Al Davis Was a Vindictive Control Freak—And I'll Miss Him

With any luck, the Raiders will keep the best parts of Davis’ legacy alive for many more years while burying the cruel and petty parts.

I’ve lost count of the number of times I’ve wished for Al Davis’ death.

I know that sounds terrible, and it is, but when a megalomaniacal control freak is in charge of something you care about and is running it into the ground, what other option do you have? Being an Oakland Raiders fan over the past several years has meant watching Davis, the team's owner, make a string of bad draft picks (most notably JaMarcus Russell, who hasn’t played football since the Raiders released him in 2009), employ a constantly rotating carousel of coaches (often hired out of nowhere and fired as soon as they crossed the big boss), and rack up dozens of losses. Davis was the Raiders’ judge, jury, and executioner, and the only hope for a fresh perspective was losing the old one.

Yet when I woke up Saturday morning to news of Davis’ death, I didn’t feel relief. Three days later, I still feel sad that the old man is gone—and disoriented by the disconnect between my heart and my head.

I’ve read tens of thousands of words written about his fashion choices (white Raiders track suits, gold-framed glasses on a gold chain), his fascination with Hitler, and his various feuds. Like every time someone prominent dies, the media coverage has glossed over his shortcomings, which were numerous. The obituaries all give him credit for being loyal, which he was—stories abound of Davis cutting checks to employees in need—until he wasn’t. After a contract dispute, he tried to destroy the career of Marcus Allen, one of the greatest running backs of all time and a two-time Super Bowl winner in a Raiders uniform. When his relationship with then-head coach Lane Kiffin went south, he publicly called Kiffin a liar and a disgrace to the franchise. He could be manipulative, vindictive, and just plain mean.

Most notably, Davis betrayed the city of Oakland when he moved the Raiders to Los Angeles in 1982, then betrayed Los Angeles 13 years later to return to Oakland when he couldn’t get the stadium upgrades he wanted at Memorial Coliseum. When the league tried to block the first move, he steamrolled them until he got his way. When three cities filed lawsuits against him because of broken promises, he defeated them all.

What's remarkable about this saga is that people don’t hate Davis more. After Art Modell moved the Browns from Cleveland to Baltimore in 1995, he was forced to move his family out of Ohio because of the threats against him. Clevelanders hate him even more than LeBron James, which says a lot. If Modell died tomorrow, there would be dancing on the shores of Lake Erie.

Compare that reaction to the one Davis got. Sure, there was plenty of anger when he moved the team, but Oakland fans forgave him as soon as he moved back north, and the Raiders remain Los Angeles’ most popular non-hometown team by a mile. I’m not the only fan who hated him in theory only to realize how much I loved him once he was gone.

After all, Al Davis was the Raiders—there’s never been a way to root for the 11 guys on the field without supporting the one in the luxury box. Sunday marked the first Raiders game in 49 years without Davis overseeing the proceedings. His bluster, his bullying, and his victim complex all made him the perfect fit for Oakland, which exists almost literally in the shadow of its larger, glitzier neighbor to the west. The 49ers may have more Super Bowl wins and two of the best quarterbacks of all time, but the Raiders have—had—Al Davis.

When your team loses the man who defines it, what does it have left? The Raiders are in the midst of a years-long process to overcome the turmoil of the last decade. Redefining themselves after Davis’ death will take much longer.

With any luck, the Raiders will keep the best parts of Davis’ legacy alive for many more years while burying the cruelty and pettiness. Though it’s only been three days since his death, signs are good that the team took the right message.

As if to epitomize Davis’ overarching philosophy—“Just win, baby!”—the Raiders were beaten soundly in Houston on Sunday in every statistical category except total points, eking out a 25-20 win. They nearly gave it away in the closing seconds of the game, until Michael Huff—a classic, much-ridiculed Al Davis draft pick—came out of nowhere to intercept the ball in the Texans’ end zone. After the game, head coach Hue Jackson congratulated Huff in an emotional locker room speech, but awarded ultimate credit elsewhere.

“That was a hell of a job by you, Michael Huff,” Jackson said. “But I tell you this, Al Davis had his hands on that ball, man."

Photo via (cc) Flickr user Ryan Leighty

via Gage Skidmore / Flickr and nrkbeta / flickr

The Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) dropped a bombshell on Tuesday, announcing it had over 900 emails that White House aide Stephen Miller sent to former Breitbart writer and editor Katie McHugh.

