DAVE CASPER

DAVE CASPER

Class of 2002
Tight End >>> 6-4, 240
(Notre Dame)
1974-1980, 1984 Oakland/Los Angeles Raiders, 1980-1983 Houston Oilers, 1983 Minnesota Vikings

David John Casper. . .Raiders’ second-round draft pick, 1974. . . Nicknamed “The Ghost,” earned starting tight end spot in 1976, finished season with impressive 53 catches for 691 yards, 10 touchdowns. . . Named All-Pro and All-AFC four consecutive years, 1976-1979. . . Outstanding blocker as well as receiver. . . Career record: 378 receptions, 5,216 yards, 52 touchdowns. . . Named to five Pro Bowls. . .Born February 2, 1952 in Bemidji, Minnesota.

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.

Year
Team
G
No.
Yds.
Avg.
TD
1974 Oakland
14
4
26
6.5
3
1975 Oakland
14
5
71
14.2
1
1976 Oakland
13
53
691
13.0
10
1977 Oakland
14
48
584
12.2
6
1978 Oakland
16
62
852
13.7
9
1979 Oakland
15
57
771
13.5
3
1980 Oakland/Houston
16
56
796
14.2
4
1981 Houston
16
33
572
17.3
8
1982 Houston
9
36
573
15.9
6
1983 Houston/Minnesota
13
20
251
12.6
0
1984 L.A. Raiders
7
4
29
7.3
2
Career Totals
147
378
5216
13.8
52
Additional Career Statistics: Passing: 1-0; Rushing: 6-27; Fumble Recovery for TD: 1

Championship Games

1974 AFC – Pittsburgh Steelers 24, Oakland Raiders 13
Casper played in the game but did not record a reception.

1975 AFC – Pittsburgh Steelers 16, Oakland Raiders 10
Casper recorded five receptions for 67 yards.

1976 AFC – Oakland Raiders 24, Pittsburgh Steelers 7
Casper started at tight end. He recorded one reception for five yards, fumbled once and recovered two fumbles.

1977 AFC – Denver Broncos 20, Oakland Raiders 17
Casper started at tight end. He recorded five receptions for 71 yards and two touchdowns.

Super Bowls

Super Bowl XI – Oakland Raiders 32, Minnesota Vikings 14
Casper started at tight end. He recorded four receptions for 70 yards and one touchdown.

All-Pro: 1976 (AP, PFWA, NEA, PW), 1977 (AP, PFWA, NEA, PW), 1978 (AP, PFWA, NEA, PW), 1979 (AP, PW)

All-Pro Second Team: 1979 (NEA)

All-AFC: 1976 (AP, UPI, SN, PW), 1977 (UPI, SN, PW), 1978 (UPI, SN, PW), 1979 (PW)

(5) – 1977, 1978, 1979, 1980, 1981

(at time of his retirement following 1984 season)


Post-Season Records

• [Tied for 1st] Most Touchdowns, Game – 3 (at Baltimore, Dec. 24, 1977)
• [Tied for 1st] Most Touchdowns Receiving, Game – 3 (at Baltimore, Dec. 24, 1977)

Raiders’ records held by Casper at the time of his retirement following the 1984 season

• [1st] Most Pass Receptions, Game – 12 (vs. New England, Oct. 3, 1976)
• [3rd] Most Pass Receptions, Career – 255

Team Statistical Championships
Reception Leader: 1976Oak, 1977Oak, 1978Oak, 1982Hou

Oak Oakland Raiders, Hou Houston Oilers

• 1970’s All-Decade Team
• Super Bowl Silver Anniversary Team

Year Team W L T Division Finish
1974 Oakland Raiders 12 2 0 (1st)
1975 Oakland Raiders 11 3 0 (1st)
1976 Oakland Raiders 13 1 0 (1st)
1977 Oakland Raiders 11 3 0 (2nd)
1978 Oakland Raiders 9 7 0 (2nd)
1979 Oakland Raiders 9 7 0 (4th)
1980 Houston Oilers 11 5 0 (2nd)
1981 Houston Oilers 7 9 0 (3rd)
1982 Houston Oilers 1 8 0 (13th*)
1983 Minnesota Vikings 8 8 0 (4th)
1984 Los Angeles Raiders 11 5 0 (3rd)
* AFC regular season finish in strike-shortened season.

