"Holy Toledo!"

November 11, 2007

1984 Raiders vs. Bears: The Day The Intimidator Died

Filed under: NFL — Bill @ 9:51 am

The Intimidator wore silver & black.

There was once a time when the Raiders, either in Oakland or Los Angeles, often scared teams into losing. They would lure the opposition into a street fight and before long winning the fight became more important that the final score. It was at that moment that the Raiders had you right where they wanted you. This intimidation tactic was one they would use successfully for several decades. It all changed one fall Sunday on Soldiers Field in 1984.

The L.A. Raiders came into Chicago as the reigning Super Bowl Champions. They had it all on offense, defense, & special teams. Tom Flores’ squad flew into Chicago on a 7-2 roll. Since the start of the ’82 season the roughneck Raiders were 27-8 (most of which were in convincing style), plus three consecutive playoff & Super Bowl victories with an average score of 35-11. To put it simply, they were kickin’ ass on the entire league.

Coach Mike Ditka had a young team that was on a roll of it’s own. The upstart Bears were 6-2, and they were establishing themselves as a defensive force, ranking among the elite in the NFL. Walter Payton was (as Tina Turner would say) simply the best, but at last he had new tools to work with. A young wild eyed kid from BYU named Jim McMahon and a super speedy receiver named Willie Gault were starting to make names for themselves in Chicago.

The stage was set for the old champions to face the young challengers in what was sure to be a rugged, hard hitting battle. Little did anyone know just how rugged and hard hitting it would be.

Injuries were an issue for the Raiders, they would come into the game missing NT Reggie Kinlaw and MLB Matt Millen, Cliff Branch, along with the old veteran Jim Plunkett. That left
the young kid Marc Wilson to start, who just one season prior was headed to the USFL until the Raiders spent the big bucks to keep their future star QB in the fold.

The Raiders were built on defense. They had the best cornerbacks ever in Lester Hayes & Mike Haynes. Young stars like Howie Long, Greg Townsend, & Sean Jones led a huge defensive line. At linebacker they had young Jack Squirek starting for the injured Millen, plus Brad Van Pelt, & Rod Martin. Vann McElroy & Mike Davis were very solid at safety. They were deep as well as they were good.

Outside of Chicago few knew about the defense Buddy Ryan was building known as the famed “46” defense. They had Richard Dent, Dan Hampton, & Steve McMichael on the defensive line, at linebacker there was Mike Singletary, Wilber Marshall, & Otis Wilson. Defensive backs included Todd Bell, Dave Duerson, Shaun Gayle, & the veteran Gary Fencik. They too were stout.

The Raiders were a scoring machine behind the league’s leader in TD’s Marcus Allen, who had Frank Hawkins leading his path. They had Kenny King on the bench, & Greg Pruitt to return kicks. Cliff Branch (when not injured) & Malcomb Barnwell could go deep & the possession receiver was the great TE Todd Christensen.

But a funny thing happened that day. The wrong dark uniforms did the intimidating. Buddy’s defense stymied the Raiders, and soon Marc Wilson was hurt, a thumb injury. The Bears scored and it seemed as if the almighty powers of the NFL Gods had something special planned for this day. The wind blew, the clouds flew, and for the Raiders it seemed like a day or two.

Quickly the champions had a replacement for the young wiz Wilson, and that replacement was a former college hero named Dave Humm. Unfortunately just a few short plays later Humm’s knee resembled a Volkswagen after tangling with a Peterbuilt. Humm, the man who held the ball on so many field goals of significance over the years, had just had his pro football career laid to rest by the Bears defense. As Dave Humm flopped on the field in agony, his knee, as well as the champion’s chances, were toast.

The third quarterback that day was the punter Ray Guy. He warmed up on the sidelines, but he looked very concerned & nervous. As well he should have been, for every Raider QB had left seeking medical assistance. Fortunately for Ray Guy Marc Wilson demonstrated his true fortitude that day by coming back into the game. Later Wilson suffered a severe knee injury, yet Ray Guy never played one snap from center.

Ditka’s Bears behind Walter & Buddy’s defense put the final clamps on the Raiders, and frankly the final score (17-6) did little to demonstrate the severe beating the Raiders took that day. This is not to minimize the damage the Raiders inflicted on the Bears, for they too were dishing out extreme punishment. These were two very physical teams playing one of the toughest physical games in the long history on the NFL.

Ray Guy never again flirted with the idea of playing QB. One could argue that Marc Wilson was never quite the same after that Sunday (I disagree but one certainly could argue the point). What nobody can argue is that Dave Humm spent the rest of his career selling cars in Vegas (someday I should tell you my “Dave Humm is an asshole” story).

