Al Davis knew in recent years that he would not be around forever. Rebuilding his beloved Oakland Raiders was his lone mission.
With his health declining steadily, Davis worked diligently at reconstructing his franchise. That was a primary reason why he cut JaMarcus Russell –- the No. 1 overall pick in 2007 –- in May 2010. In a meeting to tell Russell he was being cut, Davis told the quarterback he wished he could devote several years to Russell’s development, but he simply didn’t have time.
Davis wanted to build a Super Bowl winner right away.
The Raiders aren’t quite there. In the final game he witnessed his team play, this past Sunday, the Raiders were outclassed by a better New England team. However, the Raiders are going in the right direction.
In his final couple of years, Davis showed he could still be a top evaluator.
Yes, he had some major draft, free-agent and trade whiffs in the past decade. Davis’s decision-making was the reason the Raiders were bottom feeders for the past decade. That’s undeniable.
However, his decision-making of recent years is the reason the Raiders are considered a team on the rise. Also, undeniable.
Davis’ last great call of his life may be Denarius Moore. He could forever be known as Davis’ last gift to the Raiders.
Davis drafted Moore in the fifth round this year out of Tennessee. He has quickly developed into a top receiver for the Raiders and draft gurus are admitting Moore was one who got lost in the shuffle. Davis also scored in the fourth round last year with explosive receiver Jacoby Ford. Other mid- or late-round finds include tackle Jared Veldheer, defensive ends Matt Shaughnessy and Trevor Scott, safety Tyvon Branch and receiver Louis Murphy.
Davis also deserves credit for making Hue Jackson a head coach. Jackson is changing the culture in Oakland and he is intent on seeing through Davis’ last wishes of making the Raiders a winner again.
If the Raiders do win their fourth Super Bowl title in the foreseeable future, Davis’ fingerprints will be on the Lombardi Trophy. Just like the first three.