As I reflect on my teenage years growing up in Oakland, California, I have fond memories of the many people that had a positive influence in my life. Like so many of my peers, I embraced the life lessons handed down to me by my parents and grandparents. From them I learned the value of integrity and respect, which molded me into the man I am today. But every now and then there are non-family individuals who will influence your life’s aspirations. I was blessed to have two men that held that special place. The first was Art Powell, an Oakland Raider who I wrote about shortly after his passing in 2015. The other is Clem Daniels, a fellow teammate of Art, who passed away in March of this year. Both men exuded a quiet dignity but did not hesitate to stand up against issues of intolerance and were advocates for youth-centered programs.
Clem Daniels was the star running back for the Oakland Raiders in the American Football League in 1961. He was often compared to the legendary Jim Brown of the Cleveland Browns in the National Football League. As a player, he stood head and shoulders above the other running backs in the League. From 1961 to 1967 he was able to amass 5,138 rushing yards and 3,314 receiving yards. He was the AFL’s Most Valuable Player in 1963 and was a Four Time All-Star. He was voted to the All-Time American Football League Team along with Joe Namath, Jim Otto, and Nick Buoniconti. And it’s just a matter of time before he will be inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame, an honor that is well deserving. Clem finished his outstanding career as the All-Time Leading Rusher of the AFL.
Clem became a mentor of mine when I was a high school student at McClymonds High School. Mack, as it is referred to, is in the inner-city area in West Oakland. As an aspiring player, like so many of my friends, we would often emulate players of the Raider Nation. When Clem, Art Powell, and some of the other players became substitute teachers in the off season, we were ecstatic. After school Clem would make himself available to talk about everything under the sun, but more specifically about what we aspired to be and how we planned on getting there. He was always offering sage advice.
As an adult, I accepted an executive position with a large conglomerate in the beverage business. At the time, Clem was President of CAL-PAC, an organization comprised of black-owned tavern and liquor store owners. Clem would reach out and make sure that I had a place on the dais for panel discussions when they held their conventions. He and I spent a great deal of time discussing the direction of the industry, with me on the supplier side and him on the retail end of the business. We also socialized at birthday parties and barbecues. Over the years, my daughter, Stacey and his daughter Victoria, became lifelong friends.
Clem the football player paled in comparison to Clem Daniels the man. He later became an icon in the City of Oakland and when people spoke about Raider football, Clem was always in the discussion as one of the team’s greatest players. In 2012, Clem Daniels was honored for his contributions to the youth of Oakland. He was very active in the Boys and Girls Clubs, supported the Police and Fire Department Youth Movement, and was an active participant in the NFL Caring for Kids Program. The concept of community was extremely important to Clem who constantly made himself available in order to make a difference. With his passing there will be a noticeable void in the City. However, I would hope that a new voice particularly from the Raider Nation will step up and carry the mantle he left behind.
With his passing, I will take a pause and recognize what impact I might have on the kids in my area. What better way to honor the memory of Clem Daniels? So, rest easy number 36, you’ve earned your place in the end zone.