Childhood & Early Life
Allen Davis was born on July 4, 1929 in Brockton, Massachusetts, to Louis Davis and Rose and he had a younger brother Jerry. Louis tried a variety of trades before settling down in the garment manufacturing business.
The family moved into a better accommodation in Brooklyn in 1934. He attended Erasmus Hall High School and was a reserve in the school team and picked up coaching techniques from Coach Al Badain.
Davis graduated from high school in 1947, enrolled at Wittenberg College in Ohio, but transferred to Syracuse University. Unsuccessful in his efforts to join the men's basketball team, Davis became interested in football strategy.
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Upon graduation in 1950 with a B.A in English, Davis sought a position on a college football coaching staff while pursuing a master's degree and was appointed coach at Adelphi University, Long Island.
In 1952, upon receipt of his master's degree, he was inducted into the Army. General Stanley Scott of Fort Belvoir, Virginia, obtained Davis's services in 1953 as coach for his base's football squad.
He remained at Fort Belvoir until his discharge from the Army in 1954. While coaching in the Army, he would sell scouting information about his players to National Football League (NFL) teams.
He worked for a year as a freelance scout for the Baltimore Colts of the NFL and advised the Colts which players to offer contracts to or draft as they returned to civilian life.
The Colts' head coach, Weeb Ewbank’s connections enabled Davis to be hired by The Citadel as an assistant to newly hired head coach John Sauer and took the credit for The Citadel’s success.
He became the University of Southern California’s assistant coach and helped the team to become Pacific Coast Conference champions. He was not considered to the post of head coach when the post became vacant.
When Sid Gillman became the coach of Los Angeles Chargers of the AFL, he hired Davis as backfield coach. Davis outwitted his rival NFL San Francisco 49ers to draft the wide receiver Lance Alworth.
After the 1962 season, Raiders general partner F. Wayne Valley hired Davis as head coach and general manager. At 33, Davis was the youngest person in professional football history to hold the position.
He implemented what he termed the "vertical game," an aggressive offensive strategy developed by Chargers head coach Sid Gillman. The Raiders improved to 10–4, the first winning record in franchise history.
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In April 1966, he was named the American Football League Commissioner and aggressively signed several of the NFL's top players to AFL contracts. But he resigned when in July the Leagues announced their merger.
He formed a holding company, A.D. Football, Inc. and returned to Oakland Raiders as one of three partners with a 10% stake in the team and named head of football operations.
In 1969, John Madden became the team's sixth head coach, and under him, the Raiders became one of the most successful franchises in the NFL, winning six division titles in the following decade.
In 1970, the AFL-NFL merger took place and the Raiders joined the Western Division in the NFL. The first two post-merger seasons saw the Raiders win the AFC West but failed to win the division.
In 1972, he drafted a revised partnership agreement that made him the new managing general partner, with near-absolute control over team operations. He also effectively served as his own general manager until his death.
His attempt to move the Raiders to Los Angeles was blocked by a court injunction. So, Davis filed an anti-trust lawsuit against the NFL and a district court ruled in his favor in 1982.
The Raiders failed to make the playoffs in 11 consecutive seasons from 2003 to 2013 including double-digit loss record seasons in seven consecutive years. Quarterback JaMarcus Russell, flopped badly and Davis was largely blamed.
Protesting Alabama's segregation laws, Davis refused to allow the game to be played there, and was the first NFL owner to hire an African-American head coach and a female chief executive.
With Davis as owner-manager, the Raiders became one of the most successful teams in professional sports. From 1967 to 1985, the team won 13 division championships, one AFL championship, and three Super Bowls
In 1967, he made a number of roster moves, landing Buffalo Bill’s quarterback Daryle Lamonica, Houston Oiler’s QB George Blanda and Gene Upshaw, who became the cornerstone of the Oakland offensive line
Davis became the very first recipient of the NFL Players Association’s Retired Players Award of Excellence and, in 1992, was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame by John Madden.
In 1998, Davis was inducted into the NFL Alumni’s “Order of the Leather Helmet,” presented annually to “Individuals who have made significant contributions to the game of professional football.”