Say what you will about Al Davis, he changed football.
While the last years of his life were often filled with jokes at his expense—often made by myself as much as anyone else—his legacy is far greater than a bizarre rant with an overhead projector.
I didn't know him, obviously, and I can't speak about him all that well. I'll let Twitter do the heavy lifting.
Al Davis hired first African-American coach in modern NFL AFTER hiring first Latino coach. & NFL as we know it very different w/o Al.
When Davis' mom died at 102, Al talked like she was a QB. "Yeah,'' he said, "too bad. Hoped to keep her around for another couple years.
One other word to describe Davis that made NFL office folks cringe: "litigious.''
RIP Al Davis. Everyone I know who knew him always referred to him as "Mr. Davis." Regret I never got to meet him and talk football with him.
Summer 07 I reported/commented on the Jamarcus Russell holdout. Mr. Davis didn't like what I said. Had an associate call me and chew me out.
I was just flattered Al Davis actually cared what I said. RIP.
Al Davis, the most unforgettable person I've had the pleasure of meeting in 31 years in the business, dead at 82. RIP.
The bad recent Raider years? Ten percent of his legacy. Maybe less. The man SIGNED and COACHED Lance Alworth. What a history!
George Halas is the only one who truly compares in the NFL's 92-yr history ... and Al was more of an offensive innovator.
I could go on with tweets reminiscing about Davis. Love him or hate him, most respected him as well.
I also pretty much sit on that fence.
I was in Los Angeles during the last go around with the Raiders and it was always an interesting experience. The Raiders made some odd decisions and I'll be frank—I though Davis screwed both Los Angeles and Oakland when he left, fleecing them for as much money as he could. It left a tremendously bitter taste in my mouth, as have many things he's done in the last decade or so.
With Davis it was never enough that he win, you also had to lose. He feuded with coaches and former players, had no issue screwing either out of money and reputation. His treatment of Marcus Allen was deplorable. He didn't care though—he was right, you were wrong and to hell with you if you disagreed.
Just ask guys in the media like Adam Schefter. Toe the line or get shouted down (not that Schefter ever paid attention). Just ask the NFL Legal office for the numerous lawsuits they and Davis got involved in.
So that will always color my perceptions of him.
I think I'm not alone in that. The key is to remember he was more than that last period of time.
Without Davis, I'm not sure the AFL survives, much less merges with the NFL. Davis was brash and ballsy, a visionary who saw things from a unique angle and never settled for less than what he thought was the best.
'Just Win Baby'—maybe it's a bit of a joke now but there was a time when it meant tough, uncompromising football, a win at all costs that sometimes is hard to fathom with some of the owners and players in charge now. Davis took chances on players nobody else would sometimes and more often than not it paid off.
As much as he hosed guys like Allen, Mike Shanahan or Lane Kiffin he could be fiercely loyal, sometimes beyond reason.
In an increasingly mercenary NFL, how rare does that feel now?
He may want to set you on fire if you crossed him but I think Al Davis would go to the mat and beyond if he felt you deserved it.
When the team was told this morning at 10am in Houston, it reportedly caught everyone by surprise (as it did most of us). According to NFLN's Jason LaCanfora it was a very emotional meeting and the players and staff were hit hard. To me, that says a lot about who he was—that so many players (and reading the quotes on twitter, so many people in general) felt that connection to him and were touched by him.
I'm not going to sit here and tell you he was perfect. He had his issues, one might argue enough to fill a magazine rack.
He was human and that's what I think about today. He wasn't good. He wasn't bad. He was Al Davis.
There will never be another one like him.
Like the man himself, whether that is a good or bad thing is a very complex riddle.
- Like Like
- 0 points