Former Oakland Raiders Great Ben Davidson Passes Away
Stuart Kovacs – Jul 3, 2012
Legendary Oakland Raiders’ defensive lineman “Big” Ben Davidson passed away on Tuesday, according to Paul Gutierrez of CSNBayArea.com.
Raiders’ legend John Madden announced that the pass-rushing great of the Silver and Black lost his battle with prostate cancer. He was 72-years old.
Raiders’ owner Mark Davis remembers Davidson from a very early age. He will not forget the countless memories he has of the legend, from his trademark handlebar mustache to riding his motorcycle.
"We'll miss him. I've known him since I was about 8 or 9 years old. He was larger than life, a huge man with that big handlebar mustache. I just remember him and (Tom) Keating taking off on their motorcycles at the end of a season. He was a larger-than-life figure and a wonderful human being. We were expecting him to be at this reunion here and then we got the call last night. Like I said, he will be missed."
Davidson was born on June 14, 1940 in the city of Los Angeles, California where he attended Woodrow Wilson High School.
Davidson, ironically enough, did not play the sport of football in high school. Because he was an extremely large man at 6' 8", he played basketball throughout those years.
It wasn’t until he arrived at East Los Angeles Community College that he played football. He was discovered by the school’s football coach who then asked Davidson to join the team, which he did.
While playing football at East Los Angeles, Davidson was recruited to play football on the Division-1 level by the University of Washington. He went on the play for the Huskies where he had a marvelous college career.
At the University of Washington, Davidson was a member of two Rose Bowl winning teams. In addition to the Rose Bowls, Davidson made a name for him and was scouted by teams to play in the National Football League.
Davidson began his professional career with the Green Bay Packers. He played there for one season in 1961. For the next two seasons, he would play for the Washington Redskins.
In 1964, Davidson joined the Oakland Raiders who were still a part of the American Football League at the time. It was with the Silver and Black that Davidson would make a name for himself.
He spent eight long seasons with the Raiders and was there when the team moved from the AFL to the NFL in 1970.
It was in 1970 when Davidson made one of the most iconic plays in Raiders’ history. The team was trailing their arch-rivals, the Kansas City Chiefs, 17-14 in the fourth quarter of a November game.
Chiefs’ Hall of Fame quarterback Len Dawson had a long run for a first-down which would have likely sealed the win for Kansas City. However, while Dawson was lying on the ground after the play was over, Davidson “speared” the quarterback across the head.
This led to Chief’s receiver Otis Taylor attacking Davidson which resulted in bench-clearing brawl. Offsetting penalties were called, which at the time, nullified the previous play. Dawson’s run did not count and the Chiefs would later have to punt instead of just running the clock out.
George Blanda would kick a game-tying field goal for the Raiders. The game would end in a tie and would both cost the Chiefs a playoff spot, and lead the Raiders to winning the AFC West division.
While it was obviously a huge moment, Davidson’s career cannot be defined by one single play. The defensive lineman also compiled many accolades throughout his career.
He was named to three Pro-Bowl teams (1966, 1967, 1968) and was named to the First-Team All-Pro in 1967. Davidson was also named to numerous All-Conference teams between 1965 and 1967 by publications such as the New York Daily News, Sporting News, UPI, and of course the Associated Press.
Aside from his football career, Davidson also played a role in many films, shows, and commercials. He appeared in, Conan the Barbarian (original), The Black Six, M*A*S*H, Necessary Roughness, Ball Four, as well as a Miller Lite commercial with John Madden and Rodney Dangerfield.
It is clear that the entire Raiders’ family will miss Ben Davidson. He was a larger than life figure who will never be forgotten for his All-Pro performance on the field, his fame and glory in the entertainment world, his memorable handlebar mustache, and his relentless, game-altering plays throughout his career.
On the same week that the Raiders are remembering the birthday of their greatest legend Al Davis, another legend was taken away in Ben Davidson.
Rest in peace "Big Ben," rest in peace.
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