Al Davis: Honoring the Original Oakland Raider Legend, Happy Belated 82nd Al!

Carl CockerhamSenior Analyst IJuly 7, 2011

Al Davis: Honoring the Original Oakland Raider Legend, Happy Belated 82nd Al!

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    I've heard enough from some so called Raider Fans!

    They say that Oakland Raider owner Al Davis needs to hurry up and die so the Raiders can start winning. Maybe they just need to get a life so Davis can get on with running the franchise he built to our liking.

    Davis has recently endured the roughest seven year stretch in the history of his franchise. But name a franchise doesn't go through tough times with losing seasons.

    Davis has spoiled Raider fans with all the winning the Raiders have done over the decades. So now people say that "he's lost it" when he goes through the same things other owners go through. 

    The only thing that I can say that Davis did that's unforgivable taking the Raiders out of the Bay Area to Hollywood in 1982. But even that had to be forgiven when he brought the team back to it's home in 1995.

    Davis has done and continues to do for his Raiders and the NFL with his sharp as ever mind.

    Turn the page to see why Davis is still on top of his game as we honor his fourth of July birthday.

NFL Impact

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    Most people wouldn't know it but Davis is a big part of why the NFL is what it is today. He was the AFL commissioner when they escalated player salaries and featured wide open, quick striking, exciting offenses.

    The AFL was first to have sideline cameras, miked up players, and more than one booth announcer. This exciting presentation of football led to the AFL being the first to share television revenue.

    The AFL was then able to lure top collegiate even more so, leading to the NFL's desire to merge.  Davis  rightfully thought that the NFL needed the AFL more than vice versa so he wasn't in too much of a hurry to do so.

    Led by Chief owner Lamarr Hunt, the AFL owners met with the NFL, merging with them behind Davis' back.

    Davis would then go back to the Raiders and the NFL would progress to what it is. Keep in mind that the NFL would have had to fold or join the AFL if the other AFL owners didn't sell out.   

NFL Impact

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    Back in the '60s, major, Div. 1 colleges didn't always always recruit black players so they went to black schools. From there, the good ole boy NFL didn't always bring Black players up to their teams.

    But the Davis led AFL was more than glad to bring black players to their league. In the '80s, Davis took it further, hiring Art Shell as head coach, making him the first Black head coach in NFL history in 1989

    Therefore, you can say that Davis created opportunities for players that otherwise wouldn't get opportunities. This is important because people didn't think that blacks had the intellectual capacity to be an NFL head coach back then. 

    I couldn't help but think of Davis when Tony Dungy of Indianapolis Colts beat fellow Black head coach Lovie Smith of the Chicago Bears in Super Bowl 41.

    Davis' greatest trait was his willingness to give opportunities to not only Blacks but others that wouldn't have gotten such opportunities. Tom Flores was the first Hispanic quarterback and head coach in the history of the NFL.

    If Davis thinks you can help him win, you'll get a shot.

    Around 65 percent of NFL players are Black these days and Davis is a big reason for that.

     

Raider Impact

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    The Oakland Raiders came to be in 1960 to three losing seasons until Davis took over as head coach in 1963. He would then take the Raiders to the first winning record in franchise history at 10-4 in his first year.

    Davis has since become the Raiders' general managing partner and he's still active in football operations. In his time with the Raiders, they have won 15 division titles, five conference championships, and three Super Bowls.

    I'm calling the 1967 team conference even the NFL wasn't fully merged yet then.

    The Raiders just ended a streak of seven losing season in a row.

    In the 39 previous years of Raider Football, there had only been seven losing seasons.

      

Raider Creation

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    This is part of why I believe Davis is the best owner in the history of sports.

    When you look at most of the owners in sports, they just bought a team that already had it's design. Aside from turning the Raiders into a winning organization, he created a renegade, outcast image that is adored globally.

    The Yankees won and had their pen stripes long before George Steinbrenner, who shares a birthday with Davis,  bought the team in 1973. Jerry Buss bought the Lakers in 1979, long after the Lakers' tradition and design was born.

    Davis took a team that was three years old, turned it into a winner, and gave it an identity and a mystique, changing the uniform to the silver and black that it is today. Franchises like the Cowboy's, Steelers, Patriots and Packers are as American as apple pie.

    Davis saw that image, loves to be different, and had to be compelled to be the anti-America's team. The Raiders then became gangsta, leading to the global appeal they have. 

    Even when they lose the Raiders are huge around the world in apparel sales.

Raider Blueprint: Height, Weight, and Speed

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    Al Davis has always been a height, weight and speed guy.

