BOSTON (CBS) – The NFL lost a pioneer Saturday with the passing of Oakland Raiders owner Al Davis.
He was 82.
“The Oakland Raiders are deeply saddened by the passing of Al Davis,” the team said in a statement. “Al Davis was unique, a maverick, a giant among giants, a true legend among legends, the brightest star among stars, a hero, a mentor, a friend.”
Davis was one of the most important figures in NFL history. In 1980 he went to court and won the right to move his team to Los Angeles. Even after he moved the Raiders back to the Bay Area in 1995, he sued for $1.2 billion to establish that he still owned the rights to the L.A. market. But before that he was a huge figure in the merger between the AFL and the NFL.
“Al Davis’s passion for football and his influence on the game were extraordinary,” commissioner Roger Goodell said. “He defined the Raiders and contributed to pro football at every level. The respect he commanded was evident in the way that people listened carefully every time he spoke. He is a true legend of the game whose impact and legacy will forever be part of the NFL.”
Patriots head coach Bill Belichick also gave his thoughts in a release:
“While I am saddened by the news of Mr. Davis’ passing, I will forever be heartened and enriched by the many personal interactions I had with him over the years. His winning, his football knowledge, his passion for his team and contributions to the league made him one of the all-time greats. By striving for the highest level of excellence with our respective teams and the game itself, we will be honoring the memory of Al Davis.”