The condolences have been pouring in throughout the day in remembrance of Al Davis. The man who had long been a lightning rod for criticism is remembered for his historic significance to the game of football and the NFL. Everyone is chiming in to offer a few words.
We start with the Raider organization’s official statement and go from there.
The Oakland Raiders are deeply saddened by the passing of Al Davis.
Al Davis was unique, a maverick, a giant among giants, a true legend among legends, the brightest star among stars, a hero, a mentor, a friend.
Al Davis was the only person in professional football history to have been a scout, assistant coach, head coach, general manager, commissioner and owner.
He was an innovator, a pioneer with a deep love and passion for the game of football. His contributions to the game are innumerable and his legacy will endure forever through generations of players, coaches, administrators and fans.
Al Davis was a champion of diversity who maintained the courage of his convictions. His passion for the game we all love is best exemplified by his famous phrase, “COMMITMENT TO EXCELLENCE.”
The fire that burns brightest in the Raider organization, “THE WILL TO WIN,” will continue to blaze through the legacy of the great Al Davis.
“It is with my deepest and most sincere regret that Mr. Al Davis, Coach Davis to me, has passed away. My thoughts and prayers, first and foremost, go out to his wife and family, then the Raider family and organization. It is because of this accomplished man and his forever love of Silver and Black, the fire that burned in him I will honor and will always and forever burn in me.”
“Al Davis’s passion for football and his influence on the game were extraordinary. He defined the Raiders and contributed to pro football at every level. The respect he commanded was evident in the way that people listened carefully every time he spoke. He is a true legend of the game whose impact and legacy will forever be part of the NFL.”
“I met Al when he was an assistant coach. Then he became a head coach and a darn good one. He always wanted to be an owner, but he didn’t have a lot of money. Eventually, though, he got enough to buy more and more of the team, and he won three (Super Bowls). Football was his life. The Raiders were his life. Al was smart and tough. It was his way or no way. When we first started out in the AFL, we saw each other all the time, but I hadn’t seen him the last six or seven years. It (NFL) won’t be the same without him. My condolences to his family.”
Kansas City Chiefs Chairman and CEO Clark Hunt
“From the earliest days of the AFL, Al’s love for the game and fierce loyalty to his franchise contributed to the success and popularity of pro football. His competitive spirit helped develop the great rivalry our team and fans enjoy today with the Oakland Raiders. His contributions to the game played an important role in building the strong foundation the NFL enjoys today.”
Denver Broncos Owner and Chief Executive Officer Pat Bowlen
“During my 28 years with the Broncos, I came to know Al Davis as one of the most influential and innovative people in the history of the National Football League. His competitive spirit and intensity grew our rivalry with the Raiders into one of the fiercest in all of sports.
“I respected Al for what he meant to the NFL. He was a visionary who defined the Raiders and had an enormous responsibility for the prosperity of this league.”
San Diego Chargers Chairman of the Board – President Dean Spanos
“Al Davis is one of the main reasons our family is in the NFL today. Al approached my dad (Alex Spanos) about getting involved in the NFL and was very helpful to us through the process. He had great insight into the league, both the product on the field and the business off the field. He saw the potential for growth. He was very much a visionary. Our family will always be grateful to Al for his friendship.
“Al is also a big reason for the strong rivalry between the Raiders and the Chargers and its popularity among both teams’ fans. He personified the image and mystique of the Raiders, and that image has helped build the strength of our rivalries and the popularity of our game. There has been no one in the NFL like Al Davis.
“The NFL and NFL fans everywhere – not just Raiders fans – owe Al Davis for helping to build the game we all love so much. He will be missed.
“I join Al’s family, the Oakland Raiders and the rest of the NFL in mourning the loss of a man who gave so much to the game we love.”
San Francisco 49ers owner and co-chairman Denise DeBartolo York
“I am deeply saddened to learn of the passing of Al Davis. One of my fondest memories of Al is a dinner we shared many years ago. During that meal, he presented my father with a very special opportunity to purchase the San Francisco 49ers. In recent years, we were pleased to spend time with Al as our guest in the Owners’ Suite at Candlestick Park while our two teams met on the field. Our sincerest condolences go out to his family and friends.”
49ers owner John York
“The Bay Area and NFL communities have lost a true pioneer in Al Davis. The significant contributions that he made to the game of football at every level spoke volumes about his commitment to excellence. We enjoyed working with Al at the league level on the development and growth of our game, and at the team level we appreciated the competition between the 49ers and his Raiders. Al Davis commanded great respect from those he worked alongside and all he competed against.”
