Allen Davis (July 4, 1929 – October 8, 2011) was an American football coach and executive. He was the principal owner and general manager of the Oakland Raiders of the National Football League (NFL) for 39 years, from 1972 until his death in 2011. Prior to becoming the principal owner of the Raiders, he served as the team's head coach from 1963 to 1965 and part owner from 1966 to 1971, assuming both positions while the Raiders were part of the American Football League (AFL). He also served as the commissioner of the AFL in 1966.
Known for his motto "Just win, baby", the Raiders became one of the NFL's most successful and popular teams under Davis' management. Although the franchise would enter a period of decline in his final years, the Raiders would enjoy many successes during the 1970s and 1980s, and won three Super Bowl titles. He was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1992.
Davis was active in civil rights, refusing to allow the Raiders to play in any city where black and white players had to stay in separate hotels. He was the first NFL owner to hire an African American head coach and a female chief executive. He was also the second NFL owner to hire a Latino head coach (Tom Flores). He remains the only executive in NFL history to be an assistant coach, head coach, general manager, commissioner, and owner.
Davis circa 1970
|Born:||July 4, 1929|
|Died:||October 8, 2011 (aged 82)|
|High school:||Erasmus Hall|
(Brooklyn, New York)
|Career highlights and awards|
|Head coaching record|
|Regular season:||23–16–3 (.583)|
|Coaching stats at PFR|
Born in Brockton, Massachusetts, to a Jewish family, Davis' father, Louis Davis, worked in a variety of trades in Massachusetts; having found some success in the garment manufacturing field, he moved to Brooklyn, New York in 1934 with his wife, Rose, and two sons, Jerry and Allen. Louis Davis rented a sixth-floor walkup for his family off Utica Avenue, became very successful in the garment trade, and put his two sons through college before seeking a more comfortable dwelling in Atlantic Beach, New York. Although there are a number of stories extant of Louis Davis backing his younger son in anything so long as the boy did not get caught or back down from a confrontation, most of these stories derive from Al Davis. Childhood friends depicted him as more of a talker than a fighter, though very good with his mouth. Young Al's sport of choice was basketball, and he gained a reputation of a hard player, if not the most skillful. As a boy, he was determined to play for Coach Al Badain at Erasmus Hall High School, passing up the opportunity to attend school closer to his house. Although he was only a reserve on the Erasmus team, and did not play much, Davis studied Badain's coaching techniques, and felt he learned much from him—in the 1980s, with Badain ill and in need, he brought the elderly former coach to the West Coast to witness Davis's Raiders in the Super Bowl, and paid the man's debts.
Despite Davis's slight role on his high school team, Raiders media guides later published descriptions of Davis which depicted him as a schoolboy star, only to have the claims scaled back—slightly—in future editions after reporters investigated the matter. His lack of football playing experience (he did play football for his high school fraternity) made him one of the few to be a head coach in the NFL or AFL despite never having played even for the high-school varsity.
Davis graduated from high school in January 1947, immediately enrolling at Wittenberg College in Springfield, Ohio at age 17. The school had recruited Davis, though it did not extend him a scholarship. He spent a semester there, occupying himself with baseball and plans to transfer to a higher-profile school. In mid-1947, he transferred to Syracuse University. Although Davis repeatedly tried out for the various varsity teams, the height of his athletic career at Syracuse was warming the bench for the junior varsity baseball team. Frustrated by this, he briefly transferred to Hartwick College, also in New York State, in 1948, but soon returned to Syracuse. Despite Davis's lack of athletic success, he commonly mingled with varsity athletes, many of whom assumed he was also one but on another team. Unsuccessful in his efforts to join the men's basketball team, Davis became interested in football strategy, and haunted the football team's practices until asked to leave by the head coach, suspicious of Davis for taking notes. Davis also took the academic courses in football strategy given by the assistant coaches, and ordinarily attended only by players.
In job hunting, he would introduce himself as "Davis from Syracuse", likely intentionally from confusion with George Davis, star halfback for the school's football team. Turned down at Hofstra University and by Bill Altenberg, athletic director at Adelphi University (both on Long Island), he approached Adelphi's president. What went on between the two men is not known—his biographer Mark Ribowsky suggests Davis used a combination of "bluff and con," but a half hour after Altenberg dismissed Davis from his office, he received a call from the president that he had a new freshman football coach.
In 1952, with his student deferral ended upon receipt of his master's degree, Davis was inducted into the U.S. Army. He quickly secured a place attached to a public relations unit near Syracuse, and set about obtaining a place on one of the coaching staff for the military's football teams. General Stanley Scott of Fort Belvoir, Virginia, obtained Davis's services in 1953 as football coach for his post's football squad. At the time, military football was taken very seriously; the teams were well-stocked with drafted college stars, and often scrimmaged National Football League (NFL) teams. Davis coached Fort Belvoir, just south of Washington, D.C., to a record of eight wins, two losses, and one tie (8–2–1), missing a chance to play in the Poinsettia Bowl in San Diego because of a final-game loss to the nearby Quantico Marine Base. Near the end of 1952, he was called to testify before a congressional committee investigating whether athletes were being coddled in the military. Although most of Davis's team was sent to Korea, he remained at Fort Belvoir until his discharge in 1954. While coaching in the army, Davis sold scouting information about his players to NFL teams. One NFL executive who contacted Davis was Pete Rozelle of the Los Angeles Rams, but as Rozelle had been allocated no money, Davis gave him no information.
