Warren Wells, former Oakland Raiders wide receiver, dies at 76

Warren Wells, former Oakland Raiders wide receiver, dies at 76

Warren Wells was an excellent football player, a speed demon and a generational athlete often seen streaking downfield, hauling in passes while part of the high-flying Oakland Raiders passing attack.

Great is an adjective attributed to too many, but it fit a receiver as dominant as any in his or any era.

Just ask Hall of Fame receiver Fred Biletnikoff, who believes Wells “was probably the most impressive receiver I ever saw.”

Wells was dominant. He was feared. He was productive taking yards in massive chunks. He caught 156 passes for 3,634 yards, 42 touchdowns and a whopping 23.1 yards per reception during a Raiders tenure that burned white hot but flamed out fast.

Wells played four seasons with the Raiders, from 1967 to 1970, when the Silver and Black were stars of the American Football League. He wasn't a superstar for long. That’s why his on-field exploits aren’t stored in enough memory banks, even among modern members of Raider Nation.

Now is a good time to recall them, and honor a great player and often-troubled man who died this week of congestive heart failure in Beaumont, Texas, NBC Sports Bay Area learned.

Wells was 76 years old.

He had legal issues stemming from a 1969 conviction for aggravated assault and a probation violation in 1971 -- he was arrested right after the Pro Bowl -- and he never played NFL football again.

Wells' career started with the Detroit Lions, who let him go after one season. The Raiders signed him after a two-year stint in the Army, and he then became a star for the Silver and Black.

“If he had played long enough,” former Raiders coach John Madden said, “he could have been the greatest receiver that ever played.”

[RELATED: Ray Ratto recalls Wells as classic what-if tale]

Wells' time in the spotlight was brief. Troubled times followed after it went out, and Wells struggled with substance abuse and further issues with the law.

There was no doubting Wells' athletic ability, which would have translated to any area. There was no doubting his ability to produce and compete at the highest level, and career longevity would have placed him among revered all-time Raiders greats. Instead he might be considered one of the most underrated players of the Raiders’ golden age.

“Just a remarkable football player,” said Hall of Fame executive Ron Wolf, a longtime Raiders scout and personnel man starting in 1963. “And the country doesn’t know anything about him. That’s what is so sad.”

Second Raiders stadium site worker tests positive for coronavirus


Second Raiders stadium site worker tests positive for coronavirus

A second person working at the Allegiant Stadium construction site tested positive for the coronavirus (COVID-19), according to stadium officials commissioned to build the Raiders a new venue just off the Las Vegas Strip.

Mortensen-McCarthy, a joint venture leading the stadium construction effort, issued a statement Wednesday announcing the finding.

The statement, sent to the Las Vegas Review-Journal and other local media, said the company was notified Tuesday of the positive test. The worker, according to Mortensen-McCarthy, was on site for one week before leaving on April 2, prior to experiencing symptoms.

The company said the infected worker wasn’t close to others due to social-distancing measures implemented on the construction site. The worker is self-isolating and won’t return to work until medically cleared to do so. The company said the area where the worker was assigned was shut down and thoroughly sanitized.

The stadium site has strict guidelines for workers on site and sanitizing protocols to prevent the spread of the coronavirus for workers.

The first COVID-19 case from a stadium site worker was announced on March 25.

While Nevada has issued a stay-at-home directive, construction is considered an essential business and has continued despite the coronavirus pandemic.

[RELEATED: Trump reportedly says NFL season should start on time]

Allegiant Stadium is still expected to be ready for the 2020 Raiders season should it start on time. The coronavirus pandemic has put sports on hold, with no timeline for return. The NFL, however, currently is planning to start the season as scheduled.

The Raiders are set to play their first season in Las Vegas after spending previous seasons in Oakland and Los Angeles.

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Former Raider DeAndre Washington stays in AFC West, set to join Chiefs

Former Raider DeAndre Washington stays in AFC West, set to join Chiefs

DeAndre Washington reportedly is no longer a Raiders running back, but his old team will see him often in the 2020 NFL season. He agreed to a contract with the rival Kansas City Chiefs, Yahoo! Sports' Terez Paylor reported Tuesday citing a source, keeping the tough runner in the AFC West.

It also reunites Washington with great friend and Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes, whom he played with at Texas Tech.

Washington served the Raiders well over the course of his rookie contract. The 2015 fifth-round draft pick was a steady reserve capable of shouldering a larger load if asked, a point he proved after Josh Jacobs was shut down late last season with a shoulder injury.

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He had 40 carries for 162 rushing yards and a touchdown in two straight games as a starter. Washington wasn’t expected back in 2020, with the Raiders looking for a different rushing style in reserve.

Washington and Jalen Richard are of similar stature and while they aren’t identical players, a greater contrast obviously is of benefit.

Washington enters a solid situation with the defending Super Bowl champs. Damien Williams is returning but LeSean McCoy is not, meaning there should be carries to earn with the Chiefs, even if he remains a secondary option.

All told, Washington had 282 carries for 1,122 yards and seven touchdowns in his Raiders career.

[RELATED: Why Raiders should be wary of drafting first-round receivers]

The Raiders carry on with Jacobs, Richard and Rod Smith as the primary options at running back. Another runner could be added in the NFL draft.