Fred Biletnikoff – My Story

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Here is a piece that I found on Oakland Raiders hall of fame receiver, Fred Biletnikoff.  Biletnikoff was a Raiders rookie in 1965, and spent his entire 14-year career in Oakland, playing for three outstanding quarterbacks – Tom Flores, Daryle Lamonica and Kenny Stabler.  As a receiver he was noted for his good speed and excellent hands.  One thing that I didn’t realize about the Raiders great?  He wore #14 in his first two seasons with the Raiders.  I’d only seen him with his well-known #25.


Todd Tobias (790 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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12 Responses to Fred Biletnikoff – My Story

  1. Brad Anderson says:

    In one of his books, John Madden tells the story of how Fred was very liberal with the use of stick-em. Fred would put it on his hand and arms. One time after a play in which he caught a pass he tossed the ball to a referee who wasn’t ready for it. The ball hit the ref in the chest and stuck there. It was shortly after this that the NFL banned the use of stick-em.

  2. Tom says:

    The first time I watched Fred play was just after my first year of high school football, it was in the nationally televised 1964-65 Gator Bowl, The Seminoles vs the Sooners. QB Steve Tensi and Fred had the game of their lives. Up until then I had never seen anyone have a game like that, I saw Red Phillips and Del Shofner have some good days in LA but nothing like Fred, who caught 13 for nearly 200 yards and four scores.
    I was in complete awe of Fred that day and to think that one of my high school teammates Bob Chandler, similar is some ways to Fred, mostly in toughness would years later score a td in SB XV as a member of the Raiders playing the same position as Fred makes those memories all the sweeter.

  3. Tom says:

    Bob did not score in SB XV had four catches, I confused it with his winning td catch in the 1970 Rose Bowl when he was named MVP.

    • The 1980 Oakland Raiders–they were an interesting team. Unlike the 1976 and ’83 Raider teams that won the Super Bowl, the ’80 team wasn’t expected to go anywhere.

      As for Super Bowl XV (Raiders 27, Eagles 10), I remember the Raiders’ touchdowns were scored by Cliff Branch (twice) and Kenny King. All 3 TD’s came on passes from Jim Plunkett, who just two years earlier (1978) was out of football.

      Kenny King, a second year running back, sat on the bench as a rookie on the Houston Oilers in 1979. Playing 5th-string behind Earl Campbell, King carried the ball 3 times for 9 yards. Not surprisingly, he scored 0 touchdowns. I remember being amazed at how his career changed just one year later.

      On the other side of the ball, linebacker Rod Martin intercepted Ron Jaworski 3 times. The star of the defense of the 1980 Raiders was cornerback Lester Hayes, who intercepted 13 passes in the regular season, running 3 back for touchdowns–and then, in the playoffs, intercepting another 4 and returning 1 for a TD.

      I’ve been saying for years, and I’m saying it now: Cliff Branch and Lester Hayes belong in The Pro Football Hall of Fame.

      • Tom says:

        Pro Football Reference all time player rankings by fans has Lester Hayes at 312 and Billy Howton who I mentioned on the Tobin Rote day post next at 313. Tommy McDonald who is a HOF member and Biletnikoff’s idol is ranked 315.

  4. RichPaloma says:

    Love the video from the Raiders of the glory years. Miss seeing sleeves like that on player jersey’s nowadays

  5. Joseph Budd says:

    Always remembered how he’d shred his jersey, cutting out the armpits or slicing the pants legs so he could move better. The NFL hated it though, and would fine him, and Al Davis wasn’t too happy…but hey, he won games.

  6. Tex Noel says:

    Really enjoyed the feature on Fred Biletnikoff–brought back memories of when I was a Raider fan in the mid-1970s. His clutch performances were always key to Oakland’s offense–win or lose.

  7. Boomdog02 says:

    He was one of the most underrated of all times. His lack of speed was made up by incredibly precise route running and great hands (with or without stick-um. he was the perfect complement to all the other wide outs he was paired with…Warren wells, Mike Siani, Cliff Branch..

    Another funny thing was he smokes cigarettes and puked before every game according to Madden. But he was so darned clutch! The glory days of the pride and poise boys…

  8. Boomdog02 says:

    I was wondering about your observation of his number. Larry Todd, who was with the Raiders fro 65′-70′ wore number 14. Are you sure that was Fred in #14? Maybe they traded numbers?

  9. Boomdog02 says:

    A follow up…maybe some Raider fans out there can clear this up. You are correct that Fred wore #14 his first 2 seasons before switching to 25 in 1967. However if you look up Larry Todd,(65′-70′) he is pictured in #14, yet Raider archives say he wore #22…confusing. Even his playing cards for sale have him in #14.

  10. commexc says:

    I think I can help. Larry Todd switched to 22 in 1967. IF you google team pictures from 67 and up you can see him wearing it. The confusion comes because Topps continued to use the SAME picture for him in #14 on all his cards even though he had switched.

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