If the NFL lockout is the storm then Oakland, California, is the eye. Sitting calm and cool in the middle of labor madness is one Al Davis. While other owners panicked and cried broke, Mr. Davis opened his checkbook. As teams scrambled to shift campsites, Davis kept his commitments in Napa. During times of doubt, Davis believed.
Say what you will of Al Davis but his experience has been invaluable during this season of unrest.
Having seen the Raiders rise from the ashes of the AFC West it would have been all too easy for Davis to hit the panic button as the lockout loomed. Like many other owners Davis could have instructed his front office to stand pat and allow the new CBA to work everything out. Instead Davis took to conducting business up until the final hour.
Say what you will of the contracts handed out to Richard Seymour, Stanford Routt and Kamerion Wimbley. You can call those moves anything you want. Just make sure you call all of those aforementioned men Raiders. Thanks to the urgency in Oakland the Raiders have preserved many key pieces for their continued rebirth.
Now this is not to say all is well. There is still much work to be done once the free agent frenzy begins (looking at you, O-line). There are still plenty of question marks (Zach Miller and Nnamdi Asomugha). None the less the Raiders’ sense of urgency to seal deals prior to labor uncertainty speaks volumes of Mr. Davis’ invaluable experience.
Until his final day in the business of football Davis will continue to do things his way. This we all know. While his maverick tendencies can make him appear as everything from luminary to ludicrous none can argue his unflinching calm in the clutch.
Davis pulled the chair on the owners by committing mega cash mere hours before the padlocks were brought out. Since then he and his organization have kept a low profile, happy to let Jerry Jones fight for whatever crumbs he’s owed. Davis is content to sit back and relax as the rest of the football world battles over control of the league he helped build. After all, there is only one thing Mr. Davis truly cares about and that’s football. Everything else is secondary even the business of football.