Al Davis

  • Born: July 4, 1929
  • Died: October 8, 2011
  • Location: Oakland, California

Tribute


Oakland Raiders owner Al Davis laughs at a reporter's remarks at a news conference Tuesday, Nov. 26, 1996 in Oakland, Calif. Davis talked at length about not being able to sell out the "personal seat licenses" at Oakland Coliseum.

Oakland Raiders owner dead at 82

JOSH DUBOW, The Associated Press

OAKLAND, Calif. (AP) — Al Davis was a rebel with a cause — "Just win, baby" he exhorted his beloved Oakland Raiders.

And as the NFL well knows, he was also a rebel with a subpoena.

Davis, who bucked league authority time and again and won three Super Bowl titles during his half-century in professional football, died Saturday. He was 82.

The Hall of Famer died at his home in Oakland, the team said. The cause of death was not immediately disclosed.

Davis was one of the most important figures in pro football history from his role in the development of the AFL, the merger with the NFL and the success he built on the field with the Raiders.

"Al Davis's passion for football and his influence on the game were extraordinary," Commissioner Roger Goodell said. "He defined the Raiders and contributed to pro football at every level. The respect he commanded was evident in the way that people listened carefully every time he spoke. He is a true legend of the game whose impact and legacy will forever be part of the NFL."

Davis was also a litigious gadfly. That was most evident during the 1980s when he went to court — and won — for the right to move his team from Oakland to Los Angeles. Even after he moved the Raiders back to the Bay Area in 1995, he sued for $1.2 billion to establish that he still owned the rights to the L.A. market.

Before that, though, he was a pivotal figure in hastening the merger between the AFL — where he served as commissioner — and the more established NFL. Davis was not initially in favor of a merger, but his aggressive pursuit of NFL players for his fledgling league and team helped bring about the eventual 1970 combination of the two leagues into what is now the most popular sport in the country.

"Al Davis was a good man, and we were friendly rivals," Steelers chairman emeritus Dan Rooney said in a statement released by the Steelers. "He was a football man and did a lot for the game of football. I had a lot of respect for him, and he will be missed throughout the entire NFL."

But Davis was hardly an NFL company man.

Not in the way he dressed — usually satin running suits, one white, one black, and the occasional black suit, black shirt and silver tie. Not in the way he wore his hair — slicked back with a '50s duck-tail. Not in the way he talked — Brooklynese with Southern inflection. Not in the way he did business — on his own terms, always on his own terms.

"His contributions and expertise were inspiring at every level — coach, general manager, owner and commissioner," Dallas owner Jerry Jones said. "There was no element of the game of professional football for which Al did not enjoy a thorough and complete level of knowledge and passion."

Elected in 1992 to the Pro Football Hall of Fame, Davis was a trailblazer during his half-century in professional football. He hired the first black head coach of the modern era — Art Shell in 1988. He hired the first Latino coach, Tom Flores; and the first woman CEO, Amy Trask. And he was infallibly loyal to his players and officials: to be a Raider was to be a Raider for life.

"Everybody realizes that sooner or later, you're going to die. You never expected that from him, because he was so tough," said former Raiders Hall of Famer cornerback Willie Brown. "The things he'd gone through over the years, of course. He's meant a lot to this organization, because he's the leader. It's hard to replace a great leader and a legend like Al Davis."

Coach Hue Jackson told the team of Davis' death at a meeting in Houston on Saturday morning. Fans dressed in Raiders jerseys, meanwhile, quickly made their way to team headquarters in Alameda, where a black flag with the team logo flew at half-staff and a makeshift memorial formed at the base of the flag pole.

"Definitely shocking news for us," quarterback Jason Campbell said. "We got here last night and then you wake up this morning and hear we lost our owner, the man who built this team for many, many years, it's tough to take in as a team. We understand what he meant to this organization. He loved his players, and that didn't matter if you were here now, or if you played for him 30 years ago. He still loved all his players."

People carrying flowers, flags, silver and black pompoms and even a football-shaped balloon stopped by to pay tribute on a warm, crystal clear fall day in the Bay Area. A tiny candle burned as well.

"It's like losing a grandfather," said Rob Ybarra of Alameda, who left a bouquet of white flowers shortly after hearing the news of Davis' passing. "He's such an icon. The face of the Raiders. It's hard to put into words how much he meant to everyone."

Davis is survived by his wife, Carol, and son Mark, who Davis had said would run the team after his death.

