Daily Archives: October 8th, 2011

SCOUTING ALERT: Andrew Luck throws for season-high 370 yards as Stanford routs Colorado

Andrew Luck - QB - Stanford

STANFORD, Calif. — Andrew Luck brought out Stanford’s stars and delivered his best passing performance of the season.

Luck threw for a season-high 370 yards and three touchdowns to pad his Heisman Trophy resume, and the seventh-ranked Cardinal stayed perfect with a 48-7 victory over Pac-12 newcomer Colorado on Saturday night.

With former Stanford standouts Tiger Woods and John Elway joining the crush of NFL scouts on the sidelines, Luck completed 26 of 33 passes to extend the nation’s longest winning streak to 13 games. The latest romp delighted a rare sellout crowd of 50,360 that included some of the program’s greats.

“I don’t think we noticed it,” Luck said, chuckling that he missed some of his favorite athletes. “It’s awesome to hear that.”

Luck was the star attraction in this one.

The strong-armed and fleet-footed quarterback called his own plays again for long stretches, although the no-huddle offense first displayed last week against UCLA was used sparingly. Only a 423-yard passing performance in a loss at Arizona in 2009 did Luck throw for more yards, and he didn’t even play the final 10 minutes against Colorado.

“Every game he does something,” Stanford coach David Shaw said, “that not many human-beings can do.”

Dallas Cowboys, Alamodome discuss new training camp deal

Cowboys defense (blue, left) and offense (white, right) head off during training camp at the Alamodome on Tuesday, Aug. 9, 2011. Photo: John Davenport/jdavenport@express-news.net / SA

Cowboys defense (blue) and offense (white) during training camp at Alamodome on Aug. 9, 2011.

Photo: John Davenport

Nearly two months after the expiration of their five-year contract with the Alamodome, the Dallas Cowboys are again eyeing the building as a possible training camp site, a city official confirmed.

“We have been in discussions with the Cowboys regarding their future camps, however, any inquiries as to their decision and timelines will need to be referred to (the team),” Mike Sawaya, who oversees the Alamodome, wrote in an email Wednesday.

Told Sawaya’s comments, team spokesman Rich Dalrymple said in an email: “We are involved in the process of determining our plans for next year, but nothing has been finalized.”

When the Cowboys broke camp at the dome in August, it was unclear whether they’d return in 2012. Jerry Jones said in the summer that he’d like a split camp in the future, meaning San Antonio would share the team with Oxnard, Calif.

“We’ve had informal talks with the Cowboys, but there’s nothing new to report other than to say we’d welcome them back,” Oxnard mayor Tom Holden said.

What was Al Davis’ succession plan for the Oakland Raiders?

Few, if any, owners in sports had a stranglehold on their team the way Al Davis had on the Oakland Raiders. He controlled every facet of the team until his final days — from the players the team drafted and signed to the way the field and uniforms looked on game days.

There was no aspect of the organization that wasn’t under the watchful eye of Davis, who did everything his way, regardless of what anyone, even the NFL commissioner, thought.

The Oakland Raiders, however, as we have known them since 1963, are no more after Davis passed Saturday at the age of 83.

After the well-deserved tributes and reverences are made in the coming days, the attention will turn to his succession plan and the future of the Raiders.

Davis had previously said control of the team would go to his wife, Carol, and son, Mark, when he died.

During a press conference on Aug. 1, 2006, Davis also mentioned former Raiders coach John Madden could play a role in helping the franchise’s transition after his passing.

“If something happened to Al, I’m sure (Madden) would be someone that Carol Davis and Mark Davis would call, along with several others who have been Raiders most of their lives and still have a tremendous loyalty to it,” Davis said. “That’s if I don’t outlive them. … Time runs by you. My life goes on. We’re still here and we want to win.”

Davis met Carol in 1950 when he was 21 years old and began his coaching career at Adelphi College on Long Island. He was only there two years before he went into the Army, and as a private, coached the Fort Belvoir football team.

