Contributor / HC/Contributor

Al Davis

Class of 1992



"I always wanted to take an organization and make it the best in sports. I admired the New York Yankees of George Weiss for their power, intimidation, fear, and big people. I admired the Brooklyn Dodgers under Branch Rickey for their speed and player development. I felt there was no reason the two approaches couldn’t be combined into one powerful organization.”

Enshrinement Speech

Career Highlights

Al Davis is the only person to have served pro football in such varied capacities as (1) a player personnel assistant, (2) an assistant coach, (3) a head coach, (4) a general manager, (5) a league commissioner and (6) the principal owner and chief executive officer of an NFL team.

The longtime owner of the Oakland Raiders compiled an exceptional record since his first venture into the pro football world as player personnel man with the 1954 Baltimore Colts. Six years later, he made a permanent move to pro football as the ends coach for the American Football League’s Los Angeles Chargers in their inaugural season.

In 1963, at the age of 33, he became the head coach and general manager of the Raiders, a team that had a miserable 9-33-0 record in its first three years. Davis led the 1963 Raiders to a 10-4 record and won unanimous AFL Coach of the Year acclaim.

After three years in which he compiled a 23-16-3 coaching record, he was named the AFL Commissioner in April 1966. Within eight weeks, the AFL and NFL announced a merger ending the costly inter-league war. Davis then returned to Oakland as managing general partner.

Born July 4, 1929, in Brockton, Massachusetts, Davis grew up in Brooklyn and first attended Wittenberg College and then Syracuse University where he was graduated with a degree in English. He immediately embarked on a coaching career first as the line coach at Adelphi College in 1950 and 1951 and then as the head coach of the U.S. Army team at Ft. Belvoir, Virginia in 1952 and 1953. After a year in Baltimore, he served as line coach and chief recruiter for The Citadel and then moved to the University of Southern California as line coach in 1957, 1958, and 1959.

Championship Teams

1960 Los Angeles Chargers (AFL Western Conference champions)
1961 San Diego Chargers (AFL Western Division champions)
1967 Oakland Raiders (AFL Western Division, AFL champions)
1968 Oakland Raiders (AFL Western Division champions)
1969 Oakland Raiders (AFL Western Division champions)
1970 Oakland Raiders (AFC Western Division champions)
1972 Oakland Raiders (AFC Western Division champions)
1973 Oakland Raiders (AFC Western Division champions)
1974 Oakland Raiders (AFC Western Division champions)
1975 Oakland Raiders (AFC Western Division champions)
1976 Oakland Raiders (AFC Western Division, AFC, Super Bowl XI champions)
1980 Oakland Raiders (AFC, Super Bowl XV champions)
Los Angeles Raiders (AFC champions*)
1983 Los Angeles Raiders (AFC Western Division, AFC, Super Bowl XVIII champions)
1985 Los Angeles Raiders (AFC Western Division champions)
1990 Los Angeles Raiders (AFC Western Division champions)
2000 Oakland Raiders (AFC Western Division champions)
2001 Oakland Raiders (AFC Western Division champions)
2002 Oakland Raiders (AFC Western Division, AFC champions)

*1982 strike format

Championship Games

1960 AFL – Houston Oilers 24, Los Angeles Chargers 16
1961 AFL – Houston Oilers 10, San Diego Chargers 3
1967 AFLOakland Raiders 40, Houston Oilers 7
1968 AFL – New York Jets 27, Oakland Raiders 23
1969 AFL – Kansas City Chiefs 17, Oakland Raiders 7
1970 AFC – Baltimore Colts 27, Oakland Raiders 17
1973 AFC – Miami Dolphins 27, Oakland Raiders 10
1974 AFC – Pittsburgh Steelers 24, Oakland Raiders 13
1975 AFC – Pittsburgh Steelers 16, Oakland Raiders 10
1976 AFCOakland Raiders 24, Pittsburgh Steelers 7
1977 AFC – Denver Broncos 20, Oakland Raiders 17
1980 AFC Oakland Raiders 34, San Diego Chargers 27
1983 AFCLos Angeles Raiders 30, Seattle Seahawks 14
1990 AFC – Buffalo Bills 51, Los Angeles Raiders 3
2000 AFC – Baltimore Ravens 16, Oakland Raiders 3
2002 AFCOakland Raiders 41, Tennessee Titans 24

