Al Davis, Oakland Raiders died
Living in Alameda California and working in Oakland, I used to see Al Davis quite a bit. He was a sharp dresser and often wore a gold chain and had glasses frames that appeared more suitable for a woman than a man. He was a showman and he knew football. Just ask John Madden.
He will be a big loss for the Raiders and for Oakland.
“Al Davis dies at 82; Oakland Raiders owner transformed team
Al Davis turned a failing team into one of football's most successful franchises as a three-time Super Bowl champion. He savored battle both on and off the field, and after a court battle relocated to the team to Los Angeles for over a decade beginning in 1982.
By Sam Farmer, Los Angeles Times
October 8, 2011, 9:27 a.m.
Al Davis, the tough-minded owner of the Oakland Raiders who transformed a failing team into a three-time Super Bowlchampion and one of the most successful franchises in professional football only to preside over its dramatic decline in recent years, died Saturday. He was 82.
The death of Davis, whose "Just win, baby!" motto served him equally well on stadium sidelines and in legendary court battles, was announced by the Raiders on their website.
He is perhaps best remembered in Los Angeles as the sweat-suit-clad rebel with slicked-back hair and a secretive nature who successfully sued to relocate his team from Oakland to L.A. in 1982, then abruptly moved it back to Oakland in 1995.
PHOTOS: Al Davis | 1929-2011
But years earlier, he briefly served as commissioner of the American Football League and, using shrewd tactics, helped force an NFL-AFL merger that set the stage for the richest and most influential league in the history of professional sports.
"Over the years, the guy who could represent the owners, the players, the coaches and the game as it's played on the field, he did that," said Hall of Fame Coach John Madden, who led the Raiders to their first Super Bowl victory after the 1976 season. "He had a real passion for the game."
A profound football genius to some, a profane bully to others, Davis – who was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1992 – for decades loomed large on the NFL landscape. No one in professional football history wore so many hats — scout, assistant coach, head coach, general manager, owner and commissioner — or created as much controversy.
"I don't think there's anyone in the National Football League — with the possible exception of [former Chicago Bears owner and coach] George Halas — who's had as big an impact as he's had," said former Raider linebacker Matt Millen, who went on to become president of the Detroit Lions and now works as aTV analyst. " … He influenced a ton of things, either overtly, by pushing for rules, or covertly, by twisting the rules."
Under Davis, the Raiders developed a reputation as football's last-chance saloon, a winning franchise built around rejuvenated players who were discarded by other teams who considered them too old, too unruly, or otherwise undesirable. It was Davis who introduced the silver-and-black uniforms and pirate logo when — at the age of 33 — he was hired by the Raiders in 1963 as head coach and general manager. He also assigned the mottoes "Pride and Poise" and later "Commitment to Excellence."
When Davis joined the team, his impact was immediate and dramatic. The Raiders went from a franchise that had lost 33 of its first 42 games to a 10-4 team that fell one game shy of an AFL division championship, and Davis was named AFL coach of the year.
He used the vertical passing game pioneered by his mentor Sid Gillman, the innovative coach who designed a wide-open offensive scheme featuring deep passes to speedy receivers to stretch the field and test the limits of the defense. Davis also introduced an ultra-aggressive style of defense that included "bump and run" coverage, in which defensive backs would deliver a hard block on receivers at the line of scrimmage before covering them on their downfield patterns.
That take-no-guff approach also typified Davis' style away from the game. In 1995, a newspaper reporter in his first season on the Raider beat struck up a conversation with him about growing up inBrooklyn, N.Y., where they both were raised.
"How do you adjust to the laid-back California lifestyle?" the reporter asked.
"Adjust?" Davis said as if sickened by the thought. "You don't adjust. You dominate."
Davis was born in Brockton, Mass., on July 4, 1929, to Rose Kirschenbaum Davis and Louis Davis, who made a small fortune in the garment industry. When Al was 5, his family moved to Brooklyn.
Davis' ambition and his ability to motivate people far exceeded his athletic ability, and from an early age he knew exactly what he wanted to do with his life: to "build the finest organization in sports."
At Syracuse University, Davis earned a degree in English and developed a passion for literature and jazz, and a fascination with military history. (For years, typed at the end of every Raider itinerary were the words: "We go to war!")
In 1950, after he finished college, the 21-year-old Davis passed on a chance to go into the family business and instead talked his way into a job as line coach at Long Island's Adelphi College.
Two years later, Davis was drafted into the U.S. Army. He took over as the head coach of a military football team at Fort Belvoir, Va., that would lose only two games during his two-year tenure. Typically, he left a trail of controversy. His alleged methods for landing former college and pro players who had been drafted into military service nearly led to a congressional investigation into athletes receiving special treatment.”