Reality of Al Davis’ death hits Raiders
AP Sports Writer
ALAMEDA, Calif. (AP) – The reality hit Oakland Raiders coach Hue Jackson as he got in his car Monday to drive to work after an emotional weekend.
He heard a radio report about this weekend’s death of longtime Raiders owner Al Davis and it hit him that there will be no day-after-game phone calls, no more discussions of strategy and no more talks with the man who gave him his first shot at being a head coach.
“Yeah, it’s different, a lot different. I’ll miss it,” Jackson said, his voice cracking.
The Raiders began the process of moving on following Davis’ death Saturday at age 82. They learned of the death while they were in Houston and went out and beat the Texans 25-20 when Michael Huff intercepted a pass in the end zone on the final play.
Jackson fell to his knees after that play and cried, letting out a weekend’s worth of emotions.
“I can’t pick up the phone and call Coach anytime I want anymore,” Jackson said. “I can’t call Coach and ask what he thinks about this or that, or I’m not going to get any of those late-night phone calls at 11 p.m. or midnight to say, ‘Hue, what are you doing?’ That’s different. All of that hit me at that particular moment. All of that is done. You have to move on to the next chapter.”
The Raiders had an emotional return home Sunday night, with hundreds of fans welcoming them back to the team facility to congratulate them on the victory.
Jackson said he’d been welcomed back by fans after winning playoff games as an assistant in Baltimore but never like the scene Sunday night when some players mingled with the fans for more than an hour.
“This felt different,” Jackson said. “The feeling of what had happened was still near and dear to everybody, losing Coach. It was just different. It was more a celebration of a win and a man’s life. It was amazing. What a tremendous feeling it was last night.”
Jackson said Davis would not want the team to still grieve over his death or use it as fuel for the rest of the season, saying instead the focus should be on preparing for the Cleveland Browns on Sunday.
“That’s not what he was about,” Jackson said. “Don’t use a rallying cry over him. Do your job. Do your job and perform because that’s what he pays you to do, to be the best you can be. It was never about one person.”
If any team ever was about one person, it was Davis’ Raiders. He was owner, general manager, architect of the team’s philosophy on the field and the man who turned the Raiders into a global brand during his nearly half-century with the franchise.
Jackson said he will now be the point person on personnel moves, consulting with Davis’ son, Mark, and others in the organization as need be.
“We’re in a great situation right now because we’ve laid such a good foundation,” Jackson said. “Coach had laid such a good foundation with the people that are here, that we’re kind of up and running and moving in that direction already.”
Mark Davis has been a more visible presence around the team in recent years, frequently attending practices in training camp and going to most games. Mark Davis was in Houston with the team on Sunday, hugging players before the game and congratulating them after it.
“He loves us players, he loves this organization and he loves his team,” safety Mike Mitchell said. “We’re going to all come together. I think this whole organization is going to grow and get a little bit closer because of this. I think the sky’s the limit.”
While many of the rookies never had the chance to meet Al Davis as his health prevented him from being around his team as much as he liked, others in the locker room have relationships that date back years.
Backup linebacker Bruce Davis has known Davis longer than any of his teammates, having met him as a 2-year-old when his father, Bruce, played for the team. Al Davis called Bruce when the Raiders signed him last season, telling him he remembered him as a toddler playing at the team facility.
Bruce Davis delivered one of the big plays in the game, deflecting a punt in the first quarter to set up a field goal.
“He’s been a part of my life and my family’s life,” Bruce Davis said. “He gave two generations of Davis men the opportunity to live out our dreams and play football. Since I was a kid, I wanted to be a Raider. I grew up watching my dad. There’s nothing like that silver and black jersey. It’s so important to my family. It’s such a huge thing. Some of the greatest memories my family has are of the Raiders and of Al. It was emotional but we just wanted to go out there and play hard and honor his name the right way.”
Notes: C Samson Satele said his injured ribs are sore but that he intends to practice Wednesday and play this week. … CB Chris Johnson will do individual drills on his injured hamstring this week and see how close he is to returning.