As Oakland Raiders running backs Darren McFadden and Michael Bush duel throughout the various camps and OTA’s to decide who will be the featured back in the 2010 Raiders offense, I thought it would be a good idea to take a look at the guys they are competing against to become the best running back in Raiders history. I’ve compiled a list of the top five running backs in ever to wear Silver and Black in the AFL/NFL. I would say Oakland Raiders history, but according to Ice Cube, I have to represent the L.A. Raiders also.Number five was seriously hard to discern. I mean, for one you have Bo Jackson. An amazing halfback in his day, some of the most memorable runs in the Raiders long history feature Jackson. Trouble is, Bo’s best season in 1989 was only the 39th best in Raiders single season history. Also, in his four seasons as a Raider, he never played in more than 11 games in a single year, nor did he ever eclipse 1,000 yards rushing.
The next guy who I strongly considered for the number five spot was Pete Banaszak. Banazak played for the team from 1966 to 1978 and still currently ranks second on the Raiders All-Time rushing touchdowns board with 47 in his career. He also holds the Raiders record for most games played by a running back (173), ranks fifth in number of attempts (964), and sixth in total rushing yards (3,772). But Banazak was never a featured back in Oakland, so I took his name out of the hat. Also briefly in the consideration were Justin Fargas, who would’ve been more of a consideration if he had a longer career with the team that was not so marred by injuries, and Tyrone Wheatley, who had the best years of his career with the Raiders including 1,982 yards and 17 rushing touchdowns in the 1999 and 2000 seasons combined.
But ultimately, the number five best running back in Raiders history is…drum-roll please:
#44 Marvin “Marv” Hubbard
Hubbard led the Raiders in rushing from 1972-1975 during the tenure of perhaps the greatest Raiders coach ever, John Madden. He made the AFC Pro Bowl squad three times and became just the second Raider runner ever to get 1,000 yards in a season with his 1,100 yard 4 touchdown performance in 1972, which was fifth best in the NFL that year. During his seven seasons in Oakland, Hubbard ran for 4,494 yards and 23 touchdowns. He also caught 85 passes for 628 yards and a touchdown. Hubbard was a powerful downhill runner who made a name for himself in his one-on-one battles with rival Kansas City Chiefs linebacker Willie Lanier. He is ranked seventh All-Time in rushing attempts (913-not bad for a FB), fifth All-Time in rushing yards (4,494), and ninth All-Time in rushing TD’s (22).
The fourth best running back in Raiders history is:
#26 Napoleon Kaufman
As a 1995 first round pick, Kaufman is responsible for the second best single-season rushing performance ever by an Oakland Raider with his 1,294 yards and six touchdowns in 1997. Kaufman is fourth in All-Time Rushing yards (4,792) for the Raiders and his 4.9 yards per carry average for his career is the highest out of all the other backs in this top five list. Kaufman played the entirety of his short career with the Raiders, and fans of the team in the late 1990’s remember him for his finesse moves, quick feet, and breakaway speed. Kaufman added a career total of 127 catches for 1,107 yards and five touchdowns in addition to his rushing numbers. He also put up 2,149 yards on kickoff returns with a touchdown in 1995. Kaufman shocked the entire NFL when he retired after only six years pro and is now a Christian preacher on Sundays. One can only imagine what might’ve been for this phenomenal runner from Kansas City, Missouri.
The Raiders third best running back of All-Time is:
#36 Clem Daniels
Daniels led the Oakland Raiders in rushing from 1962-1966. During that time, he became the first Raiders halfback to gain 1,000 yards rushing in a season with 1,099 yards in 1963 while averaging 5.1 yards per carry with 3 TD’s, as well as 30 catches for 685 yards with 5 TD’s. He was named the Sporting News’ American Football League Most Valuable Player. His 4.5 yards per carry ranks second highest of the Raiders running backs in this list, he ranks third All-Time in rushing yards for the Raiders (5,103), sixth All-Time in rushing TD’s (30), and third All-Time in attempts (1,133). He was voted into Prairie View’s Hall of Fame in 1992 and the California Black Athletic Hall of Fame in 1993 and is a member of the American Football League (AFL) Hall of Fame. He was an American Football League All-Star in 1963, ‘64, ‘65, ‘66 and ‘67. He was the All-Time leading rusher in the American Football League history and was selected to the All-Time All-AFL Team. Clem gained added 201 receptions for 3,291 yards and 24 TD’s to his rushing numbers during his seven year stint as a Raider.
