For Black History Month, NFL 360 profiled longtime NFL assistant coach and former Raiders offensive coordinator Jimmy Raye.
Raye rose to prominence as a quarterback in Fayetteville, North Carolina, during the Jim Crow era. He became one of the first African-American quarterbacks to be recruited from the South to play at a Power Five conference school. This all was during a time where there was a stigma around African-Americans playing quarterback, with the stereotypical notion that they didn't have the intellect to play the position.
Fast forward to 2023, two African-American quarterbacks will be starting in the Super Bowl for the first time in NFL history.
Raye broke down racial barriers in the position after committing to Michigan State. As the Spartans starting quarterback in the 1966 season, he became the first Black quarterback from the South to win a National Championship. He switched to cornerback after being drafted by the Los Angeles Rams, and became a coach at his alma mater after his playing career concluded due to injury.
He continued to make an impact as an NFL coach. Raye coached for 38 years with 10 different teams – serving 13 of those years as an offensive coordinator for seven teams, including the Raiders for two seasons (2004-05). He reached the playoffs 11 times as part of various coaching staffs.
"You could not find a better football mind," said Eric Dickerson, Pro Football Hall of Famer and former Raider. "Jimmy Raye should've been a head coach so many times over, and I call it like I see it."