Under most circumstances it would be insensitive to discuss business matters mere days after the death of a loved one. But this is the business of football. Not your normal business. And we’re talking about the passing of Al Davis. Not your normal loved one.
Thus far 2011 has been an eye opening year for the world of football. From labor lockouts to NCAA scandals the football world is being turned on its head. We already knew how important Peyton Manning was to his team. Now we’ve got the 0-5 Indianapolis Colts as proof. Some would argue Manning is as important a player as there’s ever been to a football franchise. But that’s just one player over the course of a decade.
When it comes to Al Davis – the single most important man perhaps in the history of football – we’re talking an entirely different dynamic. No single human being could possibly mean as much to a franchise over the course of 5 decades as Mr. Davis did to the Raiders.
While we’ve seen the immediate impact of Manning on the Colts, it could be years until the importance of Davis is truly revealed to the Raiders.
Even in his passing Al’s influence will live on well beyond the careers of many of the men currently wearing silver and black.
It is impossible to replace Al Davis. There will never be another owner as knowledgeable and involved as Davis. For better or worse, the Raiders were his life. Mr. Davis wasn’t a billionaire who splurged on buying a football franchise. He was a made man in the football world who rose to the heights of the business.
Though his passing was but a few days ago the future of the Raiders is already a hot topic for discussion and speculation.
Who will run the Raiders? Will they share a stadium with the 49ers? Will the Raiders return to Los Angeles? Will a GM be hired?
Depending on the approach taken all or none of the lingering questions will be addressed in the near future.
Should Mark Davis, son of Al, take a similar approach as his father then all of the behind-the-scenes dealings will be handled in a private matter. Mr. Davis was known for his secrecy. It was routine for the Raiders to operate under an off-the-record manner when it came to most of their dealings.
While issues of relocation or stadium sharing are further down the line, with many moving pieces involved, we can speculate on the necessity of hiring a new football mind. Of the many qualities Mr. Davis brought to the Raiders his most valuable asset was his knowledge of the game.
Without a stable leader, capable of making the tough decisions and ultimately being the Raiders’ football czar, it will be difficult for the team to continue to move forward. Mr. Davis might not have been involved in every move the team made but you’d better believe he had the final say on all football matters.
Hue Jackson has already offered his services citing his many conversations with Mr. Davis as a training of sorts for the front office. But that seems far fetched.
Coach Jackson has done a very good job thus far and adding newer more involved responsibilities would seem like a bad move at this time. Every coach likes to think they can be a GM but the reality is very few find success with multiple titles.
In the interim it would nice to see someone with ties to the organization and an extensive football background come in and handle the transition. The name John Madden has been circulated recently and was even discussed in past years during Oakland’s slow rebuild from the last Super Bowl.
How much interest a now retired Madden would have in working full-time again remains to be seen.
Mr. Davis’ affinity for the Raiders is what will be impossible to replace. You just can’t find another human being that will be as obsessively involved in running the Raiders as Davis was. It was his pride and passion. Much more than a job, to Mr. Davis the Raiders were a labor of love.
While we’re no closer to answering all of the questions posed in the wake of Davis’ death there are a few things we do know.
For one, there is no single individual in existence capable of replacing Davis. Forget about Al’s vigor, I’m just talking about all his duties. While many saw Al’s passion as bleeding over into meddling it’s hard to argue with a guy that’s been everything from a scout on up to a commissioner. That would be like telling a world renowned surgeon to just concentrate on doing paperwork while his hospital lags behind in performing successful surgery. His natural instinct is to jump in and help solve the problem.
In short it’s going to take a few new faces or simply familiar names in new places to continue the work ethic established by Mr. Davis.
The other issue we can put to bed right now is the concerns over who is going to own this team. Now the Raiders could make another move. That is always going to be on the table. This is a business after all so anything that keeps the franchise afloat and profitable will have to be in consideration.
However we know for sure that the Raiders will remain in the Davis family. This franchise is not for sale nor shall it be…possibly ever. Mr. Davis’ devotion to his beloved franchise makes this one family heirloom that is truly irreplaceable.