Al LoCasale, RIP
During that time, I got along well with both Als. I realized in my first conversation with Davis that my football knowledge was limited, so I had as many meetings as possible with Davis, usually in training camp, before the season started. As long as Davis was happy with me, so was Little Al.
During my time as a beat writer I had many conversations with LoCasale. He was very excited when the leagues finished the merger into one league with two conferences because he was convinced that the AFC would be the stronger conference. For the ‘70s, he was absolutely right as the ’72 Dolphins went undefeated through the Super Bowl, the Steelers won four of six Super Bowls in one stretch and the Raiders finally won their first Super Bowl in 1977.
After the 1969 season, the Kansas City Chiefs played the Minnesota Vikings in the Super Bowl and I covered the game for The Chronicle. LoCasale and I went out to the jazz clubs in New Orleans, particularly enjoying the old style performers who rarely performed outside New Orleans.
All this camadarie ended when I became a columnist and criticized Davis for undercutting Wayne Valley, who had brought him to the club as a coach and then, after Pete Rozelle had been named commissioner for the two leagues when they merged (a job Davis had thought he would get) brought him back as a managing partner. Davis paid just $180,000 (his wife’s money) for a share which eventually mounted to hundreds of millions.
In return, Davis had convinced the other partner, Ed McGah, to side with him, so Valley had no choice but to sell his shares and get out.
Valley could be a hard man to get along with, a plain talker who didn’t beat around the bush. But, he had never interfered with Davis’s operation of the team. All Davis had to do was to give him short reports from time to time and Valley would have been happy. But Davis couldn’t do that. He wanted sole control and he got it.
So, if Big Al wasn’t talking to me, neither was Little Al. There were occasional confrontations – I remember one as I was going into a Warriors game when he was making threats that had the guards around us laughing – but that was it.
By the time the Raiders got back to Oakland, Little Al was really a third wheel. Amy Trask had come to work for the Raiders and she had just as much venom but was also capable of doing much more as an attorney for the team. Little Al was doing almost nothing but he did have some control over press credentials. He tried to “punish” me by making it more difficult for me but I felt sorry for him so I played along with it.
He was really a sad case. He had so much to offer if he’d struck out on his own. Instead, he hitched his wagon to an egomaniac and became a small footnote in history.
NOTE: I misspelled Tim Kawakami’s name in my last missive.
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