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...

Del Rio’s anxiety level up with trio of Raiders going extreme in New Zealand


Del Rio’s anxiety level up with trio of Raiders going extreme in New Zealand

Raiders Pro Bowl left guard Kelechi Osemele, running back Taiwan Jones and safety Brynden Trawick are currently enjoying their offseason in New Zealand. 

But a few videos they posted going white-water rafting and bungee jumping left head coach Jack Del Rio a bit anxious. 

"Anxiety level went up a bit thinking of my BIG pro bowl LG on the rapids!!" Del Rio tweeted Monday. "Can't leave out Brynden or Taiwan either ... have fun and be safe"

Osemele has posted a handful of photos and videos from the trip, including one of a raft capsizing with the caption: "It got real out there!!! Category 4 Rapids #NewZealand." Another showed the 6-foot-5, 333-pounder doing a backflip off a bungee platform with the caption: "Just did a backflip off the highest swing in the WORLD!!!!!!! Crazy!!! #LivingLife"

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.