SAN FRANCISCO (KCBS) – The entire National Football League spent much of this past weekend remembering the life of Oakland Raiders owner Al Davis, who passed away on Saturday at the age of 82.
It hit especially close to home for John Madden, who spoke about the passing of Davis Monday with the KCBS Morning Crew.
“I met Al Davis in the early 60’s, came to work for the Raiders in 1967 and directly or indirectly, I was with him the whole time,” said Madden. “I was in shock when I heard it and I’m still a little that way. Al Davis was the type of guy that you don’t believe is going to die. It’s Al Davis. When you hear it, it just doesn’t seep in.”
Coach Madden said that despite many of the media reports about Al Davis, he was truly one of the most loyal individuals in his life.
“If you really knew him and were a part of him, he was the most loyal friend or person you could have. Like I said when I introduced him into the Hall of Fame, Al Davis isn’t for everyone,” said Madden. “Everyone’s not going to say that Al is this or that, that he’s perfect and all these things. But if he’s your friend, you played for him, you coached for him, you were part of the NFL, he was that guy. There was no one that could be better at being that guy than Al Davis.”
Davis fought many battles in his time as owner of the Raiders, but Madden said that was part of the fabric of who he was.
“He stood up for what he thought was right, not only for him but for other people. That doesn’t mean that he was always right,” he said. “But he did enjoy that. He enjoyed standing up, he wasn’t going to be a pushover for anyone. He did like a battle and he did enjoy arguing.”
Madden said that if he needed anything, and there was only one phone call he could make, it would be to Al Davis.
“Last week we had a phone call and had an argument,” said Madden. “A lot of times he would throw out something ridiculous just to see what you would say about it. A lot of that was manufactured…sometimes he was just a contrarian.”
Madden’s legacy includes hiring the first black head coach, the first hispanic head coach and the first female chief executive in the NFL. Madden said that was just Davis doing what he thought was right.
“He was never about how young you were or how old you were, whether you were male or female, what color, what ethnic group you were. He was never about that,” recalled Madden, who said Davis was more concerned with doing big things than paying lip service.
“The Al Davis that I knew was totally different from the way he is being portrayed,” said Madden.
Listen to the John Madden segment live weekday mornings at 8:15 on KCBS All News 740 AM/106.9 FM.
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