    That is the basis on which he constructed nearly all of his Raider football teams and it works. From Gene Upshaw, Bob Brown, Art Shell, Bo Jackson and Cliff Branch to Lincoln Kennedy, Bruce Campbell, Darren McFadden and Jacoby Ford, Davis will always look for the biggest, strongest, fastest men he can find.

    Big hitters from Jack Tatum, Matt Millen and George Atkinson to Eddie Anderson, Rolando McClain and Mike Mitchell are also welcome. Davis wanted to create a team that you were going to be scared of when you had to face them.

    Either you were scarred of being hit hard, drove back, or having someone run by you.

    The anxiety level of opposing teams would always be high.

    That's intmidation!

Raider Philosophy Offense

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    The mainstream media knows the Raiders as a power run and throw the ball deep team. What people don't realize is that Davis is a West Coast offense guy that comes from the Sid Gilllman coaching tree.

    Gillman is the inventor of the West Coast offense and every NFL team runs some version of it these days. Davis just so happened to choose the more vertical version of the West Coast offense.

    But Davis was among the first to use backs and tight ends as regular targets in the passing game. But the deep ball off the play action, coming from a good running game is the feature of Davis' version of the west coast offense.

    "Pressure football" is what Davis calls it and opposing defenses will be so in fear of the deep ball, the tight ends and backs can catch the ball underneath. Or the Raiders can simply run the ball with the safeties 20 yards back and back pedaling.

    Then when the defense get's tired of getting gutted with the running game and safeties cheat up, the Raiders go deep. There's really no way to stop and offense like this when the personnel and design of the offense is right.

    Pick your poison!

Raider Philosophy: Defense

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    Davis said a long time ago, "The quarterback must go down and he must go down hard." This has always been a quarterback driven league so Davis' philosophy has always been to either rattle him or knock him out.

    But Davis chose to do so by bringing in talent on the defensive line instead of depending on blitz packages. From Ben Davidson to Richard Seymour, the talent on the defensive line has usually been great for the Raiders.

    Then the corners go from Willie Brown and Skip Thomas to Lester Hayes and Mike Haynes to Stanford Routt and Nnamdi Asomugha. With these types of cornerback tandems, simple man coverage will do for Davis and his Raiders as there's no defense to read, your receivers are just plain covered.

    There's no game plan to catch them in blitzes and coverages.

    You just have to outplay the Raiders. 

Equals Excitement

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    The some of the Davis parts equals excitement for Raider fans.

    The excitement at a Raider game begins when they come out of the tunnel for warm ups. The size of the Raider teams are exciting for Raider fans to see because they already know what these massive beasts will do later.

    Then the excitement grows when the quarterback goes down hard or a opposing receiver gets his helmet blasted off by a hard hit ala Tatum. Seeing volatile players like Seymour and Lyle Alzado get into confrontations add to it.

    That's gangsta!

    Then you have the speed of the Raiders on offense leading to a big play for a touchdown at any time. This is why you can't go to concession stands during the game or leave if you think the Raiders have lost the game already.

    See the Heidi Bowl.

Innovations

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    I already talked about the innovations Davis made in the old AFL.

    He was also good at identifying a talent or skill and placing it.

    Many laughed when Davis took Upshaw, a huge, fast collegiate tackle and turned him into a guard. The Raider sweep and off-tackle power flourished with Upshaw leading running backs through the hole and the Raiders laughed last.

    Hayes was a pretty fast linebacker with good feet and coverage skills in college. Davis saw that and wanted to use Hayes' physicality as a nasty bump and run corner.

    Todd Christensen was switched from fullback to become a greatest Raider tight end.

    "That was a long time ago!"

    Oh yeah? 

    In 2003, Asomugha was a big, fast free safety coming out of college and Davis turned him into the best corner in the NFL. In 2008, Marcel Reese was a 230 pound receiver that ran a 4.4 40-yard dash in college.

    A few pounds later, he's a vertical threat as a fullback for the Raiders.

    Don't tell me he does't have it anymore!

Overview

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    In my opinion, Davis is the Godfather of this football league they call the NFL. The other NFL owners around the league have their nerve locking the players out over money.

    The majority of the current owners either inherited a team or just bought one with the money they had. Davis is the current NFL owner that did the most for the game, yet he believes in paying players the most.

    He seems to be the only one that realizes that no one is going to see him play. But he of all owners has created in image, mystique, and exciting style of play that football fans the world over love to see.

    His silver and black uniforms have to be the best in pro sports!.

    Thank you for all that you have created in the game of football, especially the Raiders. Because of you, I have some of the greatest memories a football fan could ever have!

    Happy belated 82nd B-day!

    May you live to see your latest creation reach the top!