Super Bowls

Super Bowl II – Green Bay Packers 33, Oakland Raiders 14
Super Bowl XI Oakland Raiders 32, Minnesota Vikings 14
Super Bowl XVOakland Raiders 27, Philadelphia Eagles 10
Super Bowl XVIIIOakland Raiders 38, Washington Redskins 9
Super Bowl XXXVII – Tampa Bay Buccaneers 48, Oakland Raiders 21

Full Name: Allen Davis

Birthdate: July 4, 1929

Birthplace: Brockton, Massachusetts

Died: October 8, 2011 in Oakland, California

High School: Eramus Hall (Brooklyn, NY)

Elected to Pro Football Hall of Fame: January 25, 1992

Enshrined into Pro Football Hall of Fame: August 1, 1992

Presenter: John Madden, former Raiders head coach

Other Members of Class of 1992: Lem Barney, John Mackey, John Riggins


Pro Football Hall of Fame
August 1, 1992


John Madden (presenter):
I tell you this is great, this is what it is all about. We don't need the Olympics, we don't need anything, football starts today. You can't beat this ... we got a stadium, we got a game going on, we have fans, we have a parade, we have the Hall of Fame, we have the greatest players that ever lived here. When you walk through this Hall it says history. You walk through there and you know that these people all belong to history. History couldn't be written without these guys and these four that are going in today, history can't be written without them. The history of pro football. Today is the biggest day in their life and these are the biggest people ever in football. And I want to say that it is an honor for me to be here and I want to represent everyone all those players, friends, coaches and administrators. I am not up here as John Madden introducing Al Davis, I'm up here as everyone … family, players, coaches all you people, I represent you, all you fans. All you guys, we are here for Al Davis. I represent everyone who had the chance to meet Al Davis. I met Al Davis 26 years ago when I as an assistant coach at San Diego State and he gave me an opportunity to get into professional football as a linebacker coach for the Oakland Raiders in the American Football League and I was proud of that day. Then 2 years later I was 32 years old and he named me head coach of the Oakland Raiders and you talk about a day when a fat linebacker gets named head coach at 32 and nobody knows who the hell he is, I guarantee you that is a man, that is a man you can never forget and I guarantee you that is a man who gives you a chance. I represent everyone he has given a chance to. Players, coaches, administrators, they know ... many of them are here. Because it doesn't make any difference what someone said about you, what someone wrote about you, what someone thought, Al Davis does it one way. Al Davis does it his way and what he thinks. I tell you... just win Baby is one thing, Al Davis just won baby.

We know all the things he has done, he has done everything in professional football. He has been a scout, an assistant coach, a head coach, a commissioner. That was a quick one, remember he became the commissioner of the American Football League, and the first thing he said was what are the names of the top quarterbacks and phone numbers of the top quarterbacks of the NFL. He said okay we'll merge. And he gave back his general manager, manager general, partner, owner, CEO everything. And he had a dream, a dream to build the best organization in sports and he did that, The Oakland Raiders, the Los Angeles Raiders. The Raiders have the best record of any team in pro sports. They won Super Bowls in three decades, the 60's, 70's and 80's and now they are working on the 90's. He has endured. Those are the things that he has done and those are the things that we know but Al Davis is not a simple man, he is complex. And a lot of people don't know him and they just write something and you think that is what he is but those of us that know him best know that people call him cold and calculating, he can be and he is, but he can be the warmest person you've ever meant. You call him the enemy, he can be an enemy because he is a great competitor. If you are on the other side, you are his enemy and there is no one that can compete like Al Davis. But if you need a friend, there is no better friend. Al Davis is my best friend. I've always said if I ever need anything, I have one phone call, it would be to
Al Davis. There are many people out there that feel that way.