The second best Raiders runner of All-Time is:
#30 Mark van Eeghen
Mark van Eeghen
Van Eeghen was the first Raiders running back to have consecutive 1,000 yard seasons, doing it three consecutive years with 1,012 yards in 1976, 1,273 yards in 1977, and 1,080 yards in the NFL’s first 16 game season in 1978. Van Eeghen was the featured runner in a Raiders team that went to five consecutive AFC championship games in the mid ‘70’s. He helped the squad win two Super Bowls, Super Bowl XI in 1977 and Super Bowl XV in 1981, in which he was the game’s leading rusher with 75 yards on 18 carries. Van Eeghen is the second All-Time rushing leader for Raiders ball carriers with 5,907 yards. In his eight year Oakland Raiders’ career, he caught 162 passes for 1, 467 yards and four touchdowns. In 2002, van Eeghen was inducted into the Rhode Island Scholar-Athlete Hall of Fame in recognition of his career. “I recall being in my first training camp with the Raiders, trying to figure out what I was doing there,” said van Eeghen, a 1974 third round draft choice for the Raiders. “I remember, in college, being a little ticked off at having to play against Bucknell while Michigan-Ohio State was going on. But that didn’t mean I thought I belonged with the pros.” Guess what, he belonged, but he was eventually replaced by the number one Raiders halfback of All-Time.
You’ve probably already guessed, but the number one running back ever to dawn the Silver and Black uniform is:
#32 Marcus Allen
Some folks might not like the way he left, but there is no denying what he did while he was with the organization for ten years (eight productive). He helped the Raiders win Super Bowl XVIII against the Washington Redskins with his memorable 74 yard record breaking Super Bowl run. His 20 carries for 191 yards set a Super Bowl Record, earned him MVP honors, and still stands as the second highest rushing yardage total in Super Bowl History. Allen’s 8,545 yards rushing with the Raiders makes him the All-Time leading rusher for the Raiders. His career total of 12,243 yards makes him the ninth All-Time Leading Rusher in NFL history. His 123 career rushing touchdowns, 79 of them with the Raiders, ranks second all time to Emmitt Smith’s 164. He is currently the Raiders sixth All-Time scorer. In his Raiders career, he caught 446 passes for 4,258 yards and 18 TD’s. The Raiders selected Allen 10th overall in the 1982 draft and Allen won the job out of camp, and then proceeded to rush for 100 yards in his first game. In his record breaking 1985 season, he gained a Raiders single season rushing record 1,759 yards on the ground and set a single-season NFL record with 2,314 total yards. He was named the 1985 NFL Player of the Year. In 1987, Allen entered the Al Davis doghouse and the Raiders signed Bo Jackson. Allen split playing time with Bo Jackson for four years until Jackson succumbed to a hip injury. Allen left the team after the 1992 season and signed with the rival Kansas City Chiefs. He earned five Pro Bowl nods with the Raiders, but he also holds a Raiders record for fumbles with 50.
So there you have it, the five best halfbacks to ever suit up for the Raiders. We’ll have to wait and see if Darren McFadden or Michael Bush can manage to become a part of this list. They sure have a long road ahead of them, but fortunately, they are both young enough to still come on strong for the team. Like I said before, it’s unfortunate that Kaufman retired so young, he certainly could’ve earned himself a higher spot on this list, but hey, it’s only the top five best backs in the history of the greatest franchise ever, no biggie, right?
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