Tag Archives: racism

“Remembering Oakland Raiders Al Davis (& the AFL) on MLK Day & His 5 Decade Fight For Equality”

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Al Davis, civil rights pioneer.

Al Davis has been called many things. Innovator, rebel, leader, dictator; and many other things that are not for print. One thing many will remember him for though is as a civil rights leader.  Al Davis had one goal in sports; winning. And because of that spirit, he didn’t care what color or sex you were.  Just win baby.

Davis Stand against Racism in the 1960’s; The AFL makes history in a boycott:

The 1960’s was a heck of a time. It had a lot of turmoil due to military conflicts and racial injustice.   From the college game to the NFL game, there were still many fans, coaches and administrators that didn’t like having blacks on their teams. We applaud the storied Alabama football program for it’s winning today but we forget it didn’t integrate black players until 1971 when John Mitchell and Wilbur Jackson first played for the Crimson Tide. Even though the civil rights bill threatening to take away federal funding to schools that discriminated against African Americans was enacted in 1964, it took years for some schools to comply. In fact, even though they have tried to hide it,   look at the Mormon Church and BYU’s history in the 1970’s in regards to race. Quite a read.

The same was seen at a smaller level in pro football. Even though there were many African American players, they were not welcomed by everyone with open arms. Al Davis really helped in opening doors for many people.

The AFL and Al Davis especially were different.  In a 1963 exhibition game in Mobile, Alabama, Al Davis demanded the contest be moved to Oakland because he was not going to separate his players in segregated hotels. He also tried to do this in many other games through the 1960’s.  When Raiders outspoken star Clem Daniels complained about the way black players were treated at the 1965 AFL All-Star game in New Orleans, Al Davis supported them when they voted to boycott the game unless it was moved.  Other owners and commissioner Joe Foss joined the outcry.  Even many white players including Ron Mix stated that they would no longer play in the game if it stayed in New Orleans.  The organizer of the All-Star game went so far as to tell the minority players that they and their families were welcome in New Orleans but that was far from the case.  African American players were left stranded at the airport with some not being able to get taxi’s while others were not allowed to go into restaurants and bars in the french quarter due to the color of their skin.  Eventually the game was moved to Houston and even though it was a spur of the moment thing, Houston did a good job of hosting.  AFL Commissioner Joe Foss wrote a letter to the people of Houston thanking them for the classy way they supported the AFL’s players.  The actual letter is below.  Pretty cool letterhead.

afl-letter

African American Colleges Play a Big Role in Player Drafts:

When he took over for the Raiders, Davis was one of the first to specifically target black/small colleges. Some of the greatest Raiders were from small or black colleges including Hall of Famer’s Gene Upshaw ( Texas A & I) and Art Shell (Maryland St.).   Both Hall of Fame players were thought of as somewhat risky picks because they were from schools that were too small or too abstract.

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Two of the Greatest to play the game.  HOF players Art Shell, and Gene Upshaw.

When Raiders all world WR Warren Wells was in Texas state prison serving time, the Raiders had an important team celebration. Mr. Davis contacted the state of Texas stating that he would pay for security for Warren to attend, but the state denied the request. It didn’t matter that Warren was an African American to Al Davis. What was important was that he was a Raider.

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The greatest catch that few remember.  Wells Makes Miraculous grab with 8 seconds to beat the Jets in 1970.

The Good Old Boys Network Get’s a Shakeup:

When Davis hired Art Shell to be the first African American head coach, it had broken down decades of prejudice.  It was groundbreaking and even today name all of the GM’s in the NFL that are African American or Hispanic?   There aren’t very many, but of course the Raiders have one of them in Reggie McKenzie. Al Davis also hired the first Hispanic head coach in Tom Flores, and the first female executive in Amy Trask. If he thought you could do the job, he didn’t care if you were a blue smurf, he would hire you.

