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Dan Jenkins
December 02, 1974
Big Boss Al Davis is one, they say, and Davis says Coach John Madden is. So all the players need be is good
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December 02, 1974

What The Raiders Have Is Genius

Big Boss Al Davis is one, they say, and Davis says Coach John Madden is. So all the players need be is good

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In fear of drowning, the writer tests the carpet in the office of Al Davis to see if it has been watered down the way they say the field is for all home games of the Oakland Raiders. Al Davis laughs. Being a genius, a winner, rich and powerful, he can afford to laugh. The writer explains that he has been sentenced to pro football this year and he has come to Oakland on a vacation to get away from it all. He likes what they're doing with the marsh areas.

"Hey, can I say something?" says Al Davis. "I don't know what I'm doing here today. You know what I...? If it was anybody else but a guy I haven't seen in a while...I could be...See, John Madden's the coach...."

The writer didn't catch the last name. John who?

"That's the thing," says Al Davis. "Here's a guy who's got the best record in pro football next to Don Shula. To be a head coach, you've either got it or you don't. John's got it. All he does is win. He's 12-1-1 his first year, when he's only 33 years old. We're right there every year, trying to do that one thing we haven't done. That Super Bowl thing. We come close. But things happen. God comes down and lets Franco Harris catch something...."

The writer wonders why everybody in the world thinks Al Davis is still the coach, nevertheless.

"When have I got time to coach?" says Davis, who sits in a silver and black office in his suburban Oakland marsh. "I'm too busy watering down the field."

Al Davis performs miracles. Stadiums get built in Oakland, leagues merge, the Raiders win more football games than anybody over a 12-year period, unknown players become stars, a fairly young ex-coach and ex-commissioner becomes a "managing general partner"—the majority owner—and it has to be because he's a combination genius and devil.

"I'm just an organization guy," Davis claims. "I like to think I've put together a good thing here. John Madden is part of that. The players are. We all are. I don't go to workouts. I don't send plays down from the top of the stadium. We talk. I talk to John. I tell him some things I know about the team we're going to play. Has he thought of this? Has he thought of that? He usually has."

Why does Al Davis think John Madden can't get enough credit?

"I don't know," he says. "It's an image thing. People know me. They didn't know him. I talk a lot. I've been around a long time. The war between the leagues, the merger. Maybe everybody thought I was too young to quit coaching, so they can't believe I have. But I have."

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