The Oakland Raiders announced that longtime owner and Hall of Famer Al Davis died. He was 82.
Davis, one of the most important figures in NFL history, was best known as a rebel, a man who established a team whose silver-and-black colors and pirate logo symbolized his attitude toward authority, both on the field and off.
It was Davis’ rebellious spirit, that willingness to buck the establishment, that helped turn the NFL into the establishment in sports — the most successful sports league in US history.
Davis died on Saturday at his home in Oakland, while his team was in Houston preparing to play the Texans. That Davis was not with his team was telling, as he was believed to have missed only three games since joining the team as coach in 1963.
He had not appeared at a single training camp practice this summer and missed a game in Buffalo last month.
The team was told of Davis’ death at a meeting on Saturday morning and the players immediately reacted by calling Davis a “legend” and the greatest owner in history.
“He’s one of the greatest sports icons ever,” Raiders player Stanford Routt said. “He will be greatly missed. He believed in me, he lived for us, now we have to play for him.”
Davis was praised as a trendsetting owner who broke racial and gender barriers while winning three Super Bowl titles and preaching his mantra of “Just win, baby!” Unfortunately since going to the Super Bowl following the 2002 season, the Raiders have not had a winning record.
He was elected into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1992. He hired the first black head coach of the modern era, the first Latino coach and the first woman chief executive.
Fans dressed in Raiders jerseys quickly made their way to team headquarters in Alameda, California, where a black flag with the team logo flew at half-staff and a makeshift memorial formed at the base of the flagpole. There was a tombstone on the Raiders’ Web site for Davis.
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