More on Al Davis, combative Oakland Raiders owner, who died on Yom Kippur


Jewish writers are continuing to ruminate on the death of Al Davis, owner of the NFL’s Oakland Raiders, and one of pro sports’ most controversial figures, at 82 on Yom Kippur (original Eulogizer entry here).

Sports blogger Rabbi Joshua Hess, writing on Huffington Post, said:


"Since traditional Judaism doesn’t believe in coincidences, his death, which occurred on Yom Kippur, gives us pause to consider why Davis was returned to his maker on that auspicious day."

Hess, musing on Davis’s controversial signature phrase, "Just win, baby," wrote: 

It’s an idea that teaches us how to approach life, and how to deal with its stresses and frustrations.

True, "Just win, baby" can be interpreted to mean win at all costs, but it also reminds us not to focus on our mistakes or errors; that we shouldn’t dwell on our lapsed judgments and failed assignments….

J Weekly writer Andy Altman-Ohr in San Francisco, noting that dying on Yom Kippur "is a good sign, because it implies dying without sin," sussed out some details of Davis’s Jewish life, which Davis kept as private as he did all other aspects of his life off the NFL gridiron. Altman-Ohr said that Davis was a longtime member of Beth Jacob Congregation, a Modern Orthodox synagogue in Oakland, where his name was on a pew. But Beth Jacob’s rabbi brushed off an interview, citing Davis’s desire for privacy.

Altman-Ohr also dug up these Jewish nuggets from Davis’s 1991 memoir, "Slick": At Syracuse University in the late 1940s, Davis was assigned to the "Jewish" dorm, named “Pastrami Prefab,” and later blamed an anti-Semitic coach for keeping him off Syracuse’s basketball team. As head coach of an Army football team at Fort Belvoir, Va., Altman-Ohr said, citing, "Slick," "skeptics said Davis ‘had some connections’ (code words for Jewish connections). Later in life, some accused him of being part of the Jewish mafia, and one of the Oakland Raiders’ early co-owners he battled with, and eventually wrested control of the team from, often told anti-Semitic jokes in Davis’ presence." Altman-Ohr also cited Davis’ devotion to his late father and that he found solace in the mourner’s kaddish.

The Eulogizer offers a hat tip to Jerusalem-based sports fan and journalist Elli Wohlgelernter, who passed along the links to the two articles.

The Eulogizer highlights the life accomplishments of famous and not-so-famous Jews who have passed away recently. Write to the Eulogizer at

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