It is fitting that this year’s Raiders team is built in typical Raiders fashion with a bevy of speedsters on offense capable of delivering the deep-strike play Davis always coveted, a physically imposing defensive line that can pressure the quarterback and an accomplished man coverage cornerback in Stanford Routt.
Once a constant presence at practice, training camp and in the locker room, Davis was rarely seen in public beyond the bizarre spectacles to fire and hire coaches where he spent more time disparaging his former coach than praising his new one.
He did not appear at a single training camp practice this summer and missed a game in Buffalo last month, believed to be only the third game he missed in 49 seasons with the franchise. Davis did attend Oakland’s home game last week against New England.
Although he was no longer as public a figure, he was still integrally involved in the team from the draft to negotiating contracts to discussing strategy with his coaches. Jackson has said Davis was unlike any other owner he had worked for in his ability to understand the ins and outs of the game.
“I’ve never had the opportunity to sit and talk football, the X’s and O’s and what it takes to win in this league consistently on a consistent basis, and there’s nothing like working for coach Davis,” Jackson said.
While other owners and league executives branded Davis a renegade, friends and former players found him the epitome of loyalty.
When his wife was stricken with a heart attack, he moved into her hospital room and lived there for more than a month. And when he heard that even a distant acquaintance was ill, he would offer medical help without worrying about expense.
“Disease is the one thing — boy I tell you, it’s tough to lick,” he said in 2008, talking about the leg ailments that had restricted him to using a walker. “It’s tough to lick those diseases. I don’t know why they can’t.”
A few years earlier, he said: “I can control most things, but I don’t seem to be able to control death.”