Al Davis, longtime owner of the Raiders, has passed at age 82. I am as guilty as anybody else of accusing Davis of being insane (and I’ve even made ruder references in the past,) but let’s put all of that aside. I think it’s worth mentioning on Davis’ passing that he was the commissioner of the AFL, helped to orchestrate the merger that made the NFL the NFL that it is today, but there’s something that’s always stuck with me.
Now, this story may sound completely ridiculous because I don’t have the player’s name, but I live in Atlanta, tons of pro athletes live here.
When I was 18, I took my car to get the oil changed and I was sitting in the waiting room reading the latest issue of National Geographic, and this ENORMOUS dude comes back to the seat where he had left his magazine du jour. I notice he has a Super Bowl ring on. I mean, you don’t have to be a genius to spot one. I had to say something…
So, I brought up the ring, politely assuming it was, in fact, a Super Bowl ring. He said, politely, that it was, and he was quite proud of it. We then talked about his time with the Raiders. And I had to ask, how it was playing for Al Davis.
He said that Al Davis sent him a Christmas card every year with a personally written note, and that Davis had helped him and his wife when things were tough back in the day. He extolled all the good virtues of Al Davis. It was pretty incredible because I’d never heard people step up to his defense before.
We still rarely hear it, but I think it’s worth saying. Al Davis treated people right where we couldn’t see it, and he helped make the NFL a game that doesn’t stop even for a protracted lockout.