The Oakland Raiders will never EVER win another Super Bowl as long as the ownerAl Davis is alive and breathing ... so says legendary "Sunday Night Football" announcer Al Michaels.
Al was leaving Boa Restaurant in Hollywood last night, when our photog -- a HUGE Raiders fan -- asked point blank, "Are we ever going to win a Super Bowl while Al Davis is still alive."
Michaels' response -- "NO."
FYI -- Davis is an NFL Hall of Famer who is largely credited with merging the AFL with the NFL ... and transforming the league into the POWERHOUSE it is today. But in the past decade, he's come under some serious fire ... because the Raiders are terrible.
Still, when we asked Michaels if he considered Davis a genius, he told us, "If you had a team that lost 11 or more games in SEVEN consecutive years, would you say a genius ran the team?"
Longtime Oakland Raiders owner Al Davis has died at the age of 82, according to the team.
By Paul Sakuma, AP
Al Davis died at the age of 82, according to the team.
By Paul Sakuma, AP
Al Davis died at the age of 82, according to the team.
The team's website states they will issue a statement later on Saturday.
The self-described "maverick" was one of the NFL's most enigmatic personalities. As an owner, he fueded with commissioners, coaches, and cities on his way to three Super Bowl titles. Those who grew close to him often referred to him as 'Coach Davis' -- a tribute to his years as head coach in the early years of the franchise. He is the only owner the team has ever known.
Davis was once the most powerful owner in the league. He got his clout by using his own abrasive style and sending out his lawyers to the courtroom. Aside from the three Super Bowls, his biggest victory came in 1982 when a six-person jury sided with the Oakland Raiders in their anti-trust suit against the NFL. The verdict, upheld when the Supreme Court refused to hear the case, allowed the Raiders to move to Los Angeles without approval by the NFL owners.
"It is ludicrous to think that the NFL is a single entity when in reality we are 28 different entities who compete viciously in every conceivable way," said Davis. "We won because the NFL knowingly violated anti-trust laws, losing unanimously on bad faith and unfair dealings."
Over the years the Raiders went to court against the league more than a half-dozen times. Before the Raiders' move to the glitter of Los Angeles became official, the Raiders and the Los Angeles Coliseum sued the league, claiming its constitution was illegal. Specifically, the Raiders challenged the rule that a team needed the approval of the 28 owners before it could move.
The case went to two trials. The first was declared a mistrial. The testimony covered 88 days. The final verdict, which took only 5 ½ hours to come down, thrilled Davis and attorney Joe Alioto but angered Oakland fans. Although Davis sued the league, his victory was seen as a personal triumph over Commissioner Pete Rozelle, with whom he often feuded.
"I never really respected him, really," Davis once said of Rozelle. "I've seen him flirt with the truth too often. But that's not important. I beat him, or we beat him, when it came to good faith and fair dealing.
Away from the courts, Davis coached, talked, dreamed and lived the game of football. At various points in his life, he was a free-lance scout; a college coach at 21; head coach of the Raiders at 33; commissioner of the American Football League at 36; and Raiders' majority owner at 47.
When the merger talk between the warring two leagues began in the spring of 1966, Davis found himself on the outside. The negotiators for the historic deal were Tex Schramm of Dallas and Lamar Hunt of Kansas City, who met in a series of secret meetings at Love Field, a Dallas airport.
Yet, Davis played a significant role during his 3 ½-month term as the AFL's renegade commissioner. Davis replaced Joe Foss and began hustling NFL quarterbacks, putting pressure on the established NFL. At a press conference in New York to announce his new job, Davis added the words "dynamic" and "young genius" to the press release. Later, Davis would suggest that three NFL teams move to the AFL side. Cleveland, Pittsburgh and Baltimore took Davis' advice (and $3 million each), breaking an impasse.
The only aspect of his life that Davis placed above football was his marriage. When Carol, his wife, suffered a heart attack and fell into a coma in 1979, Davis virtually abandoned the Raiders to remain near his wife in an Oakland hospital. Davis slept in a storage room, never leaving the hospital until Carol made an amazing recovery.
