Raiders legend Davidson dies

July 3, 2012, 8:00 pm
Share This Post

Legendary Raider Ben Davidson, whose handlebar mustache and gravelly voice were as distinctive as his pass-rushing skills, has died of prostate cancer. He was 72.

Former Raiders coach John Madden broke the news on KCBS radio Tuesday.

Davidson was considered a giant of the era at 6-foot-8, 275 pounds. He starred as a defensive end in Oakland (1964-1971) after playing his first three professional seasons with Green Bay (1961) and Washington (1962-63).

He was an American Football League All-Star in 1966, 1967, and 1968.

Davidson was a fierce player who intimidated opponents as a member of a defense known as "11 Angry Men." His 1970 spear of Chiefs QB Len Dawson sparked a classic brawl that cost Kansas City a win and ultimately the AFC West title.

That November day, Kansas City led the Raiders 1714 and a long run by Dawson apparently sealed victory in the final minute.

But Dawson was speared by Davidson after the whistle, prompting Chiefs receiver Otis Taylor to attack Davidson. The benches cleared and offsetting penalties were called, which under the rules at the time, nullified Dawson's first down.

The Chiefs were forced to punt and the Raiders tied the game on a George Blanda field goal with 8 seconds remaining.

The sequence not only cost the Chiefs a win, but Oakland went on to claim the AFC West at 842, while Kansas City finished 752 and out of the playoffs.

Davidson was born in Los Angeles but did not play football at Woodrow Wilson High School. Because of his height, his primary sport was basketball.

But while attending East Los Angeles Community College, he was spotted by the football coach and asked to join the team. He was subsequently recruited to play at the University of Washington where played on two Rose Bowl-winning teams

Following his football career, Davidson appeared in a number of films and TV shows as well as starring in a popular TV commercial for Lite Beer.

More Team Talk