Nobody can ever say that any owner in the NFL is scrutinized more than Raiders' managing general partner, Al Davis. Over the years of ineptitude from 2003-2010, Davis was ripped, ram-shackled, steamrolled, ridiculed, and rampaged. What was his response to all the hatred and venom spewed at him and his Oakland Raiders? He shrugged his shoulders – but it wasn’t the typical shoulder shrug that you or I could give, no, it was a classic Davis shoulder shrug… as if the entire world was wrong. And now on the brink of the 2011 season, where the Raiders are considered by most to be a legit playoff contender, Al Davis is no longer shrugging – he is smiling that classic Davis grin.
People can be cruel sometimes. Some folks who said they would never wish death on anyone actually came really close during certain periods over that “worst team in the NFL” era for the Raiders. They certainly weren’t used to their team being at the bottom of the barrel, for in all their years as fans the Raiders were one of the top contenders every year. Even at their very lowest, they were still competitive enough to cheer for.
But during this recent debacle, they became the laughing stock of the NFL. They became the punch line of the league and the punching bag of Inside the NFL co-host and former Raider Warren Sapp. By the way, if you see Sapp, tell him he is wanted by the police in Palm County, Florida in connection to a Subway® robbery.
Bottom line in all of this rehashing is that nobody is laughing anymore. As early as the preseason last year, ESPN writers John Clayton and Chris Mortensen specifically, could tell there was something different about the Raiders now. As far as I can tell, it had a lot to do with that epic trade for the studly defensive tackle Richard Seymour. That is when things started to be not so meager.
The addition of Richard Seymour to the Raiders defensive line not only turned the locker room atmosphere around, but now people are talking about the defensive line as hands down the best in the AFC West and quite possibly one of the best in the NFL. It is totally justified talk and a lot of it has to do with Seymour’s willingness to take young players like Matt Shaughnessy, Lamarr Houston, and Desmond Bryant under his massive wing and teach them the way of the trenches. Plus, he is still just plain beastly.
It also helps that Mike Waufle is one of the most creative defensive line coaches in the league. This caused him to get mention as a potential replacement for John Marshall earlier this season via yours truly. The simple underlying connection between Waufle and Seymour is that both moves were made possible by none other than Al Davis. That same guy who people insisted was losing it and had seen better days.
Not only did Davis drastically improve the defensive line and locker room atmosphere, but the next year he sunk his boney hooks into the shirt collar of now Head Coach Hue Jackson. Although it is unknown at the present time if there was the promise of the head coaching position during the first meeting between the two men, some think it was most certainly inevitable once Davis found out about Tom Cable’s womanizing. And once Davis saw how horrible the offense was under Cable’s “two-hat” system, it was certainly necessary to bring in some help.
So Davis called upon that classic Davis football knowledge and somehow convinced Hue Jackson – one of the best skill position coaches in the NFL – that he wanted to be with an organization that was steadily going downhill fast. Jackson could have gone to coach Jay Cutler with the Bears under the respected Lovie Smith, but was seemingly magically convinced that he wanted to coach up JaMarcus Russell under Tom Cable instead. Nobody really wanted this job, but apparently Hue Jackson is either suicidal or Al Davis is a hypnotist.
Love him or hate him, that is classic Al Davis, a man with so much charisma that if you sit down with him for a half hour, you are under his control and will do whatever he says. Clearly, at that time, the Raiders were an inglorious reclamation project.
So now that Davis is on his way to proving all the doubters and the haters wrong and sending his own message to the founders of “Message to Al” with his middle finger, the question becomes: is there anybody who wants this more than Davis? Of course the players want it, of course the fans want it, and of course the NFL wants the Raiders to be good, because the league is better when the Raiders are good. At least that’s the lie that was shoveled into our mouths when they sucked. But nobody and I do mean NOBODY! wants this thing more than Al Davis.
The owner who was pushed to the brink of asphyxia by his own meddling fans is about to prove everybody wrong and could very well become the oldest owner/GM in NFL history to lead his team to a Super Bowl win. And nobody better say that the Raiders won in spite of Davis, rather than because of him. The person who dares say that is just completely ignorant.
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Yes I will eat crow when the Raiders win the superbowl while Al Davis is still alive and running the organization. When do you predict this event will occur?
