To say the game of football wouldn’t be what it is without Al Davis is an understatement. That’s like saying China wouldn’t be the same without the Great Wall or Egypt would be different without the Sphinx. Davis is that kind of a figure in the sports world.
In the coming weeks we’ll hear, see and discuss plenty of the things that made Davis so relevant not only in sports but also American culture.
Over on NFL.com many of the writers are already discussing the many contributions made by Mr. Davis. Truly amazing that there is so much Davis has done that he’d be able to fill column after column with different takes on the many things he’s accomplished over the years. Here are a few excerpts from some of those articles.
I think the biggest impact he had was as a person who opened doors for others in the NFL. He was the first executive to draft a black quarterback in the first round, taking Eldridge Dickey. He hired the first Latino coach in NFL history, Tom Flores, and the first black coach of the modern era, Art Shell. And in recent years, he entrusted much of the organization’s operations to a woman, Amy Trask.
- NFL Network
Al Davis was a football man who happened to own a team. He really was the point man of the old AFL. His efforts had a lot to do with the 1970 AFL-NFL merger, which brought innovation to the game. The AFL was a wide-open passing league with lots of deep throwers and man-to-man defenses. The NFL changed for the better when the leagues joined forces.
Two summers ago, I stood next to Davis at Raiders practice, and we discussed a number of topics while practice went on, but he never missed a thing on the field.
For me, though, Davis’ role as a coach, general manager and owner in championing the vertical passing game and ushering in an era of more offense and creativity always will stand out. That brand of football attracted fans who otherwise might not have watched the game. It helped pro football evolve as a television product and, in turn, made the game the social, cultural and economic power that it is today.
From a personal standpoint, Davis provided me with an opportunity to finish my playing career as a Raider, which allowed me to experience the “Commitment to Excellence” firsthand. I’m deeply saddened by his passing, but I will continue to remember him for his confidence, passion and commitment to winning.