Continuing the re-examination of Super Bowl XXXVII and its fallout, one of the biggest casualties was Raiders’ owner, Al Davis, who never got over the loss.
When Raider Nation thinks of the team’s legendary owner, they conjure up images of Davis brazenly strutting down the sidelines watching his team in action. Or, they’ll recall him hoisting the Lombardi Trophy. In particular, the time he took it from the hands of then-NFL Commissioner Pete Rozelle. In many ways, when we look back, 2002 was the last hurrah for the Raiders of old. It should’ve been the fourth time Davis won the big one. Alas, there was no cigar for Davis. Instead, what followed was a personal decline amplified by the decay of a once-proud franchise.
Al Davis was a sore loser to the highest level…
In a recent podcast episode of Sports Uncovered, Davis’ decline was examined, an aspect of the Super Bowl loss and the hangover that followed. Greg Papa, the former radio voice of the Raiders, shed light on Davis following the crushing defeat. It didn’t help that leading up to the game all eyes were on the Raiders.
â€œAl was a sore loser to the highest level. He didn’t tolerate losing. It just wasn’t part of his mentalityâ€¦ He was a sore loser; a pissed-off loser, but this look on his face, it was the kind of look if someone told you that you had terminal cancer, your wife or husband was going to die or had died. It was just the look on his face. I remember it like it was yesterday. It was the most painful expression. He’ll never — even if they come back next year and win, he’s never going to get over this game.”
Losing a Super Bowl would not be a fun experience at any level, player, coach, or owner I would imagine. However, for someone whose motto was “Just Win, Baby” such a loss would’ve been that more debilitating. Not to mention the fact that the Silver and Black had a chance in each of the two years prior didn’t help either. One year prior, they lost in the infamous “Tuck Rule” game the previous season. Also, they got their hopes dashed when quarterback Rich Gannon was flattened by Tony Siragusa against the Baltimore Ravens.
He changed forever after that game…
â€œI really believe he changed forever after that game, he was never the same person. His body began to break down. And he became maniacal, increasingly maniacal, about trying to over–, you know, to change it. To the day he died, I don’t think he ever got over that loss.”
Papa’s observation on Davis was spot on in regards to what followed for the “Maverick” in the years following Super Bowl XXXVII. Davis became so obsessed with winning a Super Bowl, he became out of touch with how to successfully build a team. Terrible drafting, a coaching carousel, and completely laying waste to the Raiders salary cap with overpriced free agents marred Davis’ final years. In hindsight, while not a positive thing, it’s pretty incredible what one fateful loss did to not just one man but an entire franchise, one that’s still recovering to this day.
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*Top Photo: Jed Jacobsohn/Getty Images