Email from the AFL – Oakland Raiders Tom Louderback

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Tom Louderback was a linebacker, center and guard out of San Jose State.  He was drafted by the Washington Redskins in the 10th round of the 1955 NFL Draft, and played two seasons with the Philadelphia Eagles before signing with the Oakland Raiders in 1960.  He played two full seasons in Oakland, and then spent the beginning of the 1962 season with the Buffalo Bills.  He described his pro football career to me recently in the following email.


Todd; Returned home last evening from our trip.

In 1955 I was drafted by the ‘Skins, played in the college all-star game, got hurt in preseason, was released, and jumped to Canada where I played for the Hamilton Tiger Cats.  The following year, I served in the USN – ’56 and ’57. I signed with the Eagles in ’58, and ’59.  In late ’59, George Blanda was telling me about a new football league was to form, call AFL, and Oakland, was one of the cities to have a team.  At this point of my life, married with our first child, I wanted to return to the West Coast, especially in the Bay Area were I was raised, and to be with my family.  I  requested to be released from the Eagles, and signed with the Raiders.  The Raider organization in 1960, had good intentions, however the administration was a shamble, nothing compared to the Eagles organization or the NFL.  I recall, at our first training camp held in Santa Cruz, CA, it was reported that over 300 players tried out for the team.  Can you imagine?

Yes, I did play in Hawaii when the Raiders played the Oilers.  My first impression, while boarding the airplane to Hawaii, was who were all of the non players and their families on the airplane? Later on I learned most of the people were stock holders of the Raiders, about 25 owning 5-10% of the Raider team. We had little scouting information on how to prepare for the game.  We were received well by the Hawaiian fans, who love FB.  In those days, it was one hell of a long way to travel for a pre season game.  After my second year with the Raiders, I was called by two of the team owners, (Wayne Valley & Chet Soda) requesting me to reduce my salary for the coming season. This was a shock, as I’d had a good year and was named the team MVP.  I refused to take a pay cut, and the hand writing was on the wall.  During early exhibition I was released, and immediately picked up by Buffalo.  Shortly into the season I had my right shoulder surgery, for a torn rotator cuff with several shattered bones, and thus ended my career. The hardest part of leaving the game was missing the relationships with teammates and friends.

One of the hardest collisions that I can recall was in Philadelphia, when we were playing the Pittsburgh Steelers.  While running down the field, I was blind sided by Ernie Stautner.  He whacked me into next week, and that was followed by a concussion.  The following week, watching the films, the hit it looked like a night mare.

I was pleased to be on a bubble gum card, and to this day, I receive a couple of letters each month, with a note and bubble cards to be autographed and returned.  It is nice to be remembered.

Who impressed me the most during my career? Sorry to say, I cannot select one player  because so many impressed me.  Offensive players – John Unitas, Norm Van Brocklin, John Brodie, Y.A.Tittle, Otto Graham, Jim Otto, Gene Upshaw, Billy Cannon, Art Powell.  Defensive players – Leo Nomellini, Ernie Ladd, Ernie Stautner, this list goes on.

I hope this note fills in the Q&A for your blog. Wishing you well, Tom Louderback

Todd Tobias (789 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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3 Responses to Email from the AFL – Oakland Raiders Tom Louderback

  1. chris burford says:

    Good job Tom, adds a little color and glimpses of the game as it used to be. chris

  2. Tad Brillhart says:

    I joined the Navy while at Berkeley High School in Berkeley, Calif., and was in the reserves there, and went on active duty on a ship in Aug., 1957. Tom Louderback was on the ship at that time and I remember that I was told by others that he was a professional football player. I didn’t really know him on the ship, and he was only on the ship for a few more months before he left, but when he later joined the Raiders, when the were playing at Frank Youell Field, near Laney College, along the Nimitz Freeway, I remembered that he had been on my ship.
    Thanks for posting the information about his career, and the email from him.

    Tad Brillhart

  3. […] Bills. Prior to that, he played one season in Canada for the Hamilton Tiger-Cats. There is a nice article about Louderback’s career, in his own words, on the Tales from the American Football League web […]

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