Al Davis wasn't just an owner - it's easy to forget that he was also a coach, a coordinator, a scout, and a league commissioner. His career in football lasted for over sixty years, and he's the only person in the history of the game who saw it from so many different angles. Despite his history and successes, he's primarily (and unfairly) remembered by most NFL fans for what happened during his last decade in charge.
While it's true that his final years weren't successful, they shouldn't be the defining legacy of a man who made the NFL what it is today. Al Davis had a long, fascinating career, and we've picked out five events most people have forgotten to paint a more accurate picture of the man.
As a kid, Davis idolized Al Badain, the basketball coach at Erasmus Hall High School in Brooklyn. Badain was a local legend, and Davis decided to attend Erasmus instead of schools closer to home just for the chance to play on Badain's team.
Davis, never the most athletically gifted, managed to claw his way onto the squad through grit and determination. He didn't make it off the bench often, but he spent his time absorbing everything Badain said and did. Badain's emphasis on teamwork and unselfish play made a lasting impression, and influenced the way Davis coached and ran teams for the rest of his career.
The two eventually fell out of touch, and in the 1980's, Badain had fallen on hard times. When Davis heard that his childhood mentor was elderly, sick, and in debt, he arranged to have him flown out to the Super Bowl (where Al's Raiders were playing). Badain was shocked by Al's generosity, but he didn't even know the full extent of it yet - Davis had personally wiped out his debts.
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