Predicting Al Davis' Biopic

Nick Kostos@@thekostosContributor IJune 5, 2013

3 Dec 2000:  A close up of Owner Al Davis of the Oakland Raiders as he smiles and looks on during the game against the Pittsburgh Steelers at the Three Rivers Stadium in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.  The Steelers defeated the Raiders 21-20.Mandatory Credit: Tom Pidgeon  /Allsport
Tom Pidgeon/Getty Images

The late, great Al Davis passed away on October 8, 2011, but his impact on the National Football League, its teams and fanbases will never be forgotten.

The former owner of the Oakland Raiders was charismatic beyond belief, combining the gumption and slyness of a kid from Brooklyn with the glitz and glamour of California self-promotion.

If there were ever a figure in football history that deserved to be profiled by Hollywood with his own biopic, you could certainly argue that Davis would be that man.

So, if there were a biopic made on the life and career of Davis, what would the title be? Who would play Davis? What would the significant plotlines be?


The Title

This is an easy decision.

Davis coined a number of terrific phrases throughout his career in the AFL and NFL: Pride and poise. The excellence of the Raiders. Commitment to excellence. Once a Raider, always a Raider.

But none has the long-lasting effect or resonates with fans quite like the title of his biography by Murray Olderman.

"Just win, baby."

It's a statement that perfectly encapsulates what Davis' Raiders were all about. The objective was to win, and win at all costs.

It's a statement both profound and elementary, and its impact in pop culture goes well beyond the gridiron, as the rapper Snoop Dogg proclaimed in a recent song "Al Davis said it best, just win baby, win!"

There is no question that the title of the Al Davis biopic would be "Just Win, Baby."


The Cast

Davis, who lived to the age of 82, would need a few actors to play him throughout his long, storied life.

For his younger days, Michael Pitt of Boardwalk Empire fame would make a great choice. His slicked-back hair evokes memories of Davis, and he's a very capable actor.

The middle-aged Davis, the one whose Raiders ran roughshod over the AFL and NFL, would be played be Kevin Spacey, who has the emotional range and complexity needed to nail this particular role.

And the elder Davis would be played by Christopher Walken, which almost seems too perfect to be true.

As for the rest of the cast:

Legendary coach John Madden would be played by John Goodman. He is the kind of affable actor who would capture Madden's emotions and humor.

Tom Flores, who won two Super Bowls as Raiders coach, would be played by Andy Garcia.

Jon Gruden, who nearly coached the Raiders to a Super Bowl and beat them in Davis' last trip to one in Super Bowl XXXVII, would play himself. What, you don't think Gruden could pull that off? He would be tremendous.

Now, every movie needs a villain, and while some would argue that Davis was actually the "bad guy" in his lawsuits and fights against the NFL, former NFL commissioner Pete Rozelle would slot into the role in this Davis biopic. James Cromwell possesses the range needed to portray Rozelle.

Go ahead and have some fun in the comments section with the rest of the cast. Who would play Ken Stabler? How about Jim Plunkett, or another Raider great?


The director

If you think about it, there's only one choice for the director.

Francis Ford Coppola.

The 74-year old Coppola, best known for directing The Godfather and The Godfather II, still is involved in making movies, and given his success with biopics (Patton, anyone?), this is a natural choice.

Plus, if there's one NFL personality that fits the role of "The Godfather." it's got to be Davis. 


The major plot lines

The biopic would cover Davis' early life in Brooklyn, his time at Syracuse, and how he broke into coaching, specifically at The Citadel and USC. These parts would be played by Pitt.

Then, his time with the Chargers, his first stint with the Raiders, and his tenure as commissioner of the AFL, where he attempted to go head-to-head with the NFL before being undermined by his fellow owners, forcing a merger.

Spacey would take it from there, as Davis' reign as Raiders owner in the 70's and 80's would be the crux of the biopic. His three Super Bowl wins (XI, XV, XVIII) would be covered in great detail, as well as his infamous feud with Rozelle and the NFL, and eventually moving the team to Los Angeles.

And, finally, the last of his years with the Raiders, their loss to the Buccaneers and Gruden in Super Bowl XXXVII and the downfall of the team in the 00's, where Walken would take over.


"Just Win, Baby!"

Davis was as colorful and charismatic a figure as there has ever or will ever be in the history of the NFL. 

He deserves his own biopic, and it would be a major success if cast like this.

Agree or disagree with my casting? Sound off in the comments below.

And remember, more than anything else:

Just win, baby.


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