The world said goodbye to the legend, Raiders owner Al Davis, when he passed away on October 8th, 2011. Today is the anniversary of the Maverick’s passing.
He was the embodiment of rebelliousness in human form because he was so unique, so determined, and so fearless. The man created the Raiders’ mystique and it was his personality that created the best fan base in sports.
There will never be another Al Davis. He did everything his way, consequences be damned, and if you didn’t like it, you could take a hike. His persona was larger than life and he didn’t give two shits about what you thought of him.
It’s sad that he never achieved getting his own stadium. However, the Raiders have their own home now with Allegiant Stadium and it sits on Al Davis Way. The glory of the Death Star in Las Vegas is it’s very own monument to Mr. Davis.
He’d have loved it. It is a unique and intimidating stadium, befitting of a unique and intimidating man. That it’s built in Las Vegas, a city itself the epitome of rebel culture, is also befitting. It should have been in Oakland, but Vegas fits the Al Davis way too.
Some people only remember the dark times…
Many people will only remember Davis as a shell of the man he was, and that is disappointing. They will only remember him chasing the greatness he tasted for so long but was never able to feel again. It’s truly a shame because he was so much more than that.
Winning was the only thing that mattered to Al. His reign ending during the darkest days of the Raiders organization is one of the sports gods’ cruelest ironies. He deserved to see his team have success one last time before passing away.
Davis was not defined by that horrible era. He is defined by the decades of being the winningest team in pro sports. His fiery brand, his overhead projector, his unparalleled grit and determination is what defined him.
Today is a day to remember the eminence of Al Davis, and the preeminence of his organization in its glory years. The former AFL Commissioner, champion of Civil Rights, NFL Hall of Famer, and 3-time Super Bowl Champion is gone, but he will never be forgotten.
The NFL doesn’t exist the way it does today without the contributions he made to this great game. His legend will last forever because of those contributions, and he deserves to be remembered fondly.
A true pioneer…
The civil rights achievements alone are stunning. Hiring the first female chief executive, Amy Trask (The Princess of Darkness is an amazing presence in her own right, by the way), hiring minority coaches Art Shell and Hall of Famer Tom Flores, and drafting Eldridge Dickey as the first black quarterback picked in the first round are just a few. He was undoubtedly one of the most influential sports figures of the 60’s Civil Rights era.
His persona created Raider Nation, and all of the fanbase’s infuriatingly passionate, wrathful loyalty is because of the rebellious Man in Black. Their aura every football game is yet another monument to Al. You didn’t mess with Mr. Davis and you didn’t mess with Raider Nation.
You see the difference between the older Raiders fans and the younger ones who didn’t get to see the glory years. There is an unmissable pride in the eyes of the glory year observers. They know what it feels like to reach the pinnacle of success in a way the younger fans have only dreamt of.
The pinnacle of success they got the honor of feeling is due to the rabid nature of Al Davis. His relentlessness brought the dominance young fans dream of experiencing one day. It was the Al Davis way that made the Raiders franchise the most feared and most dominant of it’s era.
Al took no prisoners…
He took no prisoners; he did what he wanted to do. Most importantly, he never apologized for it. Whether it was suing the NFL or benching a Hall of Fame player like my namesake Marcus Allen, nobody could tell Al Davis what to do.
People who missed the glory years might have hated that part of Davis, but you still had to respect it. Nobody bullied Al, and have mercy on the souls who tried. That is a staple of Raider Nation to this day, and it started directly from the man on top.
Rest In Peace. Thank you for creating Raider Nation and for being the baddest man the NFL world will ever know. May your overhead projector shine bright forever.
*Top Photo: George Rose/Getty Images