Anytime you have two longtime rivals meet on the gridiron, there are bound to be a number of connections between the organizations. When the San Diego Chargers and Oakland Raiders match up Monday evening in Northern California, not only will there be a football contest on the line, but an opportunity for one head coach to match a mark set by one of the best in the series history.
Madden Set Standard for Winning in Oakland
Before he became known in the broadcast booth as one of the top analysts in the NFL, John Madden was leading the Raiders on the football field. In his time as leader of the Silver and Black (1969-78), Madden compiled an overall mark of 112-39-7, including 9-7 in the postseason. Madden led the Raiders to their first Super Bowl title in January of 1977 with a 32-14 triumph over the Minnesota Vikings.
As he heads into the season opener at Oakland, San Diego head coach Norv Turner has the opportunity to match Madden’s career win mark, as he currently sits with a record of 111-117-1, having also been at the helm in Washington (1994-2000) and, coincidentally, Oakland (2004-05).
While tying Madden’s win mark is no doubt the last thing on Turner’s mind as he prepares his team for this early season AFC West showdown, how sweet would it be to do it in the stadium and city where he was essentially run out of town?
As many people who have followed the NFL over recent decades know, the late owner of the Raiders, Al Davis, was not exactly known for having a long leash with head coaches. Turner would be one of just many coaches who had essentially a cup of coffee in Oakland.
Turner Given a Second Chance
Now, the Bay Area native (Martinez, Calif.) has the chance to tie one of the top coaches of the 1970s, who later garnered even more fans behind the microphone. And remember those calls for Turner’s head at the end of last season, a season where the Chargers stumbled to an 8-8 record, marking their second straight playoff miss?
For those fans who were hoping Turner would get fired, keep in mind that as of the end of last season, he ranked fifth among active NFL head coaches in victories, trailing only the likes of Bill Belichick, Mike Shanahan, Tom Coughlin and Andy Reid.
Going into the 2012 season, the consensus among many individuals who follow the Chargers is that Turner and general manager AJ Smith must not only get San Diego into the playoffs, but that the team needs to at least win one playoff game or better for both to save their jobs. Just ask Marty Schottenheimer what it can be like to not meet expectations in one of the more laid-back NFL cities there is going.
Should Turner get the win Monday night in Oakland on the final game of the opening week of NFL play, he likely won’t even make note of the fact that he tied Madden for career wins. For Norv Turner and Co., the focus is not just on winning their opener, it is on having something constructive to do come January other than polish up their golf clubs.
For more Local Football Bloggers and the latest Chargers news, see CBS Sports Los Angeles.
Dave Thomas is a freelance writer covering all things Chargers. His work can be found on Examiner.com.