The Raiders were disappointed they didn’t finish with a winning record or make the playoffs in 2015. Under first-year head coach Jack Del Rio, the team hit a bump in the second half of the season and finished 7-9 to put playoff hopes on hold for yet another season.
But the Raiders’ cupboard of talent isn’t bare any more. There’s hope for 2016 and beyond, and Raiders fans know it. One more indication will be the Pro Bowl, when Oakland faithful can tune into the game this Sunday at Aloha Stadium in Hawaii and watch five Raiders participate. Six Raiders actually were selected to the team, with fullback Marcel Reece an alternate who would likely be playing Sunday. But Reece is serving a suspension for allegedly violating the league’s ban on performance-enhancing substances (a charge Reece has denied.)
It’s the most Raiders selections to the NFL’s annual all-star game since 1994.
The latest addition is running back Latavius Murray, who was selected to replace Jonathan Stewart of the Carolina Panthers, who now will be playing in the Super Bowl Jan. 7 at Levi’s Stadium.
Murray joins Raiders' retiring safety Charles Woodson, defensive end/linebacker Khalil Mack, quarterback Derek Carr and rookie wide receiver Amari Cooper in being a part of the Pro Bowl roster.
Murray rushed for 1,066 yards in 2015, which ranked No. 2 in the AFC. It is his first Pro Bowl experience.
This year’s game won’t be the traditional AFC vs. NFC format that has been used in the past. Two Hall of Fame receivers, ex-49er Jerry Rice and ex-Cowboy Michael Irvin will serve as team captains and draft players from the Pro Bowl pool to create two teams.
Upon learning of his selection late Sunday night, Murray posted this message on his Instagram account: “Words can’t explain the emotions I feel right now. God continues to bless me and I can’t thank him enough. Also, all my teammates that helped make this possible, couldn’t do it without y’all! Tay Train to Hawaii!!!”