Al Davis, the renegade coach and owner of the Oakland Raiders, died Saturday at his home in Oakland at age 82.
Davis is hailed as one of the most important figures in pro football history from his role in the development of the AFL, the merger with the NFL and the success he built on the field with his beloved Raiders. In a career that spans more than half a century, Davis has served as a scout, assistant coach, head coach, general manager and commissioner before becoming the Raiders’ principal owner in 1972. He was elected to the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1992.
Davis made no qualms about bucking the system, and creating diversity was his trademark. He hired Art Shell, the first Black head coach of the modern era, in 1988. He hired the first Latino coach, Tom Flores, and the first woman CEO, Amy Trask.
The team released a video tribute to Davis on its website. In a statement, the team wrote, “His passion for the game we all love is best exemplified by his famous phrase, ‘Commitment to excellence,'” Associated Press reports.
Here's what people had to say about the legendary owner:
"It is because of this accomplished man and his forever love of Silver and Black, the fire that burned in him I will honor and will always and forever burn in me." — Oakland Raiders head coach Hue Jackson.
"It's a sad day. When you look at the landscape of the National Football League and what Al Davis did, it's immense. It's no secret that we didn't see eye-to-eye at times, but I've always been grateful for the opportunity that he gave me, and I'll always remember that." — Marcus Allen, the MVP in the Raiders' last Super Bowl win.
"In my eyes, so much of his legacy will be defined by the loyalty he had for the men who played for the Raiders and the love that they had for him. That was a bond that extended beyond the playing years and lasted lifetimes. His contributions and expertise were inspiring at every level — coach, general manager, owner and commissioner. There was no element of the game of professional football for which Al did not enjoy a thorough and complete level of knowledge and passion." — Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones.
"Mr. Davis was a pioneer in our league and a visionary in its development. His contributions still remain a major part of our game today." — New Orleans Saints coach Sean Payton.
"He was an icon, a legend, a pioneer. I'm honored that he chose to draft me. It was a great pleasure being a part of Raider Nation, part of all the great teams and players that put on that Silver and Black. You don't know what it means to be a Raider until you are a Raider, and that was his team. He spoke to you not just as an owner but as a coach. He was very hands on. You felt his presence, and he really cared for you and your family." — Bengals linebacker Thomas Howard, Oakland's second-round pick in 2006 who played there five years.