Oakland Raiders fans at the Al Davis Memorial in Oakland (photo by Levi Damien)
For the last 82 years, July 4th has also been the birthday of Al Davis. For Raider fans, the two days have long gone together. It was easy to remember a man whose Birthday falls on such a holiday. There was even a movie called "Born on the 4th of July". A statement Al Davis and few others could make.
Raider fans knew, before their barbeques and fireworks, and general celebration of our nation's independence, they would wish the most independent figure in all of sports a Happy Birthday.
Al Davis joined the Raiders in 1963 as the team's coach and general manager. And for the past 49 years, he has had the largest fan base in the world recognizing Independence Day as the anniversary of his birth. Now, on what would be his 50th birthday as the face of the Raider organization, fans can only memorialize him.
He would turn 83 today. His son, Mark Davis, who is now the owner of the team, will memorialize his late, great father as he and several close friends and family gather in Las Vegas. It will undoubtedly be a time of many stories between men who would never have known each other, let alone have been friends, had it not been for Al Davis bringing them together as Raiders.
Many of them considered misfits in their playing days and all with very unique personalities. The stories have been told and been heard by this same group of loyal Raider Legends countless times. But it doesn't matter. They will tell them again and they will listen again and think back fondly on a great man and the bond he created with them and the bonds they have created among each other because of him.
While Raider fans across the country fire up the grill and join their great friends, many of whom they wouldn't know, let alone be friends with, if it weren't for their common love of the Raiders, a similar celebration will occur. The stories of some of the great moments you have had watching and being a part of the most unique franchise in all of sports will be told over again as if it were the first time.
The Raider Nation, Raider Legends, and the Davis family will all honor the most enigmatic man in the history of sports. The man that made the Raiders, the Raiders.
So take a moment today-- actually take a few moments to celebrate Al Davis, the Raiders, and the great people you have in your life because of he and his team.
But most of all, have a happy and safe Independence day.