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5 things about Fred Biletnikoff’s sticky fingers

Editor’s note: This is part of an occasional series acquainting fans with the Raiders’ illustrious 60-year history as the team moves to Las Vegas for the 2020 season.

It’s called Stickum, a registered trademark of the Mueller Sports Medicine company of Prairie du Sac, Wisconsin. It is available in three forms — paste, powder and aerosol spray.

Before it was outlawed by the NFL in 1981, the paste product allowed Raiders wide receiver Fred Biletnikoff to catch a touchdown pass against the Houston Oilers with his forearm.

Here are five other things about the globs of adhesive that literally made the Hall of Fame receiver’s fingers sticky.

1. Biletnikoff would apply liberal amounts of Stickum to his socks for use when needed, except when the Raiders were playing in cold weather cities during cold weather months. In that case, he would put a few dollops on the inside of his thighs to keep it from freezing. “But not too close to the crotch,” he told reporters during Raiders training camp last season. “You don’t want that stuff too close to your privates.”

2. With the exception of catching footballs thrown by Daryle Lamonica and Ken Stabler and an occasional halfback option toss, Stickum rendered Biletnikoff’s hands virtually useless for anything other than catching passes. Dick Romanski, the Raiders’ old equipment manager, had to unwrap and manually feed him sticks of chewing gum — another Biletnikoff habit — before, during and after games.

3. After Biletnikoff was named MVP of the Raiders’ Super Bowl XI victory over the Minnesota Vikings, then receivers coach Tom Flores embraced him with a bear hug in the winners’ locker room. “They had to almost pry us loose with a crowbar, he had so much Stickum on,” Flores said.

4. Although Biletnikoff discovered it first, the NFL rule banning Stickum is named for another Raider. The so-called Lester Hayes Rule was adopted after Raiders’ defensive back Lester Hayes, who practically bathed in the stuff, led the league with 13 interceptions in 1980.

5. Peyton Manning interviewed Biletnikoff for his “Peyton Places” series on ESPN, during which the retired quarterback applied copious dabs of Stickum to various parts of his body (but not to the inside of his thighs). Manning immediately started catching passes thrown by a JUGS machine with one hand, although the pages to an old playbook stuck to his fingers.

Contact Ron Kantowski at rkantowski@reviewjournal.com or 702-383-0352. Follow @ronkantowski on Twitter.

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