Is he a maverick? Heck yea he is a maverick - that's good being a maverick is good, he does it his way. But if you need a team player Al Davis is a team player because he understands that. He has been everything. Pride and poise he exemplifies that. Commitment to excellence ... this man has given his whole life to professional football, there is nothing else. He doesn't fish, or hunt or play golf or play tennis or abalone ... there is one thing professional football. And that is commitment, commitment to excellence. And you know we all dream as Al dreams of being the best and you always have a stadium, the fans are all there, family, mother, brother Jerry wife Carole, son Mark they are all there, ex-players are all there, ex-Hall of Famers are all there in this stadium. Al Davis has been here to introduce seven great Raiders and they are introduced in this stadium. At center Jim Otto, Jim runs out to the field. At left guard Gene Upshaw, at left tackle, Art Shell, at wide receiver Fred Biletnikoff, at quarterback and kicker, George Blanda, at linebacker, Ted Hendricks, at cornerback Willie Brown. There are seven Raiders out there. Out of those seven Raiders who are in the Hall of Fame they need a scout, an assistant coach and a head coach and a commissioner, general manager and an owner. Today they get the best. When he walks down that stadium, the crowd cheers, the public address announcer says simply from the Raiders, Al Davis. He can't be denied, his dream today becomes a reality ... Al Davis.

Al Davis:
Thank you John Madden. As someone pointed out John Madden was a brilliant coach, a loyal friend, a Raider. His record is self-explanatory, his 103 victories in 10 years of head coaching parallels the best in the history of the game. We are all so proud of John. John Madden will take his rightful place in the Hall of Fame in the very near future.

We think so much alike, I think he stole my speech or at least he took most of it last night. I want to thank the Hall of Fame selection committee for your tenacity in selecting me to the Hall of Fame. As the great Winston Churchill once said, 'you never gave in, never gave in, never, never accept the convictions of honor and courage' and you fought for my selection as well as other numerous media people throughout the country. I shall never forget that. I am grateful to you.

The enshrinement is a reflection of a life's work, a reflection of a love affair with the greatest game the world has ever known. But this honor is a testament to a great organization and to all the capable people who have poured their talent, enthusiasm, loyalty into the greatness of the Raiders and the Raiders legend and mystique.

I was born lucky. I was blessed with a great mother and father. No one had to tell me to love my mother and father based on a commandment. They raised their children with strong discipline and a strong faith in God. Good health throughout my life has been another blessing with many lasting friendships that I treasure with great love and loyalty. My parents wanted me to have the values and virtues of what is still the American way of life – hard work, dedication, commitment, loyalty and respect for the dignity of man.

I wanted to introduce immediately today my mother Rose who is here seated in the front row. She is over 90 years old. My brother, Jerry and his family and of course, my dad who isn't here who was a proud guy and a self-starter. I'm sure he is looking down on us today. My parents in their own way encouraged me to dominate.

I'll tell you this quick story in Florida, it was about six years ago, I was seated in a very prominent restaurant with my mother and some of the top people in professional football, some of the top writers and we were talking about signing of players and my mother asked, 'how are you doing?' And, I said, 'I got problems. I haven't signed Mike Haynes, Todd Christensen, Lester Hayes' and I named two others, 'they just want too much money.' Her answer was, 'without them what kind of team are you going to have? Give them the money, you can't take it with you.' And I gave them the money.

I learned early on in life that if you are going to lead, if you're going to dominate, the golden rule, 'do onto others as you would have others do onto you' not necessarily right. You must treat people in a paramilitary situation the way they want to be treated, not the way you want to be treated. To do that, you must learn about them, learn their cultures and allow for their individual differences. We never wanted our players or even our friends to fit into ridged personality molds. There's a place in this world for mavericks, stand up for principal. Defy custom at times, be right do not hurt others. That individualism encouraged me to go forward and my heroes, my heroes when I was a young boy, dared me to dream.

I had come from Brockton, Mass. to Brooklyn, NY over 50 years ago. I was about 6 years old. We had no TV, little radio and eight great newspapers. They were my eyes and ears. Pro football had little popularity, but I was immediately inspired by two great organizations at the very young age between 6 and 12, the New York Yankees and the Brooklyn Dodgers. Let me tell you what the Yankees represented. They represented size, power, dynasty, intimidation, the home run. The ability to take players from other teams and put that Yankee uniform on them and they would play great. The Dodgers of Branch Rickey were speed, the development of young players, fundamentals, a way of playing the game and the willingness to pioneer. I always thought early on you could take these great qualities of these organizations and encompass them into one.

