This morning I got a call from my friend who is in Denver for the Chargers game with his father. As is common with breaking NFL landscape altering news of this sort, I was still asleep when he called. This morning's wake-up call was to inform me that Al Davis passed had away at the age of 82.
Say what you want about the man (we all have), but the fact remains that he was great for football. Follow me after the jump for a look at Al Davis.
Davis frist professional football experience was as the Los Angeles/San Diego Chargers offensive coordinator from 1960-1962. In 1962, he became the head coach of the Oakland Raiders.
In 1966, Al Davis left the Raiders to became commissioner of the American Football League. Believe it or not, there was a time when he was looking out for the Denver Broncos best interests. It was under his leadership that the player war escalated to such a point that the two leagues finally merged -- without Davis' knowledge or support. He genuinely believed the the American Football League was and could remain a superior league to the NFL. It's worth noting that the AFL logo appears on all three of the Raiders Super Bowl rings, a testament to Davis' belief in the AFL.
Furious over the AFL-NFL merger, Davis resigned as commissioner and bought a stake in the Raiders. He was named Head of Football Operations and it's quite possible that was when Raiders Football as we know it was born. It was under his stewardship that the Raiders won Super Bowls XI, XV, and XVIII. If you want to know more about the Raiders team performance under leadership or the complicated nature in which he acquired sole ownership of the Raiders, that information is out there and easy to obtain.
I'm also not all that excited to go in depth into the lawsuits and conspiracy theories that Davis initiated over the years, but they did serve an important role. He trusted nobody and asked the tough questions that kept people honest (and harassed in many cases).
He died this morning at the age of 82.
Broncos fans have always been the class of the league. Let's keep the discussion respectful. RIP Al Davis.
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