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Al Davis dies at 82; Oakland Raiders owner transformed team

Al Davis turned a failing team into one of football's most successful franchises as a three-time Super Bowl champion. He savored battle both on and off the field, and after a court fight relocated the team to Los Angeles for over a decade beginning in 1982.

October 09, 2011|By Sam Farmer, Los Angeles Times

The most notable exception was Marcus Allen, the star Raiders running back whose largely unexplained feud with Davis lasted well over a decade and apparently went unresolved. Allen, a former Heisman Trophy winner from USC who was easily the most popular L.A. Raider, accused Davis of trying to ruin his career by instructing coaches not to play him. He inexplicably spent the better part of four seasons on the bench, inspiring fans to wear "Free Marcus" T-shirts.

"I find the whole rule-by-fear mentality that he used to drive the Raiders really sad," Allen wrote in his autobiography. "Somewhere along the way, Davis lost track of where the man ends and the myth begins."

After filing suit against the Raiders and the NFL to win his release, in 1993 Allen joined the Kansas City Chiefs, where he spent five more seasons. He was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 2003, 11 years after Davis.

Yet many current and former Raiders both feared and revered the team owner, whom they nearly always referred to as Mr. Davis.

"You might not have thought everything he did was the right thing," former linebacker Millen said. "But he always believed he was doing right by his Raiders."

Davis is survived by his wife, Carol, and son, Mark. Davis said in interviews that his wife and son will inherit his share of the team.

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