Because of the nature of Al's career, the Davises always live in rented homes. "Carol doesn't want to feel tied down," Davis says. He is away from the house much of the time. The family dog, a schnauzer, doesn't exactly growl when Davis comes in at night, but it is true that Al is still unfamiliar with his current home, a modern house high in the hills above Oakland. While showing a guest about the place the other day, Davis opened a door: "This is the den, I think," he said.
Carol is long since used to his absences. "He warned me what it would be like," she says. "But you know what it's like when you're getting married." One of Carol's major victories was getting an unlisted phone number. Anyone calling Al must do so through an answering service. "What a relief," says Carol. "We were always getting calls from players at 5 a.m. 'Coach,' they'd say, T just got into town. Where should I go?' Boy, I'd like to tell them where to go."
"She's a good girl," says Davis fondly. "I swear somebody's going to steal her sometime. She worries that I don't spend enough time with our son, Mark. I tell her I didn't spend an awful lot of time with my daddy, but we were close. I really loved my daddy. It's not how much time you spend, it's what you do with the time you've got."
It took Mark Davis quite a while to convert from a San Diego to an Oakland rooter. "He couldn't believe it when I took the job," says Davis. "He looked at me as if I'd sold out. You know how kids' loyalties are."
But now, after a few victories, Mark Davis is a Raider rooter, and so are more and more people in Oakland. The Raiders set an attendance record for their first home game this season, drawing 17,568. It was a modest record, to be sure, but near capacity. The Raiders play their home games in a quaint little park called Frank Youell Field, which belongs to the Oakland Recreation Department. Someday, perhaps as soon as 1965, there will be a new municipal stadium to house the Raiders and, maybe, a major league baseball team, but for the time being Frank Youell Field is it.
Before a game, Davis works at building up the confidence of his team. "O.K., kickoff team," he will say, "start dedicating yourself." Then, to the whole squad: "Listen up. One thing I want to sell you on is poise. Win or lose, keep your poise. We can make adjustments, we can come back, no matter what happens. Just keep your poise. O.K., now you have 30 seconds on your own."
During a game Davis almost never loses his own poise. The Raiders can fumble or complete an 80-yard pass for a touchdown, Davis remains in virtually the same pose, one hand on his chin, the other on the opposite elbow. His expression of intense concentration rarely changes. Only occasionally is he overcome by anger. One such instance occurred in the second game of the season when Buffalo scored on the final play of the first half. Back in the dressing room, Davis was seething.
"Where the hell do you go on an Oklahoma defense?" he yelled at a player.
"Straight back," said the man.
"Straight back, hell," roared Davis. "You go into the slot."