The original O.G. of Oakland has died. Al Davis passed away today, he was 82. Al Davis was considered by many to be one of the most influential owners in the NFL. Indeed, without his help the NFL would not be the NFL as we know it today. He was the major reason that the merger between the NFL & the AFL happened. If not for Al Davis, the landscape of the NFL would be vastly different. He was the first owner to hire a minority as a head coach, which thanks to Al is no longer considered a big deal. He was called a maverick for taking chances and making controversial draft picks. Al definitely did things his way and ruled the Raiders as he saw fit. Granted, some of his decisions in recent years left even the die-hard raiders fans scratching their heads and wondering if Al had lost his mind. But as crazy as he seemed....or was. Al Davis did a lot for football. Without him there wouldn't have been any NFL/AFL merger, no collective bargaining agreements, no Madden video games & no commitment to excellence.
The Raiders won 3 championships under Al Davis and were contenders for many more. Say what you will about him, joke about how he looked like a cross between Freddy Kruger & the Crypt Keeper, but remember to thank him for making football what it is today. Was he crazy? Only for players with a blazing fast sub 4:40 time at the combines. Was he controversial? Does drafting a fat punter in the 1st round count? Did He make bad decisions? Jamarcus Russell.....enough said. Will the Raiders be better without him making all their personnel choices? Without question. Truth be told, the Raiders were one of the best teams of the 70's , they dropped off in the 80's & 90's but got back to a super bowl in 2003 , losing to former Raiders head coach Jon Gruden & his Buccaneers. They are currently playing a lot better thanks to Darren McFadden and a good defense.
I'm not a fan of the Raiders. I'm not a member of the Raider Nation, but I know that Al Davis helped the NFL become better. I know that the Raiders are headed in the right direction & that if they continue playing like they are this season that they will be contenders again. Sadly, Al Davis won't be there to see it happen. the team will most likely be sold to the highest bidder. Al's sons want nothing to do with the franchise. They may stay in Oakland, but now that Al is gone they should be considered among the top runners for the new stadium in L.A. I for one, will always remember Al for his press conferences. With a shiny Raiders helmet on the table in front of him & Al decked out in the latest leather Raider gear screaming "Just Win Baby, Just Win".
For all the crazy stuff he said & did, Al Davis still got his Raiders to 3 Super Bowls, 4 if you count the one they won back in the old AFL days. They have won their division 12 times and have 13 players in the Hall of Fame. Not bad for a crazy old man committed to excellence. He was also the first owner to hire a woman CEO. He took the outcast, the down trodden, the trouble makers and unwanted from other teams and turned them into champions. Yes, they played dirty and hurt people intentionally. Yes, they have the "Black Hole" ....a group of the most die-hard fans you'd never want to met in an dark alley, much less a well-lit one ,but they were a force to be reckoned with.