Football - 2003
Currently president of the National Football League's Oakland Raiders, Al Davis brought his NFL franchise to Southern California in 1982, where his team called the L.A. Coliseum home for twelve years. From 1963 through 1991, the Davis-led Raiders owned the best won-loss record in professional sports. In 1992, Al Davis was elected to the Pro Football Hall of Fame.
Davis guided the Raiders to three Super Bowl victories: 1977 (vs Minnesota), 1981 (vs Philadelphia), and 1984 (vs Washington). The first pair of Super Bowl triumphs were accomplished by the Oakland Raiders. The 38-9 Super Bowl romp over the Redskins in 1984 went to the Los Angeles Raiders.
The son of Louis and Rose (Kirschenbaum) Davis, Al graduated from Brooklyn's Erasmus Hall High School. He attended Wittenberg College and Syracuse University, where he earned a degree in English and played football, basketball and baseball. In 1950 and 1951, he was football line coach at Adelphi College, before entering the U.S. Army, where he served as head football coach at Ft. Belvoir, VA. In 1954, Al took an assistant's job with the NFL's Baltimore Colts, then college football's Citadel in 1955 and 1956, then the University of Southern California, were he was the Trojans line coach and defensive coordinator for the next three years.
In 1960, Sid Gillman hired Davis as an assistant coach for the Los Angeles Chargers of the newly formed American Football League. By 1963, Al had moved to the Oakland Raiders as the AFL team's head coach and general manager. That season he was named AFL Coach of the Year. He had taken over a franchise that had won only three of their last 28 games. Before he relinquished head coaching chores in 1965, his Raiders had compiled a 23-16-3 record.
In 1966, AFL owners persuaded the Oakland boss to take on the League commissioner's duties. Eight weeks later, the upstart AFL and mainstream NFL agreed to merge and end their player bidding war. Largely credited with bringing the two leagues together, Al now took on the job of full-time general managing partner of his Raiders. Three years later, he was the key force in the AFC/NFC realignment into two 13 team conferences.
Al is the only person to serve in the pros as personnel assistant, scout, assistant coach, head coach, general manager, commissioner, team owner and chief executive officer. The sportsman who has been described as "a street fighter looking for an edge", successfully defied his fellow NFL owners following the 1994 season by removing the Raiders out Los Angeles and returning the franchise to Oakland. His signature motto: "Just win, baby"!