While some might say the Oakland Raiders and Las Vegas are a new thing, Sin City’s connections to the franchise have been numerous for years. Here ares just a few:
When the Oakland Raiders applied for, and were approved, a move to Las Vegas, many fans and observers were stumped. The Raiders had a history in both Oakland and Los Angeles (having made LA their home from 1982-94), but many questioned whether Las Vegas could become a “Raiders town.”
Did You Know: The Raiders have already played a game in Las Vegas. It was in 1964 (as part of the AFL) and they hosted the Houston Oilers on August 29, 1964
What many failed to realize was the deep and colorful ties the team has had to Las Vegas going back to when Al Davis became the general manager and coach of the Raiders in the early 1960s. While they never made their home in Nevada, there were people very important to the organization – including Davis himself – who did, and their closeness to the team may have had a lot to do with the franchise ending up here.
Here’s a look at the Raiders historical ties to Las Vegas – some of which you’ll be familiar with, while others might surprise you.
Some old-time Raiders fans (especially if you’re over 50) may recognize the name of former Raiders announcer, and Al Davis confidant, Bob Blum. “Bloomer,” as most of us called him, was one of just a handful of employees retained in the Raiders organization when Davis took over in 1963. Blum was the Raiders’ first play-by-play announcer, filling the role from 1962-68.
I was fortunate enough to have known Blum personally during my days working at UNLV. He and I broadcast UNLV Lady Rebels basketball games together (Blum broadcast the team’s games for four decades) and were even roommates on the road. Those stories (which are numerous as well as hysterical) will have to wait for another time.
Blum and Davis were close friends and were always together when the Raiders owner would visit Las Vegas. When Blum was inducted into the Southern Nevada Sports Hall of Fame, Davis sent a recorded message crediting Blum with bringing the Raiders to Las Vegas in 1964 for an exhibition game (the first- ever pro football game in Las Vegas) against the Houston Oilers. Blum was constantly in Davis’ ear about Las Vegas, to which Davis said of the late broadcaster in the aforementioned video: “Bob always sold Nevada,” Davis recalled. “He always sold Las Vegas.”
Sadly, Blum died at 91 in 2012 after complications arose from hip surgery. Just five years later, his beloved Raiders were given approval by the NFL owners to move to the city he had called home since 1973. There’s no question Blum had one of his trademark grins going up there – probably sitting with Al Davis.
Note: Silver and Black Today will make an effort to have the Raiders name the press box at the new Las Vegas Stadium after Blum.
When it came to football royalty in Las Vegas, none was bigger than former Raiders quarterback David Humm. One of the most sought-after quarterback prospects in the country coming out of Bishop Gorman High School in 1970, Humm was a true Las Vegas native and beloved by the city. As a three-year starter at Nebraska, the city’s love affair with their native son intensified when Oakland selected him in the fifth round of the 1975 NFL Draft.
Humm played for the Raiders a second time in Los Angeles before ending his career. His relationships with both Davis and star quarterback Ken Stabler (who started in front of Humm all four years of his first stint in the silver and black) solidified his association as a lifelong member of the Raiders organization and personal friends with both men.
When Humm was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis at just 36, Davis built a radio studio in his home so Humm could continue his commentator duties. Humm was present with child-like excitement at the Raiders stadium groundbreaking. He passed away just a few months later on March 27, 2018.
While not a Las Vegas native, former Raiders running back (1986, 1990-94) Napoleon McCallum is as key a figure as there is in the franchise moving to Las Vegas. McCallum, who moved to Southern Nevada in 1996 to start a business, soon found his way to the Sands Corp., where he helped facilitate the discussion of possible relocation to Las Vegas. His work in 2015 to set up meetings between Raiders owner Mark Davis and high-ranking local officials, led to the team’s eventual relocation to the city and the approval and construction of Las Vegas Stadium.
McCallum is busy with his Sands Corp. position, but still makes his way to Raiders alumni and community events sponsored by the team. His influence in facilitating the discussion around the Raiders to Las Vegas cannot be overstated.
These are just a few examples of the connections between the Raiders and Las Vegas dating back decades. There are more and we will explore those soon here in this space.