2 minute read

Al Davis - Death And A Legacy

Famous Sports StarsFootballAl Davis Biography - Growing Up, Davis And The Afl, The Black And Silver, The Glory Years, Chronology

Death and a Legacy

Throughout the turmoil and the rumors of relocation, Davis has remained an intriguing figure. His obsession with death and his nearly supernatural record of reviving loved ones the medicine had given up on, only reinforces this image. In 1979, when his wife went into cardiac arrest and eventually a coma, her doctors told him that she would be a vegetable if she even woke up at all. Davis, unconvinced, stayed by her bed around the clock and seemingly willed her back to life in less than a week and a half.

Awards and Accomplishments

1963 Named AFL's Coach of the Year
1966 Named AFL's commissioner
1977 Wins first Super Bowl
1977 Named NFL's Executive of the Year
1980 Wins second Super Bowl
1984 Wins third Super Bowl
1992 Inducted into Pro Football Hall of Fame

Lord of the Rings

For an owner, Davis has always been strangely considerate of labor. He flew former Raiders to Super Bowl games, back when the team was in them, and continues to fly former players to home games throughout the season. Whenever a Raider is inducted into the Hall of Fame—there have been six, and they have all asked for Davis to present them—he arranges for former teammates to be on hand. One former Raider, long since traded away, got into trouble with drugs, and Davis secretly financed his rehabilitation. And, said [Gene] Upshaw, "If a player passes away, like Dan Birdwell did in 1978, he flies us all in for the funeral…."

[He] defers as much acclaim as possible to the players. He rarely goes to awards banquets for fear of denying the players their proper due. The gesture occasionally backfires. He got some heat in 1983 when he stiffed the Los Angeles Press Club; friends say he was just being careful not to steal attention away from the team.

When Upshaw and Davis visited Irwindale, Calif., to see one of several proposed sites for a new Raider stadium, Upshaw asked if it would be named Al Davis Stadium. Davis was surprised at the suggestion. "Not in a million years," he said, adding that the hall of fame he intends to build with the stadium will be devoted entirely to players.

Source: Richard Hoffer, Sports Illustrated, December 11, 1989, p. 104.

A mythic figure in the NFL, Davis's pompadour and white Raiders jump suit doesn't instill fear in his opponents the way it did in his Raider glory days. It isn't that he has become any less radical but he is no longer alone on the frontier, owners like Jerry Jones and Daniel Snyder have adopted Davis's hands on approach, and in the process made him seem more like the old guard he spent his career battling. His teams, however, are still the result of instinctive scouting and discarded players and remain fiercely loyal to the black and silver.

Additional topics