Saturday, October 8, 2011
Al Davis' greatest hits
By Bill Williamson
Let’s look at some of the biggest moves Al Davis -- who died Saturday at the age of 82 -- made since he joined the Raiders in 1963. We’ll go in chronological order:
Hiring John Madden: This set the program in motion. Davis and Madden were a great team. Both men had an eye for talent, an ability to handle renegade players, and a thirst for winning. The Raiders were an elite team in the 1970s and their Super Bowl XI victory over Minnesota in January 1977 is probably the greatest moment in team history.
Acquiring Jim Plunkett: The quarterback was one of the poster boys for Davis’ factory of recycled talent. Plunkett enjoyed career resurgence in Oakland and his presence helped pave the wait for the Raiders’ second and third Super Bowl titles.
Drafting Marcus Allen: Davis selected the running back with the No. 10 overall pick in the 1982 draft. He quickly became a catalyst for the team and he was a key to the Raiders’ third Super Bowl title. He became a face of the franchise. It’s stunning that Minnesota took Stanford running back Darrin Nelson three picks ahead of Allen.
Moving back to Oakland: After a 13-year field trip to Los Angeles, the Raiders moved back to their Northern California home in 1995. This is where the Raiders belong and it was the right move by Davis to bring them back.
Hiring Jon Gruden: Davis hired the young offensive guru in 1998 and Gruden breathed life to the Raiders’ organization. They later added quarterback Rich Gannon and the three men helped lead the Raiders to prominence again. It all culminated in Davis’ final Super Bowl appearance in January 2003, where the Tampa Bay Buccaneers trounced the Raiders, the team he had traded Gruden to in 2002. As much life as Gruden’s hiring brought Oakland, his trade brought despair to the team for much of the last decade.
Hiring Hue Jackson: Davis’ last coaching hire (he had 11 coaches since 1978, when Madden retired) has the look of a good one. Times have been tough in Oakland for the past nine years, but Jackson is a talented, energized coach who is proud to be connected to Davis. Watch for Jackson to dedicate his time in Oakland to restoring the glory of Davis’ era. If Jackson is successful, it will be a tremendous final act by Davis.
I’m sure you have memories. Fill up the comment section below with your thoughts.