Davis was charming, cantankerous and compassionate — a man who when his wife suffered a serious heart attack in the 1970s moved into her hospital room. But he was best known as a rebel, a man who established a team whose silver-and-black colors and pirate logo symbolized his attitude toward authority, both on the field and off.

Until the decline of the Raiders into a perennial loser in the first decade of the 21st century he was a winner, the man who as a coach, then owner-general manager-de facto coach, established what he called "the team of the decades" based on another slogan: "commitment to excellence." And the Raiders were excellent, winning three Super Bowls during the 1970s and 1980s and contending almost every other season — an organization filled with castoffs and troublemakers who turned into trouble for opponents.

"Al was a football man — his entire life revolved around the game he loved," said Tennessee Titans owner Bud Adams, an original AFL owner of the Houston Oilers. "He worked his way up through the ranks and had a knowledge of all phases of the game. That experience aided him as an owner. He was quite different from every other owner in that way. As an AFL guy, he was in that group of people who pushed our league forward. I didn't get to see him over the last few years and I know many, including myself, will miss him."

Born in Brockton, Mass., on July 4, 1929, Davis grew up in Brooklyn and graduated from Erasmus Hall High School, a spawning ground in the two decades after World War II for a number of ambitious young people who became renowned in sports, business and entertainment. Davis was perhaps the second most famous after Barbra Streisand.

"We had a reunion in Los Angeles and 500 people showed up, including Bah-bruh," he once told an interviewer in that combination of southern drawl/Brooklynese that was often parodied among his acquaintances within the league and without.

A graduate of Syracuse University, he became an assistant coach with the Baltimore Colts at age 24; and was an assistant at The Citadel and then Southern California before joining the Los Angeles Chargers of the new AFL in 1960. Only three years later, he was hired by the Raiders and became the youngest general manager-head coach in pro football history with a team he called "the Raid-uhs" in 1963.

He was a good one, 23-16-3 in three seasons with a franchise that had started its life 9-23.

Then he bought into the failing franchise, which played on a high school field adjacent to the Nimitz Freeway in Oakland, and became managing general partner, a position he held until his death.

But as the many bright young coaches he hired — from John Madden, Mike Shanahan and Jon Gruden to Lane Kiffin — found out, he remained the real coach. He ran everything from the sidelines, often calling down with plays, or sending emissaries to the sidelines to make substitutions.

In 1966, he became commissioner of the AFL.

But even before that, he had begun to break an unwritten truce between the young league and its established rivals, which fought over draft choices but did not go after established players.

Although the NFL's New York Giants' signing of Buffalo placekicker Pete Gogolak marked the first break in that rule, it was Davis who began to go after NFL stars — pursuing quarterbacks John Brodie and Roman Gabriel as he tried to establish AFL supremacy.

Davis' war precipitated first talks of merger, although Davis opposed it. But led by Lamar Hunt of Kansas City, the AFL owners agreed that peace was best. A common draft was established, and the first Super Bowl was played following the 1966 season — Green Bay beat Kansas City, then went on to beat Davis' Raiders the next season. By 1970, the leagues were fully merged and the NFL had the basic structure it retains until this day — with Pete Rozelle as commissioner, not Davis, who wanted the job badly.

So he went back to the Raiders, running a team that won Super Bowls after the 1976, 1980 and 1983 seasons — the last one in Los Angeles, where the franchise moved in 1982 after protracted court fights. It was a battling bunch, filled with players such as John Matuszak, Mike Haynes, Jim Plunkett and Lyle Alzado, stars who didn't fit in elsewhere who combined with homegrown stars — Ken Stabler, another rebellious spirit; Gene Upshaw; Shell, Jack Tatum, and dozens of others.

"He was a pioneer," said Plunkett, who won two Super Bowls with the Raiders. "He did so many things. He was a coach, he was the commissioner of the AFL, became the owner of the Raiders and he ran that club the way he saw fit. He brought in players that everyone else was discarding, including me, and he made it work."

After extended lawsuits involving the move to Los Angeles, he went back to Oakland and at one point in the early years of the century was involved in suits in northern and southern California — the one seeking the Los Angeles rights and another suing Oakland for failing to deliver sellouts they promised to get the Raiders back.

"Personally, I was fond of him," Bengals owner and president Mike Brown said. "He battled with the NFL, and a lot of us wished that had not been where things went, but under all that was a person I respected. It saddens me to hear that he is gone."

As Davis aged, his teams declined.