After his military service, Davis married his fiancée, Carol Sagal, in a Brooklyn synagogue; the couple established a first home in Atlantic Beach, near Al Davis's parents. Davis worked for a year as a freelance scout for the Baltimore Colts of the NFL. He had considerable knowledge of the players he had had on his roster or coached against, and advised the Colts which players to offer contracts to or draft as they returned to civilian life. Davis cultivated the Colts' head coach, Weeb Ewbank, hoping Ewbank's connections would lead to a coaching job for Davis, and these efforts paid off in January 1955, when Davis was hired by The Citadel in South Carolina as an assistant to first-year head coach John Sauer. In contrast to the glory won by its alumni in war, the South Carolina military academy's football team had lost every game the previous season, and previous head coach John McMillan was dismissed after two seasons. Davis stated, in his interview, that he would be able to persuade small-town boys from the Northeast to attend The Citadel, which often had difficulty in recruiting star players because of its regimented lifestyle. He was successful in his recruiting, though not all remained past the first training camp, at Parris Island Marine base.
During games, Davis was stationed in the press box, calling plays which were generally run by Sauer without modification. The Citadel unexpectedly began the season by winning five of its first six games, though it lost the next three to end the season 5–4. Davis received much credit for his role in The Citadel's success, though losing Sauer's regard through too-aggressive self-promotion. The 1956 season was less successful, as the team finished 3–5–1. Sauer resigned at the end of the season; Davis unsuccessfully sought the head coaching position and then resigned; Ribowsky records that there were allegations of payments and other benefits to players in violation of NCAA rules; he also states that Davis pressured professors to change grades to keep student-athletes eligible to play football. By the time he left The Citadel, Davis had already arranged his next job, at the University of Southern California (USC) in Los Angeles.
Davis was an effective recruiter as a USC assistant coach, bringing one prospect, Angelo Coia to the Los Angeles Coliseum at night, and as the lights were slowly turned off, asked the student to imagine himself playing there before 100,000 people. Coia played for USC and later worked for the Raider front office. When Davis arrived, USC was on NCAA probation for allowing alumni to surreptitiously give money to players, and had not been permitted to play in a bowl game after the 1956 season; these sanctions hampered Davis's first two seasons at USC, 1957 and 1958, during which the team posted mediocre record. The head coach, Don Clark, came to rely heavily on Davis. Clark and Davis hoped that 1959 would bring a conference championship and the chance to play in the Rose Bowl, but in April 1959 USC was sanctioned by the NCAA again, this time for inducing recruits signed by other schools into breaking their letters of intent. Not allowed to play on television, USC won its first eight games before losing to UCLA and Notre Dame. Despite the defeats, the team was Pacific Coast Conference champions, but because of the sanctions could not play in the Rose Bowl. Clark resigned after the season; although Davis put in for the position, it went to another assistant, John McKay, who did not keep Davis on his staff.
Davis had met Los Angeles Rams coach Sid Gillman in Atlantic City at a coaching clinic; the NFL coach had been impressed that Davis had sat in the front row, taken copious notes, and had asked many questions afterwards. Gillman was fired after the 1959 season, but was quickly hired in by the Los Angeles Chargers of the startup American Football League (AFL) for their debut 1960 season. He hired Davis as backfield coach on a coaching staff which included future hall of famer Chuck Noll as well as future AFL head coach and NFL general manager Jack Faulkner. Gillman later stated that he hired Davis for his success both as a coach and as a recruiter, and because "Al had that knack of telling people what they wanted to hear. He was very persuasive."
The AFL's rules were crafted to encourage wide-open, high-scoring football. In later years, much to Gillman's anger, Davis hinted that he had designed the Chargers's offense, or at least deserved partial credit. The team initially proved successful, winning the AFL Western Division in 1960 and 1961, though losing each time in the AFL Championship Game to the Houston Oilers. Due to financial losses sustained by drawing small crowds to the huge Los Angeles Coliseum, the team moved to San Diego in 1961. In 1962, however, the team won only four of fourteen games.
One player whom Davis recommended to the Chargers, and then secured, was wide receiver Lance Alworth of Arkansas, who was a first round selection of NFL San Francisco 49ers in the 1962 NFL Draft. Unwilling to give the 49ers a chance to sign him, Davis raced onto the field at the conclusion of Alworth's final college game and signed him to a contract under the goalpost as 49ers head coach Red Hickey watched helplessly from the stands. Davis later stated, "I knew it wasn't safe to let Alworth go to the dressing room." In 1978, Davis was selected by Alworth to introduce him at his induction to the Pro Football Hall of Fame in Canton, Ohio.
Early in the 1962 season, Davis spoke with Oakland Raiders owner F. Wayne Valley about their head coaching job. However, Davis was not then interested. After the team's disastrous 1962 season, in which it lost its first 13 games before defeating a Boston Patriots team demoralized from having just been eliminated from playoff contention, Valley sought to replace head coach Red Conkright.
A number of names were rumored to be in contention for the Raiders head coaching job, from Green Bay Packers coach Vince Lombardi to Lou Agase, former coach of the Canadian Football League Toronto Argonauts. On January 1, 1963, Davis met with Valley and the other Raiders general partner, Ed McGah. According to witnesses present at the negotiations, Davis did not have a high opinion of Valley and McGah, indicating during their absence that they did not know the right questions to ask. They offered him a one-year contract as head coach. He declined, insisting on a multiyear deal as both head coach and general manager, with complete control over football operations. They settled on three years at a salary of $20,000 per annum. According to Davis biographer Ira Simmons, the date that Davis came to Oakland, January 18, 1963, "was probably one of the three or four most important dates in AFL history. Maybe NFL history too." Valley later stated, "we needed someone who wanted to win so badly, he would do anything. Everywhere I went, people told me what a son of a bitch Al Davis was, so I figured he must be doing something right."
