Al Davis, 1929-2011

I will have more to say on the passing of Al Davis, but, for now, it’s enough to say that it’s unclear whether there was any more influential figure in the history of professional football, or ever will be. Al had his enemies and his grudges and there are many incidents that don’t always reflect so well on him, but those won’t be what I remember. I will remember the owner who was a coach, who learned from Sid Gilman, taught Bill Walsh, and hand picked and groomed John Madden (who was an obscure college assistant coach under Don Coryell — Al knew what he was doing). I will remember the man who was commissioner of the AFL and was never afraid to fight the system from within. And most of all I will remember the man whose teams, for the better part of four decades, lived up to not only his famous adage “Just win, baby!” but also to his more serious motto: “Commitment to Excellence.”

So blows the autumn wind.

  • Branch Rickey comes to mind as more influential. Invented the farm system and integrated baseball.  But for football, Al might be it.

  • Mr.Murder

    The most coveted free agent of the past season, a Raider player who was a size/speed phenom at cornerback that Al Davis drafted. “It’s all about the players.”

    Before that the biggest adddition in the pro game for the season was one he added in trade(Seymour).

    Before that the biggest personnel prize was Charles Woodson, whose arrival in Green Bay helped them restore the team to potential dynasty status.

    Before that the biggest deal was a departure that he traded off over disagreements(Randy Moss).

    Before that the most productive free agent arrival for the year was probably Warren Sapp.

    Before that he tried adding Rodney Harrison and had a verbal commitment until a holdover at the Denver airport led to his meeting the Patriots.

    The first man to hire Gruden to head coach as well, after finalist Bill B. decided to get more money at another offer.

    He was not that far from contention a lot of those times, other times they were players who could have put a contender over the hump. Had trouble trying to develop a quarterback in the modern era, Gannon was a free agent gold and a once in a lifetime kind of opportunity to get, Gruden was integral to getting that. Rarely does a veteran fall into your lap like that.