Just Win Baby

Posted: Saturday, October 08, 2011 by Travis Cody in

Al Davis, president of the general partner of the Oakland Raiders, has died.  He was 82.

He was considered one of the villain owners in the NFL.  Here is what I believe about Al Davis.  Every decision he made was for what he thought was the best for his team and would give His Raiders the best chance to win.  I may not have always agreed with those decisions, but when Al Davis owns your team, you get what you get.  Sometimes you win and sometimes you don't.

Mr Davis meddled.  He had absolute control over all operations.  He hired coaches and whispered in their ears or blatantly questioned their decisions and issued directives on how to run the team.  He had an open door policy to his players that sometimes caused rifts between them and the head coach.  He won an anti-trust lawsuit against the NFL and moved the Raiders to Los Angeles, where they stayed from 1982 through 1995.

Mr Davis could be vindictive.  And he could be incredibly loyal.  That's my perception based on what I saw in the press for the last 45 years as a Raider fan.  There were times when I threw up my hands and shook my head at a draft pick or a free agent signing or a trade.  I was heart-broken when he sent Kenny Stabler and Dave Casper away to Houston in 1980.  Of course, that trade ultimately led to Jim Plunkett taking over at QB, and he led my Raiders back to the Super Bowl.  They beat Philadelphia in January 1981 to become the first Wild Card team to win the Super Bowl, giving me something to remember about my senior year in high school besides the injury that ended my playing days and my chance to be a Marine.

That's the life of a Raider fan.  You can begin the day incredibly frustrated and end it thoroughly satisfied.  It's never dull.

The Raiders of Al Davis were Committed to Excellence.  The Raiders of Al Davis were the Pride and Poise Boys.  The product on the field may not always have lived up to those philosophies, but winning under those philosophies was always the goal. 

Many have said that the Raiders could not be successful on the field until the influence of Al Davis was removed from decisions about football personnel and operations.  I guess we'll see about that now.  I say that one cannot fail catastrophically without first deciding to try and succeed magnificently.

Perhaps the career of a football executive shouldn't be described with words like catastrophic and magnificent.  But if you commit yourself to excellence and attempt to live up to such a philosophy, then you have my respect in the effort.

Rest, Mr Davis.  Thank you for giving me my Raiders and everything that comes with being a life long member of Raider Nation.

Al Davis
4 July 1929 - 8 October 2011
Just Win Baby


  1. Cherie says:

    You know, I've never heard a description of Al Davis from a Raiders fan. Helps me understand the team philosophy better. Great tribute. Good luck Sunday. ;)

  1. Debra says:

    My husband and I just saw this on TV and I thought of you. A really good and honest tribute!

  1. I always liked him and liked the Raiders. I was sorry to hear this. He was far more a factor in my life than steve jobs was.

  1. Anonymous says:

    Good to read your perspective, Trav. Thanks for sharing.

  1. Jeff says:

    As a lifelong 49ers fan I've generally had a less than impressed view of Mr Davis, but I do appreciate you take on him.

    Like him or hate him, the game will be much different without his presence.

  1. jennifer says:

    "I say that one cannot fail catastrophically without first deciding to try and succeed magnificently." I like what you say.

    Fascinating tribute. It was honest and respectful. Sounds like professional football has lost a powerful personality.

  1. Rest in Peace Mr Al.Davis.

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  1. I've been curious to see how the Raider Nation responds.

    He was a force. I kinda liked him. But then again, he didn't own my team. (network blackouts et cetera)

    He's hanging out with Jobs.

  1. He was....a business man. Sometimes, as you said, his decisions were mind-boggling. Other times, they were scary smart. He was what he was, and as owner of the team, you got what you got.

    I felt that way with Irsay, Sr. and Bidwill, Sr. Of course, my husband had to contend with Art Modell. You wait around long enough, though, and things change.

    Your thoughts, as usual, were accurate and fairly stated.