It must be said if that there has ever been a representative in the NFL who personified what it means to be gridiron tough; Al Davis would be at the top of the list. For over half a century Al Davis was the Oakland Raiders. He would serve as Head Coach, General Manager and then Owner and over see a franchise that would become known as one of the most competitive in NFL History. In those 52 years Oakland would be the cream that rose to the top displaying no less than 28 winning seasons. At one point they would have a winning season for 16 years straight (1965-1980). In 34 of the 52 seasons they would hold a record of at least .500. In addition, they would win 3 World Championships and the Al Davis motto “Just Win Baby” will forever be the battle cry of this extremely successful franchise. With Al no longer on the sidelines, the team will need strong support from its fans. Buy your Raiders tickets now!
Al Davis was born on July 4, 1929 in Brockton, Massachusetts, although he would spend most of his younger years growing up in Brooklyn, New York. He would attend Syracuse University and began his coaching career soon after at Adelphi College. After a decade of coaching in college he began his classic career as an offensive ends coach for the Los Angeles/San Diego Chargers in the American Football League until 1962. In 1963 the ownership took a chance on 33 year old Al Davis and made him the head coach and general manager of the franchise. He would be the youngest man in the history of the pro football to ever be hired into those positions.
From that point on Al Davis would leave his mark on the NFL and create an image that reflected his eagerness to be competitive and too just win baby. His trademark slicked back hair and dark sunglasses would define his persona for the next half century. In his first season with the team it went 10-4 and achieved their first winning season as a franchise. In 1966 took the position as Commissioner of the American Football League, which at that time was separate from the NFL. In 1970 the two leagues would merge and the NFC and AFC were born.
In 1967 Al Davis returned as a 10% partner. Davis would also be the Head of Football Operations. In 1969 John Madden became the Head Coach and the team would achieve 6 division titles in the next decade. In 1972, Al Davis became the managing general partner of the Raiders and never looked back. He would continue to retain the position of general manager of his team for the next 4 decades. In 1992 Al Davis became an inductee into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in Canton, Ohio.
His belief was simple; once a Raider, always a Raider and his generosity to his team and former players was unprecedented. From 1982-1994 he moved the team to Los Angeles returning in 1995. The team would suffer 8 losing seasons in a row from 2003-2010. On October 8, 2011, 4 weeks into this NFL season, with the Raiders holding a 2-2 record in the AFC West, Al Davis passed away at the age of 82. At his death Davis owner 67% controlling interest in the organization and that interest passed on to his wife Carol and his only son Mark. The Al Davis legacy was over, but will not be soon forgotten. He had done things his way and in the process established the Oakland Raiders as one of the most competitive teams to ever perform on the gridiron and if you listen close to the wind in Oakland don’t be surprised if you hear the words, “Just Win, Baby” for many years to come.