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Al Davis Stories

Al Davis Stories

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Published by: FballGuru on May 25, 2013
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 Al Davis: a footballmaverick remembered
During his many years as the coach and chief executive of the Oakland Raiders, Al Davis had onesimply stated motto: 'Just win, baby.'
Contributor 
/ October 11, 2011
In this 1998 file photo, Oakland Raiders owner Al Davisgives a thumbs-up to fans prior to the game with theKansas City Chiefs, in Oakland, Calif. The Oakland Raiders announced Saturday, Oct. 8, that longtimeowner and Hall of Famer Davis died.Paul Sakuma/AP/File
LOS ANGELES
Brass knuckles were as right for  Brooklyn-raised  Al Davis,the owner of the NFL Oakland Raiders, asdiamonds were for the fingers of  Elizabeth Taylor .  Davis, who died Oct. 8 at his home in Oakland,never  did anything the conventional way. Al was a fiercelyimpatient man who was also a calculated risk taker. It
didn’t make a difference to Davis whether he was
taking on the commissioner of the National FootballLeague or his two original partners with the Raiders.The fact that many of his best players were picked upfrom rival NFL teams who got tired of explaining their off the field activities to police never bothered Al.The name Al Davis first began to grow to billboardproportions when he was an assistant coach at TheCitadel,a military school in South Carolina,except that this man who once sold hotdogs at EbbetsField was never an assistant anything.From there, Davis joined the coaching staff atthe University of Southern California where two years of recruiting violations resulted in the Trojans footballprogram being put on probation.When USC head football coach Don Clark retired and the Trojans gave the job to John McKay,Davis was so upset that he joined the  American FootballLeague
s
 San Diego Chargers.Even though most fans have forgotten by now, it was Al who signedfuture pro football greats Lance Alworth and Keith Lincoln.In 1962 the AFL's Raiders were a disaster area. Theyturned in records of 2-12 in 1961 and 1-13 in 1962.Co-owners Wayne Valley and Ed McGah liked Davis's nine years of experience as an assistant coach andhired him to be both general manager and headcoach. The only boss Al Davis would ever have toanswer to was himself.For many years, Davis was consistently able to findquarterbacks, including Daryle Lamonica andKen Stabler ,who fit the Raiders' long-ball passing game.But when Jim Plunkett retired after the 1986 season,
 Al couldn’t seem to find anyone to take his place,
perhaps the only time in his career when frustrationtackled him from behind.Davis built an organization that basically was an
extension of himself. He didn’t believe in titles.
Everybody under Davis was an administrativeassistant.With Davis in charge the Raiders went 10-
4 in Al’s
first year as head coach. After that came 15 divisionchampionships, four conference titles, and five trips tothe Super Bowl. Three of those visits resulted inRaider victories, in 1977, 1981, and 1984
 –
the firstwith John Madden as head coach and the latter two achieved under  Tom Flores,the NFL's first Latino head coach (Davis also hired African-American,  ArtShell,a former Raider lineman, to break the league's
 
coaching color barrier, and its first female chief executive,  Amy Trask). The team's 1984 Super Bowl victory occurred while the team was based in Los Angeles.It would take at least another 500 words to explain why Davis, whobecame a part owner of the team in 1966, moved theRaiders to Los Angeles.When rival NFL owners voted 22-0 against it, Davishit them with a $160 million lawsuit. Davis won,collecting millions in the process.One of the things Davis explained after being named
to pro football’s
 Hall of Fame in 1992 was the drive that helped him build the Raiders into champions.
―I always wan
ted to take an organization and make it
the best in sports,‖ Davis said. ―I admired the
NewYork Yankees for their power and intimidation. Iadmired the Brooklyn Dodgers under  Branch Rickey for their speed and player development. I feltthere was no reason the two approach
es couldn’t becombined into one powerful organization.‖
 
Phil Elderkin is a former sports editor of  The Christian Science Monitor .
 
