Saturday, October 8, 2011

AL DAVIS: THE DARTH VADER OF THE NFL AND VISIONARY

"Time never stops for the great ones"- Al Davis after NFL legend
Bill Walsh passed away.

Great ones or not, time waits for no one. Not for NFL legends, not
for the cross-walker in your town. But when someone like Al
Davis passes away, there should be a way to hit the pause button and
reflect on a person who was a giant in the National Football League.


Al Davis was the Darth Vader of professinal football, a man who
not only owned the Raiders, but coached and was their general manager
at the ripe old age of 33. He designed their signature logo and built
his team into his likeness. A tough, brash, swash-buckling, and never
afraid to buck the establishment, franchise.. He was the the commissioner
of the old AFL and returned to buy  the Raiders and take on
former NFL commissioner Pete Rozelle, whom he filed an anti-trust
lawsuit against and won..

If you missed the Raiders of the mid and late 70's,  then you missed
something if not special, then entirely unique. The team that Davis
put together was a collection of misfits, castoffs, and downright
crazy players. There was John "The Tooz" Matuzak, Ted "The Stork"
Hendricks, Lyle Alzado,  Ken "The Snake" Sistrunk, Otis Sistrunk,
and Jack "The Assassin" Tatum. They loved to party during the week,
then rip your head off on Sunday. The Raiders were the villians, the
team that Amercia loved to hate. Their rivalries with the Steelers,
Dolphins, Vikings, and Patriots were unmatched.


Davis hired a 32-year old assistant coach named John Madden because
he "saw greatness and Madden lived up to it." Davis also hired Jon
Gruden then traded him to Tampa Bay, only to see his former coach
come back to haunt the Raiders in the Super Bowl the following
year.

The Raiders owner was in the league for more than a century. He
coined the prhase, "Commitment to Excellence" and people loved
his statement about the way his defense must wreak havoc on opposing
offenses, "The quarterback must go down and the quarterback
must go down hard." Truly classic. Davis also introduced the
"vertical passing game",  the load and launch attack spearheaded
by the likes of Daryl Lamonica and Jim Plunkett.


In his last few years as owner of the Raiders, Davis had his miscues.
He hired Lane Kiffin and then fired him, calling him a liar and
demonstrating why in a truly weird press conference and power
point presentation. Davis always made it clear who was in charge
and it was his way, or the highway.

Al Davis had an impact on the game that will be felt for a long,
long time. Time stops for no one, life goes on even without the
great ones. But Al Davis had a meaningful time on this planet
and his accomplishments should not be forgotten so soon.

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