 

Full Name: David John Casper

Birthdate: February 2, 1952

Birthplace: Bemidji, Minnesota

High School: St. Edward (Elgin, IL); Chilton (WI)

Elected to Pro Football Hall of Fame: February 2, 2002

Enshrined into Pro Football Hall of Fame: August 3, 2002

Presenter: John Madden, former Oakland Raiders coach

Other Members of Class of 2002: George Allen, Dan Hampton, Jim Kelly, John Stallworth

Pro Career: 11 Seasons, 147 games

Drafted: 2nd round (45th player overall) in 1974 by Oakland Raiders

Transactions: October 14, 1980 – Casper was traded from the Oakland Raiders to the Houston Oilers in exchange for No. 1 draft pick (1981 – Ted Watts – DB – 21st Overall), No. 2 draft pick (1981 - Howie Long – DE – 48th overall), and No. 2 draft pick (1982 – Jack Squirek – LB – 35th overall). | September 20, 1983 – Casper was traded, along with quarterback Archie Manning, from the Houston Oilers to the Minnesota Vikings in exchange for No. 2 draft pick (1984 – traded to Dallas Cowboys) and No. 4 (1984 – Patrick Allen - DB - 100th overall)

Uniform Number: 87 (with Raiders and Oilers): 44 (with Vikings)
 

Pro Football Hall of Fame Field at Fawcett Stadium
August 3, 2002


John Madden (Presenter):
Thank you.  I’ll tell you, this is great - this whole thing.  If you’re a fan of football then there is no better football than pro football.  This is the place you want to be today.  When you have all these great players of the past that are up here.  That was like the ‘Holy Roller’ (referring to a page of his speech that fell from podium) - when that thing rolls there, Casper, just jump on it, you know what I mean?

Anyway, these great players, and congratulations to the Class of 2002.  You know, they say, that when you get up here, they already got the votes, you don’t have to say why they ought to be in the Hall of Fame.  They’re already in the Hall of Fame and we’re here to celebrate.  And, I don’t  think there’s any place better to celebrate the Hall of Fame than here in Canton, Ohio - the job that you people do is just amazing.  I mean you go to a breakfast at 7:00 in the morning and there’s 5,000 people there, and a dinner last night.  And you go to a parade - I counted over 100,000 people at the parade today - counted 50,000 blue 12 jerseys.  Now that’s a celebration - that’s what we’re here for - we’re here to cheer, and to celebrate, and to have a good time.

They show the pictures of Dave Casper, and the “Ghost to the Post,” and you see the “Holy Roller” and that’ll be part of his legacy but that’s not what Dave Casper was all about.  Dave Casper was a great tight end, and the best tight end that ever played.  If you look at the definition of a tight end.  When you want a blocker, you want that tight end to be as good a blocker as the offensive lineman.  Dave Casper, when you needed a blocker, was as good a blocker as any offensive lineman.  Then, when you wanted a receiver, you wanted a guy that was as good as any wide receiver.  And, Dave Casper, as a receiver, was as good as any wide receiver.  He was passionate about football and he was bright.  And, as I said, he was one of the smartest guys that I’ve ever known.  And, what happens when you’re smart.  You know talking about smart, what I can’t figure out is I just listened to this thing (video) and I thought they did a pretty job with him - they got him in 1974.  You know, we drafted him in 1974, didn’t start him until ’76.  Most guys wouldn’t do that - how you gonna get a guy in the Hall of Fame, well ‘let’s draft him and not play him for two years and then play him, and he’ll be in the Hall of Fame.’  You know, sometimes in life, you just get stuck on stupid and that was me for those first few years.  I apologize, but I’ll guarantee you, he made it up, he made it up after that

And then, when you’re bright like him, then the next thing is you get bored.  Like, we were coming over here in the bus today and I just wanted to see if I could still do it.  Don’t worry about the horse being blind; just load the wagon - what the hell.   So, that gets him ready.  Then, he was saying that he could cut Deacon Jones.  So Deacon Jones says, ‘you couldn’t cut me, you wouldn’t touch me.’  So, I get John Stallworth and I said, ‘watch this.’  So I said to Deacon, ‘you know I think Casper can cut you.’  ‘No, there’s no way’ so all the way over for about 15 minutes, they argued about whether Dave Casper could cut Deacon Jones, and that’s the statement that Dave Casper makes, and that’s who he is.

We used to take film and he would get so bored that as the play would go away, he would do a somersault.  And, then you’d have to catch him - that he did the somersault.  But, that was his statement, ‘okay, I got it, now I’m bored.’ 

One time with another team, this wasn’t when I was coaching him.  But, the coach told him, and we didn’t have this at Oakland, but the coach told him ‘you have to keep your helmet on at all times.  Always keep your hat on.’  I always believed you only needed your hat when you were playing but this coach wanted him to always keep your hat on at all times.  So Dave Casper being Dave Casper that we all know and love, kept his helmet on.  Went to shower, took a shower with his helmet on.  Went to lunch, swear to God, ate through the mask, ate his lunch through the mask.  Coach told him to keep his helmet on at all times.

