One of the calling cards of the Raiders organization is its dedication to its alumni.
Few – if any – organizations around the National Football League go out of their way to show respect for players of years past as the Silver and Black do, and that honor and admiration manifests itself in myriad ways.
And one of the coolest ways that it's demonstrated is in the organization's annual alumni weekend, where former Raiders from all generations come together to share stories, talk football, and get a glimpse at the next crop of players destined to wear the Silver and Black.
"We have Phil Villapiano and some of our alumni coming in here this weekend," said Head Coach Jon Gruden during his training camp kickoff press conference. "You'll see George Atkinson running around here. We'd like to get back to the Oakland Raiders of years past. Hopefully our players can learn what it is to be a Raider and the commitment that it takes to be an excellent football team."
This year, nearly 100 alumni and their guests came to the team's Napa Valley Training Complex, and while they were there to enjoy themselves, several of the former Raiders made time to speak to the team and share the secrets to their success.
"They gave us a bunch of quotes: 'Love each other,' 'You have to have one dream and that's just to win a Super Bowl,'" linebacker Vontaze Burfict explained. "It's so many, man, and I have them written down in my book, but I can't come off the top of my head with them. It was an hour meeting listening to five Hall of Fame guys so obviously you have to know it's going to be great."
"You always hear about it when I was outside of it but being in it, you actually feel it, it's kind of crazy," added Tyrell Williams when asked about the impact of the alumni being around. "Just seeing all them out here, and I watched a little highlight of them yesterday. It's cool you know, hopefully I can go out there and talk to a few of them and hopefully more of them will come around. There were a lot of good receivers that played here that I'd like to meet."
The former players are one of the organization's greatest resources, and as the saying goes, "Once a Raider, Always a Raider."
Raiders alumni reunite for Alumni Weekend in Napa, Calif. during the team's training camp.