By Pete Prisco, CBS Sports

OAKLAND (CBS Sports) — I was getting on a plane when I saw the news:

Oakland Raiders owner Al Davis was dead.

I didn’t know Davis very well, only dealing with him occasionally at NFL league meetings, but I always found him fascinating.

He knew football.

I loved that about him.

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Yes, he had his faults. And, yes, there are still questions about how he finagled ownership of the Raiders, but Davis was a football man turned owner.

That made him intriguing to me.

I’ve read countless books about the Raiders and their mystique. I loved the “Just Win, Baby” approach.

In recent years, it’s been far from that for the franchise. Did Davis mettle too much? You bet. But remember he was a football man through and through. There are some who insist Davis ran the defense for years after he left coaching.

He couldn’t get away.

We lost a big piece of NFL history Saturday.

Just Sad.

(Copyright 2011 CBS Interactive. All rights reserved.)

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