The sports world has been rocked by the passing of longtime Los Angeles Lakers owner Jerry Buss. One of the most successful men in the history of sports is no longer with us. Raider Nation knows the pain all too well as we are still coming to terms of life without Al Davis.
Though Davis and Buss were decidedly different men their goals, passions and ultimate successes were similar.
Both were American originals the likes of which will never be seen again. Both were exclusively engaged in the business of running their teams, unlike other owners who are more tied into their other business ventures. Both men sought out the top minds and talent in their respective sports. Both sought to entertain. Most important of all both were winners on the highest level.
The life of Al Davis is indeed the history of pro football. The life of Dr. Jerry Buss rings true as the blueprint for the modern owner in sports.
Both men revolutionized their games though Davis was more hands on having been everything from a coach on up to a commissioner. Buss, like Davis, was in the business of winning though.
Ironically Buss and Davis could have been neighbors had the plans for a football stadium near Hollywood Park been finalized allowing for the Raiders to play in close proximity to the Lakers during their time in Inglewood. That never came to pass but the amount of revenue Buss and Davis generated for the city of Los Angeles is impossible to ignore.
These two men are titans of their sport having gained a level of success so few could ever hope to achieve. Buss, like Davis, was a highly visible owner. The two were front and center as the face of their respective franchises willing to do whatever it took to win.
In an era when NFL owners sought to increase profit margins Davis spent money on his team like there was no tomorrow. Buss also had the same spending habits sparing no expense when it came to acquiring the best available talent.
While their approaches were vastly different there was no denying where the buck stopped. Davis, due to his football background, was highly involved in most every decision. Buss on the other hand had the final word yet trusted the men he hired to make the right decisions.
Buss was the architect of a franchise that is most always in contention for the title rarely missing the postseason. Davis, whose ownership career spans well beyond that of Buss, had his ups and downs but at one point presided over the winningest franchise in professional sports. Winning with consistency in football is much more difficult making Davis’ accomplishments in various eras a true marvel however the model of consistency established by Buss is unrivaled in sports.
Most amazing of all is that both men found the perfect balance of entertainment and success. Davis found and developed some of the most remarkable talent and unique personalities in football. Buss did the same for basketball. Yet it was the winning, above all, that made these two men the icons of sports that they are.
Now both men have left their franchises in the hands of their offspring. No matter what comes of the Raiders and Lakers in the years to come the family traditions will live on as both Mark Davis and Jim Buss have clearly inherited the independent spirit of their fathers.
We’re without two of the greatest visionaries the sports world has ever known yet their impact will remain with us forever. Jerry Buss and Al Davis were not the same man yet they were driven by the same desires. Their lasting legacies forever a part of American history and sports lore.