Derrick Jensen, Raiders Special Team Captain and Long-Time Seahawk Scout Succumbs to ALS

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TAMPA, FL - JANUARY 22: Derrick Jensen #31 of the Los Angeles Raiders blocks the punt of Jeff Hayes #5 of the Washington Redskins during Super Bowl XVIII on January 22, 1984 at Tampa Stadium in Tampa, Florida. The Raiders won the Super Bowl 38 - 9. (Photo by Focus on Sport/Getty Images)

Derrick Jensen was a “Big Play” special teams captain, and long time NFL scout.

Derrick Jensen succumbed to ALS last night at the age of 60.

From the Raiders website, Mark Davis had a few words to say about Derrick Jensen

“Derrick epitomized the perfect Raider and he will always hold a place in Silver and Black lore,” Raiders Owner Mark Davis said. “He will be missed dearly by the Raiders family and our thoughts and prayers are with his loved ones.”

Special Teams “Playmaker”.

Jensen jumped in front of the onside kick and ran it back for 33 yards and a touchdown. It was late in the 4th Quarter December 21st 1980 versus the New York Giants. That play finished off a Cinderella regular season for an Oakland Raiders team that would go on to win Super Bowl XV. That was the first time I remember noticing Derrick Jensen.

It would not be the last.

Derrick Jensen was drafted by Al Davis’s Raiders in the 3rd round of the 1978 NFL Draft as a TE/RB. And while he did have some mild success at those positions, it was special teams where he shined. Jensen played 9 years in the NFL, all with the Raiders. Five of those years he was the Raiders special teams captain. It was in this role he would have his greatest moment.

Super Bowl XVIII Hero

Early in the 1st Quarter of Super Bowl XVIII the Raiders had held the mighty Washington Offense and forced a punt. On the snap Derrick Jensen broke through the middle and blocked Jeff Hayes‘s punt which was recovered in the end zone. On the greatest stage the NFL has to offer, Derrick Jensen had his greatest play.

Derrick Jensen retired from playing football in 1986, but was not done yet with football. In 1991 he took a scouting position with the Seattle Seahawks. For 22 years he would serve in that role for Seattle and was a mentor to quite few young scouts.

What is Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS)?

It was only after being diagnosed in 2012 with Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) that forced Jensen to leave football for good.

ALS, or Lou Gehrig’s disease, is a disease that results when the motor neurons of the brain and spinal cord stop functioning correctly. While it is a rare disease, combat veterans are twice as likely, and former NFL players are four times likely to be diagnosed with ALS  than others. This heightened susceptibility has been linked to head trauma. Most recently, San Francisco 49er legend Dwight Clark, was diagnosed with the disease.

Overall about 20,000 people, give or take, are living with ALS at any given time. It is 100% fatal, and there is no known cure at this time.

Derrick Jensen is survived by his son Davis.

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