Al Davis' Risk-Taking is Paying Off
Great men often make decisions that are controversial. They see farther and deeper.
Al Davis is described by many as a risk-taker. There is nothing wrong with that description. Davis just needs someone around him who knows risk analysis and risk management. Apparently, some of those around him are lacking those skills.
The ability to take risks, and push performance to a phenomenal level is a gift that is probably innate.
Once in Davis' career, he had the almost perfect blend of talent and of others who were risk takers. Those were the years when everything worked well for the Oakland Raiders.
Although some people tag Davis as a risk-taker, I believe he may be more of a type who "pushes the envelope."
This means Davis may be thinking in the following way. Be patient and simply read this definition, remembering that our readership is at all levels:
"The envelope here isn't the container for letters, but the mathematical envelope, which is defined as 'the locus of the ultimate intersections of consecutive curves.' In a two-dimensional example, the set of lines described by the various positions of a ladder sliding down a wall forms an envelope...in this case, an arc, gently curving away from the intersection of the wall and floor. Inside that envelope you will be hit by the ladder; outside you won't.
"(Note for the mathematically inclined: it might seem intuitive that the centre point of the ladder would follow that same arc. In fact it describes a circle centred around the origin.)"
This concept was developed in the military. It means that some decisions will keep you in a safe place, while others, although somewhat risky, will take you to a phenomenally successful and rewarding new place. This type of thinking can work in professional football.
Now, many of you may know that Davis was a member of the US Army and that he also worked at The Citadel, a military academy.
That certainly has flavored his personality to take risks, and to be fiercely competitive.
As a former military man, he knows the importance of physical fitness, "thinking on the spot," and the phrase that I learned at the US Military Academy, "to learn how to learn."
Davis is trying to push the envelope, and to take the Oakland Raiders to the edge, to the limit, and to new dimensions.
His problem: Where are the coaches and players who have that military persona and who can give him what he wants, a winning team?
According to a New York newspaper, there was a quartet of strength and talent who gave Davis what he needed and wanted.
George Blanda had what Davis wanted and needed. Blanda had longevity, fortitude, strength, smarts and more.
Darrlye Lamonica had the arm, and he was called "The Mad Bomber." Note that he was not called the "Bomber" but rather "The Mad Bomber." The word "mad" emphasizes, I believe, the passion and force he used when he played professional football.
Fred Biletnikoff was raised by parents who established themselves in America during the Russian Civil War. Can you imagine the powerful counsel of those Russian emigrants in guiding and raising their son?
Warren Wells had the nickname "The War Horse" in college and in professional football. He, too, was a military man who was stationed in Fairbanks, Alaska. This location has six months of darkness and six months of sunlight.
Can you imagine doing your tour of duty in the US Army, in an environment like the extremely cold, dark and isolated location of Alaska?
He came back to the NFL and to the Oakland Raiders with a powerful drive and talent to endure, have speed, have the agility, passion and determination to catch and hold on to the football, and to gallop to the end zone.
So, when the New York newspaper cited that Davis wants the type of guys he had during the Blanda-Lamonica-Wells-Biletnikoff days, the writer recognized the phenomenal combination of strength, drive and talent of that historic quartet in the midst of the Oakland Raiders.
Can the Raiders have that type of combination again? Yes, if the presence of the youthful players on the Oakland Raiders represents a group of people who have had the discipline and drive of a military experience, the passion of a child whose parents sought freedom and opportunity in America and the strength and focus of men who wanted to rise above the social and cultural limitations of America in the '60s.
That's a tall order. If those qualities can not come to the team naturally, then the coaches must develop those qualities during training.
Yes, Davis is described as a risk-taker and in his era of glory, he was flanked and surrounded by men who were driven with a powerful purpose that transcended the playing field.
So, many of those men who flanked Davis were risk-takers. The problem with taking risk is that "you win some, you lose some." But, the exhilaration of winning outshines the discomfort of losing.
Take your risk, Al Davis.