Aug. 3 found center Don Mosebar exactly one month away from
playing his first game as an Oakland Raider. The season opener
against the AFC champion San Diego Chargers was scheduled for
Sept. 3 at the Oakland Coliseum, and Mosebar, a native northern
Californian, was as excited as anyone about the Raiders' return
to the East Bay.
For 12 years Mosebar had been a Raider, albeit a Los Angeles
Raider, a member of the team from the first game of the L.A.
exodus in 1983. The 26th player taken in the '83 draft, out of
Southern Cal, and a three-time Pro Bowl selection, he was the
only player on the '95 roster who had earned a Super Bowl ring
with the Raiders, which he did as a rookie. None of his
teammates came close to approaching his streak of 93 consecutive
"Don Mosebar," says his backup, Dan Turk, "was Mr. Raider."
The team had traveled to Austin for three days of practice with
the Cowboys. On this, the morning of the second day, quarterback
Jeff Hostetler leaned into the huddle and called a rushing play,
"Don and I have what we call a power scoop on that play," says
right guard Kevin Gogan. "I pivot left and follow Don blocking
down. But when I turned, I didn't see him at first. He was on
his knees, holding his hands up to his face. Blood? There was a
ton of it."
Cowboy defensive tackle Chad Hennings had inadvertently struck
Mosebar in the left eye with a closed fist. Mosebar sustained a
vitreous hemorrhage, a fractured section of the orbital bone and
a tear in the posterior segment of the sclera, which is the wall
of the eye.
"It just felt like my eyeball was squished," says Mosebar, 34.
"I remember asking our trainer if my eyeball was still there."
Armitage Harper, a retinal surgeon who an hour after the
accident performed the first of four operations on Mosebar's
eye, was amazed at the damage he assessed. "This is the most
devastating sports injury to an eye I have ever treated," he
says, having needed more than 20 stitches to close the sclera.
"Usually you only see something like this in a car accident."
The Raiders are not accustomed to having their centers sidelined
by injury. Since the franchise's inception in 1960, Mosebar is
one of only three Raiders to regularly hold the center position.
As a means of comparison, nine U.S. presidents have occupied the
Oval Office in that same period. Raider centers should pose on
the cover of Longevity.
"You have to be a special guy to play the position," says Hall
of Famer Jim Otto, the Raider center from 1960 to '74, who ceded
the job to Dave Dalby. "Think back to when you were a kid.
Nobody wanted to play center. Those who wind up doing it carry
with them a lot of pride."
Mosebar fits that description. Despite the current blindness in
his left eye, he still drives himself to Raider practice
regularly. He could wear an eye patch--apropos of Mr. Raider--but
prefers wearing the sunglasses Hostetler recently purchased for
all of the offensive linemen. In fact, Mosebar never took them
off while standing on the sidelines during Oakland's 27-0 Monday
Night Football loss at Denver on Oct. 16. "The eye will never be
like it was," says the 6'6", 295-pound husband and father of
four girls ranging in age from three months to eight years, "but
if the doctors allow me to play next year, I'd like to try it. I
want to play in Oakland."
Unfortunately, that's a long shot. Harper says most ruptures of
10 or more millimeters that occur at the posterior of the eye,
as Mosebar's did, result in permanently impaired vision.
Mosebar's tear was 14 millimeters. The earliest Mosebar can
expect to know if he will ever see more out of his left eye than
the shadows he sees now is December. Nor is there any rehab he
can do. "That's O.K.," says Mosebar. "God's just healing it
COLOR PHOTO: PETER READ MILLER Despite a serious eye injury, the Raiders' center is determined to return to the lineup in '96. [Don Mosebar]