Though he never played for the Raiders, Al Davis did just about everything else he could to impact his NFL team. He was an owner, coach, and even a league commissioner at one point in the old AFL. To say Davis was larger than life is a gross understatement. It’s a shame Davis never got to see his team move to Las Vegas. But the Raiders have found an appropriate way to honor their legendary late owner at the brand new stadium.
Al Davis had an undeniable impact on the Raiders and the game of football
While an owner can have quite an influence on the direction of a franchise, not many shape entire teams the way Davis did. He was one of the AFL’s founding fathers, pushing other owners to challenge the NFL’s longstanding supremacy, as Brittanica reports. Once Davis had a team, he was good at identifying talent as well as the right coaches to lead those talented men. During his tenure as owner, the Brooklyn native hired several successful coaches like John Madden and Jon Gruden.
To today’s NFL fans, Davis may seem like just another historical figure among many who contributed to the rise of the league. But it’s fair to say the AFL would’ve struggled to get off the ground without Davis’s mind and passion. The AFL-NFL relationship (and eventual merger) led to the development of the Super Bowl — largely regarded as the biggest event in all of sports. Without Davis, who knows where the NFL would be right now?
The Raiders played in more cities than most NFL franchises
Davis was a controversial owner for many reasons. One tendency he had that made him unique among owners was that he moved his franchise multiple times. Most owners jockey to get a new stadium built in the city they’re in, whereas Davis relocated his team twice. First, he moved them from Oakland to LA in the early ’80s. Then, in the mid-’90s, he moved the team back to Oakland where they played until last season.
The Raiders began their first year of play in Las Vegas in 2020. While Davis passed away before the team relocated, it’s fair to say someone like him would have been a huge proponent of the move. With the onset of legalized sports gambling across the nation and the success of multiple pro sports franchises in Vegas, the time was right for the NFL to come to Sin City. It’s not hard to imagine Davis championing such a forward-thinking move.
Sadly, Davis never got to see the team play in Vegas in their state-of-the-art new facility. But that doesn’t mean the team didn’t honor him anyway. His stature within the history of the franchise loomed too large not to.
The Las Vegas Raiders’ colossal tribute to Al Davis that has set a world record
According to Robb Report, the Raiders’ Vegas facility known as Allegiant Stadium features a massive, nine-story figure called the Memorial Torch. It is the tallest 3-D printed structure on Earth. The Raiders commissioned the piece to honor Davis and his legacy. It was built by a company called Dimension Innovations who specializes in these types of projects.
The company’s CEO saluted Davis in a statement about it: “The enormity of the torch, both physically and ideologically, will carry on the memory of Mr. Davis for years to come and we’re proud to have played a part in that.” Now Raider fans will have a constant gameday reminder of what Davis meant to the team. Just like Davis himself, it will be impossible to ignore.