Raiders owner Al Davis, 77, talks about his hopes for 2006 and hints at his succession plan

STATE OF THE NATION
– David White, Chronicle Staff Writer
Wednesday, August 2, 2006
 Al Davis emerged from behind a black curtain, his blue eyes darting across a crowded conference room at the Napa Valley Marriott, his hands gripped to a walker he likes to call “Star.”

The 77-year-old Raiders owner slowly took a seat on a chair with silver cushioning, leaning on an arm rest with his right elbow and saying “Wow” to all the cameras and reporters staring back at him.

His receding hairline with silver patches was slicked back, with an inch or two hanging over his collar. His cheeks were sunken and bore scars from skin cancer. His upper left leg was wrapped in a hefty brace, lending Velcro support to a quadriceps injury that just won’t heal. He used two hands to carefully sip water from a clear plastic cup.

Frail in appearance, yes, but Davis was lucid in memory and convinced as ever in tone of voice on topics ranging from John Madden’s induction to the Hall of Fame, the second coming of Art Shell, the state of the Raiders, even the state of Al Davis, whose health has been a discussion point ever since he went public with a walker last year.

“I want you to all know I’m alive, very healthy, can still smile and work out, five times a day,” Davis said as tape recorders rolled and cameras clicked. “And, if we could do away with this walker, well, I’d be able to meet with you more often, won’t be scared of you.

“I feel great. Especially if we win, I will feel better.”

The Raiders haven’t been a winner since Super Bowl XXXVII, and that was four seasons ago. Davis keeps score on such trivia, and it troubles him as much as the quadriceps injury he refuses to subject to surgery.

He believes Shell can win, and win now. He thinks the old way remains the right way, and that means running downhill and throwing deep.

It worked for Madden, who Davis will present for induction to the Hall of Fame on Saturday. It worked for Shell, who got the Raiders to the playoffs three times in five years before Davis fired him in 1994.

That’s the Raiders way, Davis said. Thirteen wins in the past three seasons isn’t, which is why Shell is coach again and former coach Norv Turner is across the bridge as the 49ers’ offensive coordinator.

“The idea is not to be in the playoffs,” Davis said, his hand gestures flashing two Super Bowl rings and a bracelet with “AL” spelled out in diamonds.

“The idea is to be in the Super Bowl. It was still going (with Shell), and we lost it. We’ve gotta get it back. We’ve got a chance. Maybe you can’t get there 10 out of 10, but you can get there.

“We’ve got to get him the players, and we do have some quality, top-notch players, we really do. It’s going to be tough putting it all together real quickly and getting going.”

Davis dropped hints on who would someday succeed him. He mentioned his wife, Carol, and son, Mark. Chief executive Amy Trask will certainly play a role. Davis even suggested Madden could be of service.

But, not yet. Davis is by no means ready to relinquish control of the Raiders. He spent the weekend studying film from the four days of training camp he missed after attending NFL commissioner selection meetings. This is still his team, his organization, his life.

Four-wheeled walker and all.

“If something happened to Al, I’m sure (Madden) would be someone that Carol Davis and Mark Davis would call, along with several others who have been Raiders most of their lives and still have a tremendous loyalty to it,” Davis said.

“That’s if I don’t outlive them. … Time runs by you. My life goes on. We’re still here and we want to win.”

Other excerpts:

On Jerry Porter’s trade demands: “He has lost his way a little bit, but he’s a good guy. If someone offers us the choice we want or a representative player and the $4 million bonus he took from us this year, we’ll respond. That is not to say things won’t work out … if you want them to. I don’t think it can become a bigger issue, and no, I would not step in at this time. Art is strong enough. He is big enough to handle it.”

On the 2005 season: “The thing is, we didn’t win … I never did see the running game, nor did I see the deep passing game. It just didn’t come out.”

On the recent coaching search: “I talked to three other coaches before I brought Art back. I never offered the job to anyone personally. One of our executives did offer (Louisville’s Bobby Petrino) the opportunity. When Art came to the complex, I felt very good and happy. I have a good feeling about him. I respect what he’s done and I’m a little mad at myself for letting him down back in 1994.”

On Madden’s induction: “His records are unparalleled. It’s amazing that it comes now. It should have been done a long time ago.”

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~ by Sactown Raider Boosters on August 2, 2006.

One Response to “Raiders owner Al Davis, 77, talks about his hopes for 2006 and hints at his succession plan”

  1. […] Raiders owner Al Davis, 77, talks about his hopes for 2006 and hints at his succession plan August 2006 5 […]

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