Great Raiders From History: Fred Biletnikoff

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As the off-season moves along, the Oakland Raiders department of Last Word on Pro Football will be doing a series on great Raiders from history. We’ll revisit Oakland and Los Angeles Raiders that are now in the Pro Football Hall of Fame, reminiscing on their careers and impact on the silver and black. This week, Fred Biletnikoff is the topic of discussion.

Great Raiders From History: Fred Biletnikoff

Fred Biletnikoff is an Oakland Raiders legend. Biletnikoff played from the mid 1960s to the late 1970s. During his career, he didn’t just play alongside other memorable players, he played in some of the biggest games in Raiders history. Biletnikoff is one of the greatest wide receivers of his time, and he’s also a great Raider from history.

Before The Raiders

Frederick S. Biletnikoff was born and raised in Erie, PA. He was an exceptional athlete growing up, and played his college football at Florida State. There, Biletnikoff played on both sides of the ball. He led the team in interceptions and receptions as a junior. One year later,  put up huge numbers as a receiver and earned the All-American honors. Biletnikoff was the first consensus All-American for Florida State football. By the time his career was over, he had set school records for receptions, yards and touchdowns. He also got an award named after him, with the Biletnikoff Award annually handed out to the nation’s best college receiver.

Career In Silver & Black

The Oakland Raiders selected Biletnikoff in the second round of the 1965 AFL Draft. Biletnikoff played 14 seasons for the Silver and Black. During much of that time, he was regarded as one of the best wide receivers in football. However, controversy did arise, as Biletnikoff was known for his use of a sticky adhesive known as “Stickum.”  Him and teammate Lester Hayes used the product so much that a rule came along to stop it. Stickum became officially banned in 1981 and it got named the “Lester Hayes rule.”

Biletnikoff wasn’t great because of size, speed, or any freaky athletic trait. He just knew how to catch the ball. And he caught it well. His best moment came in Super Bowl XI when the Oakland Raiders defeated the Minnesota Vikings to earn their first Lombardi Trophy. Biletnikoff not only won a Super Bowl, but with his four receptions for 79 yards, he also was the Super Bowl MVP. After the 1978 season, Biletnikoff retired.

The Legacy

Fred Biletnikoff is the Raiders second all-time receving leader, with only Tim Brown ahead of him. Biletnikoff finished his career with 589 receptions, 8,974 yards, and 76 touchdowns. He was a Super Bowl Champion, Super Bowl MVP, four-time Pro Bowler, first-team All-Pro (1972), and NFL receptions leader (1971).

Biletnikoff retired from the game and tried his hand at coaching. He jumped around from Canada, high schools, and colleges. Also, he spent many years as a wide receiver and quality control coach for the Raiders until he officially retired in 2006.

Sadly, in 1999, Biletnikoff’s daughter Tracey was tragically killed by her boyfriend. Since then, he has been outspoken about domestic violence. “Tracey’s Place of Hope” was founded by Biletnikoff and opened in 2015. It is a shelter for victims of domestic violence and substance abuse treatment for young women.

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