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Reality of Al Davis’ death hits Raiders
Question of the Day
He heard a radio report about this weekend’s death of longtime Raiders owner Al Davis and it hit him that there will be no day-after-game phone calls, no more discussions of strategy and no more talks with the man who gave him his first shot at being a head coach.
“Yeah, it’s different, a lot different. I’ll miss it,” Jackson said, his voice cracking.
The Raiders began the process of moving on following Davis‘ death Saturday at age 82. They learned of the death while they were in Houston and went out and beat the Texans 25-20 when Michael Huff intercepted a pass in the end zone on the final play.
Jackson fell to his knees after that play and cried, letting out a weekend’s worth of emotions.
“I can’t pick up the phone and call Coach anytime I want anymore,” Jackson said. “I can’t call Coach and ask what he thinks about this or that, or I’m not going to get any of those late-night phone calls at 11 p.m. or midnight to say, ‘Hue, what are you doing?’ That’s different. All of that hit me at that particular moment. All of that is done. You have to move on to the next chapter.”
The Raiders had an emotional return home Sunday night, with hundreds of fans welcoming them back to the team facility to congratulate them on the victory.
Jackson said he’d been welcomed back by fans after winning playoff games as an assistant in Baltimore but never like the scene Sunday night when some players mingled with the fans for more than an hour.
“This felt different,” Jackson said. “The feeling of what had happened was still near and dear to everybody, losing Coach. It was just different. It was more a celebration of a win and a man’s life. It was amazing. What a tremendous feeling it was last night.”
Jackson said Davis would not want the team to still grieve over his death or use it as fuel for the rest of the season, saying instead the focus should be on preparing for the Cleveland Browns on Sunday.
“That’s not what he was about,” Jackson said. “Don’t use a rallying cry over him. Do your job. Do your job and perform because that’s what he pays you to do, to be the best you can be. It was never about one person.”
If any team ever was about one person, it was Davis‘ Raiders. He was owner, general manager, architect of the team’s philosophy on the field and the man who turned the Raiders into a global brand during his nearly half-century with the franchise.
“We’re in a great situation right now because we’ve laid such a good foundation,” Jackson said. “Coach had laid such a good foundation with the people that are here, that we’re kind of up and running and moving in that direction already.”
Mark Davis has been a more visible presence around the team in recent years, frequently attending practices in training camp and going to most games. Mark Davis was in Houston with the team on Sunday, hugging players before the game and congratulating them after it.
By David Keene
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