(Photo courtesy of the Oakland Raiders)
I recently spoke with former Raiders linebacker Linden King to discuss several avenues that circulate around the Raiders organization.
King was a former third-round pick out of Colorado State, starting his career with the San Diego Chargers. After his eight-year stint in San Diego he joined the Los Angeles Raiders for his final four years in the NFL.
King now resides in Las Vegas, Nevada where he’s the president of the NFL Alumni, Las Vegas chapter.
We spoke upon the NFL changing certain dynamics to the way it’s being played versus the old-school football mindset. In today’s version of the NFL, the league has taken a stance to protect players from connecting on helmet-to-helmet collisions. With that said, the new rules have sided with the offensive players, making it more difficult to play defense in today’s NFL.
“The game has changed quite a bit since I was playing obviously,” said King. “We could clothesline people. Now they’re kind of slaying it towards the offense, because let’s face it, the old days of smash mouth football of 6-0 was kind of boring to watch so the game has opened up. Some of the hits that I see these guys giving and receiving are just incredible. I feel that the rules have dampened the game a bit, but don’t think it’s taken away from the game because some of the big hits are still there.”
Earlier this week the Raiders announced their official 53-man depth chart with five linebackers on the roster. That’s less than what defensive coordinator Paul Guenther typically has carried in the past. King gives his insight regarding the Raiders linebacker core.
“I like Whitehead and I think Burfict has some nice things to offer,” said King. “Preseason is a tough place to judge talent. They’re doing limited reps, and they’re working special schemes. I like what I saw out of both of those guys, and I believe in the coaching staff that the Raiders have. I’m tired of hearing about Gruden and all that kind of stuff. Leave the man alone, he knows what he’s doing. Gruden’s a great coach and a great motivator. For me, I need somebody to get me fired up, and that’s Gruden.”With the Raiders inching closer to their move to Las Vegas, King gives an inside scoop about how he thinks the city will embrace them and how Jon Gruden fits the entertainment capital of the world.
As the Raiders inch closer to their arrival in Las Vegas, King gives his perspective of how we believes the entertainment capital of the world will fit Jon Gruden.
“First of all, I think Las Vegas is a perfect fit for Gruden,” said King. “As far as his program being laid out, I’m sure everything that he is doing has been thought out and is by his design. I think he’s going to be just fine. As a fan myself, I want it all and I want it right now, but it just doesn’t work like that. It just doesn’t, so we just need to give the man time to work his magic.”
This offseason the Raiders restructured their front office with the addition of Mike Mayock to work alongside Jon Gruden. Since then, the two have drafted three first-round rookies who all appear to be large foundational pieces moving forward, and have signed some quality veteran free-agents. King speaks on the Gruden and Mayock duo at the top of the organization.
“The whole organization from my viewpoint is focused on coming together,” said King. “They’ve brought people who can work together well and I think what we’re seeing now is a reflection of that. I’ve never met Mayock personally but just by knowing Jon, I can imagine what kind of guy he is. Jon surrounds himself with a certain type of people, that type-A personality, ‘go get em’ type of guy.”
King also dives into the true meaning of what it’s like to be a Raider.
“When I was in San Diego and I played against the Raiders, there was definitely a mystique,” said King. Especially back in the late 70’s when ‘Snake’ and ‘Fred’ were there. There certainly was a mystique and everybody wanted to be a Raider. When I got the opportunity to go up there I was ecstatic to put four years in. Once you’re part of that silver and black, it’s a special feeling. You find that no matter where you are. No matter where I played, being on the Raiders or against the Raiders, half the stands is going to be wearing black.”
With his position with the NFL Alumni, King details what they do, and what their plans are moving forward.
“The alumni has been around since 67′ and we have missions, one is to help players who aren’t doing particularly well,” said King. “The alumni association has been trying to take care of guys. Hopefully with the collective bargaining agreement coming up we’ll get a bump in salaries because there are some guys that were staples in this profession and their retirement is $500 dollars a month. It’s ludicrous. Just pay for the medical, I wore my body out playing football, not sitting in an office. Ultimately, the city of Las Vegas has been incredible. Caesars has been tremendous with us, we have a partnership with them. We are very fortunate to be launching this here in Las Vegas.”
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