Pro football lost one of its all time largest personalities today as Oakland Raiders owner Al Davis passed away at the age of 82. The team’s website states they will issue a statement later on Saturday with more detail.
Davis was once among the most powerful owners in NFL football. He had enough clout to take on former Commissioner Pete Rozelle, and he often did. Davis had no problem wielding his juice by utilizing his high powered legal team. Davis won three Super Bowls, but his biggest victory came off-the-field, when a six-person jury sided with the Raiders in their anti-trust suit against the National Football League.
The verdict when all the way to the Supreme Court, who through out the case giving the Raiders legal clearance to move to Los Angeles without approval by the NFL owners.
It was a landmark case, and one of the biggest all-time power plays by an owner in any of the major sports.
It embodied the swagger on bravado of Davis, who although abrasive and polarizing to some, was an effective, and powerful leader to many. He will be forever synonymous with the Raider franchise, as he coined the two famous Raider slogans “commitment to excellence” and “just win, baby.”
Had the Raiders been more relevant, and won more games the last decade or so, Davis might be called a football version of George Steinbrenner. For more on Davis, and the Raiders during the Davis era, see the HBO documentary “Rebels of Oakland” and ESPN 30 for 30 “Straight Outta L.A.” I highly recommend both.
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