Silver and Black blended today and left a pall of gray. Al Davis has passed away. His sudden void from the planet has left me in a slight daze. I don't want to overstate this. I realize that Carol Davis lost a husband. Mark Davis lost a father, and countless others lost a dear and valued friend. My condolences to all of those.
Al Davis is a man I never met. Yet he had more impact on my life than most of the people I have met. Mr. Davis built an identity for a franchise from the sheer strength of his character. He started off as a scout and he ended up an icon, and on the way he established a value system that I and plenty of others have gravitated towards.
I wear roles and definitions like an ill-fitting outfit. I don't identify or associate myself with much. I'll leave that for others and simply define me as me.
That said, I have always identified with, and been quick to tell people that I am a Raiders fan.
This goes beyond being a fan. It is a value system, and that is something if you just don't know, then you just don't know.
The identity has certainly been skewed and blurred over the years. Just like anything that attracts enough people—many of those people are false followers with no sense of understanding of the core values upon which the foundation was built.
The sayings have become played out, and it is easy for them to get blurred, but there essence still rings true: Commitment to excellence, just win, baby and pride and poise.
The identity runs deeper than these slogans. Al Davis led by example. His belief in himself was unwavering. He never made a decision out of fear of what others would think. He didn't seek publicity for good deeds, or ever do things just to impress others. He operated beyond the climate of the times as his life was dictated by an inner sense of right and wrong.
These are values I hold dear. This is an identity that I am proud to be a part of and aspire towards. This is something I will be eternally grateful to Mr. Davis for putting a face on.
Al Davis will be missed, but never forgotten.