First Callahan did try to change the playbook but his plays didn't work and the team wasn't doing good so the players went back to what won games. Callahan was a horrible coach and if you listen to Tim Brown during the super bowl Callahan changed the game plan the night before the game which is why Barrett Robbins went AWOL. The players came up with the game plan because the coach didn't care and then he changes it to forced them to play into Tampa's D which was passing D and QB pressure.
That is 100% pure, unadulterated Al Davis... Al's "message to fans" is "I lose more football knowledge in each kernel of passing corn in my crap than you will ever know." Al knows that only one of 32 teams is left standing in February, and lots and lots of things must come together to achieve it. This includes swinging for the fences come the draft day crapshoot. Sometimes you draft a kid from LSU with the tools to become the next John Elway (with a stronger arm even perhaps?), and sometimes you crap out by selecting Jamarcus Russell with purple drank.
For all the "Bill Belichick for president" bumper stickers in Beantown, the Patsies haven't won since 2005. This despite an ever present media circle jerk over Belichick's football genius. Al Davis has more football smarts than Bill Belichick IMHO, and has done it his way, in sweatsuits and sneers. Working his way up from an assistant coach grunt to Team Owner and Commissioner.
The Al Davis "maverick football genius" story is still a work in progress, and being written edited and published by the man himself. The same man behind the overhead projector talking Kiffin loyalty, and the same mind behind our 2010 draft coup. Al Davis is to football knowledge, as Albert Einstein was to relativity.
Al Davis is probably the most competitive guy in the history of sports. Along with John Madden, this guy is all about winning, and I am amazed he did not have a heart attack while watching the Raiders struggle like they did the past few years. Love him or hate him, Davis is driven by the superbowl, and his obsession for winning has also been his weakness, causing him, at times, to be reckless with both the payroll and draft picks.
Al Davis finally has the Raiders on the right track, and I hope he does not pursue the idea of moving them back to Los Angeles. I, personally, would be devastated, as I am sure a lot of other Raider fans would be as well if he moved the franchise again. Al Davis, as competitive as he is, is also driven by the dollar, and the cold reality is that he will move the team, regardless of fan sentiment, if the price is right...
If you live outside the states, you start seeing that the US just enjoys going after certain people.
Floyd Mayweather, Lebron James etc etc. All they do is win. The media still mock and humiliate them.
What I'm saying is, the US media has a trick where they just ignore you whenever you do anything great, and beat you up the minute you make a mistake.
Tons of teams in the NFL have made as many bad draft picks as Al over the last decade. Look at some of Jerry Jones picks.
Al's record in drafts is about middle of the pack - some great, some lousy
Al took his team to the Superbowl in 2002. Jerry Jones hasn't even won a play off game in that time. Plenty of teams haven't been to a Superbowl in 30 years!?
Do you think Bellicek is going to get called an idiot, if he goes 3-4 more years without a superbowl? As it will be a similar stretch
As I said, he's a hall of famer for a reason. He builds superbowl teams. That takes time
nice. you're not getting me to respond with any bold predictions immediately, but I do feel this organization has turned things around, and while I was critical of Al during much of the tailspin, some rightfully so, I have come to believe in retrospect that though he made mistakes he also did things in that period to hold this team together well. The average time for teams to recover from drafting a bust as monumental as Japurpledrank is well over five years, and some have yet to. Last year's draft and getting Jason was about as good as we could've done, and I have great faith in Hue Jack. Still need to see a lot happen before I can call us playoff contenders with this squad, but I'm excited right now for Al's next moves, and the free agency frenzy could happen as soon as next week, allowing only a week to ten days before camps commence. That puts it all in Al's favor as well. Don't be surprised to see Nnamdi return. @faze2
@hayes37 Al Davis cant remember what he ate for breakfast.. He built an empire than slowly destroyed it by refusing to recognize his limitations and deteriorating mental and physical health. Ralph Wilson is a similar owner. Al and Ralph two peas in a pod and two teams waiting to get flushed down the toilet as losers. Buffalo and Oakland will be reborn with the passing of these men. They were great in their prime, but have long since faded into insignificance.
Blinding article BA!
I completely agree CM.. coming from outside the states this is exactly how it appears.. Ok, Lebron acted like a fool once he went to the Heat but he went for professional reasons, even taking less money. I would like to see in sporting history where 'so called' best player actually goes somewhere for less money?? It is extremely rare, yet he was ridiculed and when the Mavs one, they only thing I heard was that Lebron couldnt score in the 4th qtr? I wanted to hear about the mavs win? it was very hard to find.
