time with the Cologne Centurions so invaluable.

“It is an excellent program to be in, because it really teaches you what goes in to being a coach, in terms of the meeting time, the breaking down and putting together of plays and the evaluation of players,” Grunhard says. “It is a side that, maybe as a player, you don’t really see. Doing this gives you a taste of what it would be to become a coach. I can see that there are a lot of sacrifices you have to make as a coach.”

For some of the coaches involved, teaching is something they are already involved in – despite still being players. Oakland defensive tackle Ted Washington explains that he tries to pass on his experience to young players even as he continues to play in the NFL.

“One of my ways of giving back and showing I am thankful for the 14 seasons I have had in the NFL is by going to high schools and colleges and trying to teach those players the fundamentals that I think are missing from the game nowadays,” Cologne Centurions defensive line coach Washington says.

Ted Washington is pleased to be able to give something back. (NFL Europe)

“It’s awesome having him around here,” said defensive end Otis Grigsby, one of Washington’s charges on the Cologne defense. “I am 25 years old, so I really grew up watching him play, it’s strange seeing him sitting right next to you in the locker room. He knows so much, and you can’t match the kind of experience he has. I see it as a blessing, and I am definitely trying to soak everything up. Everything he says, my ears prick up – I listen to every word. He’s been where we all want to go.”

For some of the intern coaches, however, the learning curve has been a steep one, as they look to coach at positions they did not play in during their careers. The chance to diversify and expand their own knowledge base is an invaluable one which teaches them lessons along the way.

“I was an NFL offensive lineman for 11 years, but now I am coaching tight ends,” says Grunhard. “I am working in the passing game now – and I think that was probably something I took for granted when I was playing.”

Going from being a player to a coach presents other difficulties, including drawing a line between sharing the experience you have as a current or former player and bonding as friends as you would have done during your own career.

“Coaches are coaches and players are players,” says Maslowski. “There is a fine line between the two. I don’t want them to be my buddies, but I want them to respect the things that I am trying to help them improve on, so ultimately they can make it back to the NFL and improve their abilities.”

With the help of the 2006 intern coaching class, many of NFL Europe’s players will go on to fulfill their potential in the NFL. Equally, it looks likely that the 2006 season could produce some inspirational coaches who will go on to have a big future in the second stage of their NFL careers.
I am pulling for this kid to succeed...

Inside the Huddle with Lorn Mayers

February 17, 2006
By Henry Hodgson
NFL Europe

Lorn Mayers has gone from amateur football to the NFL in 18 months. (NFL Europe)

Berlin Thunder defensive tackle Lorn Mayers has enjoyed a meteoric rise through the ranks of American football. In 2003, the 18-year old Londoner first discovered football – two years later he was in training camp with the Oakland Raiders, as the youngest player ever signed to an NFL roster.

At 6-3 and 350 pounds, Mayers is certainly not a small man, but his age has earned him the nickname ‘Big Baby’ among his teammates. That size was what prompted a teacher to get him to try out a new sport – although football was not at the top of the list.

“I used to play every sport under the sun, but with my size I was told by one of my teachers to try rugby,” remembers Mayers. “At the time, I didn’t really find rugby that interesting, and a friend of mine told me to have a think about playing American football. The first team I found on the internet was the London Blitz, and after playing one game for them I was invited to be in the English youth team. At the time I was shocked with how quick things were happening.”

Mayers was lucky to have been seen by scouts from the British youth team in that first game for his amateur team in London, but it was not long before NFL Europe began beating down his door to persuade him to test at the combine of the top players in Britain. Needless to say, his results there were more than enough to earn him an invitation to go first to train with the top European players at a combine in Germany, and then come to national camp in Tampa Bay, Florida, prior to the 2005 NFL Europe training camp.

“Playing with the best European players in Germany before I came to Tampa last year was an eye opener itself,” says the genial Mayers. “Then coming in and seeing the players from all around the world, that was another level.”

Mayers’ good showing in training camp was expected by the national coaches who had watched him physically dominate in the national combines. However, it took a chance sighting of him in action by newly appointed Oakland Raiders head coach Art Shell – then NFL Vice President of Football Operations – to move Mayers’ career to the next level. Shell persuaded the Berlin Thunder to bring Mayers in for the 2005 season – as a developmental project – and the next chapter of his rise began to take shape.

“It shocked me when they told me that they were interested in bringing me in for the season, because I knew they liked what I did in camp, but I thought they would leave it for a year before I got my chance,” admits Mayers.

