I never had the chance to see Al Davis interviewed over the years. The closest I came to him was when I saw him come out of an elevator at a Buffalo Bills game, wearing a silver and black Raiders sweatsuit that was a little gaudy and odd.
Davis died earlier today, and much will be said about a football career that was unique. At some point in the past decade, Davis went from "crazy like a fox" to just plain ... well, odd. But here's the way I prefer to remember Davis. It's from a story that veteran football writer Larry Felser, I think, passed on to me at some point.
Davis was briefly the Commissioner of the American Football League, and worked with a man named Jack Horrigan, who served in public relations for the Bills and for the league. By all accounts, Horrigan was one of the best people you'd ever want to meet, and also one of the most devout.
Horrigan was dying in 1973; he passed away in June of that year. Shortly before that, Davis, who was Jewish, went into a church and lit a candle for Horrigan. As Davis started to walk away, he was told by someone in the church that he couldn't leave the candle unattended because of fire laws. Davis said fine, went back to the candle and sat down in front of it. He stayed there until the candle was extinguished.
Al Davis was a complex figure, but that side of him should be remembered today too.