When Al Davis died on Oct. 8, 2011, the National Football League lost a maverick, a pioneer in the merger between the American Football League and the National Football League, a three-time winning Super Bowl coach and an elite owner.
To me, Davis was a one-of-a-kind person. He taught me that you can’t ever quit, even when the going gets tough. Davis, who owned 67 percent of the Oakland Raiders, taught a lot of things to many people. He taught his kids to work for what they want because nothing is ever handed to you on a silver platter.
Lots of family and friends have to come together to support each other as they mourn the loss of Davis, who was 82. My prayers go out to the Davis family.
Howie Long’s tribute to Davis
On the news of Davis’ death, many people had great things to say about Davis, but one person’s heart felt comments touched me in such a way that I wanted to share them with you. The words are those of NFL Fox pre-game analyst and former Oakland Raiders star defensive tackle Howie Long.
“Going from Villanova, where there was a priest on every floor, to the Raiders locker room was, needless to say, a culture shock,” Long said. “One thing that became very apparent was that the Raiders’ mindset and the mystique of the football team were defined by one man, Al Davis. He was omnipresent and being a Raider was all about one thing – winning. It was something Al Davis was consumed by 24-7, and as a player you knew that there wasn’t anything he wouldn’t do to give you the best possible chance to succeed. You were now part of a team, an organization that was an island unto itself.
“Putting on that helmet meant something to generations of players, and if you weren’t part of it, you were the enemy. In many ways, [Oakland] was the Ellis Island of the NFL [because it included] players that had been written off as done and, yes, some players with a checkered past. But regardless of where you were from or what had happened in your past, once you put on that helmet, you were a Raider and the only thing expected of you was to play and to win. …
“The NFL [has] lost a titan, a man who more than any other helped shape the league and the game you see played today. … He was also a pioneer, hiring the league’s first modern era African-American head coach in Art Shell and also the league’s first Latino head coach in Tom Flores. … There’s never been anyone like him and I’m confident in saying there will never be anyone like him in the future.”
The weekly wrap-up and, of course, predictions
The Oakland Raiders went out on Sunday with heart-filled intentions in winning against the Houston Texans, and they proved that they were the better team. Winning that game against an undefeated foe sent a message to a lot of other teams that even if you are down, you still can do great things. Al Davis would have been proud of how his team played Sunday. The Raiders stayed focused on what was at hand, which was going out there and winning this one for Davis.
The Raiders dominated the Texans right from the get-go. And then when their offense had the ball, they did great things. Even though they didn’t make it into the red-zone much, they had Sebastian Janikowski. Janikowski made three 50-yard-plus field goals in the game, setting an NFL record.
Another record-breaking performance came from Minnesota Vikings star running back Adrian Peterson. Peterson rushed for three touchdowns in the first quarter, setting the record for the most rushing touchdowns in one quarter of game play. Peterson helped the Vikings secure their first win of the season as they dominated the Arizona Cardinals both offensively and defensively and cruised to a 34-10 victory.
Other than that, the games this week weren’t that interesting. The Buffalo Bills came in and just dominated the Philadelphia Eagles both offensively and defensively, winning 31-24. That put the Eagles at 1-4 (with a four-game losing streak) and the Bills at 4-1. The Indianapolis Colts blew another lead against the Kansas City Chiefs losing 28-24, putting them at 0-5 and the Chiefs at 2-3. The Bengals won again to put them on a winning streak, but it’s just a two-game winning streak, so don’t put them on a pedestal just yet.
The Chicago Bears took on the Detroit Lions Monday night at Ford Field, and it was an interesting battle. It was the Lions first Monday night game since 2001. The Lions had sold out their Monday night tickets about 15 minutes after they went on sale back in August, plus they sold another 2,000 tickets for standing room only. Needless to say, the Lions had a packed house and almost beat the attendance record of 68,206, falling short by 345. The Lions went on to win the game 24-13, improving their record to 5-0 and giving them a share of the division lead with the Green Bay Packers.
Last week, I didn’t do too badly with my picks as I went 9-4 (now 50-27 on the season). Here are my winning picks for this week in pink.
Carolina Panthers @ Atlanta Falcons
Philadelphia Eagles @ Washington Redskins
St. Louis Rams @ Green Bay Packers
Indianapolis Colts @ Cincinnati Bengals
Buffalo Bills @ New York Giants
Jacksonville Jaguars @ Pittsburgh Steelers
San Francisco 49ers @ Detroit Lions
Cleveland Browns @ Oakland Raiders
Houston Texans @ Baltimore Ravens
New OrleansSaints @ Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Dallas Cowboys @ New England Patriots
Minnesota Vikings @ Chicago Bears
Miami Dolphins @ New York Jets
Byes: Cardinals, Broncos, Chiefs, Chargers, Seahawks, Titans