When he arrived in Berlin, Thunder defensive coordinator and defensive line coach Jim Tomsula made it clear that while some saw him as a project, he believed that the youngster could contribute immediately.

“When I got to Berlin, coach Tomsula told me that although nobody expected me to play during the season, from what he had seen on tape of my work habits, he could see me playing in the league right then,” Mayers remembers. “Five weeks into the season, there I was.”

With Mayers on board, the Thunder made it to the World Bowl in 2005, eventually losing to Amsterdam in a thrilling title game. However, for Mayers, being part of a team with so much of a bond was a unique experience, and one that he will never forget – no matter where his career goes from here.

“Getting to World Bowl was so exciting. You can watch a big game like that – a World Bowl or a Super Bowl or a Rose Bowl game, but actually playing in it and being part of a team that has got there, is completely different,” he explains. “It is a great feeling and it brought the whole team together – I still keep in touch with them all now, and I know I will cross paths with a lot of those guys in the future.”

Despite only playing a handful of snaps in the 2005, the biggest shock of his brief career came in the week after the World Bowl. Mayers received a call from the Oakland Raiders inviting him to take part in training camp – making him, at the age of 19, the youngest player ever to be signed by an NFL team.

“Getting a call from the Raiders was the biggest surprise of all! We were told throughout the season that all our practice tape got sent to the teams so they could keep an eye on their allocated players. I always practice hard and with enthusiasm, and as I didn’t get many snaps through the season I know that they must have given me a call purely off what they saw of me on film in practice. I really did think someone was playing a prank on me when they called.”

This was no prank, though, and in late July he flew out to Oakland to begin the next part of a ride that had seen him first strap on a pair of shoulder pads just 18 months earlier.

“When I walked in to the Raiders office and saw the logo there and my locker and all the players, it suddenly sunk in how far I had come,” Mayers remembers with a smile.

Going from amateur football to the NFL in such a short space of time means that his learning curve had been sharp, but to his surprise, the jump to the NFL did not daunt him as much as he had expected in terms of the physical adjustments. However, the work involved in learning the Raiders’ playbook left him occasionally mystified.

“The speed in the NFL is quicker, but the jump up is not that much – not compared with going from European amateur football to NFL Europe. I didn’t take that long to adjust to the speed.

“I think the biggest adjustment, for me, was coming to terms with the playbook. I hadn’t been around football for that long, so when coaches were going through things I was saying ‘Hang on a minute – what does that mean.’ Every other player in an NFL camp knows all this stuff; and coaches in the NFL just don’t have time to go over the basics with anyone - they have to work to get their team into the playoffs, their jobs are on the line. I knew I had to catch up by myself.”

Fortunately for Mayers, just when he began to feel out of his depth, a pair of Raiders players stepped in to bail him out. Super Bowl winning defensive linemen Ted Washington and Bobby Hamilton worked with Lorn on the basics – such as his technique – and explained some of the problematic elements of the Oakland playbook. His unique story and background meant that he swiftly won over his teammates – including Warren Sapp, who would call him ‘London’.

“A lot of players helped me out. Ted Washington and Bobby Hamilton were two guys who really helped me, though,” explains Mayers. “Both of them really showed me so many things I needed to learn. Oakland play the 3-4 defense, so it was completely different to what I had learned in NFL Europe with a 4-3 in Berlin.”

His inexperience meant that it was no surprise to him when he was released at the end of training camp, having participated in all of Oakland’s preseason games. Despite guessing it was coming, he couldn’t help but wish he could stay with the team.

“In a way the pressure was off, because I knew I was a long shot to make the roster,” Mayers says. “Once I was there, though, I was wishing I could stay out and just learn for a whole year. If I work hard I hope that can happen after this season.”

On his return to London, Mayers found that he had become something of a celebrity. Newspapers had run the story of how he had gone from being a furniture removal man (his job prior to entering NFL Europe) to the Raiders. Pretty soon he was part of Channel Five’s UK NFL broadcast team, meeting William ‘The Refrigerator’ Perry in an interview for Sky Sports, and making radio appearances on the BBC.

“Doing the TV and radio stuff was another big learning curve for me,” admits Mayers. “It helped that the first thing I did was a game with the Raiders in it, because it was so recent that I had been playing with those guys that I was able to say ‘Hey, I practiced with him’, and recognize the plays that were coming in.”

