Remembering Raiders owner Al Davis
Raiders owner Al Davis died on Saturday morning in Oakland at the age of 82, resulting in an outpouring of thoughts and memories from around the sports world on his lasting impact:
Entire Raiders statement: The Oakland Raiders are deeply saddened by the passing of Al Davis. Al Davis was unique - a maverick, a giant among giants, a true legend among legends, the brightest star among stars, a hero, a mentor, a friend. Al Davis was the only person in professional football history to have been a scout, assistant coach, head coach, general manager, commissioner and owner. He was an innovator, a pioneer with a deep love and passion for the game of football. His contributions to the game are innumerable and his legacy will endure forever through generations of players, coaches, administrators and fans. Al Davis was a champion of diversity who maintained the courage of his convictions. His passion for the game we all love is best exemplified by his famous phrase, "COMMITMENT TO EXCELLENCE." The fire that burns brightest in the Raider organization, "THE WILL TO WIN," will continue to blaze through the legacy of the great Al Davis.
NFL commissioner Roger Goodell: "Al Davis's passion for football and his influence on the game were extraordinary. He defined the Raiders and contributed to pro football at every level. The respect he commanded was evident in the way that people listened carefully every time he spoke. He is a true legend of the game whose impact and legacy will forever be part of the NFL."
ESPN president George Bodenheimer: "Al Davis was a driving force in pro football both on and off the field for decades. He leaves an indelible legacy and a legion of loyal players, coaches and fans."
Raiders director of squad development/former player Willie Brown: "I came to the Raiders in 1967 with the trade with Denver. It was the best thing that happened in my career to come and play for Mr. Davis. I've surely enjoyed every year and I've been here over 41 years. Our relationship has grown and it's hard to believe, as strong a man as he was. I've enjoyed every year of being here with him and it's a loss not only to the Raider organization, but to all of America. People love the Raiders and every time they think of the Raiders, they think of Mr. Davis. He was a great leader on and off the field and he took care of a lot of people in his lifetime. He helped guys off the field, not only guys that played for him but also guys that played for other teams. It's a sad day in the Raider Nation, but we must go on."
Raiders broadcaster/former coach Tom Flores: "May he rest in peace. Forty eight years ago, I met Al, and every once in a while in your life, someone comes along that changes the direction of your life. He did that to me and changed the direction with his passion for the Raiders and professional football. He was a dear man, my mentor and most of all, my friend. I will miss him."
Raiders coach Hue Jackson: "It is with my deepest and most sincere regret that Mr. Al Davis, Coach Davis to me, has passed away. My thoughts and prayers, first and foremost, go out to his wife and family, then the Raider family and organization. It is because of this accomplished man and his forever love of Silver and Black, the fire that burned in him I will honor and will always and forever burn in me."
Raiders broadcaster/former QB Jim Plunkett: "The passing of Al Davis saddens us all. He's been a big part of my life, my family's life since 1978 when he gave me a second chance and another opportunity to be a starting quarterback in the NFL, which I appreciate very much. He was always encouraging and helpful both on the field and off the field. He got me get ready to play as much as any coach out there including coach Tom Flores. He'll be sorely missed. His contributions to the game of football go on and on. Not only will his fans and his former players and coaches miss him greatly, but the entire league will."
Former Raiders RB Clem Daniels: "Mr. Davis was definitely a father figure to me. It's a great loss not just for the Raiders, but for sports in general. We'll miss him a lot. The Raider organization and tradition will continue and he's left a legacy that we can all be proud of and that's important to us all."
Steelers chairman emeritus Dan Rooney: "Al Davis was a good man, and we were friendly rivals. He was a football man and did a lot for the game of football. I had a lot of respect for him, and he will be missed throughout the entire NFL."
Raiders QB Jason Campbell: "We've got to rally together. The only thing Mr. Davis would want us to do is win. That's the only thing he ever talks about is just winning, and going out there and playing as hard as you can play. That's how you have to do it from here on out. You just have to go out and if you want to honor him, just honor him by going out and playing as hard as you can to win."
Cowboys owner Jerry Jones: "In my eyes, so much of his legacy will be defined by the loyalty he had for the men who played for the Raiders and the love that they had for him. That was a bond that extended beyond the playing years and lasted lifetimes. His contributions and expertise were inspiring at every level--coach, general manager, owner and commissioner. There was no element of the game of professional football for which Al did not enjoy a thorough and complete level of knowledge and passion. He welcomed me and my family to the NFL 23 years ago and was a trusted friend for all of our time in professional football. We will miss him deeply and we are thinking of Mark and Carol at this difficult time."
Broncos owner/CEO Pat Bowlen: "During my 28 years with the Broncos, I came to know Al Davis as one of the most influential and innovative people in the history of the National Football League. His competitive spirit and intensity grew our rivalry with the Raiders into one of the fiercest in all of sports. I respected Al for what he meant to the NFL. He was a visionary who defined the Raiders and had an enormous responsibility for the prosperity of this league. I join Al's family, the Oakland Raiders and the rest of the NFL in mourning the loss of a man who gave so much to the game we love."
