Remembering a Legend: Al Davis


On October 8th, 2011, the Football universe lost a legend. Al Davis, the owner/general manager of the Oakland Raiders, passed away at 82 years old.

He experienced an illustrious career, including an offensive line coaching stints at USC from ’57-’59 and for the Los Angeles Raiders/Chargers from ’60-62, where he went to work implementing the “vertical game” to compliment Chargers head coach Sid Gilman‘s West Coast Offense. He was the AFC commissioner for a year in 1966 and the driving force behind the merger and subsequently the NFL as we know it today. The following season he returned to Oakland to begin his tenure as an Owner/GM of the team, and from the day he took over, the squad was never the same. From the beginning of his ownership to 1992 the Raiders had the highest winning percentage of any team in the league. That’s a period of almost 30 years. Let it sink in. Al Davis lived his philosophy, “Just win baby, win.” He was undoubtedly a winner.

For Raider Nation—which many Los Angelinos and USC fans are proud members of—Al Davis was a polarizing character that was liked as much as he was abhorred. His ownership was peppered with success (Hiring John Madden and the subsequent Super Bowl victories) but it was also plagued with fails beyond comprehension like Jamarcus Russell, this biggest bust in the history of busts. He also famously clashed with current USC head coach Lane Kiffin, and since the 2002 season, the Raiders have been a losing team in the process of reclaiming its glory days.

But who was Al Davis the man? The greatest owner in the history of the NFL was also one of the most compassionate. Davis was the player’s champ, never treating his players like commodities, never letting past mistakes keep them from doing what they loved, and at the ends of their careers he continued to take care of them long after he was contractually obligated to do so. In the beginning, he was the driving force behind the league. When the time came, he was the driving force behind the veterans fund that now continues to pay for medical care for the men that sacrificed their bodies to build the game that america loves. The Cowboys may be America’s team, and the Yankees may have the house that Steinbrenner built, but Al Davis is America’s owner, and we owe him thanks for the game that Al built.

Whether one liked him or hated him, his impact on the game cannot be denied nor overlooked.

Al Davis, may your accomplishments never be understated, your impact never forgotten, and your passion alway be shared with the world. Fight on.