OAKLAND, CA-Shortly following the announcement of longtime Raiders owner Al Davis' death Saturday, the Oakland Raiders released a statement saying that even though Davis was now gone, he would forever symbolically remain the owner of the Oakland Raiders.
"Under the leadership of A.D. Football Inc., the Oakland Raiders and Raider Nation will hold their great comrade Al Davis in high esteem as Eternal President of the General Partner," the press release said. "With Davis forever as the head of our glorious franchise, no Raider will ever succeed the Dear Leader in rank."
"Just win, baby," the statement concluded.
Observers say the move is the last act of Davis to secure his cult of personality, which the onetime AFL coach of the year has used to maintain his authoritarian control of Raider Nation.
Davis, who named himself President of the General Partner for Life following a plane crash of Raider personages in 1972, has long been the enigmatic face of the once-mighty franchise. Many have attributed the Raiders' slide in recent years--specifically a 37-91 record in the last eight seasons--to Davis' continued stranglehold on day-to-day operations. Davis' increasingly erratic behavior, including "trading" John Gruden, firing Tom Cable, and claiming he would win two more Super Bowls before he died, were taken by some as a sign that the man's health was failing, and perhaps a peaceful transition of power might be in the works. Davis, however, publicly rebuked any question of abdicating, once saying, "Those who ask me to step down are reactionaries guilty of attempting to subvert the revolution," never clarifying exactly what revolution that was.
Defectors from the Raiders say Davis rules the team with an iron fist; people who speak out against his rule disappear. Internet is forbidden; all news is disseminated from team-run media.
"It wasn't until I escaped to the Chargers that I learned that JaMarcus Russell hadn't played football in two years," said one trainer who spoke on condition of anonymity. "Every day we were forced to watch these propaganda films saying Russell was throwing for 1,000 yards every game. And I never knew Tom Brady was still alive. We were all told that Dear Leader Davis personally murdered him after the Tuck Game. "
Other unconfirmed reports of Davis' term as team owner include beginning every day with the song "No Gridiron Without You", Davis' personal anthem, and Raiders players being given a book about Davis' life and accomplishments in lieu of a playbook.
Initial hopes that Davis' death might bring freedom to the Raiders appear to be misplaced; rumors are currently swirling about a failed coup d'état headed by coach Hue Jackson, and NFL personnel are at press still being refused entry into team headquarters. Humanitarian aid to Raider Nation, including compensatory draft picks and defensive coordinators, have been refused by Davis on the grounds that they "sully the Lombardi Trophies."
The Office of the Commissioner released a statement saying that while Davis' death represents "an end to a great evil in our league," steps must now be taken to "[Make] the Oakland Raiders safe for football again."
"The millions of dollars that have been lost to Michael Huff, JaMarcus Russell, and Mike Mitchell will forever remind us. Never again senility, never again staying way past one's prime, never again Al Davis."