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Al Davis passes away

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  • Wow....

    Mike Shanahan once ordered Elvis Grbac to throw at Al Davis’ head

    The list of folks who butted heads with Al Davis during the 50 years the late Oakland Raiders owner spent in professional football is as long as his list of accolades and accomplishments. All right, it's probably much longer.

    One of his most bitter conflicts was with current Washington Redskins coach Mike Shanahan, who spent one season working as Raiders head coach before a dispute with Davis led to his ousting.

    How bad was the blood between the two? Five years after the firing, Shanahan ordered one of his players to throw a ball at Davis' head during pregame warmups. Rick Maese of The Washington Post linked to a story written by The New York Times' Mike Freeman on Sept. 13, 1998 which included this tale:
    It was 1994 and Shanahan and Grbac were both with the San Francisco 49ers. Shanahan, the offensive coordinator, was working with Grbac before a game against Oakland. [...]

    [...] Davis, as he does before almost every game, was walking the field, talking to players and others. Shanahan pulled Grbac aside, Grbac recalled, and gave an unusual order: ''See Al Davis over there? I want you to throw the ball right at him.''

    A shocked Grbac replied: ''I can't do that. If I hit him, do you know what he could do to me?''

    Shanahan looked at Grbac with his intense glare and said, ''Throw the ball.''

    So Grbac did. He threw a tight, hard spiral some 30 yards directly at the head of Davis. At the last second, Davis saw it and ducked, the ball missing him by only a few inches. Davis, his hair ruffled, then made an obscene gesture at Shanahan, witnessed by a former Raiders coach who confirmed Grbac's story.

    I know, I had the same exact thought: Who knew Elvis Grbac could throw a tight, hard spiral 30 yards and barely miss his target by inches?


    • Originally posted by DevilSpawn View Post
      Can't find a video but here's the transcript.
      Over the last 24 hours, even those too young to recall the enormous accomplishments and aura of Al Davis’s Raiders of an earlier era have been made aware of Davis’s unique place in the game’s history: coach, GM, commissioner, owner, perpetual litigant and general pain in the assets to the league he constantly challenged and frequently sued — sometimes with good reason, sometimes out of a reflexive combativeness that seemed to know no bounds.

      Al Davis was many things — not all of them admirable. That’s why he was so fascinating, and until recent years, so formidable. For a generation, his Raiders weren’t just committed to excellence, they consistently achieved it and in distinctive fashion as Davis created a sanctuary for misfits and miscreants and let them flourish in an us-versus-the-world atmosphere tinged with cloak-and-dagger paranoia. That approach created the Raider mystique, and then in later years, undermined it.

      Al Davis was born in Massachusetts, grew up in Brooklyn, graduated from Syracuse yet somehow spoke with a vaguely southern drawl, part of what you might call an unusual personal style. He was a progressive, who broke ground with the hiring of Hispanic and African-American coaches, and a high-ranking female executive. But he was also petty, allowing personal vendettas to undercut, and then drive away significant figures like Marcus Allen and Mike Shanahan, while his once great franchise slipped into disarray.

      He was compassionate and generous, and sought no public recognition for his many acts of kindness. If he liked you, he was also great company, but if you got on his bad side, for whatever reason, watch out.

      He was simultaneously a visionary who influenced the game on and off the field, and a throwback, who hung on much too long, perhaps because as he himself acknowledged, he had no real life outside of his family and football.

      Don Shula once said of his old adversary, “when you call Al Davis devious, he considers it a compliment.” For his part, Davis, who probably revered Machiavelli as much as Madden, often said he’d rather be feared than respected or loved. A true appreciation doesn’t ignore that fact, it recognizes it along with all the contradictions and complexities.

      For better and for worse and everything in between, Al Davis was an American original. He deserves to be long remembered, not because he was a model, but because he mattered.

      He was a rebel, a renegade, a Raider…and we will not see his like again.
      It doesn't get any more honest and accurate than that.


      • Good to see all the positive comments. I just always liked the guy. True maverick, football mind, American, and rebel. Shaped the game more than any but a small group of people. RIP, and be in peace, Al!
        A Broncs Tale.


        • who is going to take over now that Al is gone, will it be his son?
          GO BRONCOS AFC Champs!!!


          • Originally posted by duhyaj View Post
            who is going to take over now that Al is gone, will it be his son?



              Wow, I love my team, but don't think I'd get a face tat of any player or coach. Maybe a team logo, but not Pat Bowlen, Coach Shannahan, or Elway, etc.
              What Doesn't Kill You Makes You Stronger


              • Originally posted by redneckrocker View Post

                Wow, I love my team, but don't think I'd get a face tat of any player or coach. Maybe a team logo, but not Pat Bowlen, Coach Shannahan, or Elway, etc.


                • Excellence

                  Al Davis is watching under us.

                  When eulogizing an individual like Davis, it feels disrespectful to not make a wisecrack about his "evil mastermind" persona. That persona is part of his life’s work. To take too high a high road is to defang him, and Davis spent four decades convincing us that he actually had fangs. Heaven may want him, but hell is definitely afraid that he will take over. Davis liked that we thought of him that way.

                  The devious Davis is the one we will remember, not the out-of-touch character of recent years, who probably was not as out-of-touch as jokers like me made him out to be. The Raiders of recent years have been mismanaged, and their football philosophies have been backward-thinking, but they shared those problems with many, many other teams whose owners/executives did not have the benefit of being genuine pioneers. Davis was a better executive than Matt Millen, better than anyone who has floated through the Rams organization besides **** Vermeil. He had been the best football executive in the Bay Area since the Yorks took over. He was no worse than the guys who ran the Cardinals, Bengals, and Browns at various times in the last decade. His scouting department may have atrophied until all that was left was a "best available speedster" reflex, but at least there was a recognizable philosophy at work. Better an outdated idea than no idea, or a jumble of ideas.