In an interview with Sports Illustrated on Nov. 4, 1963, Davis said about Carol, “A friend introduced us when I was coaching at Adelphi. He thought she could handle me. You know, I wasn’t a bad looking kid and not a poor boy.”

When Carol suffered a severe heart attack in 1979, Davis talked hospital officials into giving him a bed in the intensive care unit and slept there for two weeks to be next to her.

“She’s a good girl,” Davis told Sports Illustrated in 1963. “I swear somebody’s going to steal her sometime. She worries that I don’t spend enough time with our son, Mark. I tell her I didn’t spend an awful lot of time with my daddy, but we were close. I really loved my daddy. It’s not how much time you spend, it’s what you do with the time you’ve got.”

Mark, who is now 56, graduated from Chico State and has been around the team more in recent years.

When the San Jose Mercury News asked Davis what Mark’s role was with the team on Sept. 30, 2008, he said, “He’s business and perhaps he’s doing some work on the stadium — business and stadium. He doesn’t want to get involved in football. He used to know all the players. He still does. They were his vintage – Cliff Branch and all those guys, Fred Biletnikoff, all those guys. He never understood how I could let someone go. He just doesn’t want to get into that part of it. But he will own it someday. That is… if they let me go to my maker. ”

It is not yet known if Carol or Mark would want to have anything to do with the day-to-day operations of the Raiders. Amy Trask, the Raiders’ CEO will likely take a more prominent role with the team now and help with the transition and life without Davis.

Davis had owned 67 percent of the Raiders but that percentage dropped to 47 percent in 2007 when he sold a 20 percent minority interest to a group of investors, led by East Coast businessmen David Abrams, director of the Abrams Capital investment firm, Paul Leff, founder of the Perry Corporation money management firm, and Dan Goldring, managing director at Perry Corp. The deal gave the group no control of the franchise at the time of the sale or in the future. Davis said he made the deal for estate planning purposes.

That percentage became available to Davis when he settled a lawsuit with the heirs of one of the team’s co-founders, E.W. McGah, which reportedly included the sale of the McGah family’s 31 percent stake in the Raiders.

Davis became the third general partner of the Oakland Raiders when he purchased 10 percent of the team for $18,000 in 1966. Ever since then, Davis has slowly built his shares to become the managing general partner of the team with most of the minority shares divided among the heirs of the eight original general partners.

Last month Forbes magazine valued the Raiders at $761 million, second lowest in the NFL only behind the Jacksonville Jaguars. The Raiders have unsuccessfully tried to get a new stadium in Oakland since moving back from Los Angeles in 1995 but continue to play in the Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum, the third oldest stadium in the league. Since returning to the Bay Area, 83 of the Raiders’ 130 home games have been blacked out on TV after failing to sell out.

There had been talk recently of the San Francisco 49ers and Raiders possibly partnering on a new stadium in Santa Clara but nothing substantial has come from preliminary discussions. Both teams shared Kezar Stadium in 1960.

When former 49ers owner Eddie DeBartalo and team president Carmen Policy were rumored to be interested in buying the Raiders in 2006, Trask came out told the San Francisco Chronicle that Davis would always control the Raiders.

“Al Davis currently has, and will continue to have, total control of the Raiders,” Trask said. “And that will continue into perpetuity.”

Courtesy: ESPN – Los Angeles

Rob Ryan held the New England Patriots in check last year

The Boys Are Back in week 6

The Boys Are Back in week 6

IRVING, Texas — Winning at New England will be a difficult task for the Cowboys, but Rob Ryan’s recent history against the Patriots should help.

Ryan coordinated Cleveland’s defense last year that limited Tom Brady to 224 yards on 19-of-36 passing, confusing the Patriots with a variety of looks. Like this year, Ryan and the Browns had the bye the week before playing New England.

In a 34-14 loss to the Browns, New England had just 19 first downs, converted on 3 of 11 third down opportunities and had 283 total yards.

