Al Davis

Oakland Raiders owner Al Davis, who died on Oct. 8 at 82, was never beloved outside Raider Nation. "Lying creep," a fellow owner once called him. He was the George Steinbrenner of football barons: bullying, arrogant--"Just win, baby!"--and, in his later years, a subpar talent evaluator. But his innovative football mind and aggressive executive approach, which led the Raiders to three Super Bowl wins, have shaped the NFL as we know it.

As a coach, the Brooklyn tough guy with slicked-back hair and a thick accent ("the Raid-uhs") made the vertical passing game--a mix of power running and deep throws--prominent. During...

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