A superb overview of Oakland's two significant sports teams, "Rebels of Oakland" will make any longtime sports observer long for the days of untamed personalities in sport. HBO Sports tackles the chip Oakland, Calif., carried on its shoulder through the 1960s and how the East Bay grew from a hotbed of political activism to a home of sports champions, perhaps missing the irony -- or appropriateness -- of the Silver-and-Black hooligans winning their first Super Bowl on the heels of America's bicentennial.

A superb overview of Oakland’s two significant sports teams, “Rebels of Oakland” will make any longtime sports observer long for the days of untamed personalities in sport. HBO Sports tackles the chip Oakland, Calif., carried on its shoulder through the 1960s and how the East Bay grew from a hotbed of political activism to a home of sports champions, perhaps missing the irony — or appropriateness — of the Silver-and-Black hooligans winning their first Super Bowl on the heels of America’s bicentennial.

Part of the imprint the teams made on the city came from contrasting forms of leadership: The city seemingly had none (although the Black Panthers had originated an American voice there that demanded to be heard); the despised Charles Finley ran the A’s from Chicago and Gary, Ind.; and Raider hero Al Davis was not only active in the community, he fielded teams that resembled the folks in the stands.

Not surprisingly, the Raiders are remembered as a collective, the A’s as individual superstars. And in the long run, the image of those Raiders teams led by coach John Madden and QB Ken Stabler permeates the franchise’s image to this day.

The A’s, however, have gone through several transformations since the breakup of ’76 and superstar Reggie Jackson is today more known for his Yankee achievements than his early years in pro ball.

History’s rearview mirror, too, has favored the talent on Cincinnati’s Big Red Machine as being superior, despite losing to the Oakland nine.

Jackson, who delivers a wonderful recollection of Finley’s arbitration technique, is among the many stellar talking heads: Madden and his Raiders Phil Villapiano, Gene Upshaw and Ben Davidson are joined by A’s Sal Bando, Vida Blue and Rollie Fingers plus columnist Ray Ratto, some Hells Angels and a few fans, among them Tom Hanks.

Raiders footage — all NFL Films, natch — overflows with personality. A’s clips are fewer, but it is fun to watch a skinny Jackson stare as his long balls go over the wall.

Rebels of Oakland: The A's, the Raiders, the '70s

Documentary; HBO, Wed. Dec. 10, 9 p.m.

Production

Filmed in various locations by HBO Sports. Executive producers, Ross Greenburg, Rick Bernstein; coordinating producers, Brian Hyland, Kirby Bradley; producer, Dan Klein; writer, Frank Deford; music, James Michael Dooley. 60 MIN.

Cast

Narrator: Liev Schreiber.
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