Giants owner Steve Tisch: "The Raiders personified Al Davis. Al is the Raiders."
Bengals president Mike Brown: "Al was a fiery individualist, an important part of pro football -- the AFL and NFL --for almost 50 years. His teams had times of great success, and he was heavily involved both on and off the field. I admired the achievements the Raiders attained under Al. Personally, I was fond of him. He battled with the NFL, and a lot of us wished that had not been where things went, but under all that was a person I respected. It saddens me to hear that he is gone."
Bengals LB Thomas Howard: "He was an icon, a legend, a pioneer. I'm honored that he chose to draft me. It was a great pleasure being a part of Raider Nation, part of all the great teams and players that put on that Silver and Black. You don't know what it means to be a Raider until you are a Raider, and that was his team. He spoke to you not just as an owner but as a coach. He was very hands-on. You felt his presence, and he really cared for you and your family."
Chargers president Dean Spanos: "Al Davis is one of the main reasons our family is in the NFL today. Al approached my dad (Alex Spanos) about getting involved in the NFL and was very helpful to us through the process. He had great insight into the league, both the product on the field and the business off the field. He saw the potential for growth. He was very much a visionary. Our family will always be grateful to Al for his friendship. Al is also a big reason for the strong rivalry between the Raiders and the Chargers and its popularity among both teams' fans. He personified the image and mystique of the Raiders, and that image has helped build the strength of our rivalries and the popularity of our game. There has been no one in the NFL like Al Davis. The NFL and NFL fans everywhere - not just Raiders fans - owe Al Davis for helping to build the game we all love so much. He will be missed."
Texans chairman/CEO Bob McNair: "Al Davis was a pioneer in the American Football League and National Football League. He was a dynamic force in merging the National Football League and American Football League. He built a great tradition with the Raiders. We are going to miss his innovative thinking. Our condolences go to his family and the Raiders organization."
Chiefs chairman/CEO Clark Hunt: "From the earliest days of the AFL, Al's love for the game and fierce loyalty to his franchise contributed to the success and popularity of pro football. His competitive spirit helped develop the great rivalry our team and fans enjoy today with the Oakland Raiders. His contributions to the game played an important role in building the strong foundation the NFL enjoys today."
49ers coach Jim Harbaugh: "Mr. Davis is a titan and pillar of the game. I had the pleasure and honor to know him and to work for him. And to me, he is the greatest. The autumn wind will always be a Raider."
Bills owner Ralph Wilson Jr.: "I am deeply saddened with the news of the passing of Al Davis. Al and I were very good friends for many years and I admired his innovative approach to the game of football. Al had a great impact on the American Football League that carried over to the National Football League after the merger and his competitive spirit embodied our sport. Al's Raiders may not have won every game, but you knew that you were in for a tough, hard-fought contest every time you played them, regardless of the score. I want to extend my deepest sympathies to Al's family, friends, the Raiders organization and Raiders fans everywhere."
Former Raiders coach Lane Kiffin: "I was very saddened this morning to learn of the passing of Al Davis. He was an iconic figure in the history of professional football and built a truly legendary franchise with the Raiders. I consider myself fortunate to have known him and to have been a part of that Raiders history. Even though our relationship did not end the way I would have liked, I have nothing but the greatest respect for Mr. Davis and I truly appreciate the opportunity he afforded me and so many young coaches, players and staff. My thoughts go out to his family and to the family and fans of the Raiders past and present."
Lions defensive coordinator/former Raiders assistant Gunther Cunningham: "I learned a lot from Al Davis. I think I kind of became the coach I became in the League, demanding and detailed-oriented, because of what I learned all that from Al. He put a mark on the League early on with his great Raiders teams. Al did the league a favor by being so competitive. He was so instrumental in making the NFL into what it is today. He was a great man and will be dearly missed."
Saints coach Sean Payton: "Mr. Davis was a pioneer in our league and a visionary in its development. His contributions still remain a major part of our game today. Even though I never coached for him, I did have the honor of spending time with him on a number of occasions talking football. I think we should all consider ourselves thankful to him for the impact he has had on the game. He was uniquely passionate about Raider football and he will be missed. Our condolences go out to him and his family."
Titans owner Bud Adams: "Al was a football man - his entire life revolved around the game he loved. He worked his way up through the ranks and had a knowledge of all phases of the game. That experience aided him as an owner. He was quite different from every other owner in that way. As an AFL guy, he was in that group of people who pushed our league forward. I didn't get to see him over the last few years and I know many, including myself, will miss him."
Falcons owner Arthur Blank: "Al Davis was an iconic figure on the professional football landscape who pushed all of us to view the game of football from many dimensions. He was a unique man whose passion, allegiance and loyalty for the Raiders is unquestioned, and he will forever be remembered as one of pro football's most colorful and influential figures. Al's many contributions to our great game has helped professional football become the number-one sport in America. His legacy is multifaceted. The Falcons join the rest of the National Football League in extending our deepest condolences to the Davis family and the Raider Nation."