 _____________________________________________ 
 A Brash Style and Power Plays Allowed Davis to Wrest Control
 Associated Press
 Al Davis, head coach and general manager of the OaklandRaiders, watching an A.F.L. exhibition game in Oakland in 1963.
By RICHARD SANDOMIR  Published: October 10, 2011
 When F. Wayne Valley hired Al Davis to coachthe Oakland Raidersin 1963, he could not have imagined that Davis would one day shrewdly maneuver him out as the principal owner.
Robert Klein/Associated Press
 
 Al Davis, center, talkingwith Oakland Raidersplayers at the team'spractice field in Oakland in1963.
 
coach of the San Diego Chargers at the time. When Valley was asked what he saw in Davis, he
said: “Because everybody hates him. Al Davis wants to win and he‟ll do anything to win. And
after losing all those games, I wanted a win, any 
 way I could.”
 Davis turned a dreadful American FootballLeague team that was 9-33 from its inception in
 
1960 into one with a 23-16-3 record in his three
 
seasons as the coach. He left in 1966 for a brief stint as the A.F.L. commissioner. When he returned later that year to the Raiders,it was not as the coach. Davis had somethingmuch grander in mind. Now he was a generalpartner, head of football operations and a part-owner after paying a reported $18,000 for 10percent of the team. In 1969, he hired JohnMadden as the coach.
That would be one step in Davis‟s climb to
controlling the Raiders.He got a piece of the team on the cheap and amanagerial grip on the franchise. Still, Davis wasa football guy without the wealth of other A.F.L.
 
owners like Lamar Hunt (oil and real estate),Barron Hilton (hotels) and Bud Adams (oil). Nor was he as rich as Valley, a homebuilder, orEdward W. McGah, a developer, another one of the eight founding Raiders partners. Valley rightly saw a rare commodity in Davis, butit did not ensure a smooth relationship. They didnot get along. Madden said of Davis on Monday 
on KCBS Radio: “He wasn‟t a pushover for
anyone. And he did like the battle. He did enjoy 
arguing.”
 In 1972, Davis staged what looked like a coup
d‟état. With Valley at the Summer Olympics in
Munich, Davis drew up a contract that he andMcGah had signed to pay Davis $100,000 for 20 years and further consolidate his power asmanaging general partner. Once aware of it, Valley sued to nullify it.But Valley lost the suit, and in 1976, he sold outto Davis, said Jack Brooks, a former Raiderspartner.
“His relationship with Valley wasn‟t very good,”
Brooks said Monday from San Francisco.Peter Richmond, who  wrote a book about the
,said in a telephone interview 
 
on Monday: “Al became dictator and emperor.
Emperors become emperors for many reasons,
and one is the hunger for power. But Al‟s hungerfor power wasn‟t to grind everybody‟s face in thedirt. It became a thing where he could say, „I can build an empire and dominate it if I do well.‟
 
 By 2003, McGah had been dead for two decadesand his family held his 31 percent of theteam. 
 
general partner because he was denying them full
access to the team‟s financial records. They said
that Davis and the company he created to run the
team “conducted themselves as if they were thesole owners of the Raiders.”
 Here was an unusual turn of events: Davis was being sued by the family of the man who usheredhim into the seat of total power with the Raiders.But the lawsuit ended well for Davis. After it wassettled, Davis reportedly acquired the McGahstake, raising his share of the team to anestimated 67 percent.
 At the time, Valley‟s son, M
ike, saw something
familiar in the McGah family‟s battle against
Davis.
“The power that is being exercised against the
McGahs today is the same power that was used to
pry my dad away from the team,” Mike Valley told The Contra Costa Times. “I wish them all
the
luck in the world.”
  A couple years later, Brooks said he sold his staketo Davis, not to settle a feud, but to plan hisestate.He did not divulge how much of the team heowned, or what Davis paid for it.
“We got along fine,” Brooks said. “We were
good
friends, and Al never asked to buy me out.”
 
He added: “Al‟s irreplaceable. When I met him before we hired him as coach, I said, „This guy‟sdifferent from anybody else we talked to before.‟
 
 By 2007, Davis had been associated with theRaiders for 44 years. He decided to get some cashflow out of his holdings and sold 20 percent of his Raiders to three investors for $150 million.
 _____________________________________________ 

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