I've spent today wondering just why it was I spent yesterday filled with sorrow, at times with tears, grieving a man I had never met, from a country I had never been to. This wasn't a young man taken in his prime. Younger men have been taken and still held to have lived a full life. So what was it? What made this one hurt?
I became a Raider at the age of 4 or 5 (I'm not sure which, I was young and the memories are nearly 30 years old now) when my grandfather, who lived in Toronto, came to visit us in Scotland and brought me a t-shirt. As a man living in Bills territory, who himself supported the Dolphins, I can't begin to know what the reasoning behind his choice was, but that choice proved fateful. The t-shirt read "Los Angeles Raiders", and my pact with the dark side was struck.
When you become a Raider, you abandon all ties and claims to previous nationality and you become a citizen of the Nation, and like other citizens, you swear fealty to your new leader. Mr Davis. You take on the virtues extolled by this man, and lived by him and his team, and you try to do your best to live them yourselves. You accept that nothing is going to be easy, that nothing will be handed to you. You go out and you take what you need and if you have to, you fight to do so. You strive at all times to be the best you can be, in the knowledge that through excellence you will succeed.
When you have risen though, you look around and see those around you that surround you and if you can, you help them to be the best at what they can be. This is the side of being a Raider that many fail to see or unerstand.
Al Davis lived that life. He took everything he could to make himself and his team stronger, and he never backed down from his convictions. He also looked out for his friends and for those that had helped him.
We are all Raiders and he was the best of us. This team goes forward now with the values he installed.
Just Win, Baby.