Saturday, 8 October 2011

There is no merit to Al Davis hagiographies

The owner of the Oakland Raiders, Al Davis, passed away at the age of 82, and the NFL deification machine is now running on all cylinders. The eulogists will gloss over his many failings and chuckle at his status as a renegade and an iconoclast. I do not share the warm feelings they will tell us we should hold for this departed NFL titan.

Al Davis is the main culprit and first perpetrator of the NFL franchise kidnapping, and of holding communities hostage with the threat of relocation. He dispossessed the Oakland fans of their team, bolting for the riches of Los Angeles and guaranteed revenues, underwritten by its taxpayers. When he felt the movement to build him a new stadium (at no cost to himself) was too slow, he pulled the same crap on LA and returned to Oakland, with a deal in his pocket that again guaranteed him set minimum revenues, again at taxpayer expense. He spoke of a commitment to excellence and loyalty, but he showed none of it to the fans of Oakland and LA. His legacy is largely blighted by the reality of the Rams playing in St-Louis, the Cardinals in Phoenix and the Colts in Indianapolis. The good people of Cleveland lost their team because that little weasel Art Modell, emboldened by Al Davis' litigations with the NFL, absconded with it to Baltimore (the same city that cried bloody murder when it lost the Colts), but they managed to hang on to the name 'Browns' only when the NFL Commissioner intervened.

Al Davis is also a man who gained control of the Raiders under shady circumstances. He started as a minority partner, and somehow ended up owning the team, despite numerous lawsuits by former partners who claim they were defrauded.

His team thrived on an 'outlaw' reputation, and has been frequently the most-penalized in the league, accused of being the dirtiest and of thriving on cheap shots. It appeals to troubled adolescents with its black uniform and logo, which is catnip to misfits and criminal gang members.

Sunday while I try to watch the pre-game shows and actual games, I'll be subjected to glowing testimonials about this putatively great man, but I won't drink the Kool-Aid.

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