Jim Plunkett reflects on Al Davis

October 8, 2011, 7:31 pm
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Is there a way to put into words not only what Al Davis meant to the NFL but to you on a personal level?
"We've been friends for a long time, he's meant a lot to me and my family -- he's been very good to us in a lot of different ways -- both on the field for me and off the field for me and my family. I can't say enough about that. People don't look at that side of Mr. Davis. He's the guy who gave me another opportunity when I was almost out of football -- well, actually I was, when I signed with the Raiders, put me in a position to help him win two Super Bowls, have some exciting, winning seasons Mr. Davis and his family has meant a lot to us. "

From the personal perspective, was there ever anybody like him, in terms of pro football and as a person in general?

"Not that I've met personally. I sit with him each and every week, either at home, at the Coliseum or on the road. And I learn something every time I sit down with him, either about personnel or about tactics, about philosophy, about who can do what out there on the football field. When either team started to line up on the line of scrimmage, before the offense was set he could almost tell you the next play because he studies it so vigorously and he knows what was coming from each and every formation. It was a lot of fun. The past few games, you missed him sorely, not being in the box, being able to talk to him and gleaning that kind of information from the man who literally knew it all. People disagreed with him on many occasions but that's to be expected. He liked to do things his way and he usually did."
From a player's perspective, in terms of the opportunities he gave to women and minorities in the NFL, is that even measurable, the effect he had on the social side of the game?
"That's another impact that he had on the National Football League, bringing in minorities and women into a men-only football environment. That's not to be overlooked by any means. Even me, when I came back to the Raiders, he encouraged me, he said I liked you ever since you were at Stanford, and we're glad you're with us. If you have any questions, day or night, don't hesitate to give me a call. And believe me, he would call me late at night at home to see what I was thinking about for a particular game. He was 24-7 football and nobody, I don't think, can appreciate that as much if you didn't know a person like that. He loved football."

You're always going to be linked with him, you won two Super Bowls with him.
"He gave me the opportunity and once you get the opportunity you have to take advantage with it. Fortunately, I did. I'm just sorry in '82 and '85 when I got hurt not (to be able) to possibly try for another Super Bowl. I didn't play as well as I think I could have. In certain situations I felt I let him down a little bit. But to help him win two more Super Bowls, it was good for him and the Raiders and it was certainly good for me."

Your lasting impression of him?
"He's a man who will be sorely missed, not only by his former players and coaches, but by the entire league and by football fans as well."