“We just went out and executed our game plan,” said safety Abram Elam, who started for Cleveland last year. “We gave them a bunch of different looks. We attack them and committed to not giving up the big play. That’s big with them. That’s a good offense. They find a hole and they do a good job of making adjustments, so you always have to stay ahead of the game with them.”

Cleveland’s offense helped that day, too. The Browns ran for 230 yards, led by Peyton Hillis’ 184 yards on 29 carries. New England had the ball for 21 minutes, 52 seconds that day.

Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones on death of longtime Oakland Raiders owner Al Davis: ‘A trusted friend … we will miss him deeply’

NFL Al Davis obituary

Al Davis

Cowboys owner and general manager Jerry Jones reacted Saturday to the death of Oakland Raiders longtime owner Al Davis.

Davis’ legacy in the NFL began 60 years ago and was highlighted by his 1992 Pro Football Hall of Fame induction. Davis, 82, died Saturday morning in his home. The cause of death was not released.

There will be a moment of silence to honor Davis at all NFL games this weekend, the league said in a memo.

“In my eyes, so much of his legacy will be defined by the loyalty he had for the men who played for the Raiders and the love that they had for him,” Jones said. “That was a bond that extended beyond the playing years and lasted lifetimes. His contributions and expertise were inspiring at every level–coach, general manager, owner and commissioner. There was no element of the game of professional football for which Al did not enjoy a thorough and complete level of knowledge and passion.

“He welcomed me and my family to the NFL 23 years ago and was a trusted friend for all of our time in professional football. We will miss him deeply and we are thinking of [his son] Mark and [his wife] Carol at this difficult time.”

AUDIO: Jerry Jones honors Al Davis with emotional interview with NFL Network

Jerry Jones emotionally honors Al Davis - Click on picture to listen

Jerry Jones emotionally honors Al Davis - Click on picture to listen

Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones calls in and reflects on Al Davis the man, friend, mentor and football visionary.

THROWBACK: Dallas Cowboy QB Danny White #11 – Leading America’s Team

Dallas Cowboy QB Danny White 11 America's Team

Dallas Cowboy QB Danny White 11 America's Team

IRVING, Texas –Danny White is a champion.

He owns a Super Bowl XII ring that is still worn proudly today, a reminder of his early years with the Dallas Cowboys as the heir apparent to quarterback Roger Staubach and, yes, the punter, too. (Imagine Mat McBriar throwing 10-yard outs to Miles Austin and Dez Bryant.)

White was a college and World League star who began his NFL career as a backup for four years. Staubach always encouraged him to be patient, that he’d get his chance soon, that he’d be great. The Cowboys’ captain played two more seasons after that 1977 championship and then handed the offense to his grateful understudy.

White indeed became one of the best players in franchise history and retired in 1988 with several team passing records, including most career touchdowns (155), single-season touchdowns (29) and single-season yards (3,980). He won two-thirds of his starts over eight seasons, including five playoff games.

Danny White is a champion, too. But to an extent, it’s the ring he didn’t win as a starter that overshadows his legacy in Dallas. It happens to be a franchise with exorbitant expectations for quarterbacks.

Tony Romo hasn’t met them yet. He’s ringless. And lately, every cardinal quarterback trait – his leadership, his poise, his decision-making – is being questioned. Despite everything he did to keep the Cowboys competitive in the first four games this season, including two gritty wins with a fractured rib, five of his turnovers contributed largely to two maddening meltdowns against the Jets and Lions.

“When I played it was a long time ago. Quarterback in Dallas, Texas, was under a microscope. It has now become an electron microscope,” White said before covering last Sunday’s 34-30 loss to Detroit as an analyst for Compass Radio Network. “I can only imagine … actually, I can’t even imagine. I kind of know what I went through and that was the worst part of it for me was dealing with the criticism.”

“I was my own worst critic. I knew what I needed to do.”

