Jim Plunkett, Tom Flores and Cliff Branch are typically the names that come to mind when thinking about Raiders who should already be in the Hall of Fame. However, a franchise as iconic and storied as the Raiders is bound to have a lot of overlooked players throughout the years. With the rumblings that the 2020 class may see 20 inductees into the NFL Hall of Fame, it may breathe new life into the odds that some of the less talked about Raiders may get a chance to get enshrined. There’s usually only eight people inducted, so this more than doubles their chances. It’s unclear if the enshrining of 20 players would be an annual, or one-time thing, but it seems most likely that it would be the latter. Below we’re going to go through some of the less talked about Raiders that should still get the honor of being in the Hall of Fame.
A member of the NFL’s All-Decade Team of the 1980s, Lester Hayes paired with Mike Haynes to form one of the greatest, if not the greatest, cornerback tandem in NFL history. Hayes is tied with Hall of Famer Willie Brown for most interceptions in Raiders history with 39. He was also a five-time pro bowler and two-time Super Bowl champion. So why isn’t Lester Hayes in the Hall of Fame? One word: Stickum. The sticky substance was used by NFL players to make the ball more easily catchable. Former Raider wide receiver Fred Biletnikoff was also a big user of the substance, but he still managed to get into the Canton. The stickum played a big roll in him getting as many interceptions as he did. The NFL actually called the banning of stickum “the Lester Hayes rule.”
Despite the fact that many players used stickum and continued to use stickum, Hayes is still somehow kept out of the Hall of Fame. Stickum isn’t what made Hayes a shutdown cornerback. He was still able to read his opponents well enough to get in the range of the ball to make a play. Hayes’ chances of getting inducted grow less and less every year, but this may finally be his chance. There’s no doubt “the Jedi” deserves it.
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Aptly nicknamed “the Assassin,” Jack Tatum was probably the most feared player of his era. His style of play was so violent that a lot of the types of tackles he made were eventually outlawed in the NFL. Tatum wasn’t only a hard-hitter, he was also a really good safety. He was a three-time pro bowler and Super Bowl champ. He’s tied for fifth all-time in Raiders interceptions with 30. Unfortunately, Tatum was involved in a horrible incident that left former New England Patriots wide receiver Darryl Stingley paralyzed. What was once a role he relished, Tatum quickly lost his mean streak. While hits like the one Tatum delivered on Stingley was common at the time, Tatum was the one that caused the career-ending injury.
This incident is what will likely keep Tatum out of the Hall of Fame. He certainly has enough accolades to be in there, but some people perceived Tatum as a dirty player and that’s enough to blacklist him. NFL was filled with dirty players back then that still got into the Hall of Fame. However, a lot those guys weren’t Raiders.
Steve Wisniewski is the youngest guy on this list, but that doesn’t diminish how dominant he was. “The Wiz” was an eight-time pro bowler and a member of the NFL’s All-Decade Team for the 1990s. Simply put, Wisniewski was one of the most dominant guards of his era. Raiders fans complain a lot about how their players don’t get the recognition they deserve and the fact that Wisniewski isn’t in the Hall of Fame gives credence to those claims. Wisniewski spent all 13 seasons he played with the Raiders and started 206 games. He hasn’t been eligible for the Hall of Fame as long as Tatum or Hayes, but his impact was undeniable. This man belongs in the Hall of Fame. Plus, his nephew Stefen also put together a few good years on the Raiders offensive line.