The Raiders got to the Super Bowl after the 2002 season, losing to Tampa Bay. But for a long period after that, they had the worst record in the NFL, at one point with five coaches in six years.

It is fitting that this year's Raiders team is built in typical Raiders fashion with a bevy of speedsters on offense capable of delivering the deep-strike play Davis always coveted, a physically imposing defensive line that can pressure the quarterback and an accomplished man coverage cornerback in Stanford Routt.

Once a constant presence at practice, training camp and in the locker room, Davis was rarely seen in public beyond the bizarre spectacles to fire and hire coaches where he spent more time disparaging his former coach than praising his new one.

He did not appear at a single training camp practice this summer and missed a game in Buffalo last month, believed to be only the third game he missed in 49 seasons with the franchise. Davis did attend Oakland's home game last week against New England.

Although he was no longer as public a figure, he was still integrally involved in the team from the draft to negotiating contracts to discussing strategy with his coaches. Jackson has said Davis was unlike any other owner he had worked for in his ability to understand the ins and outs of the game.

"I've never had the opportunity to sit and talk football, the X's and O's and what it takes to win in this league consistently on a consistent basis, and there's nothing like working for coach Davis," Jackson said.

While other owners and league executives branded Davis a renegade, friends and former players found him the epitome of loyalty.

When his wife was stricken with a heart attack, he moved into her hospital room and lived there for more than a month. And when he heard that even a distant acquaintance was ill, he would offer medical help without worrying about expense.

"Disease is the one thing — boy I tell you, it's tough to lick," he said in 2008, talking about the leg ailments that had restricted him to using a walker. "It's tough to lick those diseases. I don't know why they can't."

A few years earlier, he said: "I can control most things, but I don't seem to be able to control death."

___

Former AP Football Writer Dave Goldberg and AP Sports Writers Chris Duncan, Janie McCauley, Stephen Hawkins and AP freelance Michael Wagaman contributed to this report.

_________

The Oakland Raiders statement on the death of owner Al Davis:

The Oakland Raiders are deeply saddened by the passing of Al Davis.

Al Davis was unique, a maverick, a giant among giants, a true legend among legends, the brightest star among stars, a hero, a mentor, a friend.

Al Davis was the only person in professional football history to have been a scout, assistant coach, head coach, general manager, commissioner and owner.

He was an innovator, a pioneer with a deep love and passion for the game of football. His contributions to the game are innumerable and his legacy will endure forever through generations of players, coaches, administrators and fans.

Al Davis was a champion of diversity who maintained the courage of his convictions. His passion for the game we all love is best exemplified by his famous phrase, "COMMITMENT TO EXCELLENCE."

The fire that burns brightest in the Raider organization, "THE WILL TO WIN," will continue to blaze through the legacy of the great Al Davis.


Condolence & Memory Journal

days after giving birth to her third child, a baby girl. a0If you've been fownilolg my blog, you know the sad story. a0You also know that we've been accepting donations for my brother and his family, to help

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is a generater bilcasy a small engine with an alternater mounted on the crank shaft?how does a generater put out enough energy to power a house but an alternater in a car only creates enough power to charge the battery.is it just a bigger alternater or is it not an alternater at all.if not what is it and how does it work.

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Posted by Mahboub - VL0gFkHnFue, AK - cYHH7u1h0   February 21, 2015

My best friend Skip "Dr Death" Thomas, always took me to the hotels where the RAIDERS were staying, one time I went with Skip to chiefs stadium to watch the RAIDERS practice, Mr. Davis was standing on the 24 yard line, I walked out of the tunnel, walked up to Mr. Davis said I am friends with Skip, and I just wanted to say hi to you, we shook hands and Mr. Davis said, two words, take care, Skip ran up to me and said what did you just do, I said I just said hi to Mr. Davis, he is just another man to me, whom owns the RAIDERS, the team I grew up with, and live in kansas city, I am lot like a RAIDER, do what it takes get the job done, JUST WIN BABY, this past year Skip passed away, his son and I came to Oakland for tribute for his dad, Mr. Davis son, gave Brandon Thomas and I tickets to the game, first time at a RAIDERS game, Skip and I was suppose to do it together, thanks for the SILVER AND BLACK Jim Carroll Jr

Posted by Jim "Jimbo" Carrroll - kansas city, KS - loyal fan lives in kansas city   March 16, 2012

Candle

My pray goes out to the family of the Late Mr. Al Davis, May God continue to bless you

Posted by Ruby    November 01, 2011

Candle

Al was a Pioneer... A Legend.... A True Football Owner/Fan/1 Of A Kind.
Al You Will Be Missed... Just wont be the same not seeing you on the sideline's. R.I.P. Brother " Give'em Hell " & Just Win Baby !!!