2006 brings a whole fresh set of challenges for Mayers, as he looks to consolidate what he has achieved in the past two years. Winning a starting job and continuing his improvement are his main goals, and from there, he hopes to stick with an NFL team on a permanent basis.

“I have set goals in getting stronger, and just trying to learn as much football as I can. My main aim is to get to another training camp and stick with a team this time,” he says. “I have had a taste of it now – next time I want it to be permanent. To be the first British (non-kicker) player to be in the NFL would be an amazing achievement, and I know I can do it.”

If he continues at his current pace, Mayers would be heading for the Pro Bowl in Hawaii in 2008. While it may take longer than that, with a little luck and a lot of hard work, there is no doubt that he is capable of achieving whatever he puts his mind to.
Here are the rest of the players and others who have coaching aspirations and interning in Europe...

2006 NFL Europe League intern coaches

Amsterdam Admirals

Robert Hunt
Kanavis McGhee
Todd Washington

Berlin Thunder

Vince Marrow
Dwayne Stukes
Troy Walters
Shawn Barber

Cologne Centurions

Ken Oxendine
Sam Garnes
Tim Grunhard
Ted Washington

Frankfurt Galaxy

J.J. Smith
Cory Chamblin
Dwayne Ledford
Donte Curry

Hamburg Sea Devils

Cory Sauter
Perry Carter
Tim Stuber
Will Hunter

Rhein Fire

Duval Love
Antonio Anderson
Marcus Pollard
Lewis Tillman
Raiders Team Report

By Steve Corkran
Contra Costa Times

The Raiders were the last of 10 teams with a coaching vacancy to hire someone. The process took more than five weeks and put the Raiders well behind most other teams in terms of preparation for next season. New coach Art Shell has the benefit of experience with the Raiders and working with managing general partner Al Davis before. However, he has less than a month to fill the vacancies on his coaching staff, assess the talent level of his players and ready himself for the scouting combine and free agency. Hence the reason, he spent most of his first week assembling his staff, calling players and laying out the groundwork for the upcoming season's schedule.

PERSONNEL ANALYSIS: Sam Williams' first three seasons have been cut short by injuries. Twice he sustained season-ending injuries during training camp, including last season. Therefore, the Raiders still don't know what kind of player Williams can be in their defensive scheme. Still, they are counting on his return to full health from a knee injury to fill a glaring void at outside linebacker. His absence last season necessitated the Raiders trying Grant Irons and Tyler Brayton on the outside, with rookie Kirk Morrison ultimately securing a spot in a scheme that relied on two linebackers and five defensive backs. Williams is a versatile player who is fast, strong and adept at covering the pass and spying on running quarterbacks such as the Falcons' Michael Vick. Williams will enter training camp as a projected starter opposite Morrison, with both capable of playing either the strong-side or weak-side. Williams' return also would enable defensive coordinator Rob Ryan to employ the 4-3 scheme he covets. . . .

Second-year CB Chris Carr turned into a pleasant surprise as an undrafted free agent who shined on kick returns and spot duty as an extra defensive back. He finished among the league leaders in kick returns and helped the Raiders stand out in terms of average drive start after kickoffs. However, Carr needs to work on his punt-return performance. He sparkled in that role during training camp and exhibition games but struggled all season. He fumbled too often, made poor decisions on when to field the ball or let it bounce and finished near the bottom in return average. He has the speed, instincts and breakaway ability, he just needs to gain confidence and experience. Once he does, he figures to be someone capable of changing the complexion of a game and giving the Raiders an edge in the battle for field position.

: CB Stanford Routt met the lofty expectations the Raiders had by grasping the defense quickly and translating that to the field, when pressed into action as an extra defensive back. He performed so well that he played more than first-round pick Fabian Washington in the first part of the season. He has outstanding speed and solid tackling skills, though his inexperience in coverage and technique sometimes led to his giving up big plays or committing costly penalties. He is expected to challenge Washington for a starting spot if incumbent Charles Woodson isn't resigned, as expected. Either way, he figures to be a significant contributor for years to come.
It appears that Ricky Williams failed another drug test. Supposedly, Denver was interested in acquiring him....

Report: Ricky Fails Drug Test ...

WSVN in Miami, citing "a television station in Denver", is reporting that Dolphins running back Ricky Williams has failed another drug test. If true, Williams faces a one year suspension from the NFL. The Denver station is describing their source as "rock solid".

The Dolphins have no comment at this time.
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