Al Davis: madman. Call him "prickly," "peripatetic," "nettlesome"—even "anachronistic throwback"—but the former Oakland Raiders owner who died today proves that "no great genius is without a requisite dose of madness," writes Len Pasquarelli on CBS Sports. He "rambled on disjointedly at public appearances," filed lawsuits against football, and so annoyed NFL loyalists that some campaigned against his inclusion in the Hall of Fame in 1992. "But, make no mistake, Davis was a genius."
"He essentially forced the AFL-NFL merger," writes Pasquarelli. He also hired the first black coach of the modern era, the first Latino, and made a woman the Raiders' CEO. And he imperiously ran a team that snagged 15 division titles, four conference championships, and three Super Bowls. "Given that the Raiders haven't posted a winning season since 2002 ... it's easy to ridicule Davis' encompassing grip over the team." But Davis "always thought that he knew best"—even when the madness of his reign had outshone its brilliance. (Read more Al Davis stories.)