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Art Shell and Al Davis 1989

In an episode of HBO’s amazing series “Real Sports”, they talked about the lack of support and care for retired NFL players. One owner had an idea of building a hospital in Utah or another inexpensive state for the retired players that would be funded by the NFL retirement plan through the profits of the league. Who was the owner that created the plan and was the only one that voted yes for it? Al Davis.

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No One but Elvis could rock a white jumpsuit like Al Davis

Jim’s Jamz:

There have been many white owners, coaches and players in pro footballs history who have done their part in helping to cross the barriers of prejudice and hate.   None of them though did it with the confidence, fire and flare that Al Davis did.  On the field Mr. Davis didn’t want to lose and he didn’t want to tie. He wanted one thing and that was to win. And if you could help the Raiders get to that goal, he wanted you and you were a Raider brother for life no matter what your religion or race was. Especially in today’s America, wouldn’t it be nice if that was the way things were?

Sadly we still have a long way to go in eliminating hate and prejudice, but it’s people like Martin Luther King Jr.; and to an extent Al Davis; that gets us closer to that goal.   I know today is MLK day but on this day I always think of Mr. Davis. From Terry Bradshaw to Derrick Thomas to the countless number of players from other teams that he supported during bad times, Mr. Davis really cared about them.  The football world is not as fun without Mr. Davis but few see his other side because like most men his age, they didn’t want the attention it gave. The thing that everyone in football knows about Al Davis is that even though he loved the Raiders tough, renegade image, he had an awful soft heart under that ugly white jumpsuit.

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“Tired of All The Drama Surrounding the NFL’s National Anthem? Here’s How to Survive It”

 

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Are you sick of the drama? Me too.

Social media has literally changed everything in our country. It is the fuel of any online forest fire. With most people on facebook and some on twitter, issues get blown way out of proportion.  Where before we were somewhat open minded, tolerant and respectful, the world now laughs at us for being childish, close minded, ignorant, and drop outs for anger management. Some are so hyper sensitive, even the smallest things can set them off. Honey Boo Boo’s reality show looks like Masterpiece Theater compared to what is happening now in America.  The mantra in the U.S. today is, think as I do or you are an idiot. I thought people were supposed to get smarter with age?  Instead many are more aggressive and close minded as ever.  Are you sick of it?  Let’s look at how we can survive all of this Jr. High School drama.

How To Survive This Drama:

  1. Be Open Minded:

Good leadership is so rare in our country because most can’t do 4 things; listen, understand, be compassionate and compromise. If you can’t do these 4 things, you can never be a great leader.

In this situation I totally respect and understand both sides. I think both have good and bad points. If you listen and understand people’s feelings in a rational manner without acting like a hot head, you can get that both sides have valid thoughts and a compromise can be reached.  If we respected each other’s opinions, we could see both sides.

  1. Don’t talk about it or react online.

When people talk about it online, I just move on. Everyone says the same thing over and over and I’m pretty sick of it.   The media is loving this. They now show the national anthem as if it was a game itself. And oh the commentary.

I’m not a drama guy so I don’t get off on it. I’ll avoid it and watch the game. I don’t care what some jock, ex jock, celebrity or team owner has to say about the situation. I don’t know them and they are not my role models. I don’t look up to them for moral or spiritual leadership. And for all the love he is getting, I especially don’t look up to Jerry Jones. Just look on the internet to Jerry Jones history and partying ways. Character is what you do behind closed doors, NOT what you do when you know everyone is watching.

So many are nasty online and if you engage with them, you are just going to make yourself crazy.  On Facebook just keep scrolling.  Even if it’s a friend or even if you are asked what you think, just move on.  People no longer want to talk about things so they can get others viewpoints.  All they want to do is have people agree with them, or to attack those that don’t.

Texans Patriots Football

  1. Stop debating with those that are close minded:

Remember that a lot of adults today are close minded and it really comes out online. Two thirds of the country blindly back either the Republican or Democratic party like cult members, and the final third of the country is shaking their heads.  Social media has also made us all feel very self important; especially through our viewpoints. For many their biases and prejudices from their parents have really stuck to them.