The Raiders team had been a late addition to the original AFL in 1960; the franchise had been awarded when the owners of the AFL Minnesota team had been induced to join the NFL instead. While it inherited the departed Minnesota team's draft picks, it had little else. The franchise, originally nicknamed the Señors (changed to Raiders after columnists raised objections) was not established until the other AFL teams had had the opportunity to sign players and coaches, a handicap which contributed to it being the only team to post a losing record in each of the AFL's first three seasons. The University of California refused to let it play at Memorial Stadium in Berkeley, and no other facility in the East Bay was suitable even for temporary use, forcing it to play its first two seasons at Kezar Stadium and Candlestick Park, both located across the bay in San Francisco.
Valley and his group purchased the Raiders in 1961. Valley and his partners used the threat of leaving to induce city officials to construct Frank Youell Field, a temporary facility in downtown Oakland next to the Nimitz Freeway which held about 15,000 people, the use of which was shared with high schools. Planning for a larger stadium — what became the Oakland Coliseum — began, but there was no guarantee that it would ever be built. 
Davis immediately began to try to build the Raiders into a championship team, both on the field and in the front office. Many Raiders players and front-office employees were dismissed. Since their first season, the Raiders had used hand-me-down black and gold uniforms from the University of the Pacific in Stockton. Davis had been impressed by the black uniforms of the football players at West Point, which he felt made them look larger. Soon after he arrived, the Raiders adopted their now-iconic silver and black motif. The Raiders' offices were on an open mezzanine overlooking a downtown Oakland hotel lobby; Davis got Valley to move them to more private facilities. With no agreement between the AFL and NFL, drafted players often went to the higher bidder. Davis could not hope to outbid the NFL and drafted players with remaining college eligibility, hoping to sign them once they finished their careers. Thus, his hopes of success for 1963 rested on what trades he could make, and in signing players cut by other teams.
Davis's methods of acquiring these players caused other teams' executives to regard him with respect and caution. He acquired All-AFL guard Bob Mischak from the New York Jets for Dan Ficca without telling Jets coach/general manager Weeb Ewbank that Ficca would not be released from his military service until after the season began. Wide receiver Art Powell had played out his contract with New York and become a free agent, and had apparently been signed by the Buffalo Bills. Davis learned that the Powell contract had been made before the season ended, and thus constituted tampering. He signed Powell himself, and the Bills did not contest it.
Gillman's Chargers teams had used high-powered offenses. Davis sought to increase their power. From the opening of training camp, he sought to motivate his players, using techniques he had learned in the military. From the start, players saw phrases like "commitment to excellence" and, on schedules next to the time of games, "We go to war!" In the season opener, at Houston's Jeppesen Stadium against the Oilers, the two-touchdown underdog Raiders won, 24–13, then came home to defeat the Bills 35–17. A home loss to the Patriots was next, followed by an East Coast road trip on which the Raiders lost all three games. To growing excitement in Oakland, the Raiders did not lose the rest of the season, finishing 10–4, a game behind the division champion Chargers, whom the Raiders defeated twice. Davis was voted AFL Coach of the Year. The 1963 Oakland Raiders were the only pro football team to improve its record by nine victories under the 14-game schedule.
By the end of its sixth season in 1965, the American Football League had overcome its initial status of bare-bones survivor to become a significant rival to the NFL. With a television contract with NBC and major stadiums constructed or being built, the AFL could afford to compete on equal terms for players with the NFL. Not all AFL owners sought a merger — Jets owner Sonny Werblin, for example, felt that with brand-new Shea Stadium and the young star Joe Namath at quarterback, his team could compete on equal terms with the crosstown NFL Giants, then playing at Yankee Stadium in the South Bronx. However, most AFL owners wanted to be a part of the older, better-established NFL, whose owners feared continued escalation of player salaries.
While the AFL owners liked the league's first commissioner, Joe Foss, they had little confidence in his abilities at a time for struggle between the two leagues, and Foss resigned on April 7, 1966. Davis, 36, was voted in as commissioner the following day, and took the job with Valley's agreement, hired as a fighter who would win the war with the NFL. The owners, led by Chiefs owner Lamar Hunt, felt that Davis could put pressure on the NFL and force a favorable settlement. His biographer, Glenn Dickey, notes that Davis was deceived by the owners, "He thought he had been hired to win the war with the NFL. In fact, the owners only wanted to force a peace. They were quietly negotiating a merger while Davis was fighting a war."
According to sportswriter Ken Rappoport in his history of the AFL, "Davis had a plan, and, considering the football genius the man would become, no one should have been surprised that it would work—brilliantly." Davis's target in the war was the NFL's quarterbacks, arranging for AFL teams to sign star players, such as Roman Gabriel of the Rams, who would be free agents after 1966 although that season had not yet begun. Gabriel, with his AFL contract to begin in 1967, received an immediate $100,000 bonus. The signing of 49ers quarterback John Brodie was announced by Davis and the AFL.[a] These transactions increased the financial pressure on the NFL's weaker franchises, which faced the prospect of losing their best players in a year, or greatly increasing their labor costs. A merger agreement was announced on June 8 and Davis was greatly displeased with the agreement on two fronts. It required the Jets and Raiders to pay indemnities to the Giants and 49ers for establishing teams within their exclusive territories, and it also put him out of a job: the merger agreement immediately abolished the post of AFL commissioner. Pete Rozelle would continue in his post as NFL commissioner under the merger agreement. Davis had hoped to be named commissioner if any merger was reached; the result increased what already had become a dislike of Rozelle.
Davis resigned as commissioner on July 25, 1966. AFL owners wanted Davis to continue serving as AFL President. AFL owners had explicitly agreed that the office of AFL President would be subservient to that of the NFL Commissioner, and Davis flatly refused to consider serving as a subordinate to Rozelle. Eventually, Milt Woodard (who was assistant commissioner under Foss) agreed to serve as President of the AFL.
