'83 Raiders -- from Joe Theismann's perspective
The Times' Sam Farmer is in Tampa, Fla., this week to cover the Super Bowl. In a series of Fabulous Forum posts, he looks back at the 1983 Raiders.
You can access his Raiders posts by clicking here, and all his Super Bowl posts by clicking here.
OK, so a lot of you out there want to hear more stories about the 1983 Los Angeles Raiders, who won the Super Bowl here in Tampa 25 years ago. Well, I was just over at the media center and I bumped into Joe Theismann, who told me a ton of good stories about that game and the days before and after it. Check back here over the course of the day and I'll tell you some of them.
Here's a taste:
Those Redskins were 14-2 during the regular season, and their two losses -- to Dallas and Green Bay -- each came by 1 point. Washington had a jaw-dropping turnover ratio of plus-42, and, Theismann says, would have been considered the greatest team in NFL history had it A) won those two games in the regular season, and B) beat the Raiders in the Super Bowl.
Now, remember, the Redskins had beaten the Raiders, 37-35, during the regular season in Washington, so the Skins were feeling pretty comfortable and confident coming into the Super Bowl.
"We'd beaten the Raiders, but I didn't take into consideration how we beat the Raiders," Theismann said. "Fumbles, interceptions, they made a bunch of mistakes. Took a late, great drive for us to be able to beat them. So they were really a terrific football team.
"Come here to Tampa, and I'm expecting warm weather. It's cold. It's windy. I decide I'm going to do a shoe deal, so I change shoes. So my shoes don't really fit. So I've got all these little things gnawing away at me."
Still, he was feeling pretty good about how things would unfold.
"We had a great practice on Thursday. If we would have played the game on Friday, we would have beat the Raiders, I promise you. Unfortunately, it was two days later."
By Sunday, it was a different story.
"The wind was blowing," he said. "We made our living throwing fades -- and you know how good those corners were, Mike [Haynes] and Lester [Hayes] were fantastic. Every fade I threw, every time they pressed, and we knew they would, I'd get the ball and it would just fall past my receivers' hands by just an inch.
"And then they kept bringing Mike Davis off the corner. They kept bringing him late, and he'd knock the crap out of me. I'd walk to the sideline. I walked up to Coach [Joe] Gibbs one time and I've got my helmet half on and half off, my shoulder pads are hanging out, my face is cut. I look at coach and I say, 'Coach, who's blocking the safety?' He looks down at his chart and he says, 'He's supposed to be blocked.'
"I said, 'Coach, look at me! Does it look like anybody's being blocked?' "
Anyway, that's just the start of what Theismann had to say.... He told some great ones about the screen pass that was intercepted by Jack Squirek, more frustrations with Gibbs, an unforgettable flight to Hawaii with Ted Hendricks, why Howie Long made him so mad once that Theismann threw his shoe at the TV... On and on...
-- Sam Farmer
Photo (top): Lyle Alzado, left, hugs Howie Long after the Raiders beat the Redskins 38-9 to win Super Bowl XVIII. Credit: Allsport. Photo (inset): Joe Theismann. Credit: Associated Press