                  The Raiders were the last NFL team that had the personality of a small, regional business. There was a time when all of the NFL and AFL teams were essentially midsized community businesses, like big car dealerships or local banks. They still counted on the local Kiwanis club to buy season tickets and still reached out to the community in some meaningful way, not one annual charity event or an August "Fan Appreciation Night." They took on the quirks of both their cities and their owners, so the George Halas Bears had a personality that was different from the Dan Reeves Los Angeles Rams. Now, the Bears’ personality, when it is distinct from other teams at all, is just leftover Halas personality. The teams have been, for many years, just 31 slight variations on the same corporate structure, and then the Raiders.

                  That old-fashioned, do-it-yourself mentality weakened the Raiders on the field over the last decade, but again, at least they were weaklings with charm. When the Rams are bad, they are a bad fast food hamburger, while the Raiders are a strange, overcooked burger with unusual toppings at a small-town diner, something that is at least is recognizable as food that was assembled by a human. The Raiders had all the strengths and weaknesses of a privately-owned concern, like an independent record store downtown. The record store may close on Tuesdays, just because. They may not stock Coldplay, because the guy who runs it thinks only wankers like Coldplay, but there is a whole wall of untouched Jimmy Rodgers LPs. Record Store Guy can’t compete with Amazon, or Best Buy, or iTunes. And frankly, we don’t go to Record Store Guy’s shop anymore. But we want to root for him, and we want him to succeed, in some way that does not require us to buy his merchandise.

                  And that is the Al Davis paradox: we simultaneously liked to make fun of him, found it easy to write columns about his whacked-out decisions, and wished we lived in a world where guys like him could still build a team or rule a league, completely upon the singularity of their cleverness and will. He sounds like a hell of a person to have to work for, but at least you were certain you were working for a person.

                  There have been greater football minds in NFL history, some of them active in the league today, but Davis was more than a football mind. There are not many ground-floor entrepreneurs in the major sports anymore. Vince McMahon is the only one who leaps to mind, though pro wrestling is not really a sport. There could never be a league full of Al Davises, because franchises would bounce all over the place, owners would sue one another, and no one on earth would be crazy enough to take the commissioner job. But if there had not been a few Davis types in the past, like Al Spalding or Eddie Gottlieb, we might not have professional sports in the way we now recognize and enjoy them. Halas, Bert Bell, Bill Veeck, Walter A. Brown: these guys made rules and bent laws, supplied something to consumers who did not know how much they demanded it, and built leagues and empires out of daring ideas.

                  Davis was one of the last of the founding fathers, but he was also the voice of dissent. Football’s Machiavelli, Thomas Paine, and George Carlin in a white track suit. The last of the seat-of-the-pants sports executives. A true maverick, not someone who uses the word as a slogan. It was his football, baby, and nothing was going to take it away from him.

                  My guess is that he made it to heaven before the devil knew he was dead. He was, after all, obsessed with speed.
                  From Footballoutsiders, a short description of Al and the Raiders.

                  I think Ben Tate will be the best back taken in the 2010 draft. (5/3/10)
                  SportsXPicks, check out the Rants and Opinions section


                  • Raiders turn to Madden


                    Updated: October 16, 2011, 12:34 PM ET Source: Raiders

                    As the Oakland Raiders organization transitions after Al Davis' death, the owner's son Mark has been seeking advice and guidance from former coach John Madden, Ron Wolf and Ken Herock, three NFL veterans who all worked at various points for the Raiders, a source tells ESPN NFL Insider Adam Schefter. AFC West blog Williamson's Bill Williamson writes about

                    The Raiders know that they can't talk to and hire the general manager candidates they want during the season, and so until they can, Davis will continue leaning on the men who know the league well, the source told Schefter. Al Davis had previously talked about bringing Madden back to the franchise to help his son run the team, but the Hall of Fame coach told The New York Times last week that Al Davis never actually asked him to return to the organization. Madden told the paper that he had last seen Davis at the Raiders' home game against New England on Oct. 2. "You knew he was having problems but he was better that week than he was the week before," Madden told The Times. "He had trouble speaking and drinking. But it's Al Davis and he'd fight it. His mother lived to be more than 100 and I thought he'd fight and live to be 100."

                    Madden, who told The Times that he spoke to Davis the night before his death, said he considered the combative and mercurial owner "family." "He was my best friend," Madden told The Times. "If I had one call to make, if I needed anything, the call would be to Al Davis. I lost the one-call guy, the mentor, the father, the best friend." Wolf was GM of the Green Bay Packers in the 1990s. Herock worked as a personnel director for three NFL teams, spending seven seasons with Oakland.

                    One of the men recommended to Davis as the Raiders next general manager is the Packers director of football operations, Reggie McKenzie, who has been a key cog in Green Bay's success. But Oakland cannot hire McKenzie during the season.


                    • Death Certificate says Al Davis died of heart failure


                      Death certificate says Al Davis died of heart failure
                      Posted by Evan Silva on October 28, 2011, 10:19 PM EDT

                      According to the San Jose Mercury News, former Raiders owner Al Davis’ death was due to heart failure.

                      Davis’ death certificate states that he died at the Oakland Airport Hilton at 2:45 a.m. on October 8 from congestive heart failure, cardiomyopathy, and ventricular fibrillation. Davis’ heart is believed to have begun to fail just 24 hours before his passing, “likely from five years of living with heart disease.”

                      The document also shows that Davis had throat surgery on October 5 and was suffering from Markel cell carcinoma, a form of skin cancer obtained from sun exposure.

                      Davis was 82 when he died.

                      “Death certificate says Al Davis died of heart failure”