Dave Casper Oakland Raiders & Houston Oilers & Minnesota Vikings
"With the Raiders we don’t have to put up with any Mickey Mouse stuff. We don’t have rules about keeping our chinstraps buckled on the sidelines. We don’t have coaches encouraging a lot of false chatter on the practice field. The phony stuff is for losers. We’re treated like intelligent human beings. We don’t live by a lot of degrading rules. Our coaches don’t harass us because they know we’re winners.”
Tight end Dave Casper was an Honorable Mention All-America as an offensive tackle in 1972, and an All-America tight end in 1973 at Notre Dame. The Oakland Raiders selected him in the second round of the 1974 National Football League Draft.
Used primarily on special teams his first two years in Oakland, he earned a starter’s role in 1976 and quickly established himself as a dominant player, finishing the season with an impressive 53 catches for 691 yards and 10 touchdowns. His outstanding play invigorated the Raiders’ offense with a blend of pass catching and blocking that culminated in a 32-14 victory over the Minnesota Vikings in Super Bowl XI. Nicknamed “The Ghost” by his teammates, Casper was not only a great receiver and blocker, he was also a clutch performer.
Two of the game’s most memorable plays involved the sure-handed tight end. In the 1977 AFC playoff game between the Raiders and the Baltimore Colts, it was Casper’s 10-yard touchdown reception that ended the double-overtime affair, 37-31, in favor of the Raiders. “Ghost to the Post,” the game is called in reference to Casper’s 42-yard reception route that set up the tying field goal at the end of regulation.
Early the next season, Casper again pulled his team from certain defeat, on a play that would forever be remembered as “The Holy Roller.” Down six points to the San Diego Chargers with 10 seconds remaining in the game, Raiders quarterback Ken Stabler fumbled the ball. The ball rolled 13 yards to the Chargers 11, where running back Pete Banaszak batted it toward the goal line. At the 5, a quick thinking Casper continued the ball’s forward progress with his foot before finally falling on it in the end zone for the game-winning touchdown.
Casper played six and a half seasons with the Raiders. During that time he was named All-Pro and All-AFC four times and was selected to play in four Pro Bowls. Midway through the 1980 season he was traded to the Houston Oilers for a first-round and two second-round draft picks. There he was reunited with Stabler who was traded to the Oilers at the start of the season. Casper finished the season with 56 receptions and was named to his fifth Pro Bowl. In 1984, after a brief stint with the Minnesota Vikings, Casper returned to the Raiders finishing his career with 378 receptions for 5,216 yards and 52 touchdowns.