White got close. He led the Cowboys to three straight NFC Championship Games from 1980-82. They were favored on the road in all three, and lost all three. The sting from the 1981 loss at San Francisco has mostly – repeat, mostly – subsided today, though White still contends that Dwight Clark’s winning score from Joe Montana would never have been dubbed “The Catch” had he connected with Drew Pearson on the final drive. He’s right.

White’s final years under center were hindered by injuries, and Gary Hogeboom and Steve Pelleur separately challenged his job security. One year after his retirement, the Cowboys drafted Troy Aikman. But he kept the franchise competitive during a transitional period in the 1980s.

Romo, too, began his career as a four-year backup. He, too, followed a Hall of Famer, though there was an 11-year gap between Aikman’s last title in 1995 and Romo’s first start in 2006. His rise to stardom was a relief to fans who endured the inconsistencies of Quincy Carter, Chad Hutchinson, Clint Stoerner, Vinny Testaverde and Drew Bledsoe. Romo has gone on to break many of White’s records.

Yet three postseasons and only one win later, the natives are getting restless. When will greatness be restored to the star? Is Romo the one to lead them?

Similar to the unwavering support Staubach and Aikman have offered No. 9 over the years, there’s no question in White’s mind.

“I can relate to what Tony’s going through,” White said, “and if I could get inside his head and tell him one thing, it’s he’s one of the great quarterbacks in the history of the Dallas Cowboys.

“People keep saying, ‘You’ve got to win the big one.’ Well, he doesn’t have to win the big one. There are 10 other guys out there on the field and 52 on the field as a team. And everybody plays a big part in that.

“It’s a cliche. The quarterback gets more credit and blame than he ever deserves.”

Romo and his teammates will return to practice Monday and begin preparing in earnest for the NFL’s most recent dynasty, the New England Patriots, and its most decorated active quarterback, Tom Brady. Much of Romo’s criticism is based on the absence of a championship, which those like Brady or Drew Brees already have. The comparisons, though, are something of a compliment.

Last week, the Patriots shrugged off a 21-point blown lead and four Brady interceptions in their loss to Buffalo and won a tough cross-country game at Oakland. That’s the resiliency Garrett wants from his team on Oct. 16 at Gillette Stadium.

“It’s a good reminder for our football team that you’ve got to keep going,” Garrett said.

The same is expected from their quarterback.

Former Dallas Cowboy QB Danny White can relate to Romo’s scrutiny

Danny White led the Cowboys to three straight NFC title games.

Troy Aikman made a point of defending Tony Romo‘s honor this week, and now another former Cowboys quarterback has come to the aid of Dallas’ under-the-gun leader.

Danny White, who spent much of his career in the shadow of Roger Staubach, understands the pressure Romo is under but also acknowledges that the heat’s intensified in recent years.

“When I played it was a long time ago,” White told Compass Radio Network on Sunday, via the team’s official site. “Quarterback in Dallas, Texas, was under a microscope. It has now become an electron microscope.

“I can only imagine … actually, I can’t even imagine. I kind of know what I went through and that was the worst part of it for me was dealing with the criticism.”

Mommas, don’t let your babies grow up to be Cowboys … quarterbacks. That’s how Mrs. Joan Romo might be feeling these days, watching her son — despite a 92.9 passer rating — take more heat than the president.

Dallas Cowboys followed Al Davis’ blueprint to become NFL’s top brand

Tim Heitman/US Presswire
Cowboys owner Jerry Jones (left) followed a path to success blazed by Raiders owner Al Davis.

The NFL’s most valuable and identifiable franchise is owned by Jerry Jones.

That brand, the league’s most powerful of 32, has Al Davis’ fingerprints all over it.

Jones, like Davis, acts not only as principle owner of his club but also as its general manager. Jones, like Davis, took his franchise to new heights by challenging the authority of others, pushing back and forcing the league to think differently. Jones, like Davis, believed in his club’s ability to take talented but troubled players and draw the most out of them.