Posted by Lance Wilson & Family - " RAIDERS 4 - LIFE FAN " !!!   November 01, 2011

I'm 51 and I've been the RAIDERS since I was just a kid. Al is the reason I fell in love with the Raiders, Al Davis' Raider way of playing the game and those great uniforms. There's a big hole in my stomach that will always be there, even their latest win on Sunday, I'm just numb. I'm just a fan from MN But I just wish I could've met Al. God please be with Al's family and true friends. I will always love Al Davis and the OAKLAND RAIDERS.

Posted by David Rockenback - Apple Valley, MN - The most loyal fan   October 17, 2011

Candle

He gave me the best Job of my Lie!T be able to be down on the field was and watch the talent all those years. The woman I cheered with will forever be in my life and we are there for each other .One time when i ws doing a promo he was in the office he said hi ya going out and working I said I cant wait. He said make continue to makeus proud. With out him bring woman into the nfl there would have no Raiderettes and I would not have the life and love I have now. So Thank you Mr.Davis for caring and loving us! RIParidise for you!! Silver and Black forever!

Posted by kerry mack - I was one of his Raiderettes   October 16, 2011

Candle

I am a Raider to the heart, just like Al. Raiders today and forever.
Kenneybrews #14

Posted by Jay - self   October 14, 2011

Candle

IT'S LIKE LOSING A FRIEND. NO TEAM WAS IDENTIFIED BY A SINGLE MAN MORE THAN AL DAVIS AND THE RAIDERS. JUST WIN BABY.

Posted by CHAD LOSETH - FAN   October 13, 2011

Al, may u rest in peace.. thank you for the Oakland Raiders and everything that you accomplished being in the NFL. You will never be forgotten.. Raider Nation!!

Always will be Silver&Black..Just win baby!

Posted by Quanna Begay - shiprock, NM - Oakland Raiders Fan   October 13, 2011

Candle

Thanks Al for all the Memories. When you get to Heavens Door, I hope you Just Win Baby.

Posted by Billy Oliveira - Freind   October 12, 2011

Candle

Al Davis you will be missed greatly. Our hearts and prayers are withy your wife and son. We will always think of you at a RAIDERS GAME. LOVE ALWAYS A RAIDER TO THE END RAY MOLINA, FROM ARLETA, CA

Posted by ray & Elva Molina    October 12, 2011

I lived in Los Angeles most of my life. I had season tickets to the Los Angeles Raiders for 8 yrs, lots of memories and lots of fun. I moved to Ark the year my beloved boys moved back to Oakland. Al you will be missed Your family and the boys are in my prayers and thoughts. I know you saw Sundays game. "JUST WIN BABY" is right, and win they did. God Bless to you all, stuck in Ark missing Cali and Raiders.

Posted by sheila - Fort Smith, AR - Raider fan   October 11, 2011

I can remember watching the "Immaculate Reception" live on tv with big brother Willie. The raiders lost that game. I vowed from that day forward..that team in the Silver and Black should have won and that is favorite team.I was working in Monterey California, at The Sardine Factory and Al Davis came in for dinner. This was when they were in court in Salinas for the move to L.A. I went up to him and asked him for his autograph. He asked my name and asked me "Do you think I can move my team.? I said you're the owner you can move any where you want. He replied "Well maybe not anywhere I want, but I think we have a good case.". He wrote: To John a great Raider Fan Best wishes ..AL DAVIS. I will never forget that day. You are the Number one Raider fan..You will be missed by all!!

Posted by john whyte - SAN FRANCISCO, CA - FAN   October 11, 2011

Candle

Good bye Al it has been interesting watching your legacy, As a old friend and fan just have to say. U will be missed by the nation and family alike. I wish your family the best of luck keeping things in order, I know Al left u the people to make it easier for u.Good luck to u.
Rick. 510rdoggs@gmail.com

Posted by Rick - Friend and Fan   October 11, 2011

Candle

I HAVE A LOYAL RAIDER FAN FOR 48 YEARS AND I WILL BE A RAIDER FAN FOR THE REST OF MY LIFE. EVEN WHEN MY FRIENDS WERE CHANGING TEAMS I STUCK WITH THE RAIDER NATION, THROUGH THICK AND THIN EVEN WHEN WE WERE LOSING ALOT OF GAMES. MR DAVIS IS NOW IN RAIDER HEAVEN AND HIS DEATH WAS A MAJOR BLOW, I EVEN SHED A FEW TEARS WHEN I HEARD HE DIED. BUT GOD FINALLY CALLED HIM HOME AT LAST. MY HEART GOES OUT TO HIS BELOVED WIFE AND HIS SON AND ALL THE PEOPLE IN RAIDERNATION. THANK YOU FOR DAVIS FOR ALL YOU HAVE DONE.