Since that brutal Sunday on the field in Chicago the Raiders “intimidation factor” has been completely neutralized. It may have shown up a brief time or two, but for the most part it was rarely to be seen again. The Bears became the leagues Bad Boys and the following year the ’85 Bears became one of the best NFL teams ever!

The Raiders meanwhile wallowed in mediocrity under such names as Schroeder, Marinovich, Mike White, Joe Bugel, and sadly even Art Shell. Before this game in 1984 the Raiders
won the AFC West an amazing 11 out of 17 years, since then they have won their division only 5 of the last 24 seasons. They were in the Playoffs in 13 of the previous 17 seasons, after that day the Raiders have only seen the
post-season in 7 of the last 24 years.

There is little doubt that the players who suited up that day in Soldier Field were among the best to ever play the game. At that moment in time it brought together two of the toughest teams to ever play the game. Unfortunately what happened since that day has completely changed the history of a once great franchise.

It was the day The Intimidator died.

***If you ever want copies of this game, or just about any Raiders or Bears game on DVD please contact me thru this website.

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22 Comments »

  1. Hey your story is RIGHT on the $$$, I am a huge NFL fan and the Faiders are are the the team I LOATH with a passion. This game was played 4 days before I married my current and only wife and what is special for is that I was 4yrs into my Navy career and I was in Pusan So.Korea, So my wife knew I was a football junkie and I was her mothers house any to make this short this was the 1st game that I watched in real live time in almost 2yrs. To this day I have never forgot how I got to see the School Yard Bully that were the Faiders get there just due.

    Comment by anthony sam — December 24, 2007 @ 12:24 pm

  2. Let me add to the above I too loath the Faiders and everything the Evil Al davis stands. I would have rather it been my beloved Broncos who stool the intimidators presence but I remeber that game well mostly for its brutality I believe the Bears lost alot of players Mcmahon had his kidney hurt and the Bears actually had Walter lining up at QB. It was cold, mean and a down right brutal visciuos game. The Faiders never seemed the same afterwards great analysis of a classic

    Comment by rick — December 24, 2007 @ 9:55 pm

  3. While my team lost I take pride in knowing that one of the most brutally fought NFL games of all-time was one involving the Raiders. Greatness is measured by playing the best.

    Anthony,
    Sir, thank you.
    Your Raider loathing is something we need to work on.

    Rick,
    Thanks for you kind words.
    I shouldn’t tell you that I call your team the Donkeys.
    But I just did.

    What we all three share is an appreciation for what the game was like that day in 1984. If you didn’t hate a team they weren’t any good.

    Post plan B the game has never been quite the same. Every year ex-teammates play each other. Team rivalries have suffered, so to has the game.

    Bill

    Comment by Bill — December 24, 2007 @ 11:57 pm

  4. I am and always will be a Raider fan the reason, the swagg. There are only three Blue collared teams in the NFL, Raiders, Bears, Steelers. These teams played with attitude, not like todays players who play for the money.
    I was privy to a private conversation between Coach Flores and The Stork (Ted Hendricks), They both remembered “The Game” as one of the Hardest hitting games they ever witnessed. And they both wore smiles when they spoke of it. Gotta love the teams that set the standards. Hats off to the blue collared teams.

    Comment by Raider Steve — December 29, 2009 @ 6:32 pm

  5. HIRE A GM GO RAIDERS

    Comment by ricky — May 15, 2010 @ 12:12 am

  6. Blah blah blah blah blah blah. Faiders, Bad News Bears. A life-long Bear fan, I took satisfaction in the ’84 team and of course, the ’85 team.

    Bottom line, the ’86 & ’87 team lost playoff game AT HOME to Foreskins. ’86 team had better D than ’85 or ’84.

    Ditka will always be a favorite, but Parcells would have won 2 or more Super Bowls with that Bear talent.

    By the late 80s early 90s the league was rapidly transforming into what it is today………..a bunch of over-paid, chest-thumping thugs. No heart, just bank accounts. Save a few. Ray Lewis comes to mind.

    The NFL is the most into-itself, over-hyped, self-absorved league on the planet. I rarely watch anymore.

    Perhaps I’m just getting old and bitter, like Chuck Bednarick.

    Comment by Roscoe — September 9, 2010 @ 9:11 pm

  7. Mike Hartenstein, Jimmy Osborne two of my favorite. Mike was replaced by The Frig in ’85, but at least he got a ring. Jimmy, sadly, did not.

    The defining game for me was the ’84 playoff game in RFK, in which Bears terrorized Joe “Theeeeesman” they way they did the Faider QBs.

    Why would any team have signed David Hummus? Did he actually throw a pass in college?

    Comment by Roscoe — September 9, 2010 @ 9:39 pm

  8. I was at that game. The mayhem started when the Raiders went after McMahon.

    You could see the Bears defense just say “That’s it – no more of that BS”

    The hits were ferocious – the sound of the pads hitting alone made the crowd cringe. The “Intimidation Crown” did indeed switch heads that day.

