Monday, October 10, 2011

Al Davis Was More Inspirational Than Steve Jobs

I learned something very interesting this past week. It seems like half the people I know had some sort of personal relationship with Steve Jobs. This was amazing, because I wouldn't think that a billionaire would have that many friends in common with me, but apparently I was wrong. All over Twitter, Facebook, and even Black Planet, people mourned the loss of Steve Jobs. I, unlike most of the people I know, did not have a personal relationship with Steve Jobs. I'm pretty sure that he started Apple, but I have never felt the urge to thank him for that. I thanked him with my money when I bought my one Apple product, an iPod Nano. I am happy with this purchase as we have spent nearly two years ago, and it works almost all the time despite me repeatedly dropping it over these past two years. It's obviously bad that he died, and especially since he died at a younger age than the average American, but outside of the two minutes I have spent writing this paragraph, it has had no real effect on my life.

On the other hand, I was saddened to see a true legend die when Oakland Raiders Owner, Al Davis, passed away. I had no personal relationship with Al Davis, but this man should be an inspiration to everyone. Was Al Davis a good person? Honestly, no, and I don't think that Al Davis would ever consider himself a "good" person, but that doesn't mean he wasn't an amazing person.

Al Davis was a snake, and he'd be the first person to tell you that. He would do anything to win, and that is why he was so successful. This weekend, people were listing his accomplishments of being a coach, commissioner, owner, and a whole lot of other things, but I don't think most people took the time to realize what that actually meant. Al Davis was not a self-made man, he was a self-made icon, and there is zero chance of anybody pulling off what he was able to do in professional football.

He started off in coaching, and quickly worked his way up to head coach of the Raiders. Then he became a general manager, and he became so successful that he worked his way into having an ownership stake in the team. He then tricked one of the other owners into giving him the option to buy them out behind the other owner's back, and eventually strong-armed his way into the controlling owner of the team. The other owner tried to sue him, but it was too late, Al Davis was too smart and diabolical to be stopped from owning the Raiders.

I'm obviously giving a very brief description of what happened, but the above paragraph is absolutely baffling to me. Bill Belichick is probably the most powerful coach in the NFL today, and in your wildest imagination, could you imagine him taking the ownership away from Robert Kraft? There is no god damn way that could EVER happen. But Al Davis seriously pulled that off.

I would have loved to have been friends with Al Davis, but I would have shit my pants had I been his enemy. Al Davis was seen as a punchline late in his life as his personnel moves had not been working like they had been in the past, but he created successful teams in the 70s, 80s, 90s, and early 00s. And it's a shame he passed away when he did, because it looks like the Raiders are back on the road to respectability again.

Steve Jobs passing was seen as a much bigger deal, and that's not surprising at all. Apple is a far bigger brand than the Oakland Raiders, and Steve Jobs had far more money than Al Davis. Steve Jobs went into computers and rose to the top, but Al Davis chose the football business while also reaching the top. But know one thing, had Al Davis chosen the computer business, you would still know the name Al Davis, but you would have no clue who Steve Jobs was. Al Davis was committed to excellence, and he lived his life with one simple motto, "Just win, baby."

Now that's an inspiration.


P.S. Mexico may be ahead of the US in progressive ideas towards marriage. A two-year marriage license, cut it down to two months, and I might lose my fear of commitment.

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