Who Will Take Over the Raiders After Al Davis’ Death?
Hours after the Oakland Raiders topped the Houston Texans for a thrilling 25-20 win on Sunday, speculation swirled around who will run the NFL franchise after the passing of its iconoclastic owner Al Davis, who died Saturday in Oakland at age 82.
While Davis' wife, Carol, will directly inherit the franchise, his son, Mark, who was at Houston's Reliant Stadium on Sunday, seemed to be a consensus favorite to assume operational control. Another possible contributor to the Raiders future direction: John Madden. The former television analyst could step in to help the team he coached to a win in Super Bowl XI, suggested an NFL.com report that cited a news conference with Davis prior to his death.
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," Al Davis said, in 2006.
Davis was a maverick owner who consistently voted against league initiatives and policies, and he often feuded with NFL officials and other team owners. Yet, all NFL stadiums observed a moment of silence before the game in honor of Davis, who served as coach and general manager of the team in the 1960s, before later becoming its principal owner.
For a man who was against merging the Raiders' old American Football League with the NFL, Davis' frequent lawsuits against the NFL were no surprise. The most famous of his legal actions centered around an anti-trust suit that Davis filed when the NFL attempted to block him from moving the Raiders to Los Angeles in 1982. Davis eventually won in federal district court and relocated the team to the L.A. Memorial Coliseum.
With the Los Angeles market still open and the future of Raiders ownership unclear, the team could move back to L.A., or somewhere else, Yahoo! speculated. “There’s so much uncertainty, and this definitely changes the game,” one NFL owner said Sunday. “As far as L.A., now the race is on, and the Raiders returning just became a lot more viable.”
Oakland fans were angry at Davis for moving the team to Los Angeles, but they welcomed the team back in 1995. Eventually, they warmed to Davis, as well. Thousands of Raiders fans gathered in various places around the Bay Area on Sunday to watch the game while remembering the owner whose credo of "Just Win, Baby" fell in lockstep with his mission statement of the Oakland organization: "Commitment to Excellence," the New York Times reported.
“I think Al leaves a legacy for his son to follow, like a map,” said Ricky Ricardo, the owner of Ricky’s, a restaurant in San Leandro that is an unofficial headquarters of Raider Nation. “The philosophy won’t change. He may not be up for the whole task, but he will be able to enlist the help of smart people like his dad did.”