Where would the NFL be today without Al Davis? The iconic owner of our beloved Raiders passed away today at the age of 82. The simple answer is that it wouldn’t be the same. Al Davis shaped football and Al Davis shaped me.
I’d exhaust myself trying to list all his accomplishments and there are so many great stories to tell about Al Davis. I’ll leave that for another day.
Al Davis was one of the founding fathers of the modern NFL. Davis pioneered the vertical passing game and bump and run coverage among other things. Fathers exist on this earth to show us the path and my father put me in Raiders gear from birth. It has become part of who I am. Maybe it’s an unhealthy love affair, but I don’t care. I never met Al Davis, but he taught me many things.
Be great and don’t settle for less. Maybe that sounds simple enough, but Al Davis lived it. Davis worked tirelessly until his very last day trying to make his team great. His motto: “Just Win, Baby” and “Commitment to Excellence” stem from this basic life principle. Be great and don’t settle for anything less than greatness. It isn’t easy to accomplish or everyone would be great. Greatness only comes to those who are willing to work for it. You must commit to being great and I’ve tried to adopt this principle in my life. The greatness of Al Davis’ Raiders will forever impact the way I live.
Do things your own way. There is something to be said for trusting yourself more than others. Rely on your own intuition to get you through. Al Davis was a maverick who did things his own way and it worked. Don’t be afraid to step out of line and have your own opinion. If the NFL draft has taught us anything it is that consensus opinion doesn’t mean a lot when it comes to success. Be informed and make a decision. If it is different from the masses that’s not necessarily a bad thing.
Be aggressive. If you want something it isn’t going to be handed to you. You have to go out into the world and take it. Al Davis lived this way. If he wanted a player, it didn’t matter if he had to pay a little extra. He wanted to own the Raiders so he bought up small portion of the team and wrestled away control from the managing partner. He wanted his teams to play this same way. To Hue Jackson, bringing back Raiders football meant building a bully and what bully isn’t aggressive? If you want to be great you must be aggressive. I’ll continue to be guided by this principle.
Judge people only on their merits. Al Davis was the first football owner to hire a Latino head coach, an African American head coach and a female CEO. To Al Davis it didn’t matter if you were red, blue, green, yellow, male, female, old, young or missing a leg. Davis judged people on their own merits and it’s how we should all be. We are all unique and it’s how I strive to live, not prejudging anyone before I know them.
Have pride and poise. Another Raiders catch-phrase. It simply means to believe in yourself and be confident in your abilities. Don’t doubt yourself or your actions. To have pride and poise is to know that a mistake does not spell failure. Go out there and trust that you have what it takes to make it in football and in life. Al Davis lived it and I try to live it everyday. Don’t let the fear of failure keep you from winning the game. Mistakes will happen, but trust yourself to make the right decisions.
Without Al Davis there is no football as we know it. Without Al Davis, I’m not the man I am today. RIP Al Davis, my prayers go out to your family and friends.