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Game Ready Gear. Orders: (202) 677-5801 / gamereadygear@gmail.com » How Al Davis’ Oakland Raiders Brought Branding to the NFL

How Al Davis’ Oakland Raiders Brought Branding to the NFL

Upon taking over as coach for the 1963 season, the late Al Davis didn’t just lift the Oakland Raiders from a 1-13 record. He led the team to a 10-4 mark — the greatest single season turnaround in NFL football history. As impressive as this was for the fledgling franchise’s fan base, Davis achieved something far more meaningful for the league at large that year. Davis was the first in football to forge a singular brand. Raw. Rogue. Ridiculously Fast. It was underlined in the team’s signature silver and black jerseys, and further cemented by their epic fight song.

Like all great brands, the organization was more than just a standout image. There was a well-defined game plan. The vertical passing game. Pressure on the quarterback. Bump-and-run coverage. He fashioned the organization’s attitude from the traditions of his hometown Brooklyn Dodgers and their crosstown counterparts, the New York Yankees. It’s an inspiration few know. Davis drafted the fastest and strongest players he could find. He was never afraid of a high-risk reclamation project. He reached out to the fringe, taught them the Raider way and led them to football’s promised land.

Davis was asked to introduce more Hall of Fame players at their induction than any other person — and by far. The team’s folklore includes three Vince Lombardy championship trophies and countless famous games. Who could forget the Immaculate Reception. The Holy Roller. Marcus Allen crossing the NFL logo on a 74-yard touchdown run in the Super Bowl. The Tuck Rule play that denied a playoff victory for a California team playing in the snow, and instead launched Tom Brady and the New England Patriots on their dynasty path. The team’s recent struggles can’t tarnish the long-term legacy of this franchise and its brand. A Commitment to Excellence. The Will to Win. Just Win Baby. Once a Raider, Always a Raider.

With Davis’ passing, many wondered what would become of a team so tightly tied to its maverick owner. Al’s lasting legacy now rests with a talented team on the rise — charged forward by perhaps the top running back in the game, Darren McFadden, and a first-time coach as hungry as they come, Hue Jackson. At the helm of it all, however, stands a female executive few know. Some say she’s the perfect bearer for Davis’ torch.

Raiders’ CEO Amy Trask is proud of her favorite wardrobe item. It isn’t a sharply-pressed black power suit. It isn’t a matching white sweater and slacks outfit. It’s a t-shirt. On the front — ”There are 31 teams in the NFL.” On the back — ”and then there are the Raiders.” While she may no longer walk in the shadow of a football legend, she struts every bit as much swagger. “Nobody survives in that organization without having a mean streak,” says former San Francisco Chronicle reporter David White, who covered the team for four seasons. “Al Davis wouldn’t have promoted [Trask] if she didn’t.”

• Trace the brand to its roots with Al Davis — A Football Life (NFL Network video).
• Learn more about Raiders’ CEO Amy Trask (ESPN Feature Article).