Raiders owner Al Davis dead at 82

The NFL lost a legend with the passing of Oakland Raiders owner Al Davis. He was 82.

Davis was a maverick and a football mastermind, who was never afraid of a challenge, even when it came at the expense of his fellow NFL owners.

Davis, a member of the Pro Football Hall of Fame, was three Super Bowls and had 28 winning seasons during his 48-year run as the owner and managing general partner of the Raiders franchise.

"Al Davis's passion for football and his influence on the game were extraordinary," NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell said in a statement. "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."

The Raiders website only had a silver announcement showing "AL DAVIS July 4, 1929-October 8, 2011" on its home page with the words that a statement from the organization would be made later. The Raiders are in Houston to face the Texans on Sunday.

It was Davis who was at the forefront of the plan in the mid 1960s conceived and executed by the old American Football League designed for force a merger with the older, more established NFL. When that merger came to fruition with a 26-team NFL in 1970, it became the genesis of the current NFL setup with the league becoming the most popular professional sports league in the United States.

Davis also filed lawsuits against the NFL and won in court for the right to move his franchise from Oakland to Los Angeles in the 1980s. He later returned to Oakland in 1995, but claimed that the Raiders still had territorial rights to Los Angeles.

During Davis' long run as owner, he and the Raiders became known or the terms “Commitment to Excellence,” and “Just Win, Baby." For decades, those mantras described the Raiders' way of doing business, often taking castoffs and malcontents from other teams and configuring them together to produce a winning team.

In recent years, Davis had come under criticism for meddling into coaching affairs and other aspects of the organization as the Raiders shuffled head coaches often and there was the perception, real or otherwise, that Davis was calling the shots behind the scenes.

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Terry McCormick covers the Titans for TitanInsider.com

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