    Comment by Moon — September 27, 2010 @ 6:18 pm

  9. I remember watching that game at home on Long Island with my twin brother. We get to Chicago a lot, and always impress the locals of a certain age by talking about that smashfest. The Raiders were never the same again.

    Comment by Jack — September 29, 2010 @ 4:52 am

  10. I heard that at one point during this game, Ray Guy was “missing” and he was found hiding behind the bench. Any truth to this?

    Comment by Chris — November 5, 2010 @ 6:01 pm

  11. I’m not sure about the “missing” part be he was admittedly reluctant about the prospect of going into the game at QB. He was warming up on the sideline at one point during this game.

    Comment by Bill — November 5, 2010 @ 6:29 pm

  12. I was a Raiders fan living in Chicago and I was at the game. Raiders were manhandled. It marked the end of one era and the beginning of another. You left out the part about McMahon taking a shot from the Raiders and leaving with lacerated kidney. It doomed the Bears’ Super Bowl chances that year. The Bears did get their ring the following season but never came close to winning it all again. To me, that’s the most amazing thing about that team.

    Comment by js — December 22, 2010 @ 7:52 am

  13. Thanks JS for adding to the story. I’ve often wondered if the hard hitting on the field spilled into the crowd?

    It’s interesting to me that an article about a Raiders loss draws as much attention as others like the Sea of Hands.

    Comment by Bill — December 22, 2010 @ 9:53 am

  14. Wish I could add to the legend with a ‘hard-hitting’ story from the north stands, but I can’t. I just remember it as a very vocal, very pro-Bears crowd. Even they might have been stunned by how one-sided it was. There was very little swagger up to that point. Chicago back then was still the “city of losers.” No pro team had won a championship in more than 20 years. The Jordan era was a few years away, and it was decades before the Sox and Hawks would win titles. (The Cubs were the Cubs, having blown a 2-0 lead in the ’84 NLCS, their first postseason appearance since ’45.) A team that dominated just didn’t happen in Chicago. That Bears team was so talented, it seemed destined, and I really think it all turned on that game in ’84.

    Comment by js — December 22, 2010 @ 1:37 pm

  15. Bravo! This was easily one of the most brutal, hardest hitting games in the history of the NFL. Your writing takes that event and puts it in a broader perspective that I had not previously considered.

    Comment by Bernie Swain — May 13, 2011 @ 7:20 am

  16. Thank you! I recently watched the dvd of this game and did not see Ray Guy hiding behind the Raiders bench, perhaps thats because he did such a good job of it. Of all the subjects I’ve written about this (& the barefoot kickers) is the most popular.

    Comment by Bill — May 13, 2011 @ 9:01 am

  17. nice rant who wrote it dicka ? wilson humm come on look at the raiders redskins super bowl that was the real raiders besides that wasnt a kidney infection JIM THE TWIRP got that day from the raiders . and who did you beat in your 1 super bowl victory the pathetics .stop it fools

    Comment by frank — November 27, 2011 @ 10:54 am

  18. That Bears team was on the verge of something awesome which happened the year after.

    Comment by Paul Priest — November 27, 2011 @ 5:46 pm

  19. Years later my buddy #22 Whittington, said when Ray Guy saw Marc was up. He ran up to Coach and started yelling, coach ..Wisons up..coach Wilson’s up, he did want to go in. They could not stop the Bears rush.

    Comment by Mikey — February 10, 2013 @ 7:12 am

    • Please tell Art hello and let him know I have some nice pictures of him at training camp in Santa Rosa. That Bears game seems to live forever with interesting stories. Thanks for contributing.

      Comment by Bill — February 10, 2013 @ 6:42 pm

  20. No sir, the Raiders lost that brutal game, yes, but in no way the Silver and Black were no longer the toughest, most respected and feared football team of the entire nfl history. The bears are not the bad boy of the nfl. Maybe they were for that year. Maybe. But the Raiders allways were (until the death of big Al), the most intimidating organization in pro sports. Period.
    Go Raiders!

    Comment by Lucas — March 29, 2013 @ 1:45 pm

  21. The Raiders peaked the year before and in ’84 they were already showing their age (as the article notes, the Raider injuries were piling up before they even got to Chicago). That game did not CAUSE the downfall of the Raiders, it was just a sign that the downfall was coming. Still, both offenses got the snot beat out of them that day. Both defenses had the other team’s offense running scared. The difference was turnovers, pure and simple. 5 for the Raiders and 1 for the Bears. In the grand scheme, it was the last few years of the Raider dynasty that had lasted 20 years. As great as the Bears’ defense was for a few years, they were a one trick pony and just a few years later they had come back to the pack.

    Comment by Matt — March 20, 2014 @ 11:30 pm


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