The name Al Davis conjures up many images for football fans. Renegade. Outlaw. Bully. Hero. Savior. But one thing Davis' name has always been synonymous with throughout his fifty years in professional football is the passion for winning.
Davis is eighty one years old, and still in charge of almost every aspect of the Oakland Raider organization. He may look old, but make no mistake this is still Al's show. Many Raiders fans (and I must admit that I have fallen into this group as well from time to time) have voiced concern that Al's decision making (see "Russell, JaMarcus" and/or "Kiffin, Lane") was becoming suspect and that it's possible that the game had passed him by.
But listening to Davis talk about the Raider organization, and the NFL in general, I can't help but feel his passion for winning. Even at his age, Davis is excited for the upcoming season and expecting the Raiders to win a Super Bowl. Some may accuse him of being unrealistic (or worse) but who wouldn't want an owner who wants- no, demands- excellence from his players?
As Davis told Sirius NFL Radio yesterday, the will to win is still the top priority for him.
"The fire that burns brightest in me and my family is the will to win. We just want the Raiders to do great. As you know, I’m 81 years old, but I still can contribute a great deal. We do a great deal for the team, I think we have our stamp on this team. It’s our personnel, it’s our picks, its our want to be great once again, to join the ranks of the elite and get back that No. 1 rating on terms of wins and losses since we come into the league, and to make the National Football League, which is the greatest game which is always played by the greatest players, the greatest coaches, the greatest players, the greatest games, and of course, the greatest fans, than anyone could want."
Al Davis cemented his legacy long ago. His team has won three Super Bowls, he was a major force in the AFL-NFL merger, he turned the Raiders into one of the most recognizable sports franchises on the planet, and he hired the first African-American head coach in the modern era. He has nothing to prove and some would say nothing left to gain by being so intimately involved with the team.
Nothing except winning, which is all Al Davis is about.