The NFL world lost a pioneer early this morning with the passing of Oakland Raiders' owner Al Davis. His contributions to the NFL are well known and he made fantastic decisions over the course of his Oakland Raiders career.
Throughout his tenure, Davis was known as one of the most influential and outspoken individuals in the entire league. Without him, the NFL would be a very different place.
We could literally spend all day taking about the good decisions that Al Davis made, but here are the five best decisions of his Oakland Raiders career.
Before Rich Gannon was signed by Al Davis and the Oakland Raiders, he was not a very well-known NFL player.
However, after Gannon moved to Oakland in 1999, he exploded onto the scene and established himself as one of the best quarterbacks in the league. He was selected to four straight Pro Bowls and even took home the MVP Award during the 2002 season.
In that same season, Gannon led the Raiders to the Super Bowl where they eventually lost to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
Davis was known for taking risks during free agency, but this was a fantastic move as Gannon become the face of the franchise at the beginning of the 21st century.
Gene Upshaw is known as one of the best offensive lineman in the history of the NFL.
His list of accomplishments during his playing career is rather long. He is a member of the Hall of Fame and was also voted to the NFL 75th Anniversary All-Time Team.
Al Davis has been known to take some risks during the NFL Draft (see JaMarcus Russell), but drafting Upshaw, who was the anchor of numerous championship teams, was a fantastic move.
Had Al Davis not taken a chance on a 32-year-old John Madden, the NFL could be a very different place than it is right now.
After spending one year as linebacker coach for the Oakland Raiders, Madden was named head coach by Davis the following season. Madden would go on to post a 103-32-7 regular season record over the course of his 10 seasons.
Madden would lead the Raiders to a division crown in seven of those seasons and finally won the Super Bowl during the 1976 season.
Not only is Madden one of the better known coaches in Oakland's history, he is also one of their best.
When Al Davis hired Art Shell as head coach of the Oakland Raiders, tidal waves were felt throughout the entire NFL.
This was the first time that there was a black head coach in the history of the NFL. It was an extremely bold move by Davis, but it paved the way for other black head coaches.
There are currently seven black head coaches in the NFL right now and if Al Davis hadn't hired Art Shell, who knows how many there would be.
The move by Al Davis to pack up the Oakland Raiders and relocate them in Los Angeles in 1982 was one of the most controversial moves of his career as owner.
It wouldn't be until 1995 that Davis finally moved the team back to Oakland and that decision was his greatest decision in his career. To try and imagine the Raiders anywhere else than Oakland is nearly impossible.
This is a team with one of the most loyal fan bases in the entire NFL and they absolutely deserved getting their franchise back.