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article imageOp-Ed: NFL — Raiders’ owner Al Davis passes away at the age of 82

By Austin Tyler     Oct 8, 2011 in Sports
Piedmont - Today is a sad day for ‘Raider Nation’ and the game of football as a whole. We have lost a true contributor to the NFL and the game of football as a whole. Al Davis has done a lot, but his “Commitment to Excellence” will be his legacy.
Al Davis was born in Brockton Massachusetts on July 4, 1929, and made his first impact on the game of when he became a line coach at Adelphi College in 1950. Davis then moved on to be the head coach of the U.S. Army team in 1952. He then went back to being a line coach at The Citadel in 1957, and then went to the University of Southern California to do the same in 1959.
Davis first touched the NFL in 1960 when he became an offensive line coach for the Los Angeles/San Diego Chargers. He then got his first head coaching job, and was also the team’s general manager at the age of 33, and was the youngest person in professional football history to hold both of these positions. He was also the first coach to implement what he called the “vertical game”. Davis was named coach of the year as he led the Oakland Raiders to their first winning season in franchise history with a 10-4 record in 1963.
In 1966, he took over as the American Football League Commissioner, and commenced an aggressive campaign against the NFL and signed several of the NFL's top players to AFL contracts. The NFL and AFL talked about a merger, and Davis was not a supporter of this as the AFL teams had to pay the NFL. Davis then resigned as commissioner of the AFL and returned to the Raiders by buying 10 percent of the team as a one of the three general partners.
As head of football operations, he hand-picked John Rauch as his head coach successor who led them to their first Super Bowl appearance in Super Bowl II where they lost 33-14. In 1969, Davis made another coaching change as he brought in John Madden who was the team’s sixth head coach. Davis and Madden built the Raider franchise to become one of the most successful franchises in the NFL, winning six division titles during the 1970s.
In 1972, he took over as the new managing general partner, with near-absolute control over team operations. Wayne Valley sold his interest in the team in 1976, and only Davis and Ed McGah were left in the fold. Davis did not acquire a majority interest in the Raiders until 2005, when he bought the shares held by McGah's family. In addition to serving as owner, Davis effectively served as his own general manager. He ran the Raiders' football operations since his return in 1966.
Davis was also known for his hands on approach, as he was always in the mix of the Raiders day-to-day operations. He is believed to have had more authority as an owner than any other owner in the NFL. That spurred two known mottos for Davis, “Just win, baby” and “Commitment to Excellence”. Under Davis, from 1967 to 1985 the Raiders won 13 division championships, one AFL championship (1967), and three Super Bowls (XI, XV, and XVIII) and made 15 playoff appearances.
Some people liked Davis and some didn't, but he was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame as a Team and League Administrator in 1992. Al Davis was chosen by a record nine Pro Football Hall of Fame inductees to present them at the Canton, Ohio ceremony: Lance Alworth, Jim Otto, George Blanda, Willie Brown, Gene Upshaw, Fred Biletnikoff, Art Shell, Ted Hendricks, and Madden.
John Madden (right) was the Oakland Raiders head coach from 1967 - 1968
John Madden (right) was the Oakland Raiders head coach from 1967 - 1968
flickr/Photo Gallery
In 2007, Davis sold a minority stake in the Raiders for $150 million and said that he would not retire until he won two more Super Bowls or died. This was during the Raiders' fortunes falling as they struggled dropping to 37–91 from 2003 to 2010.
His legacy with the team was marred by legal issues and coaching frustrations. He moved the Raiders between the Oakland and Los Angeles, and was involved in lawsuits with Los Angeles, Oakland, Irwindale and the NFL. Davis then had issues with coaches Mike Shanahan and most recently Lane Kiffin. Under Davis, the Raiders had 14 different coaches including Jon Gruden who he traded away to the
Jon Gruden was the head coach of the Oakland Raiders from 1998 - 2001
Jon Gruden was the head coach of the Oakland Raiders from 1998 - 2001
Tampa Bay Buccaneers in a move that was unprecedented and as yet has not been repeated.
No matter how people try to portray Mr. Davis they can deny the fact that he was all about the Raiders. He wanted nothing but the best as he tried to build the team the best way he knows how. He has brought big name free-agent after big name free-agent in a mission to lead them back to glory. Did he fall short? Yes he did, but unlike some other owners in the NFL he tried his best to put a great product on the field. He will be missed by all, and may he rest in Peace Al Davis July 4, 1929 - October 8, 2011.
This opinion article was written by an independent writer. The opinions and views expressed herein are those of the author and are not necessarily intended to reflect those of
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