America gained their independence in 1776, and 153 years later in Brockton Massachusetts, Raiders legend and pioneer Al Davis was born.
The Declaration of Independence was signed on July 4, 1776, as the United States officially declared their independence from the British Empire. 153 years later, in the town of Brockton, Massachusetts, Raiders legend Al Davis was born, a man who would go on to revolutionize football and the Raiders franchise.
While the nation will be enjoying the 4th of July the best they can due to COVID-19, Raider Nation will always see the fourth of July as a time to think back on the life of Mr. Davis. In 1963, Al came over to the Raiders franchise from the Los Angeles Chargers as the youngest head coach in professional football history, and completely turned around the organization.
From changing the look of the uniform, to making the team a winner on and off the field, Davis brought swagger and stability to the Raiders franchise. After three years as head coach, he took over as the Commissioner of the AFL, but that lasted only one year.
He returned to the franchise in 1966, serving as a part owner and general manager from 1966 through 1971, before becoming the principal owner in 1972. He held that title up until his death in 2011 at the age of 82, passing on his beloved franchise to his son, Mark.
During his run with the franchise, Davis was a pioneer for civil rights, and would not allow his team to play in cities where there was segregation. In addition, he hired the first African-American head coach in Art Shell, was the second owner to hire a Latino head coach in Tom Flores, and made Amy Trask the first female Chief Executive.
In 1992, he was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame, cementing his legacy in the history of the game. An eternal flame burns now at the Raiders new stadium in Las Vegas, a true testament to a man who put his heart and soul into the organization.
Mr. Davis is needed now more than ever in this current climate, as he was not only a pioneer in the game of football, but also in the game of life. He consistently gave people opportunities no matter their race or sex, and while he always did it his way, his way seemed to always include others who may not have gotten a chance elsewhere.