Tribute to Al Davis
Age spares no man, no warrior. On October 8, 2011, Al Davis was lost to the Raider family and NFL community. Some of the final video and photography depict a defiant chieftain hobbled by a walker, a flock of thinned out hair, an ulcer of sorts on his forehead. He was, after all, just a man. Yet somehow, we thought he would always be here to lead us. We remember Al Davis not for one or two games but for decades of greatness. His passion and leadership touched not only the game of football but American culture and civil rights.
Davis hired the NFL’s first Hispanic head coach in 1979 (Tom Flores) and its first African American head coach in 1989 (Art Shell) because they were the best man for the job. He also developed Amy Trask into the NFL’s first and only female CEO.
At age 36, Al Davis became Commissioner of the upstart AFL and was a driving force behind the AFL-NFL merger. The NFL, as most people know it today, played its first games in 1970. Davis is the only person in NFL history to be a coach, an owner, a general manager, and a league commissioner. The Raiders have won 3 Super Bowls and 15 division titles. He was legendary, iconic, and even in bad times seemed immortal. Yet he was only a man. Al Davis (1929 – 2011).