Oakland Raiders Al Davis Was a Sports Icon the World Will Never See Again

I write this column with a heavy heart because Al Davis is the reason I'm a rabid NFL fan and the sole reason I have rooted for the Oakland Raiders my entire life. The Silver and Black have always been my team and Davis is the one who turned me into a lifetime fan. Quite frankly, he's the reason I've stuck with the team in recent years, despite it's unfortunate fall from glory. But make no mistake, Davis built one of the world's most recognizable sports franchises and he's a big reason the NFL is a successful business model known around the world.

My time with Davis goes all the way back to near the beginning. Growing up in Ohio, our late game always came from the West Coast and it was always the Raiders. Sunday afternoon on CBS Television at 4 p.m., I could always expect to see the Raiders kickin' some butt on national television as I sat in my parents' living room cheering for a team 3000 miles away.  

It didn't matter that I was in Cincinnati.  We had our own legendary coach at the time in Paul Brown of the Bengals, but Davis and his team had stolen my heart and I was hooked.

His team was incredible. He was the coach at first.

Davis developed an offense where his quarterback would eventually get the nickname of the "Mad Bomber." QB Darryl Lamonica was known for throwing the long pass downfield. They were called "bombs" because the passes were so high in the air and would drop right in the receivers' hands as they streaked into the end zone.

Young, talented wide receivers such as Cliff Branch and Fred Biletnikoff were born and on their way to stardom thanks to Davis.

They rarely lost after David stabilized the franchise. He would roam the sidelines decked out in white, black or silver leather Raiders jackets and coats. He was the face of the franchise and the face of tough football. But his rise to glory came with pain, heartache and jealousy directed at him.


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