But, that was because he was so bright.  On the football field, he was everything that you’ve always wanted in a football player and more.  The great thing about this Hall of Fame is if you have a good game, that’s pretty good - you know, a lot of guys get pretty excited to have a good game.  If you have a good season, that’s good.  If you have a good career, that’s good or something that lasts a lifetime.  You just think that this is going to last you a lifetime, and that’s pretty good.  But, the Hall of Fame is forever.  I mean, this Hall of Fame, and these guys, will be there for all of their lives and all of everyone else’s life.  And, it’s something that Dave Casper is in there and will be there, and his family will know this and they will see this forever.  And all your families and everyone forever.  And, it doesn’t get any better than that.  And the big thing is he is in there forever because he earned it and he deserves it.  And, I just want to say that it was an honor to coach him, and it’s an honor to be a friend of him and his family.  And, it’s an honor to now introduce him for induction to the Pro Football Hall of Fame.  Dave Casper.

Dave Casper
Thanks John, members of the Hall of Fame, the committee, inductees, fans, and the people of Canton.  I say the same thing John did, you’ve been great. 

I look out - I have most of my friends here - I see most of my life.  I see a bunch of Caspers, they’ll come to a party for anything.  I see friends from Chilton, from Elgin.  I see my coaches from Chilton.  You know we were undefeated, untied, and unscored on my senior year in Chilton, Wisconsin.  Way to go guys.  

I see a lot of people with the Raiders and Notre Dame.  Of course I have my family, Susan my wife.  Kelly, Carrie, and Andy, my mom, my brother John, my brother Edward.  A lot of friends.  You know, I stand here, and I’m just going to tell you I’m thankful, I just really am.

It’s been 17 years since I played football.  Football did teach me a lot of things, but I think, what I’ve been doing for last 17 years, makes me understand.  I don’t think from football but now I understand a little bit.  About 12 years ago, I began a career with Northwestern Mutual.   After not doing that well at the beginning, they basically told me to get to work.  Do the right thing.  And, they were great people.  And, I started to do better, and my life kind of got better, and I started - a light went on.   I realized that in my life I’ve been around world-class people and world-class partners.  And I’ve had four of them.  I’ve had Notre Dame, I’ve had my wife Susan, I’ve had the Oakland Raiders, and of course, Northwestern Mutual.

You know what, I can take credit for three of them.  I picked Notre Dame.  I asked my wife Susan to marry me.  I actually picked Northwestern.  The fourth one, I was lucky when Al Davis drafted me, so thanks Al. 

Notre Dame gave me four unique gifts.  One is a family - no matter where I go, I’m a part of it.  Two is a relationship with God that we know is unique.  Three was introduction to my wife Susan, and four was Coach Parseghian.

Coach Ara Parseghian demanded excellence.  I was fortunate to be there in 1973 when these guys took us to the national championship.  So, coach, I’ll never forget it.  You were the greatest - you made us all better than what we were.

I married Susan a week after I graduated in Sacred Heart Church, and we’ve been through good times and bad times.  Thank you. 

Then, the Raiders drafted me.  I became a part of a great team built by Al Davis, coached by John Madden, who maybe could have started me a couple games earlier.  But, you know what, he was on my butt every day.  He made me better than I was willing to be, and I thank him for that.  We have Tom Flores who was my receiver coach.  I’m not sure Tom taught me how to play tight end but he taught me how to learn how to play tight end.  Every day he worked with me, taught me a lot of skills.  Nobody else was a better teacher - the Raiders were great teachers. 

I see other coaches, I see a lot of the Raiders and Notre Dame friends.  We have some great Raiders obviously - there’s double-digit Hall of Famers here from the Oakland Raiders.  I would not be here if I had not played next to Art Shell, Gene Upshaw, Dalby, Philyaw, Vella.  If I hadn’t had Flip and Fred.  If I hadn’t had Willie, if I hadn’t had Jack, if I hadn’t had Hendricks.  You go down the line, they brought me here.  I wouldn’t be here without them. 

So, anyway, I just have to finally say that - I’d like to tell you a quick story.  When I was 10 years old, I rode my bike around Elgin, I watched some kids playing football.  I went home and told my mom, and she said ‘why didn’t you go play with them?’  I said, ‘I didn’t think you wanted me to.’  But, she said ‘go ahead,’ and so I did. 

I ran into Coach Hopkins, he was my peewee football coach, I don’t know where he is.  They put me out there.  They said, ‘you think you can do it?  Are you tough enough?  Are you scared?’  I said, ‘hell, I don’t know - I didn’t say hell.’   They put a pair of shoulder pads on us, and a pair of blue jeans.  You know, they didn’t have any lawyers back then - they didn’t worry about getting sued. 

They had a kid named Junior Croom and they handed him the football.  And, I somehow got Junior down, Junior was big.   They let me play, and it was a lot of fun.  And my Mom dressed me for every game.  She went to watch me.  Hope you had fun, Mom. 

I just hope all you guys have the friends that I have.  Thank you.


 

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