49ers general manager Trent Baalke
“Anybody who enjoys the game of football owes a tip of the cap to Al Davis. The numerous contributions that Mr. Davis made to the development and growth of the NFL played an integral role in making the game as great as it is today. Although this is a very sad day in the NFL and the Bay Area, it is a great time to reflect on what Mr. Davis has meant to this sport as well as our community.”
49ers Head Coach Jim Harbaugh
“Mr. Davis is a titan and pillar of the game. I had the pleasure and honor to know him and to work for him. And to me, he is the greatest. The autumn wind will always be a Raider.”
“First of all, the fact that he passed was not surprising but the fact that he passed was shocking — if that makes any sense — because we all knew that he was in poor health and was struggling and doing the best he could to do what he had to do, but it’s sad. How else can you say it? It’s just sad when … reality hits you right in the face, and that’s what happened, reality hit us right in the face this morning when I was awakened very early. I’ve known him for 48 years. We were both young people when we first started and trained together.
“It was quite obvious, his passion for the game, the game of football itself, the people that played it, the people that coached it and owned teams and were part of the growth of the game. And with that came his compassion and passion for players that have played for him and players that have played elsewhere. He just loved the game and respected it so much. His loyalty to those that were close to him was just without equal. … He was my coach, my mentor, but most of all, he was my dear friend.
“One of the things that I remember vividly is when I was in Seattle and my wife took ill. She had breast cancer, and the first call that I got was (from) him. I won’t go into any detail but … the first call that I received was from Al. How he heard about it, I don’t know, but he called and he was there. Some of the things that he did that you never hear about. You just never hear about it because he did it quietly, without fanfare, but he did it because of his love and respect for whomever he did that gesture.
“First of all, his vision for the game sometimes was taken out of context, but then as the years went by, people would look back and say, ‘Well, Al was right about this. Al was right about that.’ He was big on size and speed. Speed and size were always a big part of his evaluation and his direction. He loved the wide-open game. He loved the big plays – and all of those are a part of the game today. This league has turned into almost a passing league. I don’t know if he envisioned that as much as it is today, but he certainly liked that part of the game when I was involved with him, which was a long time. There are so many things. Right now, it’s kind of hard to reflect on everything because it’s such a sad day.
“I think sometimes people didn’t think he had a heart, but his heart was bigger than life.”
“It’s a sad day for all Raider fans and for certainly members of the organization. I was speaking to some people this morning (that) I was very fortunate to have the opportunity to play for him for six seasons. And during that time, I got the chance to know him personally, whether it was out on the practice field or in the facility or on the plane or at training camp.
“He embodied the greatness of the Raiders. He was passionate. No one worked harder to enjoy the success of the organization. I just think about all that he was able to accomplish during his tenure: You go back to as a coach, as an administrator, as the commissioner of the American Football League, as a scout and a personnel man, as an owner. There’ll never be another owner who was as involved in the day-to-day operations as Al Davis. He’s a legend and there’s certainly a reason why he’s a member of the Pro Football Hall of Fame.
“I learned a lot from him. Jonny Gruden, when I first came to Oakland, said you need to take time to get to know this guy. He knows a lot of football – and I did (get to know him). While he maybe not always agreed with me in terms of my analysis of what the issues were once I became a commentator, I think there was certainly mutual respect there. And I certainly cherish my time in Oakland and the opportunity that he gave me to be a member of the Raiders.
“He was so focused. I made this comment this morning: He had a very difficult time enjoying a win. I can remember talking to him in the locker room after games, we’d win three or four in a row, we’d be on a roll, a playoff win, whatever it was, and he’d be worried about the run defense. Or he’d worry about a turnover in the red zone. Or he’d worry about an injury to a Charles Woodson. Whatever it was, because he was so focused on the big prize. He wasn’t focused on going 12-4 or 11-5. He was focused on winning a world championship. He never took his eyes off the prize. Just being with him, I can remember that about him. He was always looking ahead. … That was one of the things that I’ll never forget just from my time with him in Oakland.
“I think there are perceptions of all of us, good and bad. That’s just the way it is in this business. If you win, perceptions are usually pretty good. If you go through a string where you get (little) success, then there’s going to be a lot of negativity that surrounds it. Whether you’re a player or a coach or an owner, that’s just the nature of the business. I don’t that that really bothered him.
