The silver and black is in mourning today.
Al Davis, a pioneer in professional football who began his career in the sport on Long Island, died on Saturday according to the Oakland Raiders’ official website. He was 82.
Davis was best known for being the coach, general partner and majority owner of the Raiders, the personification of their “Just Win, Baby” attitude and outlaw swagger. But he began his coaching career at Adelphi College in Garden City from 1950-51. In 1992 he was inducted into the Adelphi Athletics Hall of fame, the same year he was enshrined in the Pro Football Hall of Fame in Canton, Ohio.
“Al Davis's passion for football and his influence on the game were extraordinary,” NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell said in a statement. “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.”
He’d become a bit of a punchline for his oddities in recent years, but Davis was one of the most important figures in NFL history. That was most evident during the 1980s when he fought in court — and won — for the right to move his team from Oakland to Los Angeles. Even after he moved them back to the Bay Area in 1995, he went to court, suing for $1.2 billion to establish that he still owned the rights to the L.A. market.
Until the recent decline of the Raiders, Davis established what he called “the team of the decades” based on another slogan: “Commitment to Excellence.” The Raiders won three Super Bowls during the 1970s and 1980s and contended almost every other season with rosters and coaching staffs filled with castoffs and troublemakers.
Davis, a graduate of Erasmus High School in Brooklyn, hired the first black head coach of the modern era, Art Shell in 1988. He hired the first Latino coach, Tom Flores, and the first woman CEO, Amy Trask. But it was his rebellious spirit, that willingness to buck the establishment, that helped turn the NFL into the most successful sports league in American history. He was the last commissioner of the American Football League and led it on personnel forays that helped force a merger that turned the expanded NFL into the colossus it remains.
It was not immediately clear when or where he died.
With the Associated Press