James Arthur Raye, Jr. (born March 26, 1946) is an American football coach and former player who is currently a senior adviser to NFL vice-president Troy Vincent. A book written on his career by award-winning sportswriter Tom Shanahan was published in September 2014 by August Publications titled "Raye of Light: Jimmy Raye, Duffy Daugherty, the integration of college football and the 1965-66 Michigan State Spartans". Tony Dungy, who considers Raye a mentor, wrote the foreword.
As a player, he was drafted by the Los Angeles Rams for the position of cornerback but was quickly traded to the Philadelphia Eagles. In college, as a quarterback, he was the backup for the Michigan State Spartan football team that played in the 1966 Rose Bowl and started for the 1966 Spartans in the famous 10-10 tie with Notre Dame, a game often referred to as "The Game of the Century." He was the South's first black quarterback to win a national title on the 1966 Michigan State team out of segregated E.E. Smith High in Fayetteville, N.C. The first black quarterback to win a national title was Minnesota's Sandy Stephens in 1960. He was from Uniontown, Pa. Raye and College Football Hall of Famers Bubba Smith (Texas), George Webster (South Carolina) and Gene Washington (Texas) arrived at Michigan State from the segregated South as part of head coach Duffy Daugherty's Underground Railroad.
Raye previously coached the New York Jets following two seasons as the assistant head coach/offensive coordinator of the Oakland Raiders. He brings 29 years of NFL coaching experience, and previously spent two seasons with the Jets, adding the title of assistant head coach in 2003 after serving as senior offensive assistant in 2002. Raye has served as an NFL offensive coordinator for 11 seasons.
Raye was a standout quarterback for the Michigan State Spartans (1965–67) and led the Spartans to two Big Ten titles and the 1966 Rose Bowl. The Fayetteville, North Carolina native began his coaching career in 1971 at his alma mater, Michigan State, where he stayed for five years (1971–75). He served a brief stint at Wyoming in 1976 before moving to the NFL ranks, beginning with the San Francisco 49ers (1977), Detroit Lions (1977–79), Atlanta Falcons (1980–82, 1987–89), the L.A. Rams (1983–84, 1991), Tampa Bay (1985–86) and New England (1990).
He was hired by the San Francisco 49ers as the official Offensive Coordinator on January 29, 2009. After the 2009 season, he was praised for his ability to adapt the offense after key players were injured and continued as the 49ers' offensive coordinator to start the 2010 season. This was the first time that the 49ers had an offensive coordinator return to the team for consecutive seasons in seven years.
On September 27, 2010, he was fired by the 49ers and quarterbacks coach Mike Johnson was promoted to replace him.
On February 9, 2012, he returned to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, this time in the capacity of Senior Offensive Assistant.
His son, Jimmy Raye III, is currently VP of Football Operations/assistant general manager for the Houston Texans.