As a famous American said 'I had a dream,' a dream to someday build and maintain the finest organization in the history of sports. An organization that would be the most imitated, the most respected and the most feared organization in its field. A standard of excellence by which all others would be judged. A chill went through my body last night as I met with many of the special people who I went to school with, lived with, played with, coached with, coached and for a few brief moments I remembered many of the special people who can't be here today. It was well over 50 years ago, as I told you, that I started this long journey in Brooklyn, New York. At Public School 189, Winthrop Junior High School and the famed Erasmus Hall High School, my boyhood friends Danny Glassman and Stan Roberts are here today. From there I went to Wittenberg College in Springfield, Ohio and Syracuse University and we just had a recent reunion of all the great athletes from Syracuse. And here today Bernie Custis a great quarterback, my teammate and Bobby Wallack a great basketball player. My first job, I was 21 years old at Adelphi College in Garden City, Long Island, Herman Mason, a great magazine writer, gave me a chance to write newspaper and magazine articles that attracted the coaches around the country. I then at 24 years old I had a team called Ft. Belvoir, Virginia it was a team who fought to be the number one service team in the nation. Last night seven of the great players were here from that team and I was certainly honored. I worked in 1954 as a scout for the Baltimore Colts and Weeb Ewbank. Then on to the Citadel and there I had a great player, Angelo Qoia who is with me to this day as a scout for the Raiders. And in 1957, Don Clark, the late Don Clark, a magnificent human being, hired me as an assistant coach at Southern Cal. There I coached two of the greatest players who have ever played this game, Willie Wood a Hall of Famer and Ron Mix a Hall of Famer. Dorothy Clark is here today. I go to 1960 when the American Football League prospers, a new league was formed. I want to tell you that I learned at a very early age to be great and just win, you need great players and boy does that help you win. I joined the Los Angeles Chargers in 1960 and went to work for Sid Gillman who sits on this stage as a Hall of Fame Enshrinee, who was a science laboratory to learn to study by a master. I never thought anyone could out work Al Davis. I loved every day of work, looked forward to it and I have great respect for Sid and, of course his wife Esther, who at that time was to me the standard-bearer for football coaches wives. From the Chargers, the great Lance Alworth, the great Ron Mix are here today.

You know it was 1963 that it was on to Oakland, I was 33 years old and I was the head coach/general manager and I can remember attack, pressure, the vertical game, the bump and run, just win baby, dominate, commitment to excellence, the famed silver and black, pro football's dynamic organization, take what you want, pride and poise, and I could go on and on … the reborn players, the Holy Roller, the miracles of George Blanda, Ghost to the Post, the Immaculate Reception but time doesn't allow it.

I want to pay tribute to the vision of a man such as Al McGah, who was one of the founders of the Raiders and whose confidence in the destiny of the Raiders and myself never wavered. Two other fine gentlemen are here today, Al LoCasaie and Ron Wolf who were with me for over 25 years, masters of detail. George Anderson our trainer and Dick Romanski still with the Raiders have been with me over 30 years. The Raiders' standard-bearers John did it for me. I would like to do it again because I love them. The indestructible Jim Otto, George Blanda, the greatest clutch player the game has ever known; Willie Brown, the magnificent cornerback; Gene Upshaw, the only player who played in the Super Bowl as a starter in the 60's, 70's & 80's; Ted Hendricks the consummate linebacker; Fred Biletnikoff is not with us today, he is a coach for the Raiders - 14 years and I don't have to tell you about his artistry; and, of course, the magnificent Art Shell, the giant head coach of the Raiders today. And then you take Tom Flores, a star player who coached us in two Super Bowls and you throw in Al Davis and you have diverse a group as you could find in this work and yet there was a common bond, they played for the organization, they wanted to win for the organization, they loved their organization and most of all they loved each other.

