Al Davis, a trailblazing and controversial figure amongst the professional sports landscape, has passed away on October 8th at the age of 82.

The Oakland Raiders have at times during their existence been considered a notorious team, and the man who guided the franchise at the helm was owner Al Davis.

As synonymous with the Raiders as the Silver & Black, Davis was ever sure to leave his mark on the team he owned. Whether it was firing coaches he didn’t like, filling the roster with athletes who fit the style he wanted or ridding the team of great players who didn’t, Davis made sure the world knew that the Oakland Raiders belonged to him and he was willing to stick to his guns through the successes and the failures.

For all the negative attributes which some might attach to the cardigan wearing octogenarian, he undoubtedly leaves this world having pioneered paths in equality. Art Shell became the first black NFL head coach when Al Davis hired him in 1988. In 1979 when John Madden retired as the coach of the Raiders, Davis hired Tom Flores, the first Latino head coach of an NFL team. Flores lead the team to Super Bowl victories in 1980 and 1983. In 1997 Amy Trask was hired by Al Davis to be the CEO of the Oakland Raiders, becoming the first female to take such a position in the NFL. It’s a job she continues to hold to this day, and she’s currently the only female presiding as CEO of an NFL team.

Davis was the last individual to hold the role of AFL Commissioner. Taking the post in 1966, he remained in the position until the merger of 1970, and it’s said that some of the actions he took in breaking some unwritten rules between the AFL and NFL lead to the two leagues inevitably needing to merge.

Thirty years ago when Al Davis attempted to move the Raiders south to Los Angeles, the NFL attempted to block the move. Davis filed a lawsuit against the league claiming anti-trust grounds, and the team was able to move in 1982. Fan in Indianapolis, Tennessee and Arizona should consider themselves fortunate that Al fought back.

On several other occasions Davis has involved legal proceedings into his running of the Raid-uhs. The move to Los Angeles wasn’t adequately supported by the city to Al’s liking, with the L.A. Coliseum not suiting his needs for luxury suites, and when the city wouldn’t assist him in efforts to get the Raiders a new home, he took them back to Oakland in 1995. Despite the move, Al Davis attempted to retain rights to have a football team in Los Angeles, a legal battle he lost.

In 2008 Al Davis fired Lane Kiffin “for cause”, and in doing so decided not to pay the second generation coach the remainder of their contract. It was the second such instance for Davis and one of his notable head coaches, as Davis did the same 20 years prior when he fired Mike Shanahan after just 20 games, withholding a reported $300,000 from the current coach of the Washington Redskins.

The style with which Al Davis conducted himself and his “Commitment to Excellence” left its mark, and many will mourn his passing.

“Al Davis was one of the most innovative and dynamic pioneers in the history of the National Football League. He was passionate about his team and about the game of professional football and he personified the legacy of the Raiders. We share with his family and friends our heartfelt sympathy on the news of his passing.” – Tom Benson, Owner – New Orleans Saints

“A leader, an innovator & a friend. Al Davis marched to his own drum & will be missed. RIP AL Davis 1929-2011. What a thrill it was when I played to have Al Davis sitting courtside at the Forum.” – Magic Johnson

“I will miss Al Davis. He did as much for the NFL as anyone I have known. It was great to deal with a living legend over the years. R.I.P.” – Drew Rosenhaus

“The Autumn Wind will always be a Pirate as the autumn of his life he leaves us RIP Al Davis. Your mark on the league will live forever.” – Michael Lombardi (NFL Network)

“Anyone whose livelihood is in any way connected to the NFL is indebted to Al Davis. ” – Michael Smith (ESPN)

“Not sure if I can identify greater contributor to the game than Al Davis.” – Chris Mortensen (ESPN)

“So sad to learn of passing of MR RAIDERS Al Davis – Hall of Famer who had so much passion & pride . RIP” – Dick Vitale

“Al Davis’s passion for football and his influence on the game were extraordinary. He defined the Raiders and contributed to pro football at every level. The respect he commanded was evident in the way that people listened carefully every time he spoke. Al Davis is a true legend of the game whose impact and legacy will forever be part of the NFL.” – Roger Goodell