What's After Al Davis?


There are many in the Raider Nation calling on Al Davis to sell the team, or at least step aside. There even appeared to be a movement to dethrone the Emperor of the Raiders. There are some who feel that anyone would be preferable to Al, but there is also the saying about the devil you know being better than the devil you don't know.

Al Davis is 80 years old, and it appears that his health is not what it once was. He missed his first game since 1979 when he did not make the trip to Tampa Bay last year for the final game of the season due to a knee injury. He moves with the aid of a walker. Those around him say that he is still sharp as ever, even though he seems less coherent in each of his public appearances. The time is nearing when Davis will no longer be in control of the Raiders, whether by his choice or by his no longer being of this Earth.

From his arrival in 1963, he has become not only the face of the Raiders, but also their heart and soul. He changed the color scheme from the black, white, and gold to the now ubiquitous Silver and Black because he wanted them to have a tougher image. It is his renegade spirit and desire for domination that became the essence of the Raider mystique. There is no other sporting franchise that is so intertwined with its owner. Al Davis and the Raiders are synonymous, and he would have it no other way.

Davis is the last of a dying breed. Unlike any other currently in the NFL, he worked his way up from being an assistant coach, to head coach, to league commissioner to part owner of the team. Granted, he wrestled full ownership away from the other general partners through trickery, but that does not change that he is a football man first. No other owner in the NFL has the football pedigree that Davis built for himself.

Once Al steps aside from the Raiders, there will no longer be a voice in the league that roamed the sidelines. There will no longer be a voice that spent a lifetime dedicated to football. True, Davis has made many mistakes along the way.  And even more enemies with his "us against the world" mentality. But, it was that very "us against the world" mentality that was once instilled upon his team that dominated the league.

The word from Alameda is that once Davis either passes away or steps aside the team will go to his son Mark. Until recently, Mark Davis has been out of sight. He was not seen at his dad's side learning the trade of running a football team. There is also the question of whether Mark would be able to keep the team. When Jack Kent Cooke passed away, his children had to sell the team because they could not pay the inheritance tax associated with the value of the Washington Redskins. Even if Mark does keep the team, does he have the same passion for football that Al has? Does Mark have the desire to keep the traditions of the Raiders alive, the very thing that makes the Raiders unlike the other 31 teams? Does he even want to run the team, or does he want to sell it off?

If the Raiders get just another billionaire running the team, will they respect what the Raiders are truly about? It is unlikely that any future owner could have the same passion for the team as Davis. The Raiders could easily be bought by an ownership group that favors the old Bidwell model, which is to make the money through revenue sharing and spend as little as possible because even a losing team is profitable in the NFL. The new ownership group could also want to change the colors and uniforms to attempt to spur sales of new Raiders gear, without respecting the traditions that go along with the Silver and Black.

Davis was a pioneer in the NFL, and it is obvious to all that he needs to bring in help to run the team. His decisions are not what they used to be. If he can bring in some young minds to help him, he can get them ready to take over for him when the inevitable happens. However, when it happens, that doesn't automatically mean things will change for the better for the Raiders as some believe. Davis has made the Raiders his life's work, and he has to be more disappointed than anyone else over the team's current state. God Bless Al Davis and let him go down as the greatest Raider to ever live. And everyone who is hoping for him to die, you all need to shut the hell up. When he does pass it will be a sad sad day in Raider Nation.

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