Al Davis, the Hall of Fame owner of the Oakland Raiders known for his rebellious spirit, has died at 82. It was Davis' willingness to buck the establishment that helped turn the NFL into the establishment—the most successful sports league in American history. Davis was charming, cantankerous, and compassionate—a man who when his wife suffered a serious heart attack in the 1970s moved into her hospital room. But he was best known as a rebel, a man who established a team whose silver-and-black colors and pirate logo symbolized his attitude toward authority, both on the field and off.
Davis was one of the most important figures in NFL history. That was most evident during the 1980s when he fought in court—and won—for the right to move his team from Oakland to Los Angeles. Even after he moved them back to the Bay Area in 1995, he went to court, suing for $1.2 billion to establish that he still owned the rights to the LA market. Davis, elected in 1992 to the Football Hall of Fame, also was a trailblazer. He hired the first black head coach of the modern era, Art Shell in 1988. He hired the first Latino coach, Tom Flores; and the first woman CEO, Amy Trask. And he was infallibly loyal to his players and officials: to be a Raider was to be a Raider for life.