Words on Al Davis
Just as Al Davis has appeared in his owner's box for years, with Iron Man Jim Otto flanking him...
Al Davis is the Raiders. It is hard to imagine it otherwise, though I suppose we shall all have to try. After all, as Al always maintained, the Greatness of the Raiders Lies in Its Future...
On this day which saddens all our hearts, I am stunned and at a loss for words. So to properly gauge his impact on football, here are words collected from various other sources about Al Davis prior to his passing this morning:
“If you need a friend, there’s no better friend than Al Davis. He’s my best friend. I’ve always said that if I even needed anything and I had one phone call, it would be to Al Davis. ”
~ John Madden
“If somebody wants a chance, Al Davis is the greatest at giving them a chance. There are a lot of people that talk about things and never do anything. Al doesn’t talk at all … He just does it.”
~ John Madden
"He was one of the great coaches I have ever observed ... a truly great coach, had he chosen to remain in coaching, he would be considered one of the great coaches of all time."
~ Bill Walsh
"Al Davis is the smartest man I ever met”
~ Bill Parcells
"The Raiders were about giving people second chances, they were about giving chances to people the mainstream wouldn't give a chance. They had a willingness to look beyond the color of someone's skin, reputation, and beyond someone's past. I see a willingness to do things the Raiders' way, not the way society dictates. Look at what Al Davis has done. He hired the first Hispanic head coach (Tom Flores), the first black head coach (Art Shell), and now me(first woman executive). It's not a coincidence. People in sports talk a lot about inclusiveness and giving people opportunities. While they talk, I only see one person doing it. Al is the last person on Earth who'd do this for a pat on the back. A pat on the back would annoy him. He does it for the right reasons."
~ Amy Trask
“I love being a Raider. I grew up liking them. My family members were BIG Raiders fans and for me, to have the opportunity to play for them is like a dream come true. I like everything about them...the Black and Silver...the fans...the commitment to excellence... Al Davis... I like everything about the Raiders!”
~ Tory James
“Al Davis is a legend and his contribution and influence on the game of football, the National Football League, and the Oakland Raiders has been profound for decades. To view his contribution and influence on a season-by-season basis does not make sense: he has dominated the industry for a lifetime. I can't tell you how he may have impacted or guided other individuals during their careers but I can speak from personal experience: he inspires me to be better every day than I was the day before."
~ Amy Trask
"My only Regret is that I played in Los Angeles so late in my career. Al Davis was very loyal and encouraging to all his players when I was there."
~ Lyle Alzado
"When it comes to being a gentleman, when it comes to treating their players like men, when it comes to being champions-no other team comes close...Everything stems from Al Davis, everything. He's the kind of guy you want on your side."
~ John Matusak
"There were a number of games in those days that were going to be played in the South that I refused to play in. And he (Al Davis) canceled them. That told me what type of individual I was dealing with."
~ Art Powell
"I always tell people that I was extremely fortunate to play for three of the greatest coaches ever: Webb Ewbank, Hank Stram and Al Davis."
~ Cotton Davidson
"He is always for the players, so it was really easy to play for him and want to win for him."
~ Rod Sherman
"I still feel very close to Al Davis...It's always been like a father-son relationship."
~ Ray Guy
"I love the man(Al Davis). He's true to the word. I'd die for the man. I love him to death."
~ Mickey Marvin
“In 1976, I was cast as Apollo Creed. It was the role that changed my acting career. In 1970, I met a man who changed my life forever. That year I became a part of Al Davis’s legendary Oakland Raiders organization as a rookie linebacker.”
~ Carl Weathers
“Al Davis is ahead of his time in everything he does. His innovations in offense was fantastic. He’s an all-around football man.”
~ Jim Otto
“Al had great vision. He could see down where the game was headed or where it should be headed.”
~ Tom Flores
“A lot of people think of Al Davis as a maverick. He’s also a maverick in opening up opportunities for minorities.”
~ Brad Pye, Jr., Former AFL administrative assistant, first African-American administrator in football
“I’d say he’s a trailblazer. He had no color barrier.”
~ Dr. Aaron C. Wade, former AFL official, first African-American official
“Hiring (minority) coaches, players, this is something he did over the years. This is not something new where he came to some politically correctness in the 1990s.”
~ Willie Lanier
“I think Al Davis opened up the game up. I think he opened the game up for the African- American athlete.”
~ Dennis Green
“He’s a pioneer, in terms of getting black players to play and letting them be the best they can be.”
~ Willie Brown
“I came to know Al as someone that lived by a certain code and this code was to judge everybody by their content of their character and capabilities and nothing else. That’s the code that I detected at the time and I think it’s stayed with him throughout the years.”
~ Bernie Custis, Black quarterback and teammate of Al Davis at Syracuse University, 1948-50
"It was Sid Gilman and Al Davis who said here’s an opportunity to give these people (black players) a chance to play.”
~ Gene Upshaw
“Al found a ton of good players in the black schools.”
~ George Atkinson
“Al’s word was important. If he’s tell you something, this is it.”
