Category Archives: Chip Oliver
A few weeks ago I posted about a Sports Illustrated article that featured former Raiders linebacker-turned-hippie, Chip Oliver. The article caused me to revisit Oliver’s autobiography, High for the Game, which he co-authored with Ron Rapoport in 1971.
The son on an Army sergeant, Ralph “Chip” Oliver bounced around some while growing up, before settling in at Hoover High School in San Diego. His route to professional football was rather unconventional, as he got married and spent time in Las Vegas after high school, but soon divorced and came back to San Diego City College. He then made his way to USC before joining the Oakland Raiders as an 11th round draft choice in 1968. Oliver had a two-season professional career, averaging five tackles-per-game from his linebacker position and scoring one touchdown on an interception. However, the life of a professional football player never really appealed to Oliver, and he quit the Raiders after the 1969 season. From there he became a vegetarian (which were his tendencies already during the 1969 football season), swore off material possessions, joined a commune, and started working in a natural foods store.
Chip Oliver was an Oakland Raiders linebacker who let pro football near the height of his career to live in a commune and work in an organic foods restaurant.
I had read Oliver’s biography, High for the Game, several years ago, but admittedly hadn’t thought much about him until a great SI Vaults piece, WOW, LIKE LET’S REALLY TRY TO WIN, was brought to my attention by Todd Kurlan.
Oliver was a San Diego product, who attended Hoover High School, the same school as baseball hall of famer, Ted Williams. From Hoover he took a rather circuitous route through Las Vegas, San Diego City College and USC to the Oakland Raiders, where he never truly seemed to fit in. I must admit that I get a chuckle every time I try to imagine a young hippy attempting to convince the likes of George Blanda, Jim Otto and Ben Davidson to set aside their beers, steaks and generally carousing nature to live in a commune and adopt a vegetarian lifestyle.