Was the Reception actually Immaculate?


Was the Reception actually Immaculate?

ALAMEDA -- To a more recent vintage of Raiders fan, the world turned upside down in the snow of New England and, really, shame on you if you utter the words "Tuck Rule" in the streets of Silver and Blackdom.

But for the veteran denizens of Raider Nation, another utterance gets their blood boiling just as quickly…even if it is fast approaching its 40th birthday.

The Immaculate Reception.

Take a breath. Count to three. Ready now? OK, then checking out today's premiere of the NFL Network's "A Football Life: The Immaculate Reception" at 5 p.m. PT will only peel off certain silver and black scabs but in a wildly entertaining documentary, it might be worth it. After all, 40 years is 40 years, right?

You all know the story -- at least, you should if it still gets you riled up -- as there were 22 seconds left in an AFC divisional playoff game at Three Rivers Stadium on Dec. 23, 1972. The Raiders led, 7-6, and the Steelers were facing 4th-and-10 at their own 40-yard line.

Terry Bradshaw dropped back to pass and after barely eluding defensive ends Horace Jones and Tony Cline, Bradshaw threw a laser from his own 30-yard line down field toward Frenchy Fuqua. A collision ensued -- between Fuqua, Jack Tatum and, presumably, the ball -- at the Oakland 35-yard line and the ball bounded back towards the line of scrimmage.

Jimmy Warren jumped up briefly in celebration before realizing that an oncoming Franco Harris had the ball and Warren gave chase. Warren caught up to Harris at about the 10-yard line before being shrugged off as Harris crossed the goal line with five seconds to play.

As the documentary explains, it's "the story of a play that's lived a life of its own.

"The Immaculate Reception is a myth. A miracle. A cottage industry. A conspiracy. A crime. And, a detective story."

No doubt. The film of the play has been called "The Zapruder Film of sports," and for good reason. Mostly because everyone loves a good conspiracy.

"If you could have packaged all that anger and frustration," offers Raymond Chester, "it probably would have been nuclear."

In fact, four conspiracy theories have arisen from the ashes of the play, which has taken on religious overtones in the Steel City, while being referred to as the Immaculate DE-ception by the Raiders.

The four conspiracies investigated:

* The Fuqua Theory, as in, did Fuqua touch the ball? If he did, the play, under NFL rule 7, Section 5, Article 2, Item 1, would have been an incompletion.

"The question: Frenchy, did you touch the ball?" Fuqua says in the documentary, followed by a seven-second pregnant pause. "Maybe. Maybe not."

Andy Russell says in the documentary Fuqua told reporters that day the ball bounced off his chest.

"I knew that that's not the right answer," Russell says. "I grabbed him, and I said said, 'Frenchy, no, what you meant to say was…"

* The Trap Theory, as in Harris trapped the ball off the Riverfront turf.

"I can't say," Harris says.

Added Bradshaw: "More than likely, because Franco doesn't speak, he probably trapped it on the ground."

* The Riot Theory, as in, with the crowd having already flooded the field, the referees were not going to rule it a non-touchdown.

"(Ref Fred) Swearingen had a problem," says Phil Villapiano. "I think, if he would have ever reversed that call, that man might have died. And all the other officials too."

* The Clip Theory, as in Villapiano claims he was clipped by John McMakin on Harris' run.

"We totally got screwed," Villapiano vents. "I was definitely clipped…if it wasn't for that clip, I think I make that play and we have no Immaculate Reception."

McMakin, though, calls his block the "Magnificent Obstruction."

Does the documentary then, which enlisted the help of former CIA director General Michael Hayden, solve anything?

Not really. Not even with the film of the play digitally remastered, though, from this vantage point, it appeared as though Fuqua did touch the ball with his left hand before it bounded off Tatum.

Still so incensed over the play, John Madden would not be interviewed for the documentary. Instead, clips of the former Raiders coach from 1986 and 2002 speaking on it are used. As are snippets of the late Al Davis ruminating on the play in 1989.

Bottom line, if you think it was a clean play before watching the documentary, you'll still believe so. And if you think the Raiders were robbed, you'll be even more convinced now. Especially with George Atkinson's passionate takes.

"That play, if you're a Steeler fan, you believe in it," Fuqua says. "If you're a sinner, like them damn Raiders, you'll never accept it. So it's almost like the Bible, a myth to some and a faith to others."

Now, about that Rob Lytle fumble...

Report: Former Raiders RB arrested for domestic violence


Report: Former Raiders RB arrested for domestic violence

Trent Richardson is reportedly in some trouble.

Richardson was arrested on Thursday night for domestic violence, according to TMZ Sports.

The former running back was taken into custody on a third degree charge, the report states, with bail being set for $1,000.

The arrest was made in Hoover, Alabama.

The Browns selected Richardson with the third overall pick in the 2012 draft.

He was traded to the Colts in 2013 and played for Indianapolis in 2014.

He signed with the Raiders in 2015 and appeared in three exhibition games, but did not make the team.

The 26-year old was cut by the Ravens last August.

Downing: Carr will have increased influence on Raiders game plan

Downing: Carr will have increased influence on Raiders game plan

Derek Carr and Todd Downing are tight. A strong friendship was forged between the Raiders’ franchise quarterback and his position coach these past two seasons, one that should help the Raiders now that Downing will call plays.

The Raiders new offensive coordinator will use his young signal caller as a resource formulating a game plan. Carr has a bright offensive mind – he called his own plays in high school and in college at times – and Downing plans to use it to put his quarterback in positions to succeed.

Carr’s influence in preparation will expand over previous seasons under coordinator Bill Musgrave.

“Where I see him needing a little bit more command is just being able to share his thoughts of game plans,” Downing said Wednesday in a conference call. “Being a student of the game, as he already is, but vocalize what he likes and doesn’t like. I think my relationship with him is something that’s going to give him the opportunity to voice his opinions. I look forward to him really taking charge of expressing his thoughts on the offense.”

Carr has always had freedom to adjust at the line of scrimmage, but that could increase with Downing in charge. Derek Carr’s brother Davis Carr told 95.7 The Game as much a few weeks ago, a topic Downing addressed on Wednesday.

“There’s been a lot made about his command at the line of scrimmage,” Downing said. “There’s certainly going to be opportunities for Derek to do that. That’s not something I feel we’ll even have to get into until we’re much further into this offseason and into training camp.”

Downing had opportunities to interview with other teams this offseason, but head coach Jack Del Rio wanted to pair Downing and Carr together. The young duo have similar personalities and a strong working relationship based on a love of the game.

“My relationship with Derek starts there,” Downing said in Wednesday interview on 95.7-FM. “We both love coming to work each day and respect the heck out of each other. When you have that kind of relationship with any coach, you’re taking a step in the right direction. Derek’s the leader of our franchise. In my opinion, he’s the best young quarterback in football. We’re fortunate to have him. Why wouldn’t I be in a good mood every time I am around him?”

Carr made great progress working with Downing the past two years, and was an MVP candidate in 2016. Downing sees continued room for growth and refinement as next season approaches.

“I think Derek made big strides in 2016, just in terms of his command of the offense, being the field general, being able to get through progressions more efficiently,” Downing said. “His footwork took big strides. I certainly want him to remain focused on all of those attributes. You don’t want to feel like you’ve arrived in a certain area of your game and then have it go backwards when the next season starts. Certainly, I want him focused on all of those.”