Sunday, October 9, 2011

RIP Al Davis

Wow, seems like this is the 2nd "RIP" entry I've done within a week!

What can I say about Mr Davis? I suppose I can share my first exposure and impression of him. I'll be honest to say that I did not see him in the most positive light. I was about 10 years old and my parents were irate over the fact that the Raiders publicly announced the news that they signed an agreement to move to L.A.

My father, grandfather and great-uncle, though not season ticket holders, would go to the game regularly. I was promised by them that once I reached the age of twelve, they'd take me along with them. Unfortunately the team had moved to L.A. A year after the team moved, my grandfather passed away.

So much for the grandfather-father-son bonding sports event.

At that time I also learned to read bumper stickers on cars and trucks. From 1981-1985, the most common bumper stickers seen on the back of vehicles all over the 510 area code (it was still 415 then) stated:

"Thank You Al! You SOB!"

That was my early impression of the man who recently transitioned.

I can tell you that growing up in a town like Oakland where a professional sports team left casts a shadow especially over those who remembered that a team once existed. Granted, the SF Forty Niners were becoming an 80s NFL dynasty at that point, and who could forget the USFL's Oakland Invaders? Neither team filled that void the Raiders left. Even though my father vowed never to watch a Raiders game again, I privately held an inner vigil at the possibility of a Raiders return. I followed every rumor about the dissatisfaction of the team in L.A. I may not have followed the games, (Kinda hard when NBC and KRON would black the games out in the SF Market) Hell, I remembered when the school district went on strike, it was revealed that the City of Oakland set aside a few millions in hope of purchasing the Raiders back.

In August 26, 1989 the Oakland Coliseum held an exhibition pre-season game between the Raiders and the then Houston Oilers. Game was sold out in less than two hours and the Raider rumors were in full tilt. For the first time in over ten years, I purchased Raider gear. From that point, I would possess a Raider item of clothing. My Raiders gear purchasing frenzy peaked at the news that the Raiders would indeed return to Oakland in 1990. The shirts would meet the scissors in September of that same year when the team announced that they were staying put in L.A.

I was cautiously excited in 1995. I would not wear any Raiders gear until the first game was played in the Oakland Coliseum. My father watched the game in utter disgust taunting me as a "sucker" if I decided to purchase a ticket to attend any of the game.

I did not attend any games until the Gruden years.

Yup, waiting three seasons before I went to my 1st game. My father scoffed at the idea of a PSL, and passed away less than a year after the return to Oakland. I became a devout Christian within The Salvation Army church in 1995, so my Sundays were "for God." In fact my only visits to the Oakland Coliseum since the Raiders return and before my 1st Raider game were for three different events: Promise Keepers 1995, Promise Keepers 1996, and the Billy Graham Crusade.

There was only one question I consistently asked about the Raiders and towards Al Davis over the years from the move to L.A. to now.


Why did you leave Oakland when the games were sold out? Why was Marcus Allen benched? Why fire Shell the 1st time when he produced winning seasons, including one trip to the AFC Championship? Why Mike White, Joe Bugel before Gruden? Why trade Gruden? Why why why?

I'll never have those questions answered and people outside of Mr Davis' circle will only speculate, but that's all that is: speculation.

Don't know if the Raiders will remain in Oakland or not. In some ways I've outgrown the ambiance or lack of in the Raider Nation. It hasn't been that fun going to the games these past few seasons and it's not because of the losing record. When my elders attended the games back before the L.A. days, win or lose, they returned home energized. When I attend the Oakland Raiders version 2.0, I return home drained, lethargic regardless of the win/loss outcome. They just weren't the same Raiders of old, yet they were Al's team.

They're still Al's team. That's what makes them The Raiders.

No comments:

Post a Comment