Bengals QB Bruce Gradkowski: "This is a sad day for Raider Nation and the NFL. But it's a day to think about all Mr. Davis did for football. He was truly one of a kind. I respect him for the way he approached the game, for how much he loved it. I'm fortunate to have worked with Mr. Davis for a short period, and I thank him for giving me the opportunity. Playing in Oakland was a great experience for me, something I'll always remember."
Broncos coach/former Raiders defensive coordinator John Fox: "I want to offer my sincere condolences to the Davis family. I will always be grateful for the opportunity Mr. Davis gave me to become a coordinator in the NFL. There is no doubt that I learned a lot of football from him during my time with the Raiders. Al Davis was great for the game, and he will be missed."
Colts owner/CEO Jim Irsay: "Our condolences go out to the Davis family. Al Davis has long been a pillar of professional football and a leader of one of our most legendary franchises. His contributions, dedication and foresight changed the game for the better. The league has lost one of its all-time greats."
Patriots coach Bill Belichick: "While I am saddened by the news of Mr. Davis' passing, I will forever be heartened and enriched by the many personal interactions I had with him over the years. His winning, his football knowledge, his passion for his team and contributions to the league made him one of the all-time greats. By striving for the highest level of excellence with our respective teams and the game itself, we will be honoring the memory of Al Davis."
49ers owner Denise DeBartolo York: "I am deeply saddened to learn of the passing of Al Davis. One of my fondest memories of Al is a dinner we shared many years ago. During that meal, he presented my father with a very special opportunity to purchase the San Francisco 49ers. In recent years, we were pleased to spend time with Al as our guest in the Owners' Suite at Candlestick Park while our two teams met on the field. Our sincerest condolences go out to his family and friends."
49ers owner John York: "The Bay Area and NFL communities have lost a true pioneer in Al Davis. The significant contributions that he made to the game of football at every level spoke volumes about his commitment to excellence. We enjoyed working with Al at the league level on the development and growth of our game, and at the team level we appreciated the competition between the 49ers and his Raiders. Al Davis commanded great respect from those he worked alongside and all he competed against.
49ers GM Trent Baalke: "Anybody who enjoys the game of football owes a tip of the cap to Al Davis. The numerous contributions that Mr. Davis made to the development and growth of the NFL played an integral role in making the game as great as it is today. Although this is a very sad day in the NFL and the Bay Area, it is a great time to reflect on what Mr. Davis has meant to this sport as well as our community."
Jaguars owner Wayne Weaver: "Al Davis was truly a pioneer of the football world who made tremendous contributions to the league. It was a pleasure to serve with him. He leaves an indelible mark on professional football from his many years as a coach, general manager and owner."
Lions president Tom Lewand: "On behalf of the William Clay Ford family and the entire Detroit Lions organization, we would like to offer our most sincere condolences to the family of Al Davis and to the Oakland Raiders organization. Mr. Davis' contributions to the game of football since the days of the American Football League have been transformational and profound. His impact and his legacy will be felt in perpetuity."
Giants owner Jim Mara: "Al Davis had a brilliant football mind and his teams set a standard for excellence for many years."
Former Raiders offensive coordinator/coach Bill Callahan"My sincerest condolences go out to the Davis family, Raiders organization and Raiders fans on the passing of Al Davis, one of the true NFL icons. A visionary who was ahead of the curve in so many ways, Coach Davis had a great grasp of personnel, schemes and strategy. I learned a tremendous amount of football during my six years with his organization. His sole focus and passion in life was the Raiders. He was at practice every day and very aware of what was going on organizationally. He challenged you to be your best and I will always be grateful for the opportunity he gave me as a head coach."
From verified Twitter accounts:
@johnelway: Every time we faced the Raiders, it was a battle. Mr. Davis' teams always played with the toughness and spirit that defined him.
@MagicJohnson: What a thrill it was when I played to have Al Davis sitting courtside at the Forum.
@MagicJohnson: A leader, an innovator & a friend. Al Davis marched to his own drum & will be missed. RIP AL Davis 1929-2011
@JerryRice: Thoughts & prayers go out to the family & friends of #RaiderNation Al Davis was a man who's impact on the #NFL will never be forgotten.
@SI_PeterKing: Al Davis, the most unforgettable person I've had the pleasure of meeting in 31 years in the business, dead at 82. RIP.
@BarrySanders: I grew up a Raiders fan. My deepest sympathies to the @raiders and Davis Family. Truly a sad day for football. RIP Al Davis
@billromanowski: visionary, pioneer, warrior. rough day for me. #justwinbaby
@JimIrsay: Al Davis was a wild card maverick,the NFL Brando!His litigious ways against his partners did tarnish,but his visionary ways still shine/RIP
@RosenhausSports: I will miss Al Davis. He did as much for the NFL as anyone I have known. It was great to deal with a living legend over the years. R.I.P.
@SnoopDogg: Rest in Power to The Al Davis "win baby win" . U will be missed.
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