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Saturday, August 19, 2006

Al Davis - Raiders Owner Seriously Ill; Who's Next In Line To Run The Raiders?

Yesterday, I met a gentleman who claimed to do special projects for Oakland Raiders Manager Of The General Partner Al Davis and the organization. After a long talk about everything from the old Raiders to his exploits with John Matuzak and my relationship with ex-Executive Assistant Al LoCasale, and others, I asked him how Mr. Davis' health was.

After a long pause and my repeat of the question, the gentleman finally shook his head, looked down, and said "He's seriously ill. I know what it is, but I can't tell you."

After a period of slience, I asked if Mr. Davis was going to be taken from us soon; the gentleman remarked that he didn't think he was going to pass on within the next year, but he's sick.

Having lost both of my fathers last year to cancer, and with a Mom that had and beat cancer last year as well, the issue of a person's possible passing is hard for me to discuss without emotion. The matter of Al Davis' health and what may happen to him is important because it's time for all football fans to consider his impact on the NFL.

Arguably there may not have been an NFL without Al Davis. He's the one who's actions essentially forced a merger between the NFL and the AFL in the late 60s. Mr. Davis was also the first coach and owner to not only seek out and employ African American players, but administrators as well. He also was the first to recruit black players while at USC. Here's a video that includes Sid Gilman's comments on Al Davis' impact on the NFL in the area of diversity:

And most will remember Al Davis as the owner who ushered in the era of franchise movement in the NFL when he moved the Raiders from Oakland to Los Angeles, and then back to Oakland.

I add that Mr. Davis was the first owner to build a solid marketing brand around his team, even before the Dallas Cowboys did. When you think of the Raiders of the 60s, 70s, and 80s, you always have an image of a team not unlike a bad- ass, but fashionable gang who wore black before it was cool to do so. Heck, it may very well be that all the female ad execs you see wearing black got the idea from watching the Oakland Raiders.

I'm only half-kidding.

Greatest Recent Contribution: Collective Bargaining

With all of his accomplishments it may have been his role in the formation of the new NFL Collective Bargaining Agreement that NFL Owners will remember the most, especially since it happened this year. Here's a video on his views and his role:

Who Will Take Over If Davis Passes On?

The gentleman I talked to said that if Mr. Davis passes on, these are the people most likely to take major control of the organization: Mr. Davis' wife Caroline, his son Marc, John Madden, Jim Otto, and Amy Trask, or some combination of those people.

Regardless of the mix of owners, Al Davis is one of a kind: a maverick and a social innovator. I hope he cheats his illness and we get 20 more years out of him.


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