NFL mourns passing of ‘true legend’ Al Davis

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Even those who feuded with Davis remembered his positives. Marcus Allen was the most valuable player in the Raiders‘ last Super Bowl win in 1984. But he later was ordered to be benched for two seasons by Davis and ultimately released after the 1992 season for reasons never made clear. Davis‘ only comment: “He was a cancer on the team.”

“It’s a sad day,” Allen said. “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.”

New England coach Bill Belichick recalled last week his interview with Davis for the head coaching job after the 1998 season. He called it the most unique interview he ever had with an owner because of how much of time was spent on strategy and scheme that only a coach could really grasp.

“They have their style of play, they have their way of doing things,” Belichick said. “As much as you can say this is a copycat league and things like that, you can’t really say that about them because they’ve done the same thing now for decades defensively and to a certain extent, offensively.”

Davis was known for taking care of his former players, and Clem Daniels called him a “father figure.” Raiders assistant Willie Brown, whom Davis acquired in a trade from Denver, said becoming a Raider was the best thing that ever happened to him.

“I’ve enjoyed every year of being here with him, and it’s a loss not only to the Raider organization, but to all of America,” Brown said. “People love the Raiders, and every time they think of the Raiders, they think of Mr. Davis. He was a great leader on and off the field, and he took care of a lot of people in his lifetime. He helped guys off the field, not only guys that played for him but also guys that played for other teams. It’s a sad day in the Raider Nation, but we must go on.”

Fans dressed in Raiders jerseys quickly made their way to team headquarters in Alameda, where a black flag with the team logo flew at half-staff and a makeshift memorial formed at the base of the flag pole. There was a tombstone on the Raiders‘ website for Davis.

The memorial included a framed photo of a younger Davis. A simple cardboard sign read: Thank you Al Davis. 1929-2011, God Bless, Rest in Peace.

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AP Sports Writers Chris Duncan, Janie McCauley, Stephen Hawkins and AP freelance Michael Wagaman contributed to this report.

Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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