Al Davis’ Tenacity As Commissioner, Ruthlessness As Owner, Vision As Coach Made Him One of a Kind


Al Davis' Tenacity As Commissioner, Ruthlessness As Owner, Vision As Coach Made Him One of a Kind The great ones aren't afraid of criticism or fallout. Al Davis, the ferociously aggressive owner of the Raiders, believed in what he knew, his ideals and his way of conducting business.

He didn't care about the other stuff. That's what made Davis so successful, and it's why he'll be tremendously missed by those in the game that he did so much to advance.

Davis, who died Saturday at the age of 82, was the only person to ever be an owner, commissioner (AFL) and head coach.

He begrudgingly left his post as the Raiders' head coach to commission the AFL for three months in 1966. In that short time, he built up the league as a power that threatened the NFL monopoly, and he believed the AFL would quickly overtake the country's most powerful football league. 

Because the NFL feared Davis' ideas, the league's owners pushed to merge with the AFL. Though Davis hated the idea and resigned as commissioner because of it, he has been given an immense amount of credit for fusing the leagues together.

Davis was an offensive genius, running the Raiders' system for decades, even from his perch as the owner. While Bill Belichick interviewed for the Raiders' head coaching job in 1998, the noted defensive guru asked Davis if the process was a waste of time because he figured Davis would hire an offensive-minded coach. Of course, that's what happened, as Davis went with Jon Gruden.

Davis was an integrator, too. He was the first owner to hire an African-American head coach (Art Shell), a Hispanic head coach (Tom Flores) and a woman as chief executive (Amy Trask). For that, he was much like the Red Auerbach of the NFL.

Davis was fearless. He moved the Raiders from Oakland to Los Angeles and back again, and he sued the NFL's owners each time for the right to do so. He understood how to get what he wanted, and he didn't care if he painted himself in a negative light because of it.

Davis is a Hall of Famer and a three-time Super Bowl champion. He presented a record nine inductees into the Pro Football Hall of Fame, where he was also inducted in 1992. Davis also created Bill Walsh and John Madden, and Davis' Raiders went to four Super Bowls with four different quarterbacks and four different head coaches.

There was no one like Al Davis, and he made sure it would always be that way.

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