Let’s be honest: Not all of us were Raiders fans until the Oakland/Los Angeles Raiders became our own hometown Las Vegas Raiders, so we might not know as much about the fabled franchise as we should.
Fortunately, a stadium-full of books are available to bring rookie Raiders fans up to speed about the team’s rough-and-tumble history, its players and coaches through the years, and even snippets of trivia every Raiders fan should know.
Here are a handful of them as we begin to experience the next chapter of Raiders history firsthand.
‘100 Things Raiders Fans Should Know & Do Before They Die’
By Paul Gutierrez ($14.95, Triumph Books)
Gutierrez, a former Review-Journal sportswriter who now covers the Raiders for ESPN, has collected 100 factoids about the Raiders through the years. Injecting any of them into a barroom argument or viewing party conversation will convince anybody that you’ve been a rabid Raiders fan since the team’s birth in the old American Football League.
There’s Jim Plunkett, John Madden and, of course, Al Davis. Memories of plays good (Red Right 88) and not so good (the Immaculate Reception). Even the words to “The Autumn Wind,” and if reciting that epic poem doesn’t make you look like a hardcore Raiders fan, nothing will.
‘Snake: The Legendary Life of Ken Stabler’
By Mike Freeman ($15.99, HarperCollins)
There are plenty of biographies that explore the lives of Raiders greats, and books about Al Davis could fill up their own section of a library. But to fans of a certain age, Kenny Stabler was the personification of the Oakland Raiders — brash and cool with a streak of bad — and here’s a book that covers his life and nearly decadelong career as a Raider.
Stabler was the Raiders’ quarterback from 1970 to 1979 (and later played for the Houston Oilers and New Orleans Saints), and led the Raiders to their first Super Bowl win in 1977 over the Minnesota Vikings. This biography covers Stabler’s college days playing at the University of Alabama under Bear Bryant and his post-football days.
In 2016, Stabler was inducted posthumously into the Pro Football Hall of Fame, an event made particularly poignant by the news that same year that he suffered from chronic traumatic encephalopathy, or CTE.
‘Going Long: The Wild 10-Year Saga of the Renegade American Football League in the Words of Those Who Lived It’
By Jeff Miller ($22, McGraw-Hill)
To understand the Raiders, it helps to understand the context in which they were born. So buckle up and explore the history of the AFL, one of several pro football leagues that challenged the NFL’s supremacy until it merged with the NFL.
The Raiders play a part in the AFL story as one of the league’s charter members who played in but lost the second NFL-AFL championship game — now known as the Super Bowl — to the Green Bay Packers.
Don’t worry, they made up for it later, but that’s a story for a few dozen more books down the line.
‘Tales From the Oakland Raiders Sideline: A Collection of the Greatest Raiders Stories Ever Told’
By Tom Flores with Matt Fulks ($19.99, Sports Publishing)
Tom Flores would be just the guy to share a few insider stories. He played for the Raiders from 1960 to 1966, spent seven years as a Raiders assistant coach and, as head coach from 1979 to 1987, led the franchise to two Super Bowl championships.
Since the book’s initial publication in 2003, Flores has updated it with reminiscences about coach Jon Gruden, the passing of some Raiders greats and, of course, the death of Al Davis.