One of the NFL's most recognizable ambassador, and long-time Oakland and Los Angeles Raiders Owner, Al Davis, has passed away at age 82.
The 49ers have always been my number one team, but I've always had very much respect for Al Davis. I didn't always agree with the choices he made, but he certainly did a lot of things right during his long tenure with the Raiders franchise. The man has been the face of this franchise for darn near 40 years, and even though the man himself has passed, his name will forever live on with the Raiders. In fact I could very easily see the Raiders new stadium dedicated to the former Raider owner, let's just hope it's in northern California like Davis wanted. Al moved the team to LA for a brief stint their in the 80's and early 90's, but quickly realized that Oakland is the spot for the Silver and Black. The 3-time Super Bowl winning owner also had success briefly as a head coach and entered the NFL Hall of Fame in 1992. If your trying to find an example of an owner who goes all out for his team and will spend the extra buck in order to try and get them over the hump, Al Davis is the poster boy. He didn't always make the best decisions (JaMarcus Russel), but he made more than a few good ones (Tim Brown, Marcus Allen, Jim Plunkett, Bo Jackson etc..). He certainly had mixed reviews on how he handled the Oakland Raiders, but those inside the organization always praised him and he was a good tremendous individual for the NFL, where his name will be immortal.
For the Raiders, I don't expect a whole lot to change on field, right away that is. I do think this team is going to step it up as much as they can to try and win the AFC West in Al's honor, and it's a great thing after being able to witness the Raiders improve to 3-2 with a big win at Houston. They'll certainly be playing with him in their hearts this season. We probably will start to see some change in philosophy until the offseason though, even if the Davis' keep the franchise in family. It looks like Mark Davis, Al's son, will take reigns of the day-to-day operations and already there are headlines in newspapers saying the Raiders now may end up making their way back to LA. Al Davis was in talks with AEG about playing in a stadium they're opening up in LA, but backed out of negotiations because AEG wanted to own stock in the franchise. I don't know Mark Davis at all, couldn't even pick him out of a picture of 5 people, so I have no idea if he'd consider something like that. I'm still hoping they decide to keep the Raiders up north. There's no doubt LA needs a football team, but the Raiders are John Madden, Al Davis, Tim Brown, the Black Hole, they're Oakland. Not to mention, they won 2 of their 3 world championships in the Bay Area too. I see the financial gain for the franchise to move south though, as they constantly fail to fill seats in Oakland and would probably be overflowing in LA. I'd like to see them stay in Norther Cali for the long haul, but LA would be more of a lucrative home for this team and there are certainly positive reasons for the franchise to retreat back to their 2nd home. If they do end up in LA, I would definitely suggest they still play a few honorary games back at the former home. It may not even be a bad marketing scheme to play a single game in LA each while still in Oakland. You know they'd sell out the Coliseum, and that would allow the Raiders hometown fans to see the Raiders play an actual home game on the tube, albeit from the LA Coliseum and not Oakland's.