Raider Legends take the stage at the Raiders Official Draft Party at Everett & Jones in Oakland's Jack London Square. Photo by Allan Yuan.
At Oakland barbeque hotspot Everett & Jones, the Raiders Official Draft Party kicked off the 2011 NFL Draft Thursday, April 28. It was an impressive and lively showing with a bevy of fans, Raiderettes and Raider Legends. The party featured a stage with musical performers and an outdoor seating area where fans mingled and listened in on the official draft selections. Inside, the restaurant was filled with energetic fans showing their tremendous support for the Silver and Black and excitement for the draft.
Legendary former players Jim Otto, George Atkinson, Marv Hubbard, Jerry Robinson, Ted Kwalick, Mervyn Fernandez, Morris Bradshaw, Raymond Chester, Robert Jenkins, Art Thoms, Gary Weaver, and Howie Williams were on hand. Autograph sessions and a prize raffle also entertained the fans while they enjoyed the draft on a score of flat screen televisions throughout the restaurant.
"Oh yeah, I always look forward to the draft…and especially anything to do with the Raiders," Tom Wyatt said.
Ida Gantt happily agreed, "I've been pumped since a week before today."
Other fans discussed the particulars of the draft, including the Raiders organization's potential strategies and needs at various positions.
While seated at the bar and actively watching the selections, Terry Davis believed the Raiders, "could definitely take a quarterback."
"I would think the offensive line is where they ought to secure some help," stated Perry Johnson. However, he didn't have a specific player in mind due to the abundance of available players.
The Raiderettes - Football's Fabulous Females – were on hand for the event and performed on stage, signed autographs and posed for photos.
"Right now, we're just getting everybody pumped up for the draft party. We're out here meeting fans, signing autographs and taking pictures," said veteran Raiderette Sarah G.
Maureen echoed her fellow Raiderette's statements. "We're here performing, cheering on the crowd. We're here to support the team, sign posters for the fans and get everyone ready for the upcoming season," said Maureen.
Later on at the party, Raider Legends kindly answered questions while they were taking in all of the draft developments.
"Well, I'm not in the football department of the Raiders, so I really couldn't tell you who they'll take. On the other hand, whomever we pick needs to be ready to play because we have a bunch of guys already on the team ready to play. If we can get some football-ready young guys, those are the picks that we want to see," said Hall of Fame center Jim Otto.
George Atkinson, the legendary safety and #5 on the Raiders career interception list, offered his thoughts.
"They had good drafts the last couple of years. For this year…the best player on the board. I don't think they really have a great many needs, so they can go for the best athlete and best player. I also think they'll stay where they are, they won't trade up [for a higher pick]," Atkinson hypothesized.
"If I were them, all I'd take is linemen, offensive and defensive… if you have the best line, that's the key to winning. They really should be the primary guys you're after," explained Marv Hubbard, who sits at #5 on the Raiders all-time rushing list.
"We like to be Raiders for life. I can't think of any other team that I want to be a part of. We're very proud to be ex-Raiders, so we come here to hang out with some people who are proud to be Raiders fans," continued Hubbard when he expounded on the presence of the former players.
The Raiders Official Draft Party at Everett & Jones continued on into the early evening with fans eager for the subsequent rounds when the Raiders will select their additions to the 2011 roster.