After resigning as AFL commissioner, Davis formed a holding company, A.D. Football, Inc. and returned to his old club as one of three general partners, along with Wayne Valley and Ed McGah. He owned a 10% stake in the team, and was also named head of football operations. On the field, the team Davis had assembled and coached steadily improved. With John Rauch (Davis's hand-picked successor) as head coach, the Raiders won the 1967 AFL Championship, defeating the Houston Oilers 40–7. The win earned the team a trip to Super Bowl II, where they were beaten 33–14 by Vince Lombardi's Green Bay Packers. The following two years, the Raiders again won Western Division titles, only to lose the AFL Championship to the eventual Super Bowl winners—the New York Jets (1968) and Kansas City Chiefs (1969).
In 1969, John Madden became the team's sixth head coach, and under him, the Raiders became one of the most successful franchises in the NFL, winning six division titles during the 1970s. In 1970, the AFL-NFL merger took place and the Raiders joined the Western Division of the American Football Conference in the newly merged NFL. The first post-merger season saw the Raiders win the AFC West with an 8–4–2 record and go all the way to the conference championship, where they lost to the Colts. Despite another 8–4–2 season in 1971, the Raiders failed to win the division or achieve a playoff berth.
In 1972, while managing general partner Valley was attending the 1972 Summer Olympics in Munich, Davis drafted a revised partnership agreement that made him the new managing general partner, with near-absolute control over team operations. McGah signed the agreement. Since two of the team's three general partners had voted in favor of the agreement, it was binding under California partnership law of the time. Valley sued to overturn the agreement once he returned to the country, but was unsuccessful. Valley sold his interest in 1976, and from that point on none of the other partners had any role in the team's operations. This was despite the fact that Davis did not acquire a majority interest in the Raiders until 2005, when he bought the shares held by McGah's family. At his death he owned approximately 67% of the team.
In addition to serving as owner, Davis effectively served as his own general manager until his death — longer than any football operations chief in the league at the time. At the time of his death, he was one of three NFL owners who had the title or powers of general manager, the others being Jerry Jones of the Dallas Cowboys and Mike Brown of the Cincinnati Bengals. Davis was long reckoned as one of the most hands-on owners in professional sports, and reportedly had more authority over day-to-day operations than any other owner in the league.
Davis was known throughout the league as a maverick, and dressed the part. By the time he had taken complete control of the Raiders, he had assumed his classic image—slicked-back hair in a 1950s-style ducktail, dark sunglasses, tracksuits, and Boston-tinged speech ("the Raiduhs").
With Davis in control, the Raiders became one of the most successful teams in all of professional sports. From 1967 to 1985, the team won 13 division championships, one AFL championship (1967), three Super Bowls (XI, XV, and XVIII), and made 15 playoff appearances. Though the Raiders have fallen on hard times in recent years, going 37–91 from 2003 to 2010, they are one of only five teams to play in the Super Bowl in four different decades, with the others being the Pittsburgh Steelers, New England Patriots, New York Giants, and Denver Broncos.
In 1992, Davis was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame as a Team and League Administrator, and was presented by John Madden. Davis was chosen by a record nine Pro Football Hall of Fame inductees to present them at the Canton, Ohio ceremony: Lance Alworth, Jim Otto, George Blanda, Willie Brown, Gene Upshaw, Fred Biletnikoff, Art Shell, Ted Hendricks, and Madden.
Davis' generosity was legendary when it came to helping former players in need, although he routinely did so without fanfare. His philosophy was: Once a Raider, always a Raider.
Davis was long considered one of the most controversial owners in the NFL and was involved in multiple lawsuits involving Los Angeles, Oakland, Irwindale and the NFL. In 1980, he attempted to move the Raiders to Los Angeles but was blocked by a court injunction. In response, Davis filed an anti-trust lawsuit against the NFL and his team won the Super Bowl. In June 1982 a federal district court ruled in Davis' favor and the team officially relocated to Los Angeles for the 1982 NFL season. When the upstart United States Football League filed its antitrust suit in 1986, Davis was the only NFL owner who sided with the USFL.
In 1995, after being unable to secure a new stadium in the Los Angeles area and after a proposed move to Sacramento that involved Davis taking ownership of the Sacramento Kings fell apart Davis moved the team back to Oakland, then sued the NFL, claiming the league sabotaged the team's effort to build a stadium at Hollywood Park in Inglewood by not doing enough to help the team move from the antiquated Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum to a new stadium complete with luxury suites. The NFL won a 9–3 verdict in 2001, but Los Angeles County Superior Court Judge Richard Hubbell ordered a new trial amid accusations that one juror was biased against the team and Davis, and that another juror committed misconduct. A state appeals court later overturned that decision. The case was thrown out in 2007 when the California Supreme Court unanimously ruled on July 2 that the verdict against the Raiders stood. This was the last of several lawsuits the Raiders had outstanding against the league and its stadium landlords.
In the mid-1990s, Davis sued the NFL on behalf of the Raiders, claiming the Raiders had exclusive rights to the L.A. market, even though the Raiders were in Oakland. Davis and the Raiders lost the lawsuit.
In 2007, NFL Films chose the feud between Davis and the NFL and Pete Rozelle as their number 1 greatest feud in NFL history on the NFL Network's Top Ten Feuds, citing almost a half century of animosity between Davis and the league. Some believe that the root of Davis' animosity towards the NFL and his former co-owners in the AFL was the surreptitious way they pushed the AFL-NFL merger behind his back.