~ Eddie Robinson
“It’s hard to think he did it to help blacks. He was looking to give a guy an opportunity whether he was black or white.”
~ Lance Alworth
“Al has always said the golden rule is not good enough. That is, ‘Don’t treat people the way you would like to be treated, treat people how they want to be treated.’’
~ Al LoCasale
“He’s a very passionate guy. He believes if you’re good to him then he’ll be good to you. I think players like the idea of being loyal to be something.”
~ Mike Haynes
“I think the world of Mr. Davis. He's been good for the league and the players. He's been great to me. I know the feeling is mutual. The style of play suited me with the long pass. We made it work together. It was a lot of fun.”
~ Jim Plunkett
“I personally like Al Davis a lot. He's a great owner and he's great to play for as long as you play hard. The reason why I like Al is because he's dedicated to winning. He's a football guy.”
~ Jack Tatum
"Before I came here, there was always the rumors of the "Al Davis Factor." Since becoming a Raider two years ago, I have nothing but the utmost respect for Mr. Davis. He's only owner in the league that truly has an understanding of a coach's position. And that's a real benefit to us.”
~ Chuck Bresnahan
“Big Al is a stud. He really cares about his players. Al Davis is a good man. Aside from what the media thinks. I wish everyone had a chance to meet him face-to-face and see what he is really like.”
~ Jeremy Brigham
“I've enjoyed the relationship that I have with him (Al Davis). He's been very good to me as a person and as a player on the team. I've really enjoyed being with the Raiders and his organization.”
~ Greg Biekert
“I like Mr. Davis a lot. I respect him. He's just a straight forward guy and he tells it like it is. He understands what you want and you must understand what he wants. We have a good relationship."
~ Marcus Ray
“I think that Mr. Davis is one of the fathers of the game of football. Think of what he did for the AFL and build it to what it is. How he talked about the long ball and brought a certain toughness to the NFL, the Silver and Black and what it represents. You have to look back and think about all of the men who gave everything for the sport of football and you have to mention him as one of the pioneers of the game.”
~ Ronnie Lott
“I think no offense to ESPN or anybody else, you don't know Al Davis like the players do. The media gets it wrong a lot. Most of his players looked up to him."
~ Otis Sistrunk
“It’s more of a personal thing to where you come in and you have respect for let’s say the tradition of the Raiders. You go to San Diego, which they had some tradition but not as intense as the Raiders. First of all our Raider fans, I’ve seen fans all through college, the World League and other teams that we play against and it’s amazing how our fans are, the intensity of our fans. It just gives you a totally different outlook for the team you play for, more so ever it’s a sense of pride to be able to be affiliated with a team like the Raiders and say your part of them, the family. Mr. Davis, do you know how much he has done for the NFL. He stands there on the sidelines shaking your hand and wishing you good luck, do you know how many guys would like to have that opportunity?”
~ Leo Araguz
"I'm very excited . Who doesn't want to be a Raider? If you talk to 90 percent of the guys in the college ranks and in pro football, everybody wants to be a Raider. Coming out of college (Nebraska in 1984), they were one of the teams I wanted to play for. Who wouldn't want to wear the silver and black?"
~ Irving Fryar
“These are the greatest fans. These people will follow you to Alaska if they have to. It got so loud, my helmet was rumbling. It just feels good to have that type of support, faces painted and everything else. All the negative stuff that's said about our fans, they can wash that out. We have fanatic fans, loyal fans."
~ Tyrone Wheatley
"I work for a man who is gender-blind, he's color-blind, age-blind. He walks the walk of equality of opportunity. In this organization, your race, your gender and your age are irrelevant. Either you are a Raider or you are not."
~ Amy Trask
"Tradition is not a word but a style to him. He really believes once a Raider, always a Raider. Once a guy has played for us, whatever he needs, we do our best for him. But he does this quietly, not looking for publicity."
~ Al LoCasale
"When I was released last week I made a call. It was to Al Davis. I left a message with his secretary for him to call me back. He didn't call me back but his secretary called me back and she said, 'Al thinks you would look good in silver and black.' I called her back again and said, 'let him know that I would do anything to be a Raider and I want to help him win another Super Bowl' He called me later that night, we talked for about a half hour. I got off the phone thinking, this guy's a football guy. This guy truly cares about his players and I'm excited at the opportunity to go out there and see what this organization is about and to possibly be a part of it.''
~ Bill Romanowski
“It was a great honor to come out and talk with Mr. (Al) Davis. I spent time with Bruce Allen and Amy (Trask) ... there are always experiences that make you a better coach and give you a better insight either to yourself or your profession, and that was certainly one of them."
~ Bill Belichick
"Al's interview was not like any other I had been through before. He changed gears constantly. His questions went from left field to right field, from shortstop to second base," Gruden wrote. "His interviewing technique was magnificent. It was a stimulating, awesome line of questioning from a man who knew all there is to know about the NFL, including the salary cap, which other owners, club executives and coaches still have a hard time figuring out. He had seen it all in football."
~ Jon Gruden
"The greatness of the Raiders is in the future..."
~ Al Davis