Legendary Oakland Raiders owner, SU alumnus Davis passes away at age 82

first_imgAl Davis, member of the Pro Football Hall of Fame, owner of the Oakland Raiders and a 1950 graduate of Syracuse University, died Saturday. He was 82. The Raiders said he died at his home in Oakland, Calif. The cause of death was not immediately disclosed. Before Davis made his legacy in helping shape pro football as the outspoken owner of the Raiders, he played junior varsity football, basketball and baseball at SU while pursuing an English degree. Throughout the years, Davis was a quiet supporter of Syracuse football. He donated money for new locker facilities for SU athletes, according to a 1992 article in The Post-Standard. ‘We have lost a Syracuse legend and pioneer with the passing of Al Davis. We are all deeply saddened,’ SU Athletics Director Daryl Gross said in a statement. ‘His impact on the NFL is unmatched and was obvious. His standard for excellence has been copied by many. We will miss his communication with us and his love for Syracuse. We will memorialize his legacy, as he will never be forgotten in the Syracuse community.’ Davis’ passion for football was evident at Syracuse when he went to varsity practices and spent every Saturday at the top of Hendricks Hill watching the team play in Archbold Stadium. Davis took notes on each play the Orangemen ran and then compared them to head coach Ben Schwartzwalder’s after the game.AdvertisementThis is placeholder text It served as an introduction to coaching in football for Davis, who would go on to coach at a variety of college programs and professional franchises before finally landing in Oakland as the head coach and general manager of the Raiders in 1963. In 48 years as a coach, general manager and owner of the Raiders, Davis led the franchise to 28 winnings seasons and three Super Bowls in the 1970s and 1980s. He built the Raiders into a winner, stressing his famous mottos ‘Commitment to Excellence’ and ‘Just win, baby!’ ‘The Oakland Raiders are deeply saddened by the passing of Al Davis,’ the team said in a statement Saturday. ‘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.’ In addition to leading the Raiders to success, Davis served as the commissioner of the American Football League in 1966 and played a key role in the NFL-AFL merger. He aggressively pursued NFL players to jump to the AFL, which helped the leagues combine in 1970 to form the modern-day NFL. ‘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,’ NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell said in a statement. ‘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.’ After graduating from SU, Davis landed his first coaching job as the offensive line coach at Adelphi College in 1950. Davis would later work as an assistant coach for the Baltimore Colts and as the offensive line coach at The Citadel for two seasons and at Southern California for three seasons. In 1960, Davis returned to professional football, this time as offensive end coach for the Los Angeles Chargers, a new AFL franchise. After three seasons with the Chargers, Davis became the youngest head coach and general manager in professional football when the Raiders hired him at age 33. It was the start of a legendary career as the leader of the Raiders that culminated in Davis’ induction into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1992. Though Davis will be largely known as the face of the Raiders, he will be remembered as a classmate and friend by those who attended SU with him. Gordon Hensley, a 1951 SU graduate who played football, was good friends with Davis during their college years. Hensley knew Davis before his rise to fame as a fearless owner, and he saw a different side of him. ‘As tough as he seemed on the outside, which I think was on purpose, he was just a very nice individual on the inside, very charitable and very caring,’ Hensley said Sunday. ‘So I think that was Al as far as I’m concerned.’ [email protected] Published on October 9, 2011 at 12:00 pm Contact Ryne: [email protected] Commentscenter_img Facebook Twitter Google+last_img read more