5 Most Influential Raiders: #1 Al Davis

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Whether you became a fan when the Raiders moved to Las Vegas or you’ve been a fan since day one, there is something everyone can agree on: Al Davis is the most influential member of the Raiders organization. Al Davis was known for being a trailblazer in the NFL, but he was much more than that for Raiders fans.

Al Davis’ Extraordinary Career in Football

After serving as an assistant coach for years, Davis finally joined the Raiders in 1963. From 1963 to 1965, Davis served as head coach of the Raiders. In his first year as head coach, he was awarded AFL Coach of the Year. As Head Coach, Davis had a record of 23-16-3. Davis was born for football, and his time as head coach was proof. 

In 1966, at 36 years old, Al Davis became commissioner of the AFL. Davis and the league knew he was perfect for this job because of his trailblazing ways and ability to never stand down. Within two months of becoming commissioner, the NFL and AFL decided to merge. In the end, this cost Davis the commissioner job. He was not going to do a job that compromised his values.

From 1966 to 1971, Davis served as part-owner of the Oakland Raiders. In 1972, Davis became the primary owner of the organization. Davis served as owner and general manager for the rest of his life.

Under the ownership of Davis, the Raiders became one of the most well-known and successful teams in the National Football League. The Raiders were the team that the rest of the league feared. The NFL knew the Raiders were going to dominate the regular season and make a deep playoff run, and that was partially thanks to Al Davis.

Al Davis went on to lead the Raiders to three Super Bowl titles.

In 1992, Al Davis was selected to the Pro Football Hall of Fame. A title well-deserved for a man that changed the league. Davis was presented during the ceremony by #2 on our list, John Madden.

Al Davis: The Trailblazer

When you think of Al Davis, it is easy to get caught thinking about the football aspect of his life, but Al Davis’ role stretched far outside football. Al Davis was known league-wide for his ability to push the envelope.

Davis was widely known for his activity in civil rights. Al Davis refused to allow his team to play in any city where Black and white players had to stay in different hotels. Davis would not let his team fall prey to segregation, and his words were followed up with actions.

Al Davis was the first person to hire an African American coach in Art Shell. He was the first person to hire a female executive, Amy Trask. Davis also hired the second Latino head coach in the league, Tom Flores. Al never saw boundaries and was only focused on hiring the best team for his organization, regardless of what the rest of the league thought.

Amongst his players, Davis was known as one of the most demanding but most caring men they knew. Players have long told the stories of Al Davis, encouraging them to spend time with their families and do things they enjoy. Davis brought players to the Raiders organization that may have had tainted reputations elsewhere. He was not concerned about what the players had done in the past or what their reputation was. Davis wanted to give players a home and a chance to play football their way. After all, no one could tell a Raider what to do.

The impact Al Davis had on his players is impossible to put into words. Nine players chose Davis to present them at their Hall of Fame ceremony. The privilege to present nine players is a record to this day. Coaches and players alike still welcome the chance to talk about Al Davis whenever they can.

Al Davis passed away in October of 2011.

We could talk for days about Al Davis and the impact he had on the Raiders organization, but the truth is, it will never be enough. There will never be the right words to describe what Davis did for football or his team. His legacy will live on forever. As the Raiders push toward their fourth Super Bowl title, Davis would remind us that the most important rule in football is to win.

As the Raiders begin their season tonight and light the Al Davis Memorial Torch, we will remember Al for all he did. Players, coaches, and executives alike are sure to share their stories of Al and how he changed their life. Raider Nation will never forget Al. For the opportunities he gave, the tough love he shared, and the “Just Win, Baby” mindset he possessed, we honor him. Today and every day, we remember Al as the most influential Raider of all time.

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