Legendary Raiders quarterback Daryle Lamonica, 'The Mad Bomber', dies at age 80

Legendary Raiders quarterback Daryle Lamonica, ‘The Mad Bomber’, dies at age 80

Daryle Lamonica, a legendary Raiders quarterback who led the franchise to his first Super Bowl berth, has died at the age of 80. The Fresno County Sherriff’s said Lamonica died at his Fresno, California, home on Thursday morning. Death is considered to be from natural causes.

One of the greatest players in AFL history, Lamonica was nicknamed “The Mad Bomber” for his affinity for throwing deep passes. He was named league MVP in 1967, the year he led the Raiders to a league title.

“The Raiders Family is deeply saddened to learn of Daryle Lamonica’s passing earlier today,” the team said in a statement. “The Raider Nation will forever miss his easy-going nature and warm smile. Our deepest condolences are with his wife Mary, son Brandon, the rest of the Lamonica family, teammates and friends.”

Ironically, the Raiders’ opponent in Super Bowl II, Vince Lombardi’s Green Bay Packers, was the NFL team that drafted Lamonica in the 12th round of the 1963 NFL Draft. Lamonica instead chose to play for the Buffalo Bills, who took him in the 24th round of the 1963 AFL Draft.

Playing alongside fellow quarterback and AFL legend Jack Kemp, the Bills won back-to-back AFL titles in 1964-65. Lamonica, who led the AFL in rushing touchdowns in 1964, was traded to the Raiders after the 1966 season. Lamonica was actually hunting when the Raiders traded for him. That day, he caught a 35-pound bobcat that he appropriately named Raider.

Lamonica enjoyed immediate success in Oakland. He threw a league-high 30 touchdowns in 1967 while going 12-1-1 as a starter. Lamonica threw two touchdowns in the Raiders’ 40-7 blowout victory over the Oilers in the ’67 AFL title game. He threw for 208 yards with two touchdowns and an interception in the Raiders’ loss to the dynastic Packers in Super Bowl II.

“Daryle Lamonica was the perfect quarterback for the Raiders at that time,” Hall of Fame Raiders coach John Madden once said of Lamonica. “He wasn’t intruding on a team that was set, he eased into a team that was being built, a team that went to the Super Bowl that season, a team that was starting a tradition of success.”

Lamonica remained the Raiders’ starting quarterback when Madden was promoted to head coach in 1969. That season, Lamonica led the AFL in 3,302 yards and 34 touchdowns while helping lead the Raiders to the AFL’s final title game before the AFL-NFL merger.

“It was an exciting time,” Lamonica said of the AFL’s 10-year run. “We were innovative in the AFL. We brought the passing game more into play than the NFL did. AFL fans wanted to see the ball in the air.”

Lamonica continued to have success after the merger, as he was named to the Pro Bowl in 1970 and in 1972. A five-time Pro Bowler, Lamonica went an impressive 66-16-6 as a starting quarterback. He is one of only three quarterbacks to throw five touchdowns in multiple playoff games. The other two quarterbacks? Hall of Famer Kurt Warner and future Hall of Famer Patrick Mahomes.

The Raiders’ starter at the start of the 1973 season, Lamonica was replaced by Ken Stabler, who went on to enjoy a Hall of Fame career that included leading the Raiders to the franchise’s first NFL title in 1976. Both quarterbacks are still among the most prolific assists in Raiders history. Derek Carr, the franchise’s all-time career passing leader, shared a photo of himself and Lamonica on Thursday.

“He was always so good to me,” Carr said of Lamonica, “and I enjoyed our conversations over the years.”

Lamonica played collegiately at Notre Dame, where he used his athleticism (he had more rushing than passing touchdowns during his time in South Bend) to help the Fighting Irish win four of their final five games during the 1962 season.

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