Al Davis: a football maverick remembered
During his many years as the coach and chief executive of the Oakland Raiders, Al Davis had one simply stated motto: 'Just win, baby.'
Davis, who died Oct. 8 at his home in Oakland, never did anything the conventional way. Al was a fiercely impatient man who was also a calculated risk taker. It didn’t make a difference to Davis whether he was taking on the commissioner of the National Football League or his two original partners with the Raiders.
The fact that many of his best players were picked up from rival NFL teams who got tired of explaining their off the field activities to police never bothered Al.
The name Al Davis first began to grow to billboard proportions when he was an assistant coach at The Citadel, a military school in South Carolina, except that this man who once sold hotdogs at Ebbets Field was never an assistant anything.
From there, Davis joined the coaching staff at the University of Southern California where two years of recruiting violations resulted in the Trojans football program being put on probation.
When USC head football coach Don Clark retired and the Trojans gave the job to John McKay, Davis was so upset that he joined the American Football League’s San Diego Chargers. Even though most fans have forgotten by now, it was Al who signed future pro football greats Lance Alworth and Keith Lincoln.
In 1962 the AFL's Raiders were a disaster area. They turned in records of 2-12 in 1961 and 1-13 in 1962. Co-owners Wayne Valley and Ed McGah liked Davis's nine years of experience as an assistant coach and hired him to be both general manager and head coach. The only boss Al Davis would ever have to answer to was himself.