Saturday, October 8, 2011

82 Years To The Tape

For the record, I am not a Raiders fan. I know Raiders fans, have been to their yard to see a few games, and own one of their players in fantasy (the sainted Darren McFadden, aka the one to own)... but this is also the franchise that broke my 11-year-old heart with Jim Freaking Plunkett in 1980 against my Eagles, ran off coaches good and bad, squandered draft choices and generally behaved as if the rules and laws of lawful society didn't apply to them.

And that, more than anything, is what people will remember Davis for.

You see, it's not the '80s Super Bowls that people should think of. It's also not the bizarre press conferences, the scary face, JaMarcus Russell or Darius Heyward-Bey, testifying against his own league for the USFL, or being the bane of Pete Rozelle's existence. Rather, it's the fact that six days -- six days! -- before the man died at age 82, he was watching his team from his box.

There's something unreal about the rich and famous. They don't usually age in public, or if they do, they don't look bad doing it. They don't take the lead in press conferences at an advanced age, when nothing good can come out of it. Davis did. They don't generally work until the day they die. Davis did. And they don't look like they were going to die any minute now... you know, the way that 82-year-old men are supposed to look.

Because, well... what else was he supposed to do?

Al Davis had one thing in his life that he seemed to care about: the Oakland Raiders. He didn't care what anyone thought about how he did that job. He didn't care which fan base he alienated (Oakland, then Los Angeles, and after the Mount Davis fiasco, Oakland again). His teams were cantankerous, violent, undisciplined, and relentless -- the same as him.

When Steve Jobs died last week, the world poured down adoration for his products, his impact, and even the control that he maintained over his personal life by managing his illness. Al Davis didn't manage squat. He didn't dress better, get the Jerry Jones face lift, or defer to some fresh faced spokesman or woman. He just did what he always did, regardless of his wealth or fame or anything else, because he honestly did not give one moment of thought about what anyone thought of him.

May we all face the end with such focus and courage, really.

And on some level... isn't it kind of refreshing to see someone of means who actually ran to the tape?

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