It was his constant employment of necessary roughness, his timeless slogan to “just win, baby,” and his continuous commitment to excellence that took the Oakland Raiders through their three Super Bowl championship victories (XI, XV, and XVIII) and 15 Super Bowl appearances.
Al Davis, owner of the Oakland Raiders, died Oct. 8, at age 82.
Davis, though rugged and brazen on the outside, would always make sure injured players were alright by calling them every day. Even when they were no longer on the team, the Davis motto was “once a Raider, always a Raider.”
As opposed to most owners who divvy up responsibilities amongst the staff, Davis was notoriously known for having his hand in all the day-to-day workings; all the trades, all the drafts, everything involving the Oakland Raiders’ franchise in the slightest.
A heavy heart carries on as memories of that somber day pass. Though many Raider fans may speak happily of a new hope now that Davis is gone, but they didn’t truly know what it meant to have his final command over everything.
Davis started as a head coach with the Los Angeles Chargers from 1960 to 1962 before moving on with the Raiders as their head coach and general manager from 1962 to 1965. He became the American Football League’s commissioner in 1966 and would hold that office until stepping down just before their merger with what is now the National Football League in 1970.
His stake in the Raiders started at a mere 10 percent when he initially invested in the team with two other business partners in a company called A. D. Football, Inc. He was named the head of football operations shortly afterward in late 1972, but hadn’t owned a majority stake until 2005.
His wife Carol and his son Mark survive Davis.
At one point, while Davis was trying to find a new home for the Raiders, Mayor Anne Rudin sold state bonds in order to bid $50 million to get the Raiders to come to Sacramento in 1990. Ultimately, this would be the Raiders’ return to Oakland after 15 years in Los Angeles.
Head coach Hue Jackson left a touching speech to his team after their victory over the Houston Texans following the loss of Davis. “I know that he loved you guys. Just like he loved his coaching staff and this organization,” said Jackson, nearing the verge of tears.
Jackson would go on to speak about the constant drive and athleticism throughout the 25-20 victory that week. “You kept fighting because that’s what (Davis) would want you to do. That’s what Raiders do.”