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News » Written off by many, Davis remains an icon


Written off by many, Davis remains an icon


Written off by many, Davis remains an icon
DANA POINT, Calif. - At the base of a grand staircase, the exhibit was installed to commemorate the American Football League, conceived half a century ago by a gang of renegade rich men who called themselves "The Foolish Club."


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For the record, the quote appears on page 229 in the 1969 paperback edition of Bob Curran's "The $400,000 Quarterback."

"How old were you, six?"

"Actually, four."

"I didn't know I said that."

Of course he said it. Davis, who grew up reading newspaper dispatches from the war in Europe and the Pacific, reduces everything to military terms.

"The guerrilla wins if he doesn't lose," he says. "We were the guerrillas in those days."

He recalls a phony memo sent to NFL scouts, instructing them to report to Portland, Ore. Meanwhile, AFL guys like Al, were stashing draft picks, sending them on all-expenses paid vacations to Hawaii. In the 1962 Sugar Bowl, as an assistant coach for the Chargers, he signed Lance Alworth under the goalposts. A couple of years later, at the Gator Bowl, he signed Florida State's Fred Biletnikoff.

"On national TV with a lawyer there," says Davis. "The lawyer was from Florida State. His mother and the Detroit Lions were on the sidelines, screaming, 'Don't sign it, Freddy. Don't sign it.' "

Biletnikoff signed it. He won a Super Bowl, and went to the Hall of Fame as a Raider.

Which brings us to Davis' second order of business: "One thing, while I got you all here, there's no way — no way — Cliff Branch shouldn't be in the Hall of Fame.

"He may not have had all the catches that you want, but he was the force that dictated coverage. He dictated everything."

Jim Plunkett. He belongs, too. "What quarterback isn't in the Hall of Fame that's won two Super Bowls?"

Davis goes on for close to half an hour, speaking with authority on subjects that range from the cornerback's lost art to the NCAA women's bracket. He refuses only a camera crew. Apparently, he doesn't want to be photographed in his present state, a condition he attributes to weakened quadriceps.

Then he readies himself to leave, the strength coach and the bouncer in tow. "God, I love talking to you guys," he says.

Still, his real purpose only becomes apparent as he pushes his way down the hall. Ralph Wilson stayed home with a bad shoulder. Jack Kemp has cancer. Rozelle is dead, as are all but two charter members of the Foolish Club.

It is said that Davis is vain, and scared of dying. If that's the case, then this processional with the walker shows some real balls.

I find myself wondering who'll say Kaddish for Al Davis. Perhaps that misses the point, though. He needs no prayers for the dead. He needs only to be told that he won.



Author:Fox Sports
Author's Website:http://www.foxsports.com
Added: March 26, 2009

Shaun Cody Name: Shaun Cody
#75
Position: DT
Age: 25
Experience: 4 years
College: USC
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