“I spent four years in Kansas City with Marty Schottenheimer and Carl Peterson, and we couldn’t stand (the Raiders). And yet when I got there, I think the one misconception that I had about him was that he was tinkering with things and trying to call plays. When I got out there, what I found out was, to him, it was never about money. It was just about one thing, and that was winning. That really was his focus. I remember sitting there before I signed my contract and I was talking to him, and that was one of the things he said to me: ‘At the end of the day, this money means nothing. It’s about a legacy. It’s really about … winning championships.’
“He was a fascinating individual. You could sit there and listen to stories and talk to him for hours and hours. He had such a sharp mind, it was incredible. … He was phenomenal with numbers and people and players and situations; he had almost a photographic memory when it came to those things. I was really fortunate to be able to get to know him. You’re really talking about a man who became a legend in the game of football.”
“There aren’t enough words to express the feelings of sadness I feel today for the loss of Al Davis. Mr. Davis was a true pioneer, visionary and warrior, not just in professional football, but in all of sports.
“People always ask me to which NFL team my loyalties lie, and it has been a very difficult question for me to answer. In fact, I love and admire so many of my teammates from the Raiders, Broncos, 49ers and Eagles that choosing one is like asking me to choose a favorite child.
“What I can say for certain is that if you ask me to choose one person who had a great impact on my football career, it is Mr. Davis. Mr. Davis embodied everything I love about football. He changed the game. He started at the bottom, as a personnel assistant, and hard-charged his way to Head Coach and eventually Team Owner and CEO of a Super Bowl Champion.
“Love them or hate them, The Raiders are an iconic dynasty in the world of sports. Win or lose, no one could dare question Al Davis’ abiding passion for and unwavering commitment to winning. For several months after we lost the 2003 Super Bowl, every time I saw Mr. Davis he was visibly mad about losing.
“When I retired from the NFL, Al Davis was the only person who called. He called to thank me for my contributions to the league. He said the league was better off for having me in it. You may disagree with that. But no one can disagree that football is much better off for having Al Davis in it.
“Today, we mourn for the loss of a legend. Tomorrow, we will get up and watch everyone who wears a headset, holds a clipboard, or straps on a helmet for The Raiders fight like hell for Mr. Davis. Deep down, every one wants what Al Davis was about.”
“I came to the Raiders in 1967 with the trade with Denver. It was the best thing that happened in my career to come and play for Mr. Davis. I’ve surely enjoyed every year and I’ve been here over 41 years. Our relationship has grown and it’s hard to believe, as strong a man as he was. I’ve enjoyed every year of being here with him and it’s a loss not only to the Raider organization, but to all of America. People love the Raiders and every time they think of the Raiders, they think of Mr. Davis. He was a great leader on and off the field and he took care of a lot of people in his lifetime. He helped guys off the field, not only guys that played for him but also guys that played for other teams. It’s a sad day in the Raider Nation, but we must go on.”
“The passing of Al Davis saddens us all. He’s been a big part of my life, my family’s life since 1978 when he gave me a second chance and another opportunity to be a starting quarterback in the NFL, which I appreciate very much. He was always encouraging and helpful both on the field and off the field. He got me get ready to play as much as any coach out there including coach Tom Flores. He’ll be sorely missed. His contributions to the game of football go on and on. Not only will his fans and his former players and coaches miss him greatly, but the entire league will.”
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“Mr. Davis was definitely a father figure to me. It’s a great loss not just for the Raiders, but for sports in general. We’ll miss him a lot. The Raider organization and tradition will continue and he’s left a legacy that we can all be proud of and that’s important to us all.”
“It was a shock to hear this morning, Obviously, I was saddened by it. … I tried to reach out to some guys and see how it was going. It was tough.”
“His name will be the first that you year. He has done so much for the game and given so many people opportunities who, before him, those opportunities weren’t there. I’m one of those people he took a chance on me when not too many other people were doing that. He was throughout my career, a great advisor, a great coach for me and a great owner.”
“I never saw him in a negative light. … I’ve had nothing but the utmost respect for him.”
And last and certainly least…
“I was very saddened this morning to learn of the passing of Al Davis,” Kiffin said in a statement. “He was an iconic figure in the history of professional football and built a truly legendary franchise with the Raiders.
“I consider myself fortunate to have known him and to have been a part of that Raiders history. Even though our relationship did not end the way I would have liked, I have nothing but the greatest respect for Mr. Davis and I truly appreciate the opportunity he afforded me and so many young coaches, players and staff. My thoughts go out to his family and to the family and fans of the Raiders past and present.”
There will be more condolences coming in throughout the day so stay tuned for that.