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Ex-Raiders GM Stirling Was a Man of Many Talents

The Las Vegas Raiders' rich history includes many characters, but one not often mentioned who figured prominently was Gordon "Scotty" Stirling

Gordon “Scotty” Stirling was a sportswriter for the Oakland Tribune who broke the first story that the American Football League was going to put a team in Oakland for its inaugural season in 1960.

Stirling became the first beat writer covering the Raiders for the Tribune and went on to an incredible career in professional sports.

From there, Stirling became public relations director and then general manager of the Raiders, where he was given much of the credit for convincing Coach and General Manager Al Davis to trade with the Buffalo Bills for quarterback Daryle Lamonica, who led the Raiders to the 1967 AFL Championship and Super Bowl II.

Stirling moved on to become general manager of Oakland Oaks of the American Basketball Association and had the same job with the Golden State Warriors when they captured the National Basketball Association Championship in 1975 alongside Coach Al Attles and Hall of Famer Rick Barry.

Stirling went on to become general manager of the New York Knicks and the NBA’s vice president of basketball operations before spending his last 27 seasons in sports as an executive with the Sacramento Kings.

“Scotty Stirling, my great friend for 50 years and twice my boss, gave me my first sports job with the Oakland Raiders in 1965,” another former Raiders executive Bob Bestor, wrote when Stirling passed away in 2015 at the age of 76. “He hired me again in ’76 to work under him at the Golden State Warriors. Scotty Stirling was one of the last of the true renaissance men, trained by the world around him rather than the technocratic rigors of the modern age. He got jobs because he was smart, learned what he did not know quickly, and became valued for both those smarts and his ability to adjust on the fly to changing conditions.

“Stirling played the role of the perpetually overqualified man for most of his life, a bright, inquisitive, and keen-eyed fellow who adapted to whatever his job said he needed to. As an example, he was also a founder of the world’s first fantasy football league in 1962, or 53 years before the daily fantasy scourge that has caused adults and politicians alike to go purple with rage, envy, and greed. It was an American Football League fantasy league, at a time when the AFL was very much the NFL’s poorest of relations, and the Raiders were almost certainly the worst franchise in all of sports.

“This alone tells you his level of intellectual curiosity–as well as the fact that he can be very indirectly blamed for Fan Duel and Draft Kings.”

Stirling was a member of the first fantasy football league, the Greater Oakland Professional Pigskin Prognosticators League, known as GOPPL, which was started by Bill Winkenbach, a part-owner of the Raiders.

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Winkenbach, Stirling, and other members of the Raiders’ staff turned Winkenbach's idea into a reality during the Raiders’ three-week road trip through Buffalo, Boston, and New York in 1962. GOPPL got going officially in the Milford Plaza Hotel in New York City.

Stirling also had a radio show on KNBR in San Francisco and had this reporter call him every day from Raiders training camp in Santa Rosa so I could tell him the latest of what was going on with the Silver and Black.

Also, Stirling was the color commentator alongside legendary Raiders radio play-by-play man Bill King for several seasons.

A U.S. Army veteran, Stirling earned a B.S. from the University of San Francisco and an M.A. in Sports Management from Adelphi University. In 2012, he was inducted into the El Cerrito High School Hall of Fame for his contributions to Bay Area sports.

I covered the Raiders for the Tribune from 1971-77, capped by their 32-14 victory over the Minnesota Vikings at the Rose Bowl in Pasadena, and have continued to write about the Silver and Black for several other sports outlets since.

The greatest compliment I have received in my career came when Stirling told me I was the best writer to ever cover the Raiders because I always thought he was.

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