In 1985, I was working for an insurance company doing workers compensation audits. It was a job I got through my brother and it was almost perfect, because I was able to schedule appointments between my 16 units of classes I was taking at Cal State L.A. The San Diego based insurance company would mail me my work, and I'd set up appointments on my own throughout the southland.
I was thrilled to receive a packet for one of our policyholders, the Los Angeles Raiders. I checked my schedule and set up an appointment.
The Raiders offices were at a renovated elementary school in El Segundo that had been converted into their corporate offices along with practice fields and training facilities. The appointment was for early in the season. I believe it was sometime in September.
When I arrived at my mid-morning appointment, I found the place to be jumping. There was a receptionist in the hallway. I couldn't really call it a reception area. It was literally a hallway that the kids used to walk through to get to their classes in years past.
The players were all over the place...slapping hands, joking around. I really didn't recognize anyone until Marcus Allen walked by as he approached and embraced one of his teammates. I was sitting there waiting for the comptroller to come down and show me to where the records were and Lyle Alzado passed by, and Tom Flores, too.
Eventually the comptroller Peggy arrived. She took me up into a film room and the table was set up with all the ledgers available for my perusal. She said that Mr. Davis might drop by because he had some questions for me.
Now that, I didn't expect. I was in my early 20s and didn't have a lot of knowledge in the workers compensation policy rules. I simply knew what I needed to look for in the ledgers and the thought of Davis dropping in on me and hammering me about workers comp rates and his premium, I found a bit intimidating. Davis at the time was knee deep in litigation against the NFL and he was known to be a tough negotiator and winner when it came to legal issues.
I looked around and saw reels and reels of film canisters, each one labeled with college football games and dates. USC-UCLA, LSU-Florida, Notre Dame-Michigan, you name the game, the film was there.
It was as I was gazing at the film canisters that he walked in. The black jump suit and all. "What are you, 15 years old?" he said. "I'm 24 actually Mr. Davis," I said, trying to sound as mature and manly as possible. "Well, that's good. It's good to look younger than what you are, that way, when you get to be my age you'll pass for forty." he said with a wry smile. "Did we give you the tour? Did they show you the facility? How about a media guide, did you get one? You are a ‘Raiduhs' fan aren't you?"
"You bet I am, Mr. Davis. Congratulations on the Super Bowl win," I said.
He then turned to business, "I was going to ask you about that, he said. "There are super bowl bonuses added on to the players payroll, are those bonuses subject to premium calculations?" I knew the answer, "Yes, Mr. Davis, I'm sorry to say that they are." I showed him the California Workers Comp manual and the reference to bonuses.
He frowned and then looked up and said, "Well, you can't blame me for trying to save a little money, can you? Winning the Super Bowl was worth it." Then he broke out in a laugh and told me to make sure that Peggy provide a tour for me before I left.
"So who are your favorite Raiders, son?" he asked. I told him that I had attended BYU, so I kind of liked Todd Christensen and even Marc Wilson, though I knew he wasn't too popular amongst the fans. He smiled and said, "They're fine players, but don't tell them I told you so, they'll ask for more money, and don't let any players look at these books. This stuff is all very confidential."
"Of course, sir," I said. He then left. Now if Lyle Alzado had burst into the room, demanding to see the books, I'm not sure if I could have held him off, but that didn't happen of course.
I completed my work. I didn't ask for the tour, I just left and that evening summarized the audit and sent it in to the corporate offices.
Two weeks later I received an envelope in the mail that had been sent to the insurance company offices. It was addressed to me. Surprised, I wondered why I was getting such a large envelope from corporate that was as light as a feather. I usually got big packets of work from them. To my surprise it contained two 8 X 10 autographed photos of Marc Wilson and Todd Christensen. "Evan, Life is kismet!" wrote Christensen. I went to the dictionary to look up what that meant...typical Christensen.
Al Davis took the time to make sure that this kid auditor, who was a little bit of a fan, received a few mementos from the visit. I thought that was quite extraordinary, considering all the things Davis had on his plate and the fact that they were the defending World Champs. For that reason, despite all the lawsuits, treatment of Marcus Allen, numerous coaching changes and stubborn ways, I still have always thought Al Davis was a class act. He treated me with respect. A man who was somewhat a recluse, he was very open and friendly to me.
Rest in peace Mr. Davis.