Remembering Raiders legend Clem Daniels, the AFL's all-time leading rusher


Remembering Raiders legend Clem Daniels, the AFL's all-time leading rusher

I haven’t been to a Starbucks since February 2012. I rarely drink coffee anyway, so the idea of overpaying for something I can’t truly appreciate leaves me cold.

But on that cool late winter’s day seven years ago, I went to Starbucks because that’s where Clemon Daniels wanted to meet. And when Clem Daniels requests your presence, you go.

We spent about two hours there, him revisiting his life and me listening while also trying to suppress the occasional lump in my throat. An Oakland Raiders legend and an Oakland Tribune columnist sitting in a busy coffee house discussing football and race and things that ring true.

Another lump rose within my throat Monday morning when I heard that Mr. Daniels had left us. Gone at 83.

I was stunned – I guess I thought he was too tough to die – and sad and, then, at least a little bit angry.

Why? Mr. Daniels, the all-time leading rusher in the American Football League, deserved better.

A man who had survived the ugliest of America with his chin high, his mind perceptive and his tongue unyielding deserved better.

I came to know Mr. Daniels in the 1990s after the Raiders returned to Oakland after an unsatisfying 13-year exploration of Los Angeles. Mr. Daniels came to games. He showed up in training camp. He attended Raiders-related social events. In due time, he was something of a buffer between Raiders boss Al Davis and that Oakland Tribune columnist who criticized the team and some of its business practices.

If I wanted to know what Mr. Davis was thinking, Mr. Daniels was one of the people I would seek out. There were times he was able to explain decisions and other times when he would admit he didn’t have an explanation. Either way, I came away from those conversations believing that Mr. Daniels was very much his own man while also being loyal to Mr. Davis. I never once felt any trust was being breached.

But it wasn’t until we met in Starbucks less than four months after the passing of Mr. Davis that I fully understood the basis and depth of that loyalty.

Clem Daniels grew up in McKinney, Texas, a small segregated town about 30 miles north of Dallas. His mother, Ida Louise, was a housekeeper for a bank chairman who was a member of the town’s elite, a man who shook Clem’s hand after the youngster graduated from high school, wished him well at historically black Prairie View and then later that day told Ida Louise that the next time her son came by the house he is to come through the back door.

The youngster, then 17, found out only after pleading with his mother to tell him what was bothering her. That’s when her words tumbled out beneath tears sliding down her face.

So when Al Davis stood up for Daniels and his black teammates facing segregation at hotels in the 1960s south, Clem was experiencing something he’d never known: A white man not only seeking fairness but demanding it.

Not that he always got what he wanted from Davis. To the contrary, they had their squabbles, usually over money. But Daniels always knew he had the ear of Davis and the two spent many games in the owner’s box at the Oakland Coliseum. There was a mutual respect that allowed them to tell each other the truth even when it was unwelcome.

When Mr. Davis would go full ornery, yelling and cussing and careening down an irrational path, Mr. Daniels would respond calmly, the sober voice of reason. He may have been the closest thing there was to an “Al Whisperer.”

Traded after his rookie season (1960) by the Dallas Texans to the Oakland Raiders, Mr. Daniels played seven seasons for the Raiders before retiring in 1968 with 5,101 yards, a total never to be approached, much less broken. He compiled 1,784 yards (1,099 rushing, 685 receiving) in 1963. Running with a punishing style that took a toll on his body, he is a four-time All-Star and a member of the All-time All-AFL team.

Perhaps because he retired two years before the AFL-NFL merger, Mr. Daniels didn’t get the full measure of props he earned. Comfortable with himself, he was a serene lion of a man.

A gentleman off the field but always on a quiet quest for equality, and often succeeding, he had to settle for the complete and utter respect of those that got to know him.

A few days after we met at Starbucks, Mr. Daniels was the guest of honor for a ceremony at the Oakland Marriott. Among those attending and speaking were Bill Russell, Joe Morgan, Jim Otto and both Willie Browns, the former San Francisco mayor and the Hall of Fame cornerback.