I remember being 18 and my father trying to tell me how to vote in my first election.   I told him I’d listen to him but I’d vote how I felt I should. My dad liked that I stood up to him and thought for myself.  My parents told me to always do what is right even if the world is going the other way.  When you deal with facts and what is right or wrong, you realize you should not trust ANY politician or ANY political party. Just look at history.  In fact it sounds ignorant and naive to me to trust these people.

AVOID talking to biased people about this situation like the plague. NO GOOD can come from it. You cannot debate them or reason with them. They will not listen to you and they think if you don’t think like them then you are an idiot. I personally listen to everyone but I also realize talking to a rock is pointless.

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Jims Jamz:

First off I have several relatives and friends that have and are serving in the military. That’s from WWII, to Vietnam, to the Gulf War to the Iraq War.  They fought for the very rights and freedoms that we have today and I’m extremely proud of all of them.  As some of them say, one of those freedoms they fought for is the freedom to protest.  I would like the players to stand up but it’s not a big deal if they don’t.  I don’t look to them to set my moral standards.

Our country was founded on protest.  Many of the same people ripping on the players now are the same families that called people against the Iraq war Commies, un-America traitors, and many even thought they should be charged with treason. A total of 93% of Americans were for that war when the 7% were right.  History. Those who forget the past are condemned to repeat it.

And as I watch the amazing Vietnam series by Ken Burns on PBS, I see the millions of people of all ages; including soldiers and ex soldiers; who protested a war that was motivated for all the wrong reasons.  The day after the Kent St. murders, millions of students across the country protested on the streets and highways of our country demanding justice in an unjust war.  Millions of mothers, fathers and ex military protested on Washington and other areas to bring our brave young men home.  They were so passionate and loud that President Nixon listened.  He had to.  If you haven’t watched it you should.  It has inspired me and brought a new respect for those of that time that fought, and for those that fought to bring them home.

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The National Anthem issue hasn’t affected me in any way. If fans feel they need to burn their jerseys and not go to games or watch, then I respect that. If players and fans want to protest racism and other issues then I support that too.  THIS IS AMERICA!  When did we lose the right to do what we wanted?  When political parties infused into the older generations that they were perfect, that’s when.

What is funny is that many of the people that are burning jerseys, are white and I don’t think that is a coincidence.  If you never experienced racism and you live in a non sensitive society like we have today, you are not going to understand the issue or the feelings.  And some that are for the protesters have little to no knowledge of the sacrifice of the military and their families.  Remember those 4 points of leadership I had? If both sides would follow that, they both would understand each other.

I think the players are misunderstood as well. They don’t hate America; right or wrong, they think this is the loudest way of protesting the lack of justice and racism that they see in our country today.  I guarantee if dozens of rich white people were unjustly killed by cops in rich areas around the country, caucasians would be outraged and wonder what is going on!

If you are sick of the pettiness, anger and dramatics of this issue and you just want to watch football, then do it. Personally I don’t see any change coming from this, only more division. Change is only found with dialog and compromise; something most adults are no longer willing to do in America. Men’s ego, close mindedness and greed has screwed up so much in the world and the NFL is no exception.

Our love for Patriotism is strange.  While some scream USA and say respect the flag, almost half of people that can vote don’t.  Corporations take jobs away from Americans just so they could get slave labor wages overseas so more generations of trust fund babies can be taken care of.  On the other hand, many that are kneeling during the Anthem have never done much of anything in their lives in regards to fighting for people’s rights.  Many of them now talk like they are civil rights experts when in reality they have a lot to learn.

So in ending, in true GOOD American fashion, I say respect people’s view points and then YOU do what you think is right.  I for one will continue to worry about the X’s and O’s and still watch the NFL while respecting people’s rights to be angry at the players, and the players right to protest.  I’ll also greatly respect those things that our country holds dear, but THAT IS MY RIGHT.  If you do what you think is right without berating others that disagree, you will not only be a good American, but you will also be rid of the drama.