I love the Raiders. They are my favorite professional team, any sport. To say that they have influenced my life is a gross understatement. My grandparents were original season ticket holders. My mother went to every home Raider game for her formidable years. There are pictures of me, wearing a Raider beanie at a few days old and they won the Super Bowl (XI) the January after I was born. Bottom line: In my family, the Raider symbol meant more than the Christian cross. No joke.
Therefore, when I heard about the passing of Al Davis, I was initially sad, but also conflicted. You see, for years, many Raider fans (myself included) have seen how Mr. Davis’ old ways of thinking have done nothing but harm the team. By all accounts, he could be stubborn and mean and he certainly thought his way was superior to any other out there. Then again, one only need see the emotion on the sideline last Sunday as the Raiders won their first game since his passing to witness a positive impact that he had on many that he came across and influenced. That is a metaphor for the Raiders and it is a metaphor for life.
I have lost far too many people in my life this year. A best friend’s dad, my great-uncle, my grandfather, my grandmother and my father have all died in the last four months. Personally, it’s hard to not include Al Davis in with all that, as his name is one I have known for my whole life. Yes, there are very sad aspects to these developments and while I do allow myself to feel sad or negative and process them correctly, I don’t fixate either. I choose to let these developments affect me positively. All of these people’s spirits live on and their energy certainly has expanded as they have left us.
Quick example? Look at all the press surrounding Mr. Davis’ passing. I bet many of you didn’t know how meaningful he was, not only to the Raiders, but to the NFL.
Al Davis was meaningful for many reasons, but the one that endures more than any other is the attitude that he brought to the table. He is responsible for the “Raider mystique” that many of you love and many more of you hate. I love that. I’m a guy who almost prefers being booed to being cheered. Know why? I’m a Raider fan. If someone disrespected my friends or family, I’m not nice about it. Why? Those darn Raiders! I’m committed to being the most excellent person I can. Why? Da Raaaiiiiddddaaaassss!
No one is perfect. This doesn’t mean that we cannot learn and grow through each person who enters our lives. I am writing about a man whom I have never met, but has affected my life greatly. Could he be a flat-out jerk sometimes? Apparently. That doesn’t mean that his life is not worth remembering. With everyone, we weigh the good vs. the bad and, if we like the odds, we are likely to place that person in the “good person” category. For what it is worth, I thought Al Davis was ultimately a misunderstood good person with a pronounced streak of attitude running through his veins. I also thank him for being someone in my life that I was able to learn from.
The Raiders and their organization know precisely what Al Davis would want them to do in his honor. It certainly is the only thing Mr. Davis ever cared about business-wise.
“Just win, baby.”