The Oakland-Los Angeles-Las Vegas Raiders have so many great players in their history, 30 of them who played in silver and black are inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in Canton, Ohio, that there are often other very good ones. players. a little overlooked.
One was wide receiver Mervyn Fernandez, who, although he turned down his first chance to play for the Raiders, spent five seasons with the British Columbia Lions until 1986 and ended up playing for two Gray Cup winning teams.
Fernandez, known as “Swervin’ Mervin”, caught 399 passes for 6,690 passes and 90 touchdowns in the CFL and the Los Angeles Raiders wanted him back after drafting him in the 10th round (#277) in overall standings in 1983. NFL Draft from San Jose State.
By then, Fernandez was already playing in Canada after leaving the Spartans after one season in which he caught 35 passes for 697 yards, averaging 19.9 and seven touchdowns, in addition to rushing for 35 yards for TD on his only carry. He previously played two seasons at DeAnza Junior College in Cupertino.
However, the Raiders liked what they saw and kept an eye on him in Canada.
“He has size and he also has speed,” Raiders coach Tom Flores said. “Watching movies of his CFL days, he rarely gets caught from behind. We sent him to a farm in Canada to gain experience, and now we decided it was time to invite him.”
Fernandez became the first member of the BC Lions to win the CFL Most Outstanding Player award in 1985 when he had 95 receptions for 1,127 yards on an 18.2 yards average and caught 15 touchdown passes.
Not only that, Fernandez was also selected as a CFL All-Star in 1984 and 1985 and was a Western Division All-Star from 1982 to 1995, amassing over 1,000 yards in a season, in addition to those two Gray Cup victories.
“I want to prove myself,” Fernandez said when he arrived with the Raiders. “So many athletes from Canada went through the system and didn’t graduate. I want to show people that I can play this game even though it was in another country until now.
“This is a league where you can hone your skills, keep playing good football and hopefully get noticed or picked up by one of the NFL teams if you so desire. Some guys prefer to stay in Canada.”
The 6-3, 205-pound Fernandez, who grew up in San Jose and played at Andrew Hill High School, caught only 14 passes for 236 yards in his first season with the Raiders. However, he had to fight for playing time at wide receiver during his time with the Raiders against future Hall of Famer Tim Brown, James Lofton and Jesse Hester.
However, Fernandez ranks ninth on the Raiders’ all-time hitting list with 209 receptions for 3,764 yards, an 18.1 yard average, and 19 touchdowns, including 85 yards, while teams really threw the ball as often as they did. do. Those days. His 18.1 yards batting average is the best in Raiders franchise history, and in 1988 he led NFL receivers with a 26.0 yards per reception average.
“I’m an open guy, a trailblazer,” said Fernandez, who ran 40 yards in 4.4 seconds. “Long ball, short ball, I can turn anything into a touchdown.”
Fernandez had his best season with the Raiders in 1989, when he threw 57 receptions for 1,069 yards and nine touchdowns, leading the Silver and Black in almost every major receiving category and becoming only the sixth player in franchise history to reach 1,000+ receiving yards. . in the season.
While he will likely never be elected to the Pro Football Hall of Fame along with those 30 other Raiders, Fernandez was inducted into the Canadian Football Hall of Fame in 2019 and is a member of the BC Lions Wall of Fame. Dream Team during their 50th anniversary season in 2003.
Last but not least, Fernandez received his final honor when he was ranked 42nd on the CFL Top 50 Players in 2006 by the Canadian sports network TSN.
As good as he was, it’s a shame that Fernandez couldn’t play his entire career in silver and black because he could end up in Canton.
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The NFL Scouting Combine is scheduled for February 28-March 6, 2023 at Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis, Indiana. March 7, 2023, before 4:00 pm EST, is the club’s deadline to nominate franchise or transfer players.
March 13-15 is the free agent negotiation period. From 12:00 pm ET on March 13 until 3:59:59 pm EST on March 15, clubs are allowed to contact and enter into contract negotiations with certified player agents who will become unrestricted free agents when their 2022 Player expires. Contracts at 16:00 EST on March 15.
2023 in the NFL and free agent begins at 4:00 pm EST on March 15th. The Raiders are expected to become important players in the free agency market this season.
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