An Interview with the Raiders Clem Daniels

autographed 1967 topps clem daniels
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I am drawn to the AFL for a number of reasons, only one of which is that the football played during those 10 years was cutting-edge and fantastic.  This week I had an opportunity to conduct a long telephone interview with former Oakland Raiders running back, Clem Daniels.  Like the league itself, Clem’s successes on the field are but a contributing factor in what makes him so interesting.  Daniels was raised in Texas, and played his college ball there as well.  He suffered through a single frustrating season with the Dallas Texans, before fate stepped in and took him to Oakland, where he would make his name as an athlete, a businessman, community leader and advocate for social change.

Our discussion touches on many of Daniels’ high-points – his AFL Co-MVP season of 1963, his being the league’s career rushing leader, and the epic battles fought between the Raiders and Chiefs in the late 1960s.  But this elder statesman of Bay Area football also discusses in-detail Al Davis’s importance not only to the game itself, but to the African-American athlete in particular, and the friendship the two developed over their half-century together.  Daniels was an active participant in the boycott of the 1965 AFL All-Star Game in New Orleans, and he opens up about that situation and its long-lasting effects.  Are the echoes of the walkout still faintly being heard today?  Clem Daniels believes that they are.

This interview runs longer than most, a full 67 minutes.  Despite its length, I feel that this is one of the strongest discussions that I have been able to present on this site, and I feel very fortunate to be able to share it with fans of the American Football League.

If you enjoyed this wonderful piece of history, please consider sharing it with others via the email and social media options given on this page.

1968 Topps Team Test – Raiders

 

Todd Tobias (771 Posts)

Todd Tobias's interest in the American Football League began in 1998, when he wrote my master's thesis about Sid Gillman. He created this site to educate and entertain football fans with the stories of the American Football League, 1960-1969. You can follow Todd and get more AFL history on Twitter @TalesfromtheAFL.



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One Response to An Interview with the Raiders Clem Daniels

  1. afl says:

    That mistakes are made in talent evaluation every sport is a given. As an old Dodgers baseball fan, that they let Roberto Clemente get away to the PIT Pirates still stings some 60 years later. Terms Clem Daniels, history proved he was a very good RB once he changed venues & received ample opportunity. One could say he’s one who got away from Stram/Texans (as a lifelong Chiefs fan, can’t recall too many players Stram missed on during his glory years, though Warren Wells comes to mind).

    Thanks to Todd for the interview & Clem Daniels for his takes/opinions. This engenders still intense feelings/issues for many decades later. That said, my impression is that whether merited or not, some bitterness exists which is unfortunate. Understanding the era that was the 1960’s, unrest, the locale and possibility an personality clash Stram and Daniels, not too difficult imagine potential factors a scenario perhaps ultimately played a part what transpired in total.

    As for that transpiring US then and changes since & up to the present, including the state of affairs now NFL, I have mixed feelings as an fan and man. Will say, nothing since the AFL/all it entailed those years the good, bad & otherwise, has matched it; my opine, football’s best days, for various reasons, are long gone and not ahead.

    Perhaps another factor was also in play, re: Daniels less than memorable time, Dallas. When a RB named Abner Haynes leads your team (and entire league) in rushing & tds, as well leading the team in receiving, kickoff & punt return yards, and is first team All Star/All Pro, such immediate impact likely relegates other RB’s a secondary role; too, Haynes was an #1 draft choice while Daniels was an undrafted free agent.

    According to pro football reference, Daniels 1960 stats with the Dallas indicate that he did play more than special teams or DB, if limited: 1 carry for a negative 2 yards result. He also gained 231 yards on 12 returns and lost a fumble over the 14 games he played in if not necessarily started offense, defense and special teams.

    Once Daniels got to OAK in 1961 he didn’t get any touches on offense there until game 7/halfway point that season. History shows Daniels didn’t begin to have a real impact until the ’62 season, the year before Al Davis arrived. What he did at OAK the next 5 1/2 some years ’62-’67 before injury cut short and effectively ended his career there however, showed he belonged & made his mark as career AFL rushing leader (and, to his credit he did so on teams that while exciting offensively were not necessarily elite.)

    Upshot: terms the principals, things worked out well in the end for Daniels, Haynes & Stram as well the AFL et al, my takeaway. Said does not encompass my feelings on Hall of Fame voting: still today too many deserving AFL players in particular – regardless their ethnicity or background – being denied their due and subjected to bias, whether because of the league they played in or public persona (to include their personality), as well post career/on field or off factors other (examples: Pete Rose MLB, Jim Tyrer football and other players variously in sports (OJ Simpson one example) found to have been less than admirable post enshrinement, whatever venue.

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