In recent years, the old blueprint might not have worked in Oakland the way it did during the 1960s, ’70s and ’80s. But Jones’ success on and off the field in running the Dallas Cowboys — winning championships in the 1990s and driving the value of his franchise from $140 million in 1989 to $1.85 billion in 2011 — is a powerful example of how Davis’ legacy is living on.

It is this way because Jones learned from Davis.

Back in the summer of 1994, when the Raiders and Cowboys practiced together for a few days in Austin, Texas, Jones told Davis he was the NFL’s Mickey Mouse. According to an account of the conversation from Skip Bayless from the San Francisco Chronicle, Jones explained to Davis, “Raider Mystique is to the NFL what the symbol of Mickey Mouse is to Disney. It’s what everyone associates with Disney.”

A year later, Jones negotiated a marketing deal with Pepsi, despite the league’s existing deal with Coke. He negotiated another deal with Nike, despite the league’s agreements with other apparel companies. As Davis had been in the past, Jones was sued by the league. Then, he counter-sued.

The real result, after the dust cleared, was that the NFL’s revenues grew and grew, to the point where they now approach 11 figures in annual revenue.

Davis was at the forefront of the American Football League, the modern passing game and the marketing of a football team as an individual and iconic brand. Jones has been at the forefront of the business of the game’s next generation.

If there’s one thing tying Davis and Jones together, it’s that each does things his own way.

In the regimented world of football, that kind of free thought isn’t always encouraged. But for a league and a game to reach the heights that the NFL and football have in this country, it is necessary to have those who will challenge conventional thought, flip over the apple cart and be stubborn about it.

Davis opened doors for people like that. With folks like Jones serving as leaders of the new establishment in the NFL, the legacy of the Raiders’ icon still lives.

Al Davis, Hall of Fame owner of Oakland Raiders, passes away at 82

Al Davis, Hall of Fame owner of Raiders, passes away at age 82

Al Davis, the Hall of Fame owner of the Oakland Raiders known for his rebellious spirit, has died.

The team said the 82-year-old died at his home in Oakland on Saturday morning.

“Al Davis’s passion for football and his influence on the game were extraordinary,” NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell said in a statement released by the league. “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.”

Raiders CEO Amy Trask issued the following statement: “During this indescribably difficult time, let us all reflect upon what it means to be a Raider — let us all reflect upon how privileged we are to be Raiders — and let us all be Raiders.”

It was Davis’ willingness to buck the establishment that helped turn the NFL into the establishment in sports — the most successful sports league in American history.

Davis was charming, cantankerous and compassionate — a man who when his wife suffered a serious heart attack in the 1970s moved into her hospital room. But he was best known as a rebel, a man who established a team whose silver-and-black colors and pirate logo symbolized his attitude toward authority, both on the field and off.

Davis was one of the most important figures in NFL history. That was most evident during the 1980s when he fought in court — and won — for the right to move his team from Oakland to Los Angeles. Even after he moved them back to the Bay Area in 1995, he went to court, suing for $1.2 billion to establish that he still owned the rights to the L.A. market.

Until the decline of the Raiders into perennial losers in the first decade of the 21st century, he was a winner, the man who as a coach, then owner-general manager-de facto coach, established what he called “the team of the decades” based on another slogan: “commitment to excellence.” And the Raiders were excellent, winning three Super Bowls during the 1970s and 1980s and contending almost every other season — an organization filled with castoffs and troublemakers who turned into trouble for opponents.

Davis, elected in 1992 to the Pro Football Hall of Fame, also was a trailblazer. He hired the first black head coach of the modern era — Art Shell in 1988. He hired the first Latino coach, Tom Flores; and the first woman CEO, Amy Trask. And he was infallibly loyal to his players and officials: to be a Raider was to be a Raider for life.