In 1966 I became commissioner of the AFL. I did not want to give up coaching but our league was in a struggle for survival. The merger came quickly in 1966 and there was no question that pro football has become the most exciting mass entertainment in the history of the world. For a moment, I wish all of you to bear with me, I would like to talk to the great Raider warriors who are here today - some 100 -some who are no longer with us but whose memories we cherish. I say to those great Raider warriors let me take you back a few years to Frankhuel Field, to the Oakland Coliseum, to the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum and have you all individually introduced to the roar of the crowd and we can never forget those great fans, the roar would be deafening. To see you all in those silver and black uniforms, to hear the National Anthem to relive the moments of the thrill of victory and the agony of defeat. To those of us who saw you battle to the top over the last three decades, we will never forget you. You know Raider football was always emotional, we love to take those memorable trips throughout the league and we were hated, we were feared but we were respected. This community is the cradle of professional football. When our heroes of the past become all legends of the future and we all know time never really stops for the great ones. It reaches out and wraps them in a cloak of immortality. What a great inspiration to come to this field of dreams every year to walk through the Hall and walk through its exhibits and to pay tribute to this great class. I know Lem Barney I used to study him, John Mackey was a favorite of mine and Jr. Riggins. I call him Jr., God how he wanted to play for the Raiders and how I wanted him but they said no, not in the American Football Conference we will let him go over there to the National Football Conference. And then to the great class, to the great class who sits behind me, the greatest players who've ever played this game. I have always said that the Raiders, my family, we have a realization, that we have a debt to them and we have a debt to each other and they know that I will never forget that debt.

I want to introduce to you a young lady I met over 35 years ago. She was just a friend of mine. I was coaching at Ft. Belvoir. I came out for a big game one day and I looked up in the stands, the small like high school field, we only seated about 10.000 at those games. And I looked up and sitting there is Weeb Ewbank, who is scouting the game for the pros, and the general of the post and this girlfriend of mine is sitting with Weeb Ewbank and the general, I almost died. I got her after the game, I said 'what are you doing up there. What are you doing with them?' She said 'I can handle myself, we were talking football.' I said 'what do you mean talking football?' She said, 'I was telling him about our players.' I said 'what do you know about our players.' 'I was telling them everything I heard you say.' With that quality I knew I was stuck. I told her at a very early age that the only thing that could take me away from football was life or death. She put me through the test about 12 years ago. Today she is 100%, she is a beautiful lady, my friend Carol Davis.

My son Mark Davis, I am proud of him. His friendship to me and Carolie and most of all his human qualities and they really believe and he does in the dignity of man and he has a love for people and I am proud that he represents me and that I represent him. Names of some people that are here that I have great affection for, great fondness for that have touched my life, Hank Stram, John Ralston, Joe Aliato. Jack Brooks. Ed McGah. Bob Albo. Sam Berkovich, Bill Walsh - their names will ring down the corridors of time in my life. Aside from my will to win and my commitment to excellence I want to read just a few things to you that happened recently that I thought you would get a kick out of. This gentlemen here Clyde Jones is a famous bank robber, 24 banks that he robbed. But he is also the greatest Raider fan in the world. I just want to read a few of his words to you. The psychologist said that the problems that lead to his crime spree were deep rooted and more complex than Raider passion gone astray. Though his crimes were trying to seek revenge against everyone who turned on him the Raiders through it all remained loyal. I robbed 24 banks. I didn't have anything left but there was always hope with them. Jones plans to write Raiders owner Al Davis a letter of apology. I have embarrassed the team he said, I would tell them that I lost control that it was my fault. I robbed banks to go to Raiders games but the Raiders didn't tell me to rob banks. I should have finished school, got a better job and made enough money to pay for myself. Jones hopes Davis will understand. I also wish I could hire his lawyers. In the end he said that my commitment to excellence, this is Jones, my dream when I get out of prison is to go to work for the Raiders. I would like to do anything for them. I would like to do anything constructive. The only thing I wouldn't do. I wouldn't do their banking.

Aside from my will to win, my commitment to excellence, the fire that burns brightest in me is the great love and enthusiasm that I have and had for the game of football and for everyone and everything connected with it. I love the game, I love the league, I love my team. But more important I wanted to embellish all of them to agree never surpassed and seldom have every equaled. I think I have known every facet of this game, whether from the inside or outside, whether in collaboration or in opposition when it was necessary; I have labored in this vineyard, this cradle with the objective of making the league itself a working combination of both discipline and freedom. I shall also believe that great people inspiring others the will to be great. To the people of Canton to the late Bob Schneider, you have inspired me by your receptiveness your enthusiasm. I shall cherish this honor for the rest of my life. I thank you very much.