Going back to the article and Davis... we spent along time building up to the Superbowl in 2002. We had such an old team. Al had literally put all his eggs into the Superbowl basket and only just came up short. With such an old team comes a period afterwards where you have to literally start again? This could be why Al traded Gruden for 4 draft picks, he could see this team going old and needed to bulk up.
When you start to rely on the draft for new talent you come unstuck as maybe only 20% of the picks work out and as a result the Raiders have been pretty awful since the break up of the 2002 team... but this 2002 team was because of Al's passion to win and win his way and his way is The Raider way! Gannon, Rice and Brown! Like the Raider teams of the past. Built on Passing and Speed.
To me Raiders is Al Davis... Al Davis is Raiders... Without Al we wouldn't be be supporting this team. Al created the enigma that is the Silver and Black and all the haters out there, I think they are just wrong! He is the head of our family and we do as he says!
Enjoy it while it lasts, as I feel we are in the last 10 years under the control of this truly iconic man because I can tell you one thing, when he does go and is no longer with us, I will be devastated. For Al and his Raider family. Watch the Vultures swoop down on our beloved team. Once Al departs, I see our traditions and the Raiderway, which Coach Davis, clings onto as if his life depended on it, disappearing. If AEG get hold of us.... aggghhhh...... (which wouldn't surprise me. I could see them making a deal that AL has control until he passes and then they get given all the powers)..
We are nowhere near the team we used to be, granted and Al is pretty much responsible for that! However, I would rather get back to the top the Al Davis/Raider way than selling out and completely losing out unique identity! Al is getting there and I hope, so much, that he gets to see HIS team lift the Lombardi Trophy once more!
@brhynno I think your right about the time it takes to recover after spending millions on a bust.like Russel.The financial consequences will be felt for several years. Nnamdi will NOT be back unless he agrees to a huge pay cut. Russel is still sucking the Raiders payroll dry.. Davis's pride will NOT allow Hue to make the changes he wants. Kifffin tried to makes changes without success. Gruden coached with one hand tied behind his back and got kicked in the balls for his trouble. Davis is the dictator of Raiderland.
Speaking of sucking the payroll dry, DHB is another bust. Just another track star who cannot play football. Davis loves his speed . DHB will still be on the team for years, just like James Jett. As for the playoffs, the first half of the season will be an indicator as to the Raiders success. The 70's vanilla defense that Al loves won't get the job done. Defense wins superbowls.
@ukraider78 UK i am a life long raider fan so dont take this the wrong way but Al is a horrible general mannager. 2002 super bowl team was not built by Al ity was built by bruce allen, by the way that was the last time the raiders went to a super bowl when they had a real GM! Al then decideed it would be smart to trade your coach that made the team what it was for 4 draft pics. Then put a coach in that would do what Al davis told him to do, and that was keep the same playbook and run the same plays the chucky made. Then they make it to the super bowl and play the same coach Al traded away. He made no atempt to change the play book no atempt to make new plays just run the same plays.This doen not sound like a football genius to me this sounds like sombody who is useing somebody eles football smarts, witch also tells me he doent know a thing about todays football and how it's played. To add to my argument the 4 draft picks the Al recived from tampa for gruden he did nothing with them. He just drafted speed and all but one is still in the NFL and that is Fabian Washington. Al davis has won 3 super bowls and I love my raiders but time has past him by he can still win another one if just allows people, the right people to help him.
@gvasquez4 Major thing....why does everyone say that Al Davis has nothing to do with the team winning, but everything to do with them losing? Bruce Allen was a money guy, not a great GM as evidident by what happened in Tampa. Gruden was a great motivator, look at his draft pics though. Al Davis does what he always has...and He and Gruden worked well together, he has yet to find a coach that compliments him or that he compliments since.
@gvasquez4 Points taken, but I never said he was a football genius (Although I do think he is....just because he isn't one now, he was at the forefront of football innovations in football back in the day)
I basically said that The Raiders are Al Davis and visa vesa and I love that! Its his team.. no one elses... I suppose I also think that Al was there before us, we chose to support the Raiders because of what the Raiders means/stands for... This is everything Al Davis stands for... No Davis, No Raiders.. Ok we are in the midst of the least successful part in our lavished history. But... let the man who created the history, in his own way.... finish it in his own way.... we have all seen that Al's health isn't so great anymore. For those who want the raiders to move on they will have there way.