The Oakland Raiders are a professional football team from Oakland, California. The franchise was founded in 1960 as a charter member of the American Football League. After the American Football League merged with the National Football League in 1970, it competes in the American Football Conference West division.
The Oakland businessman Y. Charles (Chet) Soda was the founder and the first owner of the team. But before these events, in 1959, a few months after the AFL establishing, the owners of the nameless Minneapolis-based franchise agreed to join the NFL. So, Oakland started to struggle for the right to replace the defunct team. As a result, the city was awarded the AFL franchise on January 30, 1960.
Since 1961 the franchise was owned by two people – F. Wayne Valley and Ed McGah. In 1966, the team’s head coach and general manager Al Davis joined them, entering a discussion about a new partnership agreement that made him the managing general partner and gave him almost total control over all club’s operations. Being outraged with the agreement ratified by Ed McGah, F. Wayne Valley sold his interest in the franchise in 1976 to participate in the club’s life no longer.
Despite Davis’ actions, the franchise still had limited partnership with nine partners. In 2005, Davis purchased the interest belonging to the McGah family to become the majority owner. However, at the time of his death, he owned only 67% of the team shares. In 2011, Davis’s interest passed to his son, Mark, and his wife, Carol Davis.
The Raiders twice changed their hometown. The club moved from Oakland to Los Angeles in 1982, but they returned to Oakland again in 1995. But according to the prior agreement, the franchise will not remain there: the club is scheduled to relocate to Las Vegas, Nevada, in 2020.
The team was initially called the “Oakland Señors” after a name-the-team contest held by the Oakland Tribune. Considering Oakland hosted a sizeable Hispanic community, the name seemed rather fitting, though the players and management preferred the option that took the third place. So, the Señors lasted only nine days, being replaced by the Raiders. There were two reasons to change the name. First, Chet Soda wanted his team to bear the name that fire and inspire both the team and its supporters. Second, there is no such letter as “ñ” in the English alphabet. Despite the team’s renaming, Helen A. Davis, who won the contest, gained the prize of a trip to the Bahamas as a reward.
Meaning and History
The key element of the Raiders logo is a pirate’s head. For 60 years, the iconic Raiders head experienced minor modifications and remained consistent with the original design. The franchise has used five logos throughout its time in the NFL, with three logos remaining almost the same. Its official color palette includes black, gray, and white.
1960 – 1962
The earliest logo appeared in 1960, when Chet Soda, the founder, and the first team’s owner, asked Gene Lawrence Perry, the Director of Public Relations, to find an artist to draw the new Oakland Raiders logo. Gene Lawrence Perry hired a Berkeley artist to create a logo featuring a firm-chinned pirate wearing a football helmet. The head was overlaid on a gold football. The actor Randolph Scott, who was incredibly popular at that time, is believed to be the designer’s model. As a result, the franchise got an extremely recognizable logo: a firm-chinned raider with an eye-patch and a football helmet.
Al Davis, the team’s next owner, decided to ditch the gold and black color, opting for black and white with a silver hue. The 1963 Raiders logo featured the pirate’s head with two swords crossed behind him inside the black-and-silver shield. “THE OAKLAND” in smaller letters than “RAIDERS” wordmark sat above the raider’s head in a block-style font.
1964 – 1981
During these periods, the Oakland Raiders logo remained untouched with their famed raider’s head and crossed swords sitting inside a black shield with a white wordmark. The face is located in full view, the left eye is squinted, and the right one is covered with a black eye-patch. The white-scripted name of the franchise – “RAIDERS” – is placed above the pirate’s head and crossed swords. It is written in capital letters. The bold sans-serif all-cap font looks solid. The key elements are painted in a light color, while the background is dark.
1982 – 1994 and 1995 – 2019
Despite relocation to Los Angeles, the franchise stayed loyal to their initial logo. The difference was in the wording: “The Oakland” wordmark was removed. Besides, the new Oakland Raiders logo included white, black, and gray colors. For instance, the helmet was painted gray with a dark stripe in the middle. The swords were shortened, the shield was black, and the pirate’s facial features were made strict.