David John Casper (born February 2, 1952), nicknamed "The Ghost." is a former American football player best known for being a prominent member of the Oakland Raiders. He was a tight end and also played as an offensive lineman. Casper has been elected to both the College Football and Pro Football Halls Of Fame.
Casper played collegiate football at the University of Notre Dame, where he earned Honorable Mention All-America for the Fighting Irish as a tackle in 1972. In 1973 he was an All-American on the 1973 National Championship Team. He was the 1973 ND Offensive MVP as a tight end and recorded 21 receptions for 335 yards and four touchdowns in his career.
Casper earned his bachelor's degree in economics and graduated in 1974. He was also the captain of the Omecron Delta Epsilon Honor Society for Economics. Source: David Casper's LinkedIn page. In 2012, he was inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame.
Casper was selected in the second round of the 1974 NFL draft by the Oakland Raiders. Casper only caught a total of nine passes his first two seasons, but was a top-ten receiver in their championship season in 1976, in which he had 53 catches for 691 yards and 10 touchdowns.
One of Casper's most memorable games as a Raider came in a 1977 Divisional Playoff game against the Baltimore Colts. Casper made an over-the-head catch of a soft pass lofted by Ken Stabler on "The Ghost to the Post." The 42-yard reception set up a game-tying field goal that forced overtime and the Raiders went on to a 37-31 victory with Casper's 10-yard touchdown reception in the second overtime period. He finished the game with four receptions for 70 yards and three touchdowns.
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Casper was also involved in another famous NFL contest in 1978 on September 10, between the Raiders and San Diego Chargers. The Raiders trailed the Chargers 20-14 with just ten seconds left in the game when Oakland quarterback Ken Stabler, about to be sacked, dropped the football. He flicked it toward the goal line in an effort to save the game and Raiders running back Pete Banaszak recovered the ball at the San Diego 12-yard line but dropped the ball again, and it rolled further forward. Casper kicked the ball at the San Diego 5-yard line and finally recovered it in the end zone to tie the game. The extra point attempt was good and Oakland won the game by a point, 21-20. Stabler, Banaszak, and Casper all admitted afterwards that they had deliberately fumbled or batted the ball towards the end zone.
The Chargers protested on the grounds that Stabler's fumble was actually a forward pass, and therefore should have been ruled incomplete when it hit the ground. As a result of the play, the NFL changed its rules to make it illegal for the teammate of a ball carrier to advance the ball if the ball carrier fumbles on fourth down or in the last two minutes of the game.
Alomg with his three touchdown catches in the "Ghost to the Post" game, Casper caught two more TD's in the 1977 AFC Championship Game. His five TD's in a postseason is an NFL record for tight ends that still stands.
Midway through the 1980 season Casper was traded to the Houston Oilers for their first and second round draft picks. He was reunited with his former Raider quarterback, Ken Stabler, when he was traded to the Oilers. He finished the 1980 season with 56 receptions and was named to his fifth Pro Bowl. In 1984 he returned to the Raiders (who by then had moved to Los Angeles) for his final NFL season.
Casper finished his pro career with 378 receptions, 5,216 yards and 52 touchdowns. In 2002 he was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame. He was the 13th Raider to be inducted.
^Hyman, Mac (1978-09-15). "Sport Shots". Oakland Post. p. 8. Stabler said he intentionally fumbled, Pete B. said he batted the ball forward, and Dave Casper said that he knew that if he fell on the ball on the one or two yard line the game would have been over, so he kicked it along into the end zone and fell on it.|access-date= requires |url= (help)
^"The "Holy Roller"". Pro Football Hall of Fame. Retrieved 2009-11-30. During the off-season, the league added a provision to the rule book about fumbles after the two-minute warning that allows only the player who fumbled the ball to advance it.