POSTING BY JB MADDAWG
“Just win, baby”, a phrase that Al Davis made famous as the controversial owner of The Oakland/Los Angeles/Oakland Raiders during his reign. There was no middle ground with Al, he was loved, he was hated…equally. While many areas of California loved the man dearly, large portions of the United States despised him.
Al Davis became the youngest head coach/general manager in football history at the early age of just 33, in 1962. Just five years later, Davis would purchase his first portion of the Raiders, and under his ownership, would go on to win three Superbowls. Davis did not subscribe to a hands-off ownership role. He owned the franchise and viewed everyone as a simple employee under his banner.
There was no disputing the style of Davis, who could usually be seen at the games, wearing his trademark corded sunglasses and viewing himself as the ultimate general of the game. Head coaches had a short life span under Davis, and it was well-known, if a coach didn’t “just win”, pink slips were imminent. Football favorite John Madden was the only coach that ever seemed to really connect well with Davis on a personal level, inducting Al into the Pro Football Hall of Fame.
Davis had always tried to recruit the bad boys of the NFL, that never seemed to fit anywhere else. Lyle Alzado, Jeff George and Randy Moss were all men that Davis perceived as representatives of his squad. He seemed to always subscribe to a vision of toughness and rule breakers being the poster children for his brand, but off the field there had been several accounts that Al Davis was indeed, the salt of the Earth. It is hard to separate fact from fiction, whether Davis was good, evil or just a nice blend of both.
In the old RCA Dome in Indianapolis, where the NFL rookie combine used to be held, there was a spot that, when in better health, Al Davis occupied. No other coach sat in that stadium seat to watch the showcase of potential talent. Ever. Long time coach Bill Parcells would take a seat slightly back behind Davis, and the two would strategize. Love him or hate him, when all the power brokers yield to Davis over a stadium chair, one can only assume he was at least, respected. We as fans, may never know just why.