If Sundays Browns-Raiders game is really supposed to be a commemoration of the life of Al Davis, what the hell were the other 782?
Were already tossing out the first three years before he got there, and the one where Lane Kiffin called for the 76-yard field goal attempt right before halftime to see if Al would fire him before the band cleared.
But every other game in the 48 years of Al was exactly a commemoration of his life, by the players and coaches he chose, the game plans he devised, the uniforms they wore, the penalties they committed, the 60-yard passes they tried. All of it was Al, every single time.
So really, and were splitting some hairs here, Sundays game isnt a tribute to Al nearly as much as it is a tribute to those who want to dress up one more time, fight the traffic, tailgate up a storm, watch the game, and head home in even worse traffic.
Its a tribute to Als fan base. And even though the team wont call it that because that comes a little too close to actual customer relations for the NFLs liking, thats what it is.
True, theyll have had to wait eight days to say their goodbyes, because of the timing of Davis death and the schedule, but they get their turn too, and it is so much in the Raiders essential character that theyre willing to wait until everyone is done before getting their turn. Oh, they dont like it, but theyll do it.
Of course theyll do it. They are the truest believers, the ones who were loudest and most profane in victory, and most profane and loudest in defeat. Even the ones who came to hate Davis for the last eight years came back at the end, because thats just how it works.
Yes, there are some who hate Davis because he touched their lives in a specific way -- embarrassing them in public, firing them without paying their contracts, taking them to court, that sort of thing. There are some who hate Davis simply for snatching the team out from under them, both in 1981 and then in 1995. There are some who hate him just on G.P., and Davis understood that, too. He rather appreciated it, in fact.
And in time, as people feel freer about expressing themselves on the subject, well get a clearer picture of the entire Al Davis phenomenon. He apparently wrote a book about it himself, that may or may not get published. Gee, wonder how the league office will come off in that one.
But Sunday? Sundays not about Al. Al got 782 days, not to mention all the practices and draft preps and training camps. Al commemorated his own life for nearly half a century. He commemorated the hell out of his life.
Nahhh, this ones a commemoration of the fan base and its fascinating relationship with the man. And in true NFL fashion, the audience will have to pay through the nose for the privilege.
Ray Ratto is a columnist for CSNBayArea.com.