A Nation Loses its Leader
By Eric Thurow posted on Saturday, October 8, 2011 @ 8:51 PM - (Press Release)
Today, the sports community lost a true legend and pioneer of a game, the game of professional football. Al Davis was the principal owner of the Oakland Raiders of the National Football League (NFL). Al passed away earlier today in his Oakland, California home. A cause of death has yet to be released.
Allen "Al" Davis was born in Brockton, Massachusetts on July 4, 1929 to a wealthy family. He spent his childhood in Brooklyn where he attended Erasmus Hall High School. After high school, Davis would attend Wittenberg University, a private four-year liberal arts school in Springfield, Ohio; and later attend Syracuse University, a private research university in Syracuse, New York, where he earned a degree in English.
Early Coaching Years
At the age of 24, Davis became an assistant coach with the Baltimore Colts. He would later be an assistant at The Citadel and soon thereafter with University of Southern California (USC). In 1960, Davis would join the Los Angeles Chargers of the newly formed American Football League (AFL). This league was a start-up with 8 teams and would go head to head with the already established National Football League (NFL). After only 3 years in the AFL, Davis would be hired by the Oakland Raiders and became the youngest general manager-head coach in professional football history at the age of 34. Davis would eventually by into the failing franchise and become the general managing partner, a position he would hold until his passing earlier today.
Early Ownership Years
In 1966, Davis bought a 10% stake in the Oakland Raiders. In the same year, he also became the commissioner of the American Football League (AFL). Davis would play a key part in the AFL's growing emergence of the league by going after already established players in the NFL. Attempting to establish an AFL supremacy, Davis would seek such players as quarterbacks John Brodie and Roman Gabriel.
AFL - NFL Merger
Even-though he was first opposed to a possible merger of the two leagues, the other owners of the AFL, led by Kansas City's Lamar Hunt agreed that working together was in the best interest for both the AFL and NFL. Soon thereafter, a common draft was held and the first super bowl was held following the 1966 season. The two leagues were finally fully merged in 1970. But the NFL's commissioner Pete Rozelle would remain as the commissioner, and not Al Davis, who really wanted the job.
After not getting the commissioner role with the NFL, Davis would go back to the Oakland Raiders and lead them to Super Bowl victories first in 1976 and then later in 1980 and 1983. The championship in 1983 would not be of one for Oakland, but for Los Angeles. As Davis would move the organization to the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum in 1982, despite Commissioner Rozelle's disapproval. Davis and Rozelle would begin their battles in the 80s. And throughout their years in L.A., Davis would handed over many lawsuits by the NFL. Starting in 1980, Davis attempted to move the Raiders to Los Angeles but was blocked by a court injunction. Davis filed an antitrust lawsuit against the NFL. In June 1982, a federal district court ruled in Davis' favor and the team officially relocated to Los Angeles for the 1982 NFL season. The organizations would remain in L.A. throughout the 80s and into the 90s until 1995.
In 1995, Davis would bring the Raiders back to the city in the east bay, Oakland. The move back to Oakland was in affect to the league accused of sabotaging Raiders' efforts in building a new stadium in Inglewood's Hollywood Park. Davis would once again make a lawsuit claim in the mid-90s claiming the Raiders had the exclusive rights to the Los Angeles market, even-though the team was in Oakland. Davis lost the lawsuit.
In 2002, the Raiders would return to a dominating state in the AFC, American Football Conference. After a 19 year absence, the Raiders would get back to the Super Bowl. This would seem to be the end of a proud Raiders dominance. As the longevity of the Al Davis would begin to slip. Unwilling to let go of rings, Al would have his imprint on this organization until his death. Being a true "Raid-uh", Davis did bleed silver and black. Davis will be truly missed not only by the players, coaches, and the fans of the Raiders, but by the sports community in general and more importantly, his family.