Al Davis could have only been born on the 4th of July just as Ben Davidson could have only played for the Raiders. On this day that we celebrate our Nation’s independence we also mourn the loss of Davis and Davidson.
The two men were forever connected during their lives with Davis playing the role of maverick owner and Davidson the part of football villain. As if scripted for a film he would have played the lead, Davidson wore the silver and black proudly while playing the game with passion, pride and persistence.
Davis would build the Raiders’ brand on the backs of men like Davidson whose massive size and deep voice epitomized the essence of Raider Mystique.
In the wake of Davidson’s passing there has been plenty of talk debating whether or not Davidson would have been able to play in this age of football. The simple answer is that he would have undoubtedly played today. He might have been fined more than he made but every team would gladly take a 6’8” defender that is more gladiator than defensive end.
Another debate relates to the nature of today’s players. Many look at Davidson and the era in which he played then quickly come to the conclusion that today’s players are spoiled. There is some truth to that but the reality is anybody that makes a living playing pro football in any era has nothing to prove in the toughness department.
That’s why I have no doubt that Davis and Davidson are looking down today with huge smiles spreading across their faces. They see the likes of Darren McFadden, Richard Seymour, Sebastian Janikowski and Tyvon Branch proudly carrying on the Raiders traditions established nearly 4 decades ago. They also see a new maverick named Reggie McKenzie doing things his way just as Davis would have intended.
Being a Raider is about giving it everything you’ve got everyday of your life. Being a Raider is about being there for those that rely on you. Being a Raider is about doing whatever it takes to accomplish your goals while doing so with pride. Being a Raider was defined by the union of Davis and Davidson who are as connected in death as they were in life.
So on this first 4th of July without two men that made the Raiders what they are honor them the only way possible – be a Raider today!