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Raiders rewind: A look back at the Al Davis-Pete Rozelle 30 for 30

The ESPN film centers on the Raiders’ owner’s infamous and lengthy legal battle against the league.

Pete Rozelle Handing Trophy to Al Davis
Al Davis, Pete Rozelle

This summer, our sites are looking back at some of ESPN’s famous 30 for 30 series.

In addition to Ice Cub’s memorable 2010 film Straight Outta L.A film, the Raiders’ franchise was chronicled in the 2021 30 for 30 installment, Al Davis vs. the NFL.

The film centers on the Raiders’ Pro Football Hall of Fame owner’s infamous and lengthy legal battle against the league and commissioner Pete Rozelle, as Davis moved the team from Oakland to Los Angeles in 1982. Davis and Rozelle became bitter adversaries and the documentary channeled both men fictionally, who were deceased by the time it debuted, in an attempt to get inside the heart of the matter.

The fast-moving film offers great old Raiders’ clips and it uniquely done.

Ultimately, it was Davis’ goal when he left Oakland the first time to get a new stadium in Los Angeles. It never happened and Davis brought his team back to Oakland 13 years later. A new stadium in Oakland never happened for Davis, who died in 2011. Ultimately, it was his son, Mark, who secured a new stadium for the team ... in its third city (Las Vegas) in 2020.

Mark Davis and beautiful Allegiant Stadium play a role in the film. I spoke to the director of Al Davis vs. the NFL, Ken Rodgers just before it was released, and we discussed Mark Davis’ role in this story.

“Al could never get what he was fighting for all those years,” Rodgers told Silver and Black Pride then. “But Mark was able to get it done. He deserves a lot of credit for that.”

Rodgers called Al Davis “one of the greatest characters in NFL history.” He said he thought both Davis and Rozelle had their reasons for their battle and it definitely took a toll on both of them.

If you have some free summer time, this is a well-done, interesting Raiders and NFL history lesson. The entire library of award-winning sports documentaries are available to stream at ESPN+.