Posted by David I Outlaw - Fan for 48 years   October 11, 2011

Candle

Al Davis will be in Raider fan hearts 4 ever.Without Al Davis there will be no NFL and RAIDERS. THANK U AL FOR RAIDERS*.
We Bleed SILVER & BLACK.
Love,
THE SANTOS FAMILY
;) WE <3 al u>

Posted by jordan santos - fan   October 11, 2011

Candle

RIP TO THE FATHER OF THE OAKLAND RAIDERS AL DAVIS WHO WILL BE MISSED BY SO MANY PEOPLE, PEOPLE HE KNEW AND PEOPLE HE DIDN'T KNOW. THANKS FOR THE 49 YEARS YOU HAD WITH THE OAKLAND RAIDERS AND MAKING THEM WHO THEY ARE IN THE NFL, THE IMAGE OF THE RAIDERS WAS CREATED BY YOU MR AL DAVIS AND WE LOVE YOU FOR THAT AND WILL MISS YOU. I AM A RAIDER FAN FOR LIFE AND SO ARE MY FAMILY AND THE RAIDERS HAVE BEEN A BIG IMPACT IN ALL OF ARE LIFES. SO AL THANK YOU FOR GIVING US THE RAIDERS TO WATCH WITH PRIDE GOD BLESS YOU, LOVE FROM THE SNYDERS

Posted by RANDY SNYDER - FAN   October 10, 2011

I was in the same Company the 91st Combat Engineers at Ft Belvoir Va. with Al Davis. Mr. Davis was the coach of a powerful football team there and one of his other duties was managing the post recreational facilities. My best buddy was a friend of Al Davis. We managed to get me assigned to the motor pool where we provided transport for Mr Davis needs. The one I enjoyed greatly was being assigned to a Radio jeep at the post football games. It's purpose was to provide instant contact for emergency needs either players or spectators. Mr Davis main concern was for the welfare playing or attending the game. Being assigned to the post swimming pool Mr. Davis managed for the same purpose was an eyeful. Picking up a carload of massive football players was a site to behold. I was thrilled when The Raiders were established in Oakland. I worked with neglected unwanted kids then and Mr Davis and the Raiders always provided a Christmas party for these kids with individual gifts. Mr Davis was always there and spent time with the Kids. Say what you want about Mr. Davis but I say he was a very caring person for others and looked out for their welfare.
JMP

Posted by James Porter - Martinez, CA - Army accquaitence   October 10, 2011

One of the greats has left us. I remember first meeting Mr. Davis at a Warriors game. Little did I know I would end up with one of the greatest organizations ever. Mr. Davis is an ICON in the world of professional sports. The NFL just lost a wonderful man that can't be replaced

Posted by Skip - Antioch, CA - former employee   October 09, 2011

Candle

~RIP~ May your iconic legend leave footprints on those left behind!

Posted by The Raville Family - Raider Nation   October 09, 2011


Default Album

Oakland Raiders owner Al Davis laughs at a reporter's remarks at a news conference Tuesday, Nov. 26, 1996 in Oakland, Calif. Davis talked at length about not being able to sell out the "personal seat licenses" at Oakland Coliseum.
In this Jan. 25, 1981 file photo, Oakland Raiders managing general partner Al Davis, center, grins broadly as the Raiders moved toward a win in the Super Bowl in New Orleans.
In this Saturday, Aug. 26, 1989 file photo, Raiders owner Al Davis watches Los Angeles Raiders practice before exhibition game against the Houston Oilers at the Oakland Coliseum. Davis, the Hall of Fame owner of the Oakland Raiders known for his rebellious spirit, has died.
Oakland Raiders' owner Al Davis speaks during a news conference at football training camp in Napa, Calif., Tuesday, Aug. 1, 2006.
In this Feb. 4, 2009 file photo, Oakland Raiders owner Al Davis smiles during an NFL football news conference at Raiders headquarters in Alameda, Calif. Davis has died, the Oakland Raiders announced Saturday, Oct. 8, 2011.