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Al Davis


Al Davis, dead.

I feel like I should be able to make a funny joke here, maybe something about Davis deciding that Satan would make a really fast wide receiver despite his inability to catch. Or maybe something about Davis drinking the blood of live goats. But really, I can’t say too much more than Davis was one of the most remarkable figures in the history of American sport.

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  • Being from Ohio, the Davis-hatred was new to me when I moved west. While I could never get on board with (or fully understand) the hatred, I quickly appreciated the uniqueness and force the man was in the NFL. Strange times.

    • Oh god I hated the Raiders when I was a kid. Their fans were always bullies I hated at school. And Seattle was not only in the AFC West, but pretty good so that was always a big game.

      • Yeah – I figured it was pretty closely tied to childhood experiences for most, for the same reason that my generation’s hatred for the Broncos mystifies anybody who wasn’t young in NE Ohio in the 1980s.

    • LKS

      Davis merits some hatred by at the least the northern half of Ohio, given that the NFL’s inability to persuade the courts to prevent Davis from moving the team to LA in 1982 laid the legal groundwork for Art Modell moving the Cleveland Browns to Baltimore.

      • Anonymous

        When you put it that way…

        Also, it can never be said enough: Fuck Art Modell.

        • snarkout

          Bob Irsay was worse!

          • Once it is large enough to cleanly pass a pilot whale, arguing over the size of the asshole is pointless.

  • News Nag

    Erik, maybe just be respectful without the insinuated asininity part of what you might’ve said if you weren’t so ‘respectful’.

    I love your labor beat and all your other stuff and consider it the final missing crucial piece of LG&M. But sometimes snark is just stupid.

    • Stag Party Palin

      I love your labor beat and all your other stuff and consider it the final missing crucial piece of LG&M. But sometimes snark is just stupid.

      Ooh – I’ve been waiting for someone to fall off the fainting couch:

      “Not by wrath does one kill but by laughter.”
      — Nietzsche

    • Slocum

      Boy, I bet Davis’ feeling are going to be hurt by this post. Oh, wait.

    • witless chum

      If Al Davis didn’t want to be made fun of when he died, he shouldn’t have been the joke of the NFL for the last 10 years.

  • c u n d gulag

    Al was from the new school of Football owners.

    While you had the old timers, like Wellington Mara, who was the main owner behind revenue sharing, forgoing his teams profits for the good of the NFL, Davis was a founder of the ‘me, Me, ME!’ school – Jerry Jones is the latest example.

    I hated the Raiders for keeping my Dolphins from winning 3 in a row.
    I did root for them whenever they were playing the Jets, Cowboys or Redskins.

    We’ll not ever see the likes of Al Davis again, just like we’ll never see the likes of George Steinbrenner. And Al did much more to change his sport than did King George. But the changes that both wrought, were a mixed-bag.

    The new ‘vertical passing game’ that is today’s NFL, is very much Al Davis’ brain child. And with all respect to Daryle Lamonica, Al Davis was the real “Mad Bomber!”

    RIP, Al!

    • Davis was indeed from the new school of football owners – but he was also a throwback to the George Halas/Curly Lambeau days, a coach/GM/owner/one-man organization. We’re not likely to see a coach become an owner again, not in the day of billion-dollar team valuations.

      • calling all toasters

        He was indeed a one-man organization, but I can’t imagine people saying this about Papa Bear:

        Ice Cube– “It was like going to see Darth Vader and instead meeting Yoda.”

        John Ritchie– “One of the first days in the facility… he wanted to talk about Herman Melville, because he was an English major at Syracuse and knew that I was an English major at Stanford.”

        Put that together with his rebelliousness towards any organization of which he was a member and his fondness for outcasts, and his bullying business methods, and you have a combination of Halas, Marlon Brando in “The Wild One,” and Jaime Escalante. Or maybe Ted Turner, Otis Sistrunk, and Roger Ebert. Whatever. They really broke the mold when they made Al.

  • Fighting Words

    Al Davis probably did more than anyone else to make the modern day NFL into what it is today. His negotiating tactics in the mid 1960’s put an end to the costly AFL/NFL wars and laid the groundwork for the enormously popular NFL.

    It’s a sad day for football and a sad for everyone.

    And seriously, can you at least be somewhat respectful for people who passed. Not all Raiders fans are assholes (I doubt even most are). It has just been a really sad week for the Bay Area.

    Al Davis, RIP.

    • LKS

      I’ll concede that Al Davis was a major influence (not always for the better) on the NFL up until the mid-1980s. Being the shit-stirring egomaniacal publicity whore that he was, however, he sometimes got credit because he was the loudest, not because he was the first. The so-called “vertical offense”, for example, wasn’t really all that revolutionary – he borrowed most of it from Sam Gidell and other “west coast” pioneers.