I’ve spoken with Mr. Daniels a few times since that 2012 interview. I’d get occasional updates from my chiropractor’s office manager, who was a close friend. I’ve thought of him every time I’ve driven past the San Leandro Starbucks where we met.

That will not change now that he has left us.

Raiders injury report: Hunter Renfrow could return later this season


Raiders injury report: Hunter Renfrow could return later this season

ALAMEDA – Hunter Renfrow injured his ribs and punctured his lung during a Week 12 loss to the New York Jets, a scary situation that put the rest of his season in some jeopardy.

The Raiders couldn’t say for sure if he’d finish out his rookie season, where he made steady progress and ranked high among quarterback Derek Carr’s most reliable targets.

He didn’t play last week against Kansas City and won’t play Sunday against Tennessee at Oakland Coliseum, but could well come back down the stretch.

“We’re hopeful that he could return for the last game or two,” Raiders head coach Jon Gruden said. “We’re going to keep him on the active roster. We’ll do without him for another game or two, and we’re hoping to get him back for the Chargers game [in Week 16]. That’s on our wish list, our hope list right now for Hunter. We miss him.”

Renfrow wasn’t active on Wednesday, according to a practice estimation from the team. The Silver and Black conducted a walk-through session off-site, on a basketball court in Alameda to avoid inclement weather. The focus is teaching and the mental side of the game.

“We have made some adjustments to our roster, so we have gone inside to try to multiply our reps for a lot of people that we have to get ready to play,” Gruden said. “There are pros and cons to everything. I like to get a lot of reps in on Wednesday to teach the game plan and make sure they’re sound in their assignments. It’s not at the same speed, but it’s an important part of learning, especially the changes we have had at several positions.

“I think it has been beneficial. We’ll come out and run fast Thursday and Friday and get ready for the Titans.”

Running back Josh Jacobs was considered out on the team’s practice estimation with a shoulder injury. Right guard Trent Brown was considered a non-participant with a pectoral injury. He has been dealing with knee and ankle injuries in recent weeks.

[RELATED: Review-Journal: Should Raiders move on from Derek Carr?]

Raiders practice report

Did not practice
WR Hunter Renfrow (rib)
RB Josh Jacobs (shoulder)
OT Trent Brown (pectoral)
LB Kyle Wilber (ankle)

Limited practice
C Rodney Hudson (ankle)
CB Lamarcus Joyner (hamstring)
RG Gabe Jackson (knee)

NOTE: The Raiders conducted a walk-through practice on Wednesday. Therefore, the participation report is an estimation.

Raiders' Derek Carr lauds Josh Jacobs' ability to play through pain

Raiders' Derek Carr lauds Josh Jacobs' ability to play through pain

ALAMEDA -- Josh Jacobs has been playing through pain. The Raiders running back has been limited for several practice weeks with a shoulder injury, but a visual posted on his Instagram Stories and Snapchat made it real.

He showed a photo of his shoulder iced and in a sling following his Snapchat post of a placard stating he fractured it way back in Week 7.

"His shoulder’s hurt. I didn’t know,” quarterback Derek Carr said with a smile.

Jacobs hasn’t missed a game -- he didn’t even miss a series after injuring the joint while trucking Green Bay’s Adrian Amos -- since that time and continues to violently run and produce at an efficient clip.

He exceeded 1,000 yards Sunday against the Kansas City Chiefs, with his fifth 100-plus performance. Then it was right back to rest and rehab so he can play the Tennessee Titans on Sunday at Oakland Coliseum.

These efforts have impressed Raiders fans and teammates alike during a 2019 campaign where he’s a frontrunner to be Offensive Rookie of the Year.

[RELATEDReview-Journal: Should Raiders move on from Derek Carr?]

“When I have said that he’s special, I’m including things like that, which I knew about and you all didn’t,” Carr said. Everybody is playing with some ailment at this point, and I’m sure it’s all listed on the injury report. Josh is special because football means a lot to him.

“I have been around people before who have had injuries where I think, ‘I wish they would’ve played through that.’ If Josh wasn’t able to play, I would completely understand considering what he’s dealing with. That he keeps suiting up and going out there and running with the style he runs with -- I don’t think enough can be said about that guy.”