Mr. Reliable, the Raiders Steve "The Wiz" Wisniewski

Among the greatest offensive linemen ever in the NFL, the Oakland, Los Angeles, and Las Vegas Raiders Steve "The Wiz" Wisniewski stands out.
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Guard Steve Wisniewski is simply another in the long line of the outstanding offensive lineman who has played for the Oakland-Los Angeles-Las Vegas Raiders in their history that dates to 1960.

The 6-4, 305-pound Wisniewski was selected by the Dallas Cowboys in the second round (No. 29 overall) of the 1989 NFL Draft after being a two-time All-American at Penn State.

However, the Cowboys traded him to the Raiders on Draft Day for four draft picks in a move the so-called “America’s Team” must have come to regret.

While fullback Daryl Johnston was the only player who amounted to much among the players Dallas drafted with their picks from the Raiders, Wisniewski started all 206 games he played in his 13 seasons with the Silver and Black, missing only two because of injuries. He was called for only 12 holding penalties in his career.

“The Wiz” was named first-team All-Pro twice, second-team six times, played in eight Pro Bowls, is considered one the very best guards in the 1990s, and was selected to the NFL’s 1990s All-Decade team.

“He’s extremely powerful,” Coach Jon Gruden once said of Wisniewski. “He’s gifted with great feet for a big man and he has an incredible aptitude for football. He can probably play any position on the line with ease.

“He’s athletic, smart, tough as nails, has never really had any serious injuries. He is first in line for all the drills, never makes excuses. He’s not overly vocal, but when he says something, it carries a lot of sting.

“When I came to the Raiders, I’d heard a lot of things about Wiz. The word was he was a great lineman and a tough, mean, ornery guy. When I got here, he was everything people said as far as being a lineman, but he also was one of the nicest human beings I’ve ever been around.”

In recent years, several websites including Bleacher Report and NumberFire, have written stories that claim Wisniewski is among the most glaring admissions from the Pro Football Hall of Fame in Canton, Ohio.

Wisniewski hasn’t even been a semifinalist and as Raider Maven has written before, there are many people in the NFL who believe there are too many Raiders in the Hall of Fame, with defensive back Charles Woodson and quarterback/coach Tom Flores adding to that number this year.

“How do writers ignore a player that blocked for the likes of Bo Jackson and Marcus Allen while earning eight Pro Bowl selections?” Bleacher Report asked. ‘“The Wiz’ was probably one of the best interior linemen in the modern history of the National Football League.”

In addition to Allen and Jackson, Wisniewski blocked for running backs Napolean Kaufman, Tyrone Wheatley, Harvey Williams, Kenny King, Charlie Garner, Frank Hawkins, Arthur Whittington, and Steve Smith—who perhaps not coincidentally all rank in the top 25 on the Raiders list all-time leading rushers.

Perhaps the fact that Wisniewski didn’t play during the glory years of the Raiders has something to do with it, as the Raiders were 4-5 in post-season games in which he played, and “The Wiz” never played in the Super Bowl.

Somehow, Wisniewski developed a reputation as a dirty player, something he vehemently denied.

“How absurd is it that I’m thought of as dirty?” Wisniewski said in a Sports Illustrated story on the dirtiest players in the NFL. “I’m clean-cut. I don’t wear any jewelry. I don’t have tattoos. I don’t drink or do drugs.

“I’m involved in my church and with youth charities. My family is my No. 1 priority, and I coach 4- and 6-year-olds in soccer. I don’t use abusive language. No one I’ve blocked has ever been carted off with a serious injury.”

Wisniewski retired after the 2001 season, missing the Raiders’ appearance in Super Bowl XXXVII by one year.

In 2011, he returned as an assistant offensive line coach for the Raiders.

“I’m back to my first love, the Oakland Raiders, and working with the offensive line,” Wisniewski said. “I’m a Raider for life. I can help in technique, help in mindset, and attitude and really push these young men to develop and to be the heartbeat of the team.

“I’m thrilled to be working in the building again for the Silver and Black and helping to shape the future of the offensive line.”

There was a shakeup in the coaching staff and that job lasted only one year, but and has served as an ambassador for the Raiders in recent years.

“The Wiz” will be part of Raiders' lore forever and a day.

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