Oakland Raiders GM Al Davis Is No Stranger to Legal Matters

Matthew LaChiusaContributor IMarch 30, 2009

ALAMEDA, CA - JANUARY 23:  Oakland Raiders owner Al Davis (R) introduces newly hired head coach Lane Kiffin during a press conference January 23, 2007 in Alameda, California. Kiffin, a 31 year-old offensive coordinator from the University of Southern California, was named as the new head coach to replace Art Shell who was fired after going 2-14 for the season.  (Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)

A boy wonder who turned his back on the commonwealth for control of the kingdom and an egotistic, control freak ruler who is doing everything to destroy a once proud kingdom. Both fight each other's army of legalities in the battlefield of justice.

Sounds like a Shakespearean history play, doesn't it?

Nope. It's Oakland Raiders history.

In the long history of legal battles, Oakland Raiders GM Al Davis has a new victim to sue. He now has Lance Kiffin in his crosshairs as both gear up for a legal battle that will determine whether Davis has to pay the kid for services rendered.

This bodes well for Raiders fans. For every time Davis shifts focus away from football operations to the courtroom, the Raiders find success on the football field.

In 1966, Davis, frustrated by the impending AFL/NFL merger, resigned as the AFL commissioner. He then bought a 10 percent stake in the Raiders and became one of three general partners, along with Wayne Valley and Ed McGah.

Beginning in 1972, Davis ruthlessly attempted to gain control of the Raiders. He drafted a revised partnership agreement that made him the new managing general partner, with near-absolute control over team operations.

McGah signed the agreement. Since two of the team's three general partners had voted in favor of the agreement, it was binding under partnership law of the time. Valley sued to overturn the agreement, but was unsuccessful. Valley sold his interest in 1976.

During this legal battle from 1972 to 1976, the Raiders won six division titles under head coach John Madden, reaching AFC Championship games from 1973 to 1975, winning Super Bowl XI in 1976.

The final year of the Davis legal battle concluded with Valley.

In 1979, Madden retired and the Raiders wallowed in mediocrity. Davis attempted unsuccessfully to have improvements made to Oakland Coliseum. Frustrated, Davis signed a Memorandum of Agreement to move the Raiders from Oakland to LA.

The move, which required three-fourths approval by league owners, was defeated 22–0 (with five owners abstaining). When Davis tried to move the team anyway, he was blocked by an injunction.

In response, Davis not only became an active partner in an antitrust lawsuit filed by the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum, but filed an antitrust lawsuit as well. After the first case was declared a mistrial, in 1982, a second jury found in favor of Davis and the Los Angeles Coliseum, clearing the way for the move.

While Davis was in embroiled in this legal battle from 1980 to 1982, head coach Tom Flores assembled a team that won two Super Bowls (XV & XVIII) during that span.

Soon after Davis’ legal battles ceased in 1982, the Raiders' good fortune began to change. Although the team won in 1983 and made the playoffs the following two seasons, the Raiders wallowed in mediocrity from 1986-89.

With Davis’ full-focus shifted upon the on-field operations during the 1990’s, the Raiders went through some of the more embarrassing moments of the team's history.

The legendary Marcus Allen feud with Davis, the Mike Shanahan coaching debacle, the Todd Marinovich drafting, a 51-3 AFC Championship drubbing, and the untimely firing of Art Schell occurred during this period.

This dark period ended after Davis’ letter of intent to move back to Oakland in 1995 resulted in a later lawsuit when the team sued the NFL for interfering with their negotiations to build a new stadium at Hollywood Park prior to the move.

Davis' lawsuit further contended he had the rights to the Los Angeles market, and thus was entitled to compensation from the league for giving up those rights by moving to Oakland. A jury found in favor of the NFL in 2001, but the verdict was overturned a year later due to alleged juror misconduct.

This was the same year the Raiders made it into Super Bowl XXXVII.

Apart from an out-of-court-ruling in 2005 with the McGah family, and a court dismissal of uniform copyright infringement in 2003, Davis has been free from engaging legal battles since 2003.

Since the Super Bowl XXXVII loss in 2002, the Raiders set a NFL record for the most consecutive losing seasons.

Strategists and History students will claim if one wants to predict an outcome of a present situation, look towards the patterns established in the past.

Is there a direct correlation between Davis being embroiled in legal suits and the Raiders success on the field? Does Davis need to be distracted in order for the team to be winners?

It could be a pattern.

It could be desperate wishing.

It could mean Raiders fans should wish for a long drawn-out legal battle between Lance and Al.

So, just sue, Baby!

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