But it was Davis’ rebellious spirit, that willingness to buck the establishment, that helped transform the NFL. He was the last commissioner of the American Football league and led it on personnel forays that helped force a 1970 merger that turned the expanded NFL into the colossus it remains.

Born in Brockton, Mass., Davis grew up in Brooklyn and graduated from Erasmus Hall High School, a spawning ground in the two decades after World War II for a number of ambitious young people who became renowned in sports, business and entertainment. Davis was perhaps the second-most famous after Barbra Streisand.

“We had a reunion in Los Angeles, and 500 people showed up, including Bah-bruh,” Davis once told an interviewer in that combination of southern drawl/Brooklynese that was often parodied among his acquaintances within the league and without.

A graduate of Syracuse University, Davis became an assistant coach with the Baltimore Colts at age 24, and he was an assistant at The Citadel and then Southern California before joining the Los Angeles Chargers of the new AFL in 1960. Only three years later, he was hired by the Raiders and became the youngest general manager-head coach in pro football history with a team he called “the Raid-uhs” in 1963.

Davis was a good one, 23-16-3 in three seasons with a franchise that had started its life 9-23.

Then he bought into the failing franchise, which played on a high school field adjacent to the Nimitz Freeway in Oakland and became managing general partner, a position he held until his death.

But as the many bright young coaches he hired – from John Madden, Mike Shanahan and Jon Gruden to Lane Kiffin — found out, Davis remained the coach. He ran everything from the sidelines, often calling down with plays, or sending emissaries to the sidelines to make substitutions.

 

Click to PLAY video about Al Davis

 In 1966, Davis became commissioner of the AFL. But even before that, he had begun to break an unwritten truce between the young league and its established rivals, which fought over draft choices but didn’t go after established players.

And while the NFL’s New York Giants‘ signing of Buffalo kicker Pete Gogolak marked the first break in that rule, it was Davis who began to go after NFL stars — pursuing quarterbacks John Brodie and Roman Gabriel as he tried to establish AFL supremacy.

Davis’ war precipitated first talks of merger, although Davis opposed it. But led by Lamar Hunt of Kansas City, the AFL owners agreed that peace was best. A common draft was established, and the first Super Bowl was played following the 1966 season – Green Bay beat Kansas City, then went on to beat Davis’ Raiders the next season. By 1970, the leagues were fully merged, and the league had the basic structure it retains until this day — with the NFL’s Pete Rozelle as commissioner, not Davis, who badly wanted the job.

So Davis went back to the Raiders, running a team that won Super Bowls after the 1976, 1980 and 1983 seasons — the last one in Los Angeles, where the franchise moved in 1982 after protracted court fights. It was a battling bunch, filled with players such as John Matuszak, Mike Haynes and Lyle Alzado, stars who didn’t fill in elsewhere who combined with homegrown stars — Ken Stabler, another rebellious spirit; Gene Upshaw; Shell, Jack Tatum, Willie Brown and dozens of others.

Davis was never a company man. Not in the way he dressed: jump suits with a Raiders logo: white or black, with the occasional black suit, black shirt and silver tie. Not in the way he wore his hair — even well into his 70s, it was slicked back with a 1950s-style duck-tail. Not in the way he did business — on his own terms, always on his own terms.

Al Davis bio
Born: July 4, 1929, in Brockton, Mass.
Died: Oct. 8, 2011

Awards: AFL’s Coach of the Year in 1963
Honors: Inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1992

Accomplishments:
» Hired as coach and general manager of the AFL‘s Oakland Raiders in January 1963. At 33, he was the youngest person in pro football history to hold those positions.
» Compiled 23-16-3 record in three years as coach.
» Appointed AFL commissioner in April 1966. Resigned as commissioner six weeks after the AFL and NFL agree to an alliance.

Raiders:
» From 1967 to 1985, the team won 13 division championships; one AFL championship (1967); three Super Bowls (1977, 1981 and 1984); and made 15 playoff appearances.
» Won AFC championship in 2002.
» One of two teams to play in the Super Bowl in four different decades, along with the Pittsburgh Steelers.

