Saturday, October 8, 2011

"You don't adjust. You just dominate."

So everybody is saying nice things about Al Davis now that he is dead.
Steve Sabol often had nice things to say about Al while he was still alive, so check out this great video tribute by Sabol.

The thing that strikes me the most about Coach Davis is that, not unlike Steve Jobs, for better or worse, he always did it his own way.
No one is perfect.
But few people have the courage to truly be themselves. Fewer have the drive to relentlessly push themselves to be the best that they can be...and then still lust for more.
Al was a character indeed, but he was mostly a good person. The media has portrayed him otherwise though, and that is a testament to his disdain for the status quo. He didn't care about being popular, or even likable. He knew what he was doing, and he was gonna do it his way.
He wasn't just likable though, he was lovable. Every owner, player and fan has him to thank for the lucrative spectacle that is professional sports.
He wasn't just a billiant evaluator of talent, he also had a knack for bringing the best out of people, especially those who had previously been cast off onto the scrap heap. He let his players be who they were, and they kept themselves in line for some degree. His motley crew of America's worst nightmares delivered on Sunday, that's for sure.
Al was so comfortable with diversity (he was instrumental in opening the doors to professional sports for black athletes, and he hired the first Latino coach, the first black coach, and the first female CEO) that he openly admitted that he studied and admired Hitler...and he didn't care if you thought less of him for it.
He was who he was, and the people who knew him loved him because he was a good person who championed the little man and judged people by their commitment, not by anything else.
And he was human and had his faults.
He was about as Oakland as you could possibly get.

He was also the greatest mind in the history of professional sports, and Coach Davis lived and breathed the Raiders, in a way that no other professional sports franchise owner has ever or will ever.
Al has missed on his share of occasions, and it seemed for a while there that he had completely lost it, but in 2009, he started making a series of decisions that can only be described as clutch.
The current team is 100% his, both those who are on it, and not on it, and they have an opportunity to be special. Now that they have some motivation, we'll see.

Coach Davis will be missed by many.
Davis, who died Saturday, wasn't an only-in-America success story. He was an especially-in-America success story, with his abiding appreciation of hard work, wealth, confrontation and litigation. He loved victory, mystery and standing on the outside looking in.

He inspired awe, disdain, blind loyalty, blind rage, imitators, sycophants, friends and enemies. He was so much to so many for so long that he defies a complete and fitting eulogy.

He would have liked that.
-Inside Bay Area