The NFL lost one of its most recognizable faces on Saturday. Al Davis of the Oakland Raiders died at the age of 82. Davis’ meaning and significance in the NFL landscape depends on when you climbed on board the NFL freight train and how much you’ve delved into history. I’ll save the history lesson for another posting. Suffice it to say, there was more to him that his love of the vertical passing game, the controversy of the OAK-LA-OAK moves and the well-chronicled issues with players and coaches, particularly in his final years. It was easy to take shots at his love of speed receivers and the team’s struggles following the Rich Gannon-led Super Bowl run, and nobody who has penned a column or cracked a microphone could plead innocence in that respect.

Interestingly, Davis’ love of speed, speed and more speed finally seemed to have this team turning the corner in 2011. The team obviously has defensive deficiencies, but the myriad speed options are giving opposing coaches nightmares.

I’ll always appreciate the power of the Raiders brand and Davis’ hold of the mark. You can’t go two blocks in Los Angeles after all these years without seeing the Raiders logo. The Raider Image stores do crazy business, and fans are fiercely loyal of the “Silver and Black” colors.

The NFL will not be the same without the tracksuit-wearing owner. RIP, Mr. Davis.