Oakland Raiders: Al Davis-Just Rest Baby
John Doublin – Oct 8, 2012
Today marks the one-year anniversary of the loss of one of, if not the most influential men in the history of American professional sports. Al Davis, owner and operator of the Oakland Raiders passed away at the age of 82 on October 8th, 2011. It was a sad day in Raider Nation, as well as the NFL.
Davis did more in 48 years with the Raiders than anyone else, for any team, in any length of time, in any sport.
The "vertical passing game" adopted from Sid Gilman, was perfected by Davis; the idea that simply winning wasn't enough...one had to dominate; fostering, pushing for and facilitating the merger of the NFL and AFL; putting the players' names on the back of the jersey. All ideas from the mind of Davis.
However, Davis' impact goes beyond the game of football.
The first team to actively scout the predominantly all-black colleges. The first ever Hispanic-American to start at quarterback; Tom Flores; the first ever Hispanic-American to be named head coach, (also Tom Flores).
The first ever African-American head coach in NFL history, Art Shell; the first African-American quarterback drafted in the first round of the draft, Eldridge Dickey; the first, (and still only) female to ascend to the rank of Vice President and CEO, Amy Trask, was also hired by Davis.
To say he changed the game is incomplete; Davis changed the culture of the NFL, and in turn, the culture of America in general.
To Davis, your race, religion and gender didn't matter. He simply asked himself a simple question: "Can this person help the Raiders win games?" If the answer was yes, then he would stop at nothing to get that person's services in Oakland.
If that person was successful in helping the Raiders win, Davis was more loyal than almost anyone in the world. He would defend the reputation of, and help out in any way anyone that was loyal to him.
That said, if you crossed Davis, or failed to deliver as promised, his extreme loyalty could turn on a dime. He felt that if "you're not for us, you're against us" and would take any and all steps to ensure that you weren't able to hurt the legacy or the winning ways of the Oakland Raiders.
A lot of words have been used to describe Mr. Davis, many of which seemed counter to one another.
Innovative and stubborn; greedy and giving; loyal and vindictive; domineering and respectful. All of these descriptions are accurate. Mr. Davis was an exercise in paradox. He could be the best ally you had, and your worst enemy at the same time. Davis was loved...and hated...equally by most everyone in the football and business communities.
Whether you loved him or hated him, you knew who he was, you were thinking about him and he affected your life.
He's gone by many names as well.
Al, Mr. Davis, The Don, Darth Raider, The Godfather, Commish, Coach, and many, many more! Again, all are correct, but still don't accurately encompass all that Davis was.
Love him or hate him, one cannot deny the impact and affect Mr. Davis had on, not only the Oakland Raiders, but on the game of football itself. The game we all love and follow today wouldn't be what it is without the contributions of the man with the slick backed hair, jogging suit and gold-chained sun glasses.
In the end, Raider haters can call him what they'd like, but even the most ardent haters of Mr. Davis can't deny the one thing he truly was; the only thing he ever wanted to be—a WINNER!
As the "new era of excellence" dawns in Oakland, Raider Nation will continue to pay tribute to Al Davis on this day each year—and the haters will continue to hate, and that suits Raiders' fans just fine. The hate fuels us; your ignorance inspires us. We know the truth, just like Mr. Davis did—you're just jealous!
A few quotes:
"The greatness of the Raiders is in its future."
"Commitment to Excellence."
"Pride and Poise."
"You don't adjust—you just dominate!"
And, of course...
"Just Win Baby!"
Through it all, there is but one thing Raider Nation would like to pass on to Mr. Davis if he's able to see this article: "We got this!"
...Just Rest in Peace Baby!
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