"Just Win, Baby." That was Davis's personal motto. Its origin is unknown but it's unlikely that Davis coined the phrase, since he rarely used the word, "baby," in his speech. Yet, Davis never discouraged the slogan. Indeed, he and the Oakland Raiders lived by it, on the field and in the courts.
Davis and the Raiders were unlike any other team in pro football. Davis was not only the owner, but the general manager and, unofficially, the head of the team's personnel department. No Raider practice was quite complete unless Davis, prowling the sideline, made a few coaching points about execution or timing.
During the Raiders' big years, from the mid-60s to the mid-80s, Davis kept signing players who were considered troublemakers, or marginal talent, by other clubs. Thus Davis and the Raiders developed a mystique that remained until the mid-90s. That was when the NFL owners agreed to a free agency/salary cap system that took away Davis's method of finding and signing outlaw players.
One of Davis's pick-ups, quarterback Jim Plunkett, led the Raiders to two Super Bowl wins in four years. Among the other castoffs who gave the Raiders the distinct look of a free-agent team before free agency arrived in 1993: John Matuszak, Lyle Alzado, Ted Hendricks, Todd Christensen, Darryl Lamonica and Ben Davidson.
"It's a sad day for us," Lamonica said. "When you think of Al Davis, that commitment to excellence was him. The pride and poise was more than just words. That was our way of life for the Raiders as we played under him."
In 1969, Davis made linebackers coach John Madden the youngest head coach in football at the age of 32. Over the next 10 seasons, Madden went on to become one of the winningest coaches in league history. Madden owns the best regular-season winning percentage among coaches with 100 wins, going 112-39-7 from 1969-1978. He earned the franchise's first Lombardi trophy, winning Super Bowl XI following the 1976 season.
When reached by USA TODAY, Madden was emotionally devastated and said it was too hard at this time to give his reflection on the passing of a legendary mentor he has the utmost regard for.
"Not right now,'' Madden said, pausing. "I'm not ready for that.''
Madden would retire in 1978 and Davis hired former Raiders quarterback Tom Flores to succeed him. Flores, the first hispanic head coach in the NFL, went on to win Super Bowl XV following the 1980 season. A year later, Davis took the Raiders to Los Angeles.
The Raiders opened their first season in the aging Coliseum in 1982. But 13 years later, after disappointing ticket sales and a heated disagreement with the Coliseum over luxury boxes, Davis moved the Raiders back to Oakland. The Rams moved, too, signing a sweetheart deal with St. Louis that left the sprawling Los Angeles market without pro football. Davis' moves opened the gates for what was termed "franchise free agency." The owners were helpless to block the Baltimore Colts from moving to Indianapolis; the Houston Oilers from moving to Nashville, Tenn., and the Cleveland Browns from moving to Baltimore.
After their victory in Super Bowl XVIII (a 38-9 drubbing of the Washington Redskins) the Raiders went 18 years before finally making it to Super Bowl XXXVII. They were routed by Tampa Bay, 48-21. The defeat was especially painful for Davis, who lost to Jon Gruden, the coach he fired the year before. Over those 18 years, the Raiders failed to make the playoffs 10 times; lost two AFC titles games (to Buffalo, 51-3 and Baltimore, 16-3), and were knocked out of the postseason in the first round three times.
The next decade would see the franchise shuffle through a number of head coaches, none of whom could muster a winning season. In 2006, Davis made former Raider great Art Shell the first black head coach in the NFL's modern era.
''The important thing for this guy is to have great success on the football field as a head coach,'' said Davis, who fired second-year coach Mike Shanahan after a 1-3 start and elevated Shell from offensive line coach to the top job. ''… If this is an historic occasion, it's only meaningful if he has great success.''
Shell resigned after a 2-14 finish. He was the first black head coach in the National Football League since the late Fritz Pollard coached the Hammond, Ind., Pros in the 1920s, the league's fledgling years.
''If anyone would make a bold move, it's Davis," said Shell's former Raiders teammate, the late Gene Upshaw, former head of the NFL Players Association.
As the Raiders declined, so did Davis' health. He suffered what he vaguely termed as "a leg injury" That forced him to use a walker and to miss some of the significant testing sessions for prospects in the NFL draft. "He can't hold a glass without two hands," said Upshaw. "But his mind is clear and still sharp."