As the NFL scouting combine kicks off this weekend and young NFL hopefuls prepare to make their mark on the league, a titan of the NFL and indeed all of sports, will receive an award for the indelible mark he left on the game.
Al Davis may have passed on but his impact on the game as we know it will live on. He will posthumously receive the Paul "Tank" Younger Award which recognizes his commitment to racial and gender diversity in the NFL.
His son, Mark Davis, will be accepting the award on his behalf.
The award is presented by the Fritz Pollard Alliance which was formed in 2003 to promote diversity and equality of job opportunities in coaching, front office, and scouting staffs in the NFL. Younger, the award's namesake, was the league's first black executive.
Al Davis was well known for signing minorities to the team when racism was still rampant in sports. He also was known for taking on players who were discriminated against and viewed as malcontents and troublemakers. The result was a melting pot team of different races and creeds and walks of life. A team of players viewed as misfits elsewhere, found a home with the Raiders.
He broke through several race and gender barriers in the NFL. He hired the first Hispanic head coach in Tom Flores, the first ever black head coach in Art Shell, and later the first female CEO in Amy Trask-- who still holds the title with the team to this day.
Despite these facts, he does not have an award named after him. Even the rule that ensures minority coaches are given a chance to interview for head coaching positions is called the Rooney rule after Steelers owner Dan Rooney. Rooney has also already received the Younger award.
Davis deserved this award long ago and it is a shame we are all denied the privilege of hearing him accept the award in person. But, I suppose, better late than never.
Other past winners include Rod Graves, Bill Bidwill, Ozzie Newsome, Tony Dungy and the late Bill Walsh.