Myth: Davis himself once showed up in the Jets' hotel the night before a game and told Joe Namath what the Raiders were going to do to him.
Reality: A misinterpreted story. Davis liked Namath. Always did. He dropped by to pay his respects. His toughest statement was, "You sonofagun, stop killing us."
Myth: Raider coaches are rubber stamps. Davis is the real coach.
Reality: Christensen calls Flores "a great, great game-day coach, excellent on the sidelines." Other players agree. Davis attends the Wednesday and Thursday practices, sometimes the one on Saturday, and that's all. The coaches drop a game plan on Davis's desk, but he doesn't actually put in plays. "It's a courtesy," Flores says. "Sometimes he doesn't even want to see it. He says, 'I want to be surprised.' But we do discuss general concepts—this tackle doesn't match up well, we can work on this cornerback. And the overall Raiders' concept is his. He just wants me to coach the hell out of it. I always have the last word on game-to-game strategy. I'd be lying if I said I wouldn't like to be a household name, like Al is. But I figure if I keep winning, sooner or later someone's gonna say, 'Hey, Flores must be doing a hell of a job.' "
Myth: The drafts are Davis's drafts, the trades are his trades.
Reality: All the coaches get involved in drafting. They're expected to rate the top candidates at the positions they handle, then join Ron Wolf's scouting department and Davis, and thrash it out. Trades are more Davis's thing. Alzado was his baby. Plunkett was worked out by Flores and Wolf; Davis wasn't there and Flores swung the election for Plunkett. In the old days Davis was a terror on draft day. Wolf tells this story: "It's 1967, our first-round pick is coming up and Al and I are battling down. I want Harry Jones, a halfback from Arkansas. He wants Upshaw. We have this speaker set up so we can hear what's going on in the draft room in New York. Finally, Al says to me, 'All right, dammit, you win. Go call Harry Jones and alert him. Use the phone in the hall.' So I go out in the hall and dial, and as I'm dialing I hear over the speaker: 'In the first round the Oakland Raiders select Eugene Upshaw, guard, Texas A&I.' "
Myth: Davis is infallible when it comes to judging talent.
Reality: Oh, he has had his clunkers, notably ex-Ram cornerback Monte Jackson, who cost the Raiders three draft choices in the famous Lawrence Welk trade...a-one and a-two and a-three. The coaches had to finally beg Davis to get rid of him. Bubba was a mistake. So was Bob Brown. But Davis was the guy who lobbied hardest for tight end Raymond Chester, when Chester wasn't even listed among the top 150 college prospects by some teams. And it was Davis who personally scouted Mark van Eeghen at an East-West game practice in a gym where the players were all in tennis shorts...and then drafted him in the third round. Van Eeghen is the Raiders' alltime leading rusher. Davis's percentage is very high.
Myth: The Raiders are truly the last stop, the haven for outcasts. They've got more druggies than any other team.
Reality: One veteran says that when the first Super Bowl practice was called 11 days before the '81 game, only 26 guys showed up. One suppposedly was in Peru. Davis says he doesn't know anything about it. As far as the drug problem, he says, "We've taken care of it from within. At one time we were bad in that regard, but we've learned how to deal with it, and that's through fear of punishment. It's controlled on our club." Translation: If there are problems they're kept within the family.