Seattle still despises the Raiders

Monday, November 6th 2006, 3:31 pm
By: News On 6

SEATTLE (AP) Tom Flores is unlike any former Seahawk, or just about anyone who has lived in the Northwest, for that matter.

He loves the Raiders. Heck, he has two Super Bowl rings from having coached them from 1979-87. And he's still a Raider. He was in rain-drenched Seattle calling Monday night's game with the Seahawks as a color analyst on Oakland's radio network.

But from 1989-94, Flores was supposed to hate them. He was supposed to be a ``Raider Buster'' like the rest of Seattle has been since one of the loudest, most entertaining rivalries in the NFL began in 1977.

In 1989, Flores became president and general manager of the Seahawks. In 1992, he became Seattle's head coach for three seasons.

To many in the Northwest, he was Benedict Arnold with a headset.

``When I first came into the Seahawks building, I could feel the people there didn't exactly trust me. And I still feel it,'' Flores said.

Flores went 14-34 coaching the Seahawks before Seattle replaced him with Dennis Erickson at the end of the '94 season. Perhaps more damning, Flores was 1-5 against the Raiders.

``They were never really vocal about the Raiders around me,'' Flores said of team employees. ``I tried to tell them, 'Hey, this is a business. I want to beat the Raiders now as bad as you do.' But they would look at me kind of funny.''

The Raiders and Seahawks met 48 times from 1977, the year Seattle moved to the AFC West after one season in the NFC, until Seattle moved back into the NFC West in 2002. The Raiders won 26 of those games, which were among the loudest, most intense matches in the NFL at the time.

Do the Seahawks have a rivalry approaching that intensity now? With the NFC West's Rams, perhaps?

``No, there's NOTHING close to that yet,'' Jim Zorn said.

Zorn was Seattle's original quarterback from 1976-84. He is now the Seahawks' quarterbacks coach.

``It was fun, except we weren't smiling,'' Zorn said of the series with the Raiders.

Current Seahawks coach Mike Holmgren didn't arrive in Seattle until 1999. Yet he can't help but know all about Raiders-Seahawks.

``The people up here of course, they never cease to talk about the old Raider stories and the Raider-Seahawk rivalry before I got here,'' Holmgren said.

There was plucky Seattle, in its third year of existence of 1978, becoming the first team to beat big, bad Oakland twice in the same season since 1965. Efren Herrera's field goal with 3 seconds left did that.

There were the Seahawks beating Flores' Raiders twice again in 1983, then losing their first appearance in the AFC championship game to them, a 30-14 trouncing at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum on January 8, 1984.

There was Bo Jackson, the awesome Raiders runner, delighting a nation during a Monday night game on November 30, 1987. Jackson plowed through loudmouth Seahawks linebacker Brian Bosworth and disappeared into a Kingdome service tunnel at the end of a famous, 91 yard touchdown run.

There were the fake punts and kicks and Herrera's comical passes that original Seahawks coach Jack Patera used all the time, but seemed to especially save for the Raiders.

``You never knew what was going to happen,'' Flores said. ``I kind of miss that.''

The series was so entertaining, the NFL picked 13 of those games for prime time TV on Monday or Thursday nights. All but one of those games were in Seattle. The league didn't want to risk a blackout of a Raiders home game in Los Angeles or Oakland during those years.

The networks also loved the Kingdome's raucous, rock concert settings for the games, with ``Raider Buster'' signs and matching venom.

``It was deafening,'' Zorn said of the noise for Raiders games.

That noise still lingers. The main hallway of the Seahawks' team headquarters is lined with pictures of some of the Seahawks' 22 wins over the Raiders. The most prominently hanging one, on the left, is a black and white blowup of the Seahawks kicking off to the Raiders late in a game on December 8, 1986. In the background is the Kingdome scoreboard reading ``Seahawks 37, Raiders 0.''

It remains Seattle's biggest, and most delicious, win in the series.

Ask Zorn what he thinks when he thinks Raiders, and he sighs, then laughs.

``I think 'Raiders Busters.' I think beating Lester Hayes,'' he said.

``I remember Bo Jackson. It wasn't the play he ran over Bosworth. It was the play he ran right by (1984 NFL defensive player of the year) Kenny Easley, who is at safety. He ran from the line of scrimmage to him and by him. That was where I just went, 'Wow!' That was something.''

The Raiders, of course, were used to this hoopla. Every opposing city loved to hate them, with their silver and black uniforms, menacing aura and constant winning.

``Back in those days, we were rivals with everybody,'' said Art Shell, current Raiders coach and Hall of Fame lineman for the team from 1968-82.

``The Raiders were a team to be reckoned with,'' Shell said. ``Everybody didn't like us because we won a lot of games.''