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Al Davis and the Packers

Nov. 6, 2013
 
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A sampling of stories about Oakland Raiders owner Al Davis, who died Saturday, and the Green Bay Packers. The first is from Joe Posnanski of Sports Illustrated, who shared this story on his blog: "Davis once flew into State College to get the Nittany Lions’ great linebacker Dave Robinson. He knew (Penn State coach Joe) Paterno and so he called to ask for his help. Unfortunately for Davis, another Brooklyn guy named Vince Lombardi also knew Paterno and HE called to ask for his help to get Robinson to the Green Bay Packers. Paterno said he would stay out of it, but he would give each team 20 minutes to convince Robinson to sign. "They even had a coin toss to see who would go first, and Davis lost the toss and so had to make his presentation first. He did his best. Then the Packers guy — Lombardi had sent someone on his behalf — must have done a great job because he convinced Robinson to sign with Green Bay. And what followed was a quintessentially 1960s scene — Dave Robinson in the parking lot signing a Packers contract on the hood of a car while Al Davis raged at Joe Paterno for making him go first and for not giving him more time." They made it to Oakland: Davis missed out on Robinson, but two of the Raiders' biggest stars on those great AFL teams of the 1960s had ties to the Packers. Defensive end Ben Davidson, known for his distinctive handlebar mustache, was drafted by the Packers in 1961 and played on their NFL championship team as a rookie. He then was traded to the Washington Redskins and spent two seasons there before jumping to the Raiders in 1964. Quarterback Daryle Lamonica, who led Davis' vertical passing attack, was drafted by the Packers in 1963, but he signed with the AFL's Buffalo Bills instead. He was traded to the Raiders in 1967. One key link to Green Bay: Ron Wolf, who as general manager rebuilt the Packers organization in the 1990s,  spent the early part of his career with the Raiders, learning from Davis. Wolf was just 24 when Davis hired him in 1963. Wolf worked for the Raiders' personnel department for 25 years, leaving to join the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in 1975 and then returning to Oakland after he resigned in 1978. "Everything I know about this game is directly attributable to what I learned working with Al Davis," Wolf told the Los Angeles Times in 1997. -- Jeff Ash, jash@greenbaypressgazette.com

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