Oakland Raiders: Raider Nation Still Adjusting to Life Without Al Davis

Only months into assuming ownership of the Oakland Raiders, Mark Davis has struggled to win over fans and live up to his father’s lofty expectations.

One of the NFL’s most visible and contentious owners, Al Davis became as famous for his public battles as for his team’s play. He fired coaches, drafted indiscriminately, and employed the subpoena with equal abandon.

Yet, for every benching of a crowd favorite (Marcus Allen) or trading of a franchise quarterback (Kenny Stabler), Davis won legions of fans through his irreverence. 

Less than five months after Al’s death, Raider fans have been reluctant to embrace Mark with the same devotion. As first reported by Yahoo! Sports columnist, Mike Silver, Al’s frustration with his son’s football acumen (or lack thereof) was well known within the Raider organization, and prompted concerns that Mark was ill-equipped to decide Hue Jackson’s fate, let alone select new leadership.

But the firing, while indecorous, was a logical move toward solidifying control, and the reaction of Raider Nation—well, that’s more complicated. 

From the very beginning, Al succeeded in crafting a brand wrapped up in his own image. Where other owners were genteel and polished, he was insolent and defiant. 

In 1972 Al gracelessly elbowed his way to principal ownership of the Raiders with a righteousness that became his hallmark. And whether he was dispatching employees or drafting nonsensically, he did so with conviction.

Yet for all his character flaws, the elder Davis exuded reassuring strength. His irreverence, though frequently boorish, was authentic. His subversive behavior, while sometimes unpalatable, reflected impressive ambition, and fashioned an owner who, among Raider Nation, was beyond reproach.

Even in later years, when victories became scarcer, the public battles less coh...

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