Columbus, Ga (WRBL) – The 1976 Oakland Raiders had a roster full of characters. Among them was a man who people claimed graduated from the University of Mars, Otis Sistrunk. However he didn’t come from another planet instead his home is right here in the Fountain City.
Sistrunk suited up for the Spencer High School Greenwave and legnedary head caoch Odis Spencer. Sistrunk mentioned that Coach Spencer’s practices were tougher than an NFL practice, and made sure to tell Oakland’s head coach John Madden about it.

“I told him that Coach Spencer was the better coach, because Coach Spencer used to work us to death. John you had two hours to work to get on the field and work out but we didn’t have a certain time with Spencer,” said Sistrunk.

Sistrunk never played a college football game, however that didn’t derail his career. Eventually he was playing in the semi-professional Continental Football League. Eventually he was invited for a tryout with the Rams, but there was some hesitation about attending.

“When I first went back to try out for the Rams and I told my grandmother because they were just going to send me back. She says do me one favor try to go and do the best you can. If you don’t make it then you don’t make it,” said Sistrunk.

At the try out, Raiders executive Al Davis was there and saw Sistrunk. Eventually Davis traded for the Columbus native which meant he was going to join the Oakland Raiders. That move came with a very important question from Otis.

“I went to practice on Monday and next thing I know I had to go to Oakland. One of the things I asked was ‘Where is Oakland’?,” said Sistrunk.

It was a place where some iconic players wore silver and black. However the man with no college football experience would not be intimidated.

“I never sat the bench. Even in high school I started my freshman year football and basketball. Now when I got to the Raiders I didn’t think I could make this team. But I said this guy puts his pants on one leg at a time just like me. If I go out there and work and show them what I can do, I can make this team,” said Sistrunk.

Eventually Sistrunk did find a place in the starting lineup as a defensive lineman. Then in 1976, Oakland squared off with the Minnesota Vikings, led by former Georgia Bulldog Fran Tarkenton, in Super Bowl XI. To this point the Raiders have always fallen short of their championship dreams but that wasn’t the case this time around.

“We went out there to win. John Madden you know he said it in the meeting. We’re tired of losing. Every year we make it to the playoffs. We got to get to the championship game we lose. So this is the one,” said Sistrunk.

When the dust settled, the Oakland Raiders earned the right to call themselves the #1 team in the NFL. Oakland dominated the Vikings 32-14, and Sistrunk also recorded a sack. Even when “The Man From Mars” talks about winning the NFL’s biggest prize he’ still in awe.

“It was so strange you had to touch yourself to believe that you just won the Super Bowl. We didn’t know how much it meant winning the Super Bowl because you’ve never been in the Super Bowl. I wish that every guy that played in the NFL could go to the Super Bowl,” said Sistrunk.

Sistrunk was also honored by his real Alma Mater, Spencer High School, when they retired his jersey #37 in August of 2022.