08 October 2011

A Sad Day for Raider Nation

I had another blog topic prepared for today, but I've just learnt of the passing of Al Davis, owner of the Oakland Raiders.

While I sometimes disagreed with his decisions (firing Jon Gruden?  Seriously?  benching Marcus Allen for two seasons?  Really?), I had mad respect for him.  He is the only man who has played every role in the NFL.  Scout, assistant coach, coach, general manager, commissioner, and owner.  When he was an assistant coach in college, he recruited the first black quarterback in the PAC-10.  As a coach, Davis was the first to start recruiting from black colleges.  And as an owner, he was the first to sign a black head coach (shout-out to Art Shell!), a Latino coach, and a female CEO.

He wanted his team to be internationally (not just nationally) recognised.  This vision came from him growing up Brooklyn and admiring how ubiquitous the Yankee pinstripes were.  A guy I worked for when I taught once remarked that "no matter where I go, I find you people (Raiders fans) everywhere!  I can't get away from you!"

Davis coined the catchphrases "Just Win, Baby," "Commitment to Excellence," and "Pride and Poise."  While the Raiders have had their ups and downs and for the past decade, the organisation as a whole has become a recognisable icon and not only among football fans.  ESPN's show "30 for 30" showcased the impact that the Raiders have had on the hip-hop industry, for instance.

Raider Nation has lost a great leader, visionary, and competitor.  This is truly a sad day for Raider Nation.

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