According to the SPLC, in the emails, Miller aggressively "promoted white nationalist literature, pushed racist immigration stories and obsessed over the loss of Confederate symbols after Dylann Roof's murderous rampage."

Keep Reading Show less
via Around the NFL / Twitter

After three years on the sidelines, Colin Kapernick will be working out for multiple NFL teams on Saturday, November 16 at the Atlanta Falcons facility.

The former 49er quarterback who inflamed the culture wars by peacefully protesting against social injustice during the national anthem made the announcement on Twitter Tuesday.

Kaepernick is scheduled for a 15-minute on-field workout and an interview that will be recorded and sent to all 32 teams. The Miami Dolphins, Dallas Cowboys, and Detroit Lions are expected to have representatives in attendance.

RELATED: Joe Namath Says Colin Kaepernick And Eric Reid Should Be Playing In The NFL

"We like our quarterback situation right now," Miami head coach, Brian Flores said. "We're going to do our due diligence."

NFL Insider Steve Wyche believes that the workout is the NFL's response to multiple teams inquiring about the 32-year-old quarterback. A league-wide workout would help to mitigate any potential political backlash that any one team may face for making an overture to the controversial figure.

Kapernick is an unrestricted free agent (UFA) so any team could have reached out to him. But it's believed that the interested teams are considering him for next season.

RELATED: Video of an Oakland train employee saving a man's life is so insane, it looks like CGI

Earlier this year, Kaepernick and Carolina Panthers safety Eric Reid reached a financial settlement with the league in a joint collusion complaint. The players alleged that the league conspired to keep them out after they began kneeling during the national anthem in 2016.

Before the 2019 season, Kaepernick posted a video of himself working out on twitter to show he was in great physical condition and ready to play.

Kaepnick took the 49ers to the Super Bowl in 2012 and the NFC Championship game in 2013.

He has the 23rd-highest career passer rating in NFL history, the second-best interception rate, and the ninth-most rushing yards per game of any quarterback ever. In 2016, his career to a sharp dive and he won only of 11 games as a starter.


Four black women, Engineers Christine Darden and Mary Jackson, mathematician Katherine Johnson, and computer programmer Dorothy Vaughan, worked as "human computers" at NASA during the Space Race, making space travel possible through their complex calculations. Jackson, Johnson, and Vaughn all played a vital role in helping John Glenn become the first American to orbit the Earth.

They worked behind the scenes, but now they're getting the credit they deserve as their accomplishments are brought to the forefront. Their amazing stories were detailed in the book "Hidden Figures: The American Dream and the Untold Story of the Black Women Mathematicians Who Helped Win the Space Race" by Margot Lee Shetterly, which was later turned into a movie. (Darden was not featured in the movie, but was in the book). Johnson has a building at NASA named after her, and a street in front of NASA's Washington D.C. headquarters was renamed "Hidden Figures Way."

Keep Reading Show less

Between Alexa, Siri, and Google, artificial intelligence is quickly changing us and the way we live. We no longer have to get up to turn on the lights or set the thermostat, we can find the fastest route to work with a click, and, most importantly, tag our friends in pictures. But interacting with the world isn't the only thing AI is making easier – now we can use it save the world, too.

Keep Reading Show less
Good News
Courtesy of John S. Hutton, MD

A report from Common Sense Media found the average child between the ages of 0 and 8 has 2 hours and 19 minutes of screen time a day, and 35% of their screen time is on a mobile device. A new study conducted by the Cincinnati Children's Hospital published in the journal, JAMA Pediatrics, found exactly what all that screen time is doing to your kid, or more specifically, your kid's developing brain. It turns out, more screen time contributes to slower brain development.

First, researchers gave the kids a test to determine how much and what kind of screen time they were getting. Were they watching fighting or educational content? Were they using it alone or with parents? Then, researchers examined the brains of children aged 3 to 5 year olds by using MRI scans. Forty seven brain-healthy children who hadn't started kindergarten yet were used for the study.

They found that kids who had more than one hour of screen time a day without parental supervision had lower levels of development in their brain's white matter, which is important when it comes to developing cognitive skills, language, and literacy.

Keep Reading Show less