Davis introduced the Raiders' signature colors silver and black in 1963 in a unilateral move as head coach and general manager. In 1966 as AFL Commissioner, Davis initiated a bidding war with the NFL over players. But it was his return to Oakland in 1967 that allowed him to reach his true calling. That season Davis made a number of roster moves, including landing Buffalo Bills quarterback Daryle Lamonica, a back-up for starter Jack Kemp on two AFL champion Bills teams. Another move at first thought to be desperate was the signing of former Houston Oilers QB George Blanda, who was already 39 but was still a very solid placekicker, and had played on the first AFL champion teams with Houston, as well as for the Chicago Bears and Baltimore Colts before that. Davis correctly identified Blanda as a mentor for Lamonica as well as a solid special teams man despite his advanced age. That year, he also drafted guard Gene Upshaw, who would become the cornerstone of the Oakland offensive line well into the 1980s. Lamonica propelled the Raiders to a 13–1 won-loss record in the 1967–68 season, and they coasted to the league championship with a 40–7 victory over Houston, although they were defeated easily by the Green Bay Packers in Super Bowl II. Oakland under Davis would go on to win the other two last AFL Western Division titles before the 1970 AFL–NFL merger.
During the first years of the new league format Oakland was a dominant franchise, winning the AFC West Division every year except 1971, and was kept out of the Super Bowls between 1970 and 1975 only by phenomenal Baltimore Colts, Miami Dolphins and Pittsburgh Steelers teams. Indeed, during the nine-year span from 1967 through 1975, the Raiders were eliminated by the team that won the Super Bowl on seven occasions (Green Bay in Super Bowl II at the end of the 1967 season, Super Bowl III champion New York in the 1968 AFL Championship Game, Super Bowl IV champion Kansas City in the 1969 AFL Championship Game, Super Bowl V champion Baltimore in the 1970 AFC Championship, Super Bowl VIII champion Miami in the 1973 AFC Championship Game, and Super Bowl IX and X champion Pittsburgh in the 1974 and 1975 AFC Championship Games). Finally, in 1976, the Raiders won their first title in Super Bowl XI under Davis's homegrown head coach John Madden. From 1970 to 1981 Oakland was able to reach the AFC Championship Game seven out of eleven years, and won two Super Bowls in that period. They also captured additional division titles during that period.
In the 1980 offseason star QB Ken Stabler attempted to renegotiate his contract with the Raiders. A veteran gunslinging quarterback, Stabler had won the Raiders' only title until then and had been a mainstay since his 1968 signing with the team as a protégé of Lamonica. Davis angered much of the Raider community by dealing him to the Oilers for quarterback Dan Pastorini, a trade many regarded as selfishly seeking revenge while strengthening the team's top AFC rival. Although Pastorini was injured in week 5, the move paid off when replacement veteran Jim Plunkett led the Raiders to a first-place tie with San Diego for the best AFC West record and the wild card spot for their first playoff appearance since 1977. The Raiders defeated Stabler and the Oilers 27-7 in the AFC Wild Card game and subsequently became the third second-place team to play in the Super Bowl, joining the 1969 Kansas City Chiefs and the 1975 Dallas Cowboys. They defeated the Philadelphia Eagles 27-10 in Super Bowl XV, enabling them to become the very first wild-card team to ever win the SB. Davis had been a preseason goat in Oakland for the Stabler deal. The Raiders won the AFC semifinal game over the Browns 14-12 at Cleveland in one of the most exciting games, with a key interception of a Brian Sipe pass sealing victory in the freezing cold by Lake Erie. Then they defeated San Diego 34-27 on the road on their march to victory in Super Bowl XV in New Orleans.
Marcus Allen, the most valuable player in the Raiders' Super Bowl XVIII victory, was ordered to be benched by Davis for two years following a contract dispute. Davis only commented, "He was a cancer on the team." Allen said that Davis "told me he was going to get me." He added that "I think he's tried to ruin the later part of my career. He's trying to stop me from going to the Hall of Fame. They don't want me to play." Davis called Allen's charges "fraudulent", and then-Raiders coach Art Shell said only he decided who plays. The Raiders released Allen in 1992, and he played the last five years of his 16-year, Hall of Fame career with the Kansas City Chiefs.
On February 18, 2002, Davis dealt his head coach Jon Gruden to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in exchange for Tampa Bay's 2002 and 2003 first-round draft picks, 2002 and 2004 second-round draft picks, and $8 million in cash. His replacement, Bill Callahan, led Oakland to an 11–5 record and their third consecutive division championship. The Raiders reached Super Bowl XXXVII, where they faced Gruden, who led Tampa Bay to its first Super Bowl berth. The Buccaneers won in a 48–21 blowout, in a matchup that was termed the "Gruden Bowl". Seventeen years later, Gruden returned to the Raiders as head coach in 2018 after seven years with the Buccaneers and nine years with ESPN.
Although it was not apparent at the time, the Raiders' loss in the Super Bowl would be Davis' last hurrah. The Raiders would never have another winning season under his ownership, suffering consecutive losing seasons from 2003 to 2010—the longest drought in franchise history. This included double-digit loss record seasons in seven consecutive years from 2003 to 2009. The team cycled through multiple head coaches. Their 2007 first overall draft pick, quarterback JaMarcus Russell, was called "the biggest draft flop in NFL history" by FoxSports.com. Davis was largely blamed, and his motto of "Just win, baby!" was mocked by many. Russell was released by the Raiders in May 2010 and never played another down in the NFL.
The 2011 Raiders' record was 2–2 at Davis' death. The day after his death, the Raiders defeated the Houston Texans 25-20 on a final play interception by safety Michael Huff in the end zone. The Raiders finished the season with a record of 8–8 and missed the playoffs, after starting the season 7–4.
Davis breached several civil rights and diversity barriers during his career with the Raiders. In 1963, the Raiders were scheduled to play a preseason game in Mobile, Alabama. In protest of Alabama's segregation laws, Davis refused to allow the game to be played there and demanded the game be moved to Oakland. He also refused to allow the players to travel to other cities to play games where the black and white players would have to stay in separate hotels.
