How Does A Bronco Fan Mourn Al Davis?

By Brendan Scott

Saturday, as the news broke about the death of Al Davis, the owner of the Oakland Raiders, I was unsure of how to react.  One side of me wanted to smile, this was the side that hates the Raiders and wants to see misery in my opponent’s eyes, and the other side was sad.  Sad because Al Davis had run his team into the ground and well, I wanted the Raiders to remain terrible.  Now, the pessimist in me believes his departure from the Raiders might make the team I hate a more competitive franchise.  The Raiders have been an inept franchise for a decade, but they haven’t always been that way.

For a long time the Raiders were winners, committed to excellence.

Al Davis cared for nothing more than winning.  And I, like all Bronco fans, cared nothing for him and am pained by the above video, but I guess he did win some games.  According to Hall of Fame coach Don Shula, Davis was devious, but would have taken it as a complement to be described as such.  It is fair to say that hate him or love him (he does have a family) he was a driven man who helped shape the game of football.

He made the phrase, “Just win, Baby,” famous.  But growing up as a Denver Bronco fan, I just wanted him to lose.  For the last decade, if not a little more, that’s all the Raiders have been doing.  And as bad as the Broncos have been for the last five years, it has been comforting to know that the Raiders have been worse, except when they beat my team.

Al Davis may have lived his life by his “Just win, Baby,” motto, even while his team was losing, but is life about winning?  Football is just a game.  Don’t get me wrong, I love sports.  I’m very competitive and I believe if it is your job to play a game, you should do your best, but maybe there’s more to life than winning or losing.

I wonder if Davis defined his life by the wins and loses his team acquired on the field.  I did not know him so I can’t guess if he lived for more than wins on the field.  As a Bronco fan, competitively I hope he didn’t.  That way he lived his last ten years in misery.  But that’s just the Broncos fan in me, maybe I need to let God work on that area of my life.

But as a Christian, I hope he did live for something more than just wins.  While, I admire his desire to win because I believe God wants us to give everything we do our all, I don’t believe life is just about winning.

What is life about then?

What if life was about losing?  About giving instead of taking.

Matthew 5 reads like a list of objectives for weirdos.  It is counter culture to the max.  I mean, “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven,” come on, who lives like that.  Or how about, “Blessed are the peacemakers for they will be called sons of God.”  That doesn’t sound very competitive.  You’re just going to get run over if you live like that.  Or what about, “Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.”  It’s like Jesus is telling people to be losers.  Or is he just saying, be different and you’ll be noticed for what really matters.

Jesus wants people to stand out, which is why he says, “You are the salt of the earth . . . You are the light of the world.  A city on a hill cannot be hidden.”  So if you are living like Jesus you are going to be noticed.  You are going to be different and like salt you are going to add a flavor to whatever you shake it into.  Did you know salt enhances the natural flavor of any food it’s added too?  Maybe that’s what life’s about, enhancing the lives of the people we come into contact with.

What about “Just win, Baby”?  That mentality seems to breed the eye for an eye mentality.  If someone punches you, punch back, ’cause you just got to win.  But Jesus says something different.  He says, “If someone strikes you on the right cheek, turn to him the other also.  And if someone wants to sue you and take your shirt, let him have your jacket also.  If someone forces you to go one mile, go with him two miles. Give to the one who asks you, and do not turn away from the one who wants to borrow from you . . . Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you.”

Fans, Jesus wants us to lose.  To give more than what is asked from us.  To love the Raiders?  To pray for Al Davis and the Raider nation as they grieve their owner’s death.

Jesus commands us, and this isn’t just a command he is giving to Christians, this is for everyone out there, even Raiders and their fans, to love.  Jesus says in Matthew 12 vrs 29-31, “Hear, O Israel, the Lord our God, the Lord is One.  Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.  The second is this: Love your neighbor as yourself.  There is no greater commandment than these.”

Ok Bronco fans, this is what our head coach is saying, “Love God and give him your all.  Next love your opponents, even the Raiders, just