Tuesday, October 11, 2011

R.I.P, Al Davis

Al Davis, the iconic leader of the NFL's resident bad boys, the Oakland (nee LA, nee Oakland) Raiders passed away this weekend. That reminded me of my own memorable brush with Al a few years ago, a story my friend Dan said was too good not to share, so here it is:

I was taking a Southwest Airlines flight from LA to Portland, via Oakland. Southwest's policy at the time was that there were no assigned seats on their flights; instead you got a number at check in, boarded the plane in order and took any available seat, all of which I dutifully did when my number was called. I took an aisle seat in a three-seat row. I noticed that the older man sitting at the window was kitted out, head-to-toe in Raiders gear, and thought to myself “Wow, that looks like Al Davis.” I decided that it couldn't really be Al since a) I didn't think he'd so blantantly advertise by dressing like an advert from a Raiders gear catalog and b) why would Al Davis fly Southwest? So I settled into the little self-imposed cocoon I go into when I fly and got ready to endure the next few hours of travel to Portland.

A few moments later a boarding passenger noticed my aisle-mate and said “its great to meet you Mr. Davis,” they shook hands. A second passenger soon did the same. I noticed Al glance at me like he was expecting me to also pay my respects. I looked at my magazine instead, though I did notice that along with all the Raiders catalog gear, he was also wearing a huge bracelet with “AL” spelled out in diamonds on an onyx background – the Raiders colors, of course. As the plane filled a third, fourth and fifth person all paid their respects to Mr. Davis, who kept glancing at me, expecting me to do the same. By this time, I was feeling pretty self-conscious; I also would have felt like a real tool saying “Oh hi Mr. Davis” at this point, so I kept silent instead.

During the flight a few more people stopped by to say hello, talking to their icon over this strangely mute guy on the aisle who had the honor of sitting one seat away from Mr. Davis Himself (Al had announced earlier to one boarding passenger that he had in fact bought two seats for the flight so he could have the one directly next to him empty). When we landed in Oakland, Al got up to leave but not before our eyes locked and he gave me this long look that said, YOU REALLY DON'T KNOW WHO I AM?!?

And thus was my brush with the man, the legend, Al Davis, in the world of football, he will be missed.
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