      After the 1983 Super Bowl, Davis lost his touch. You only have to look at the Raiders’ abysmal record in the subsequent 22 years to see that. The team got to one more Super Bowl (2002) and hasn’t made the playoffs since, not even as a wild card. About the only thing the Raiders have done since 1983 is serve as a testing ground for some head coaches who wound up doing better elsewhere (Turner, Shell, Gruden, Shanahan).

      • Bill Murray

        Shell was never head coach in the NFL other than for the Raiders. The Raiders only had 5 losing seasons between 1983 and 2002 and were more than 30 games over 0.500, which, it’s true, isn’t as good as they had done previously, but John Madden couldn’t coach forever.

  • Davis X. Machina

    An opportunity, because no living person can feature on US currency….

    Ladies and gentlemen, the man the GOP should put on our money somewhere.

    Not Reagan. Al Davis.

    Goodbye E pluribus unum, hello, “Just Win, Baby!”

  • LosGatosCA

    Al was a good football man until he realized that suing people was more lucrative.

    I think Al’s main problem was that he thought of himself in the same class of football mind as Paul Brown. As a owner he got his team to five Super Bowls and won three. That’s a pretty good track record. Green Bay, a publicly owned team in a small market, etc. managed to get to five Super Bowls, winning four in the same timeframe. Pittsburgh 6-2.

    Bill Walsh would speak kindly of Al Davis long after he had to. That’s good enough for me.

  • FMguru

    Just posting this up here because it may become relevant in the near future. From d20srd.org:

    “An integral part of becoming a lich is creating a magic phylactery in which the character stores its life force. As a rule, the only way to get rid of a lich for sure is to destroy its phylactery. Unless its phylactery is located and destroyed, a lich reappears 1d10 days after its apparent death.”

  • efgoldman

    Al Davis, like Paul Brown, was way ahead of his time.
    Also like Paul Brown, he let the times pass him by.
    He’s also responsible for the second-biggest TV market in the country being without an NFL franchise.

    • randomliberal

      Shouldn’t Georgia Frontiere deserve some credit for LA not having a team, also…?

      • LKS

        The overwhelming bulk of evidence indicates that shitty attendance, exacerbated by the lack of a suitable modern stadium facility, is why LA doesn’t have and couldn’t keep an NFL franchise.

    • Stag Party Palin

      You’re forgetting USC.

  • We don’t need a damn franchise in L.A., even though we may be getting one soon enough.

  • Stag Party Palin

    I’m posting too fast. No Al Davis hagiography would be complete without the tale of The Rape of Irwindale.

    Davis, long and vocally displeased with the Raiders’ home at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum, agreed to a $115 million deal. He would take ownership of the new [Irwindale] stadium provided the Raiders would play there for 19 years. Controversially, the deal included a $10 million nonrefundable signing bonus paid directly to Davis regardless of whether the plan would be executed.

    In the event, both parties were served multiple lawsuits, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers demanded strict environmental impact assessments, and the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors demurred, and the project was canceled. Davis pocketed the $10 million, and eventually moved the Raiders back to Oakland.

    Irwindale is the center of Sand and Gravel mining in Southern California. Population about 1400. All overpaid.

  • LosGatosCA

    Sid Gillman is the godfather of the West Coast offense. Bill Walsh, Mike White, Dick Vermeil all will tell you that.

    Al Davis was not an innovator as an x’s and o’s guy. One of the great stories about Al is from Warren Sapp after he joined the Raiders. He’s standing on the sideline and another guy on defense says to him, ‘We’re going deep on the next play.’. Sapp asks, ‘How do you know that?’. ‘The phone just rang.’

    And Sapp had another great line about Al – ‘Al knows a lot of football – it’s just 60’s and 70’s football.’

    • Bill Murray

      Your pretty much right about Gillman, but that isn’t very relevant to Davis’ offenses since Al’s teams were way more vertical than the West Coast offense.

      • witless chum

        It’d be a lot less confusing, as Football Outsiders pointed out, if Walsh’s offense (lots of short, precise passing) was called the Ohio Valley Offense, given that Walsh first ran it as the offensive coordinator for the Bengals with Kenny Anderson as his QB.

        The, the West Coast offense name could be used for the Air Coryell offense that was popularized by San Diego and lives on with wherever Mike Martz coaches.

  • cpinva

    al davis at his worst still couldn’t make dan snyder look good.

    he gave us kenny “the snake” stabler, and the “who’s on parole this week” teams. i grew up loving the redskins and the raiders (except when the played each other. sorry al). he loved his team and his players, and reveled in pissing off the rest of league. what’s not to like?

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