Davis was the first NFL owner to hire an African American head coach, Art Shell, and a female chief executive, Amy Trask. He also hired Tom Flores, the second Latino head coach in the league.[b]
Davis died, aged 82, in his suite at the Hilton Hotel Oakland Airport at 2:45 a.m. PDT on October 8, 2011 in Oakland, California. Nine days later, a private service and funeral was held for Davis, who was interred at Chapel of the Chimes. In the days following the funeral, The Associated Press obtained information pertaining to Davis' death. The death certificate, issued by Alameda County, disclosed Davis had died from "an abnormal heart rhythm, congestive heart failure and a heart muscle disease". Davis previously underwent heart surgery in 1996. Davis was also afflicted with skin cancer and had undergone throat surgery in the days preceding his death.
There was an outpouring of support and grief in the wake of Davis' death. John Madden, who had remained close to Davis since their first meeting in 1966 lamented, "You don’t replace a guy like that. No way. No damn way. You look at the things he's done that no one ever did before, being a scout, assistant coach, head coach, general manager, commissioner and owner." The Sunday following his death, the Oakland Raiders adorned their helmets with a sticker which read "Al" in Davis' memory. A league-wide moment of silence was also observed. Despite the widespread remembrance of his accomplishments, Davis' position as a controversial figure lives on as part of his legacy. Sportswriter Rick Reilly was particularly adamant that the questionable personnel decisions Davis made later in his career and his arrogant, brash personality should not be forgotten amidst sportswriters' praise of him as an innovative owner.
Davis was survived by his wife, Carol, and their only child, Mark, a graduate of California State University, Chico. Mark assumed his father's old title of managing general partner of the Raiders and with his mother owns the majority of the team. Carol suffered a serious heart attack in 1979 and was hospitalized for three weeks but was able to make a complete recovery.
Davis' mother Rose had lived to age 103. She died in 2001, having outlived her husband Lou by 40 years.
The day after Davis' death, the Raiders played the Houston Texans. Oakland was leading the game 25–20 late in the fourth quarter. On the final play of the game, Raider free safety Michael Huff intercepted Texan quarterback Matt Schaub in the end zone to preserve the victory. The Raiders had only 10 defensive players on the field for the play. The play was referred to as the "Divine Interception" with media speculating that Davis was the 11th player on the field in spirit. Raiders coach Hue Jackson said Al Davis "had his hand on that ball." Jackson was highly emotional in victory, as well as Davis's son Mark Davis. Jackson said, "One thing coach (Davis) always taught me was he said: 'Hue, don't believe in plays. Believe in players and eventually the players will make plays for you.' And that's what I did. I could just hear him saying that to me the whole time. Believe in your players and not the plays." "We know he's looking down on us right now," Huff said. "This win is for him. I appreciate everything he's done for this organization. He's never gone in our eyes. We'll never let him go. He's with us."
In the years after, Mark Davis and the Raiders created the Al Davis torch. The gas operated torch is at the Oakland Coliseum and is lit by a former Raiders player or coach prior to each Raider home game. A torch that will rise 120 feet above the main concourse is planned for the future home of the Raiders at Las Vegas Stadium in Las Vegas, Nevada.
The 1963 Oakland Raiders season was the team's fourth in Oakland. The campaign saw the team attempt to improve upon its abysmal 1962 record of 1–13.
In his first year with the organization, Raiders legend Al Davis, formerly a receivers coach with the San Diego Chargers, replaced the team's original gold and black uniforms with the current "silver and black" scheme. Under his leadership as head coach and general manager, the Raiders stunned the rest of the AFL by winning ten games. They finished with a record of 10–4, which was good for second place in the Western Division, one game behind the eventual AFL champion Chargers, whom they had defeated twice. The Raiders swept the Western division in 1963, winning all six games. For his role in the Raiders' miraculous turnaround, Al Davis was named the AFL's "Coach of the Year".1965 Oakland Raiders season
The 1965 Oakland Raiders season was the team's sixth in both Oakland and the American Football League. The campaign saw the team attempt to improve upon the prior year's disappointing 5–7–2 record. The Raiders would ultimately finish with a record of 8–5–1. While the effort was a definite improvement over the prior year's result, it was not enough to win the division and secure a postseason berth. The season would be Al Davis' last as head coach, as he would be named Commissioner of the AFL in April 1966. He would be replaced by John Rauch in 1966.
The 1965 season was the first of sixteen consecutive winning seasons for the Raiders. It is also notable for the debut of Hall of Fame wide receiver Fred Biletnikoff. Biletnikoff would be the first of several legendary Raiders drafted in the late-1960s and early 1970s. He would be an integral part of the team's 1967 and 1976 Super Bowl runs.
The season was also the team's last at Frank Youell Field. They would move to the Oakland–Alameda County Coliseum for the following season.1980 NFL season
The 1980 NFL season was the 61st regular season of the National Football League.
Prior to the season in March 1980, fellow NFL owners voted against the proposed move by the Raiders from Oakland, California to Los Angeles. Raider team owner Al Davis along with the Los Angeles Coliseum sued the NFL charging that they had violated antitrust laws. A verdict in the trial would not be decided until before the 1982 NFL season; however, the planned move to Los Angeles went through that very season.
