This morning, the Oakland Raiders announced the passing of their iconic 82 year old owner, Al Davis. For a little more than a decade now, he had become a bit of a caricature, as the Raiders failed to succeed as a franchise like they once had. Let this serve as a reminder that in his heydey, there wasn’t a more maverick and controversial owner than Al Davis. He may have more money, but Mark Cuban couldn’t hold a candle to Al.
Let’s not forget that there was a time when the Raiders were the best. In their peak throughout the late 70′s and early 80′s, there were times where the franchise had the highest winning percentage in sports. No, not in football, in sports. And the main reason for that was Al Davis. Yes great players and great coaches were a part of it, but it was Al who was the glue, and it was certainly Al who called the shots.
As a tribute to Davis, you have to go way back. He was commissioner of the AFL, before the merger with the NFL. He was as combative as ever in the early days, taking the NFL head on and trying to sign away their big names, such as Roman Gabriel. Cooler heads prevailed, and the leagues merged, and Davis went back to leading the Raiders.
I will say this, I am a life long Raider fan, and there was nothing like those bad boy teams of the early 80′s. I remember Lyle Alzado threatening to rip off Dan Marino’s lips. I remember Lester Hayes covered in Stick Um. Howie Long. Matt Millen. Tim Brown.
The highest moment of the Raiders was probably the 1983 Super Bowl. There is nothing more graceful than Marcus Allen was on a football field.
They walked in heavy underdogs to a dominant Redskins team, and they absolutely dismantled them.
And with a figure like Al Davis, you run the risk of remembering some of the mistakes. But over the life of the franchise, for every Jamarcus Russell, there is a Bo Jackson.
The willingness to take on the NFL itself, moving the franchise to Los Angeles, and then back to Oakland. He did the entire 40 plus year run on his own terms, and that is to be respected.
Two other little things. ’We Dominate’ and ‘Commitment to Excellence’. Thank you, Al Davis.