The most frequent question I have gotten in my role as an AFC West reporter is this:
Have you ever met Al Davis?
When I say, yes, I have, the next question is always this: What was he like?
Al Davis was one of a kind.
Davis was much warmer in person than you’d probably think. He was engaging, charming and funny.
The first time I met him was at the NFL owners meetings in Hawaii in 2005. I was a Denver Broncos beat writer at the time. I thought it was important to introduce myself because of the divisional tension between the two teams.
Davis was both taken aback and amused to speak to a reporter from Denver. I quickly let him know I am from the Bay Area and several friends and family members have been longtime Raiders' season-ticket holders. He lit up.
He instantly started to ask about my family history and asked where I went to college. When I told him I attended Chico State in Northern California, he beamed. His son, Mark, also attended the school. Davis told me he nearly purchased an Italian restaurant in Chico several years ago.
Our conversation ended with him telling me to keep in touch and that the two of us should “shake it up in Denver.”
My last two dealings with him were when I worked at ESPN.com.
He was funny and chatty in both meetings. He let me know that he was aware of pretty much everything I wrote. I got the feeling he didn’t have too big of a problem with me, calling me “Billy.”
Those meetings with Davis will always be remembered and covering him in this role for the past three-and-half years has been a career highlight.