Meanwhile, the season ended at Super Bowl XV played on January 25, 1981, in New Orleans, Louisiana, with these same Oakland Raiders defeating the Philadelphia Eagles 27–10, making them the first Wild Card team ever to win the Super Bowl.1987 Los Angeles Raiders season
The 1987 Los Angeles Raiders season was the franchise's strike-shotened 28th season overall, and the franchise's 18th season in the National Football League. They finished with a disappointing record of 5–10 (the team's worst finish since Al Davis arrived in 1963). It was only the sixth losing season in franchise history.1997 Oakland Raiders season
The 1997 Oakland Raiders season was the club's 38th season in the NFL. Led by Joe Bugel, the club finished with a 4–12 record, a mark which marked the worst finish for the Raiders since 1962; when they won only once in the final season before the arrival of Al Davis. The Raiders missed the playoffs for the fourth consecutive season.2011 Oakland Raiders season
The 2011 Oakland Raiders season was the franchise's 42nd season in the National Football League and the 52nd overall. 2011 also marked the final season under the ownership of Al Davis, who died on October 8, 2011. The Raiders matched their 8–8 record from 2010, finishing in a three-way tie with the Denver Broncos and San Diego Chargers for the AFC West division title, but lost tiebreakers to both teams, and missed the playoffs for the ninth consecutive season.On January 4, 2011, it was announced that head coach Tom Cable's contract would not be extended. Cable would be replaced by Hue Jackson, the team's former offensive coordinator. The Raiders traded their first round selection in the 2011 NFL Draft (17th overall) to the New England Patriots. With their eighth win on December 24 over the Chiefs, the Raiders secured their second consecutive non-losing season. Although TV blackouts had been a persistent issue over the years, all eight regular season home games were sold out for the first time since moving from Los Angeles to Oakland in 1995. The team set the record for being the most penalized team in NFL history, breaking the record previously held by the 1998 Kansas City Chiefs. This season also marked the first consecutive non-losing season for the Raiders since 1998–2002.Art Shell
Arthur Lee Shell Jr. (born November 26, 1946) is an American former collegiate and professional football player in the American Football League and later in the National Football League, a Hall of Fame offensive tackle, and a two-time former head coach of the Oakland Raiders. He holds the distinction of becoming the second African-American head coach in the history of professional football, and the first in the sport's modern era. Shell was inducted to the College Football Hall of Fame in 2013 and the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1989.History of the Los Angeles Raiders
The professional American football team now known as the Oakland Raiders played in Los Angeles, California as the Los Angeles Raiders from 1982 to 1994 before relocating back to Oakland where the team played from its inaugural 1960 season to the 1981 season. The Raiders franchise relocated from Oakland to Los Angeles in 1982. The Raiders first home game in Los Angeles was at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum against the San Diego Chargers on November 22, 1982 after a 57 day player strike. Their last game as a Los Angeles-based club was played at the Coliseum against the Kansas City Chiefs on December 24, 1994, a game in which they lost 19–9 eliminating them from playoff competition.History of the Oakland Raiders
This article describes the history of the Oakland Raiders. The Raiders are a professional American football club based in Oakland, California. The team competes in the National Football League (NFL) as a member of the American Football Conference (AFC) West division.Las Vegas Stadium
Las Vegas Stadium is the working name for a domed stadium under construction in Paradise, Nevada for the Las Vegas Raiders of the National Football League (NFL) and the UNLV Rebels football team of the University of Nevada, Las Vegas (UNLV). It is located on about 62 acres west of Mandalay Bay at Russell Road and Hacienda Avenue and between Polaris Avenue and Dean Martin Drive, just west of Interstate 15. Construction of the $1.8 billion stadium began in September 2017 and is expected to be completed sometime in August 2020, in time for the 2020 NFL season.List of Oakland Raiders head coaches
There have been 20 head coaches for the Oakland Raiders of the National Football League (NFL). The Raiders franchise was founded in Oakland, California in 1959 and became the eighth member of the American Football League (AFL) in 1960 as a replacement for the Minnesota Vikings, who had moved to the NFL. The Raiders joined the NFL in 1970, after the AFL–NFL merger. They played in Los Angeles between 1982 and 1995, before returning to Oakland. As of the end of the 2015 season, the Raiders have played 852 games in a total of 56 seasons in the AFL and NFL. In those games, two coaches have won the Super Bowl with the team: John Madden in 1976 and Tom Flores in 1980 and 1983. One coach, John Rauch in 1966, won the AFL Championship. Four other coaches, Art Shell, Jack Del Rio, Jon Gruden and Bill Callahan, have also taken the Raiders to the playoffs. Callahan led the Raiders to the Super Bowl. He did this in his first year as head coach of the team.Shell and Gruden are the only coaches to have more than one tenure with the team, and Flores and Shell are the only coaches to have coached the team in both Oakland and Los Angeles. The worst coach statistically in Raiders history is Red Conkright, with a winning percentage of .111, while Rauch is statistically the best, with a winning percentage of .805. However, the all-time leader in both games coached and wins is Madden, with 142 and 103 respectively. Of the 20 Raiders coaches, Al Davis and Madden are the only Raider coaches to be inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame for their contributions as coaches. Davis, who was also the Managing General partner and an AFL Commissioner, was in the Hall of Fame class of 1992. Madden was in the 2006 class. Two coaches, Flores and Shell, are also former players for the Raiders. Shell was also inducted into the Hall of Fame in 1989, but as a player.Milt Woodard
Milton P. "Milt" Woodard (June 4, 1911 – March 3, 1996) was an American sports writer and sport executive. He was the President of the American Football League until it merged with the NFL in 1970. Woodard served from July 1966 to March 1970, succeeding Commissioner Al Davis as chief executive of the League.Mount Davis (Oakland)
Mount Davis, or Mt. Davis, is a section of 20,000 capacity seating at the Oakland–Alameda County Coliseum in Oakland, California, United States. It was built in 1995 at the behest of Oakland City Council with the intent of bringing the Los Angeles Raiders American football team back to Oakland and is named after former Oakland Raiders owner Al Davis. Since 2006, the top-tier seating of Mount Davis has been covered by tarpaulin during all Oakland Athletics baseball games, and the Oakland Raiders followed suit in 2013.Oakland Raiders
The Oakland Raiders are a professional American football franchise based in Oakland, California. The Raiders compete in the National Football League (NFL) as a member club of the league's American Football Conference (AFC) West division. Founded on January 30, 1960, they played their first regular season game on September 11, 1960, as a charter member of the American Football League (AFL) which merged with the NFL in 1970.
