I worked for the Oakland Raiders in 1997 as a sideline reporter and AL DAVIS WOULD BE PISSED! This is not Cancel Culture. This is so much more!
I worked for the Oakland Raiders in 1997 as a sideline reporter and as a morning host on “RAIDERS RADIO – THE TICKET 1050 down in THE BAY.
Our show was the first to interview a young man by the name of JON GRUDEN when it was announced that he would be the new head coach of the Raiders in 1998. As the flagship station for team and the morning show on THE TICKET, we were assigned to interview COACH GRUDEN every Monday following Sunday’s NFL game.
The news this week about Coach Gruden is disgusting. I am as deeply appalled that Bruce Allen (The GM off the Raiders at the time), seemed to be in lockstep with Jon’s comments about minorities, women, and gay players.
Ron and I spent a lot of time with the team at their practice facility, at the games, in the locker-room, and even on the teams private charter plane as we travelled with the team on occasion. I have to say that the men I thought I knew were homophobic, racist, misogynistic, and pathetic. I believe the late AL DAVIS, the owner of the Raiders at the time, would be pissed.
Many crazy things have been said about Mr. Davis. Yes it is true he had three limos. He would wear a matching white, silver, or black sweatsuit to practice depending on the limo he was riding in. I have heard many people tear him to shreds over the years for various reasons. The media did it because he would never allow an interview later in life. Ron and I were actually lucky enough to get to know him personally, and he even gave us both sideline jackets, Raider Radios, and he even allowed us to dress us as Raiders using Raider uniforms when we flew to Seattle with the team to cover a game at the King Dome in 98 vs. the Seahawks.
Here’s what you don’t know about Mr. Davis.
The reason you have never heard a former player (except for Todd Christiansen) say a disparaging word about the man is because he loved each player that played for him dearly, while they played for him and long after their retirement. The color of their skin did not matter to him.
Many players didn’t make the millions they do today, and the NFL degraded them after their useful life on the playing field was over.
NOT AL DAVIS.
Al kept hundreds of his former players on his payroll.
He gave Jack Tatum the job of making sure every player had his socks pulled up on game day. “THE ASSASSIN” as they called him was so f’ed up from playing football, and he could hardly function. Al knew that. He protected him and way over paid Jack to do that job.
Other former players were paid to help escort the players into their hotel rooms, give halftime speeches, and one was even in charge of getting the buses lined up on game day. When you listened to any broadcast, Mr. Davis made sure all his former players received those broadcast jobs.
Al Davis was also a pioneer in diversity among NFL Owners. Among his firsts:
First owner to hire a Hispanic Head Coach – Tom Flores.
First to hire an African American Head Coach – Art Shell.
First to start a Native American Quarterback – Jim Plunkett (went on to win 2 Super Bowls for the Raiders)
First to hire a female executive in the front office – Amy Trask.
One of the reasons Al Davis hired Jon Gruden, in my opinion, was because he saw him as a players coach , a good coach, and an ally for many young black players. I think Al also liked hiring the youngest coach in the history of the NFL. He seemed to enjoy going against convention.
When Jon first arrived, he cancelled practice and took all his players river rafting. Al Davis loved it!
But something happened in 2003 when Mr. Davis decided to trade away Gruden.
It’s extremely rare for a NFL Team to trade its head coach to another team. But Al Davis suddenly did just that and sent Gruden to Tampa Bay. He never really explained why. Mr. Davis took his reasoning to his grave.
I have to wonder what he knew? What revealed itself? Why were both Bruce Allen and John Gruden sent away?
I’m not sure. But what I have learned this year, and this week…
Well, I hope all us see how institutional racism , hate, and intolerance are imbedded in our culture.
Somebody told me “Give Gruden a brake, these emails were written at a different time.“ ARE YOU KIDDING ME????
He was still writing them is 2018!!!! That was THREE YEARS AGO! A different time???
And Gruden’s response to all this?
“I DON’T HAVE A RACIST BONE IN MY BODY AS I HAVE PROVEN OVER THE LAST 58 years.”
HA! Oh yes you do! Oh yes you do!
I think Mr. Davis knew something that we all just discovered.
And where are all THE OWNERS on this topic? I also worked for the Cowboys and Jerry Jones said he didn’t want to talk about it on his radio show today.
It’s gotten very quiet up in those luxury boxes.
Well back to my own mirror at home….
I’ve got a lot of work to do. We all do.
Love and Respect,
Don O’Neill is a Licensed Agent at
Windermere Real Estate Midtown
1920 North 34th Street
Seattle, WA 98103