Ownership:
» 1966: Purchased 10 percent stake in the Raiders.
» 1972: Revised partnership agreement made him the new managing general partner, with near-absolute control over team operations.
» 2005: Acquired majority interest in the Raiders.
» 2007: Sold a minority stake in the Raiders for $150 million.

Lawsuits:
» 1980: Attempted to move the Raiders to Los Angeles but was blocked by a court injunction. Davis filed an antitrust lawsuit against the NFL. In June 1982, a federal district court ruled in Davis’ favor and the team officially relocated to Los Angeles for the 1982 NFL season.
» 1986: United States Football League filed its antitrust suit against the NFL. Davis was the only NFL owner who sided with the USFL.
» 1995: Moved the team back to Oakland. Davis then sued the NFL, contending the league sabotaged the team’s effort to build a stadium at Hollywood Park in Inglewood by not doing enough to help the team move from the antiquated Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum to a new stadium complete with luxury suites.
» Mid-1990s: Davis sued the NFL on behalf of the Raiders, saying the Raiders had exclusive rights to the Los Angeles market, even though the Raiders were in Oakland. Davis and the Raiders lost the lawsuit.

After lengthy lawsuits involving the move to Los Angeles, Davis went back to Oakland and at one point in the early years of the century was involved in suits in northern and southern California — the one seeking the Los Angeles rights and another suing Oakland for failing to deliver sellouts they promised to get the Raiders back.

But if owners and league executives branded Davis a renegade, friends and former players find him the epitome of loyalty.

When his wife, Carol, had a serious heart attack, he moved into her hospital room and lived there for more than a month. And when he hears that even a distant acquaintance is ill, he’ll offer medical help without worrying about expense.

“Disease is the one thing — boy I tell you, it’s tough to lick,” he said in 2008, talking about the leg ailments that had restricted him to using a walker. “It’s tough to lick those diseases. I don’t know why they can’t.”

A few years earlier, Davis said: “I can control most things, but I don’t seem to be able to control death. Everybody seems to be going on me.”

As he aged, his teams declined.

The Raiders got to the Super Bowl after the 2002 season, losing to Tampa Bay. But for a long period after that, they had the worst record in the NFL, at one point with five coaches in six years.

Some of it was Davis’ refusal to stay away from the football operation — he would take a dislike to stars and order them benched.

The most glaring example was Marcus Allen, the most valuable player in the 1984 Super Bowl, the last the Raiders won.

For reasons never made clear, Davis took a dislike to his star running back and ordered him benched for two seasons. He released him after the 1992 season, and Allen went to Kansas City.

Davis’ only comment: “He was a cancer on the team.”

The small incorporated city of Irwindale, 20 miles east of Los Angeles, learned an expensive lesson about dealing with Davis. The city gave the Raiders $10 million to show its good faith in 1988, but environmental issues, financing problems and regional opposition scuttled plans to turn a gravel pit into a $115 million, 65,000-seat stadium. The deposit was nonrefundable, and Irwindale never got a penny back.

When Davis fired Mike Shanahan in 1988 after 20 games, he refused to pay the coach the $300,000 he was owed. When he became coach of the Denver Broncos, Shanahan delighted most in beating the Raiders and Davis. And when Davis fired Lane Kiffin “for cause” in 2008, withholding the rest of his contract, the usually humorless Shanahan remarked:

“I was a little disappointed, to be honest with you. When you take a look at it, I was there 582 days. Lane Kiffin was there 616 days. So, what it really means is that Al Davis liked Lane more than he liked me. I really don’t think it’s fair. I won three more games, yet he got 34 more days of work. That just doesn’t seem right.”

But for most of his life, few people laughed at Al Davis.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Al Davis - Owner of the  NFL's Oakland Raiders

Al Davis - Owner of the NFL's Oakland Raiders

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