The Raiders' off-field fortunes have varied considerably over the years. The team's first three years of operation (1960–1962) were marred by poor on-field performance, financial difficulties, and spotty attendance. In 1963, however, the Raiders' fortunes improved dramatically with the introduction of head coach (and eventual owner) Al Davis. In 1967, after several years of improvement, the Raiders reached the postseason for the first time. The team would go on to win its first (and only) AFL Championship that year; in doing so, the Raiders advanced to Super Bowl II, where they were soundly defeated by the Green Bay Packers. Since 1963, the team has won 15 division titles (three AFL and 12 NFL), four AFC Championships (1976, 1980, 1983, and 2002), one AFL Championship (1967), and three Super Bowl Championships (XI, XV, and XVIII). At the end of the NFL's 2018 season, the Raiders boasted a lifetime regular season record of 466 wins, 423 losses, and 11 ties; their lifetime playoff record currently stands at 25 wins and 19 losses.The team departed Oakland to play in Los Angeles from the 1982 season until the 1994 season before returning to Oakland at the start of the 1995 season. Al Davis owned the team from 1972 until his death in 2011. Control of the franchise was then given to Al's son Mark Davis.
On March 27, 2017, NFL team owners voted nearly unanimously to approve the Raiders' application to relocate from Oakland to Las Vegas, Nevada, in a 31-1 vote at the annual league meetings in Phoenix, Arizona. The Raiders plan to remain in the Bay Area through 2019, and relocate to Las Vegas in 2020, pending the completion of the team's planned new stadium.The Raiders are known for their extensive fan base and distinctive team culture. The Raiders have 14 former members who have been enshrined in the Pro Football Hall of Fame. They have previously played at Kezar Stadium in San Francisco, Candlestick Park in San Francisco, Frank Youell Field in Oakland, the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum in Los Angeles, and the Oakland–Alameda County Coliseum in Oakland.Straight Outta L.A.
Straight Outta L.A. is a 2010 documentary film directed by Ice Cube and produced by Hunting Lane Films for ESPN's 30 for 30 of the Los Angeles Raiders (now Oakland Raiders) time in Los Angeles and the effect had on Los Angeles and LA Hip Hop through the rise of gangsta rap and the connection between the two solidified through the group N.W.A.
The documentary features Ice Cube, city leaders and other hip hop figures talking about the rise of Gangsta Rap and NWA and Al Davis, Howie Long, Marcus Allen and other Raiders players and administrators talking about the team's time in LA from 1982 to 1994.
In 1982, an anti-trust lawsuit was filed against the National Football League by the Raiders and the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum after the NFL refused to let the Raiders Move to Los Angeles. After the first case was declared a mistrial, in May 1982 a second jury found in favor of Davis and the Los Angeles Coliseum, clearing the way for the move. Around the same time, the nearby South Central Los Angeles neighborhood of Compton, California was experiencing an uprising of guns, gangs and hip hop (the film argues that Reaganomics was behind this phenomenon). This led to the rise of the group N.W.A. (Niggaz with Attitude) whose music was built of the real life experiences in South Central Los Angeles with gang violence, police brutality and hustling. The group needed a unified look and used the brand of the Raiders for that which combined with being in America's number 2 media market and the team's early success in Los Angeles led to an explosion in the popularity of the Raiders and their brand.
Ice Cube, an LA native and big fan of the Raiders tells the story of the time with anecdotes and back story from the others featured in the film. Ice Cube's reason for being part of the film was that he did not believe that the story of the Raiders time in LA and the effects it had on Los Angeles could ever be told correctly otherwise.The Autumn Wind
"The Autumn Wind" is a sports-themed poem written by former NFL Films President and co-founder Steve Sabol (son of founder Ed Sabol) describing the atmosphere of autumn weather, as it relates to pro football season. It is synonymous with the National Football League (NFL)'s Oakland Raiders, and is often heard blaring out of the speakers at Raider games. Narrated by John Facenda, this 1974 production has been dubbed "The Battle Hymn of the Raider Nation".The poem was first used for the team's official team yearbook film in 1974, of the same title, and also for NFL Films' hour-long recap of the 1974 season. Legend has it that when Raider owner and managing general partner Al Davis heard "The Autumn Wind" song for the first time, he remained silent for a second before telling then NFL Films President Ed Sabol that he loved it, and that "it epitomized everything that the Raiders stood for". It has been used on numerous official NFL Films audio album soundtracks, most notably The Power & The Glory LP, featuring Facenda narrating over it, as well as numerous other Sam Spence-composed and conducted NFL Films Orchestra tracks.Tim Brown (American football)
Timothy Donell Brown (born July 22, 1966) is a former American football wide receiver who played professionally in the National Football League (NFL). He played college football for Notre Dame, where he won the Heisman Trophy, becoming the first wide receiver to win the award. He spent sixteen years with the Los Angeles/Oakland Raiders, during which he established himself as one of the NFL's most prolific wide receivers. Brown has also played for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. In 2015, he was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame.Tom Cable
Thomas Lee Cable Jr. (born November 26, 1964) is an American football offensive line coach for the Oakland Raiders. Cable was most recently the Seattle Seahawks assistant head coach and offensive line coach. The Seahawks would win Super Bowl XLVIII over the Denver Broncos. He played college football at the University of Idaho and was on the replacement team for the Indianapolis Colts during the 1987 NFL players' strike. After being an assistant coach for several college football teams, as well as head coach at Idaho, Cable became an offensive line coach for the Atlanta Falcons and Oakland Raiders of the NFL before serving as head coach for the Raiders from 2008 to 2010.
# denotes interim head coach
|Wide receivers /|
Italics denotes players who have been voted in but not yet inducted.