In These Trying Times, My Faith In Big Al Grows.

I don't usually agree with Al's Wingman (just wondering, dude, since all you do is hate on Al, have you considered changing your username? Cheatriotguy did it) but one of the things he recently pointed out was worth noticing - that the Raiders are one of the few (actually, if I'm not mistaken, the only) team to have not put out some kind of press release or statement to their fans ever since the lockout was made official. In fact, they've pretty much been in lockdown since - we haven't heard a peep from them.

There are many possible reasons for this, but frankly I don't care exactly why not. Amy Trask and the rest of the powers that be know what they're doing. Primarily, they get that Raider fans are too smart to buy into any kind of bollocks manufactured press release. I've taken the time to read some of what the other teams have put out - they all feature some combination of generic platitudes to the fans, passive aggressive shots at the players (with less veiled attacks on the union) and empty promises that there will be football played this year. Whatever.

Essentially, when I cast my eye over the NFL ownership landscape, almost all the owners today are divided into two camps. There's the Thugs In Suits and the Bludgers.

The Thugs In Suits are the guys who are obsessed first and foremost with raising revenue, and don't give a shit how they do so. They'll charge for anything and everything they possibly can to make money, which they'll funnel into expensive free agent signings and penis extension stadiums if they invest it back in their team at all. These guys are the most protective of their privileged status and the power they have as NFL owners and will kill their golden goose (the players) before conceding a dollar of their precious revenue. Examples include Jerry Jones, Dan Snyder and Jerry Richardson.

Then you have the Bludger. These are the guys who do very little revenue raising for their team and do a lot of leeching off revenue sharing. They tend to run their teams cheaply, not wanting to spend too much money - this includes both the payroll and other expenditures - and are always looking for new ways to cut costs. Essentially, they're a lazier bunch of Thugs. Mike Brown of the Cincinnati Bengals is an obvious example. Wayne Weaver in Jacksonville is another.

So where does the big man fit into this convenient little model? He doesn't.

Some might accuse him of being a bludger given that we as a team are pretty dependent on revenue sharing - however what sets Al apart from the common or garden bludgers is that he cares about his team first, second and third. Making money has never been a concern to Al insomuch as that it provides him with the money to ensure his players are taken care of and he can get the best in.

Now, we can and we all have questioned Al Davis' methodology when it comes to putting a winning team together, especially for the modern age of football. But I would argue that out of the 32 owners, he is basically alone in this respect. I don't claim to know his net worth and I'm sure he lives very comfortably, but I would also wager that he is probably the least wealthy owner of an NFL team today. Yet the Raiders continually have the highest payroll in the league. This is related to our dependence on revenue sharing and admittedly isn't a great measure of our team's ability, but it does show our commitment to winning above all.

And that's why I feel more comfortable with Al as our team's owner than I would any of the other 31 old men. Cause I know that he or whoever represents the Raiders (and, by extension, him) in the negotiations is doing so with the best interests of the NFL, the players and the fans at heart. Big Al is one of the last (I would say, as much as I hate his team, that Pat Bowlen is the only other one) old-school NFL owners who realises that:
a) without the players, there's no money
b) the relationship between NFL players and owners isn't a normal employee-employer relationship. The players aren't merely the providers of the service (football) - they are the product in itself. I don't bother tuning in to Titans-Texans games even though they're football because I'm not interested in the product. Al D gets this. Few other owners seem to get it.

I haven't always felt comfortable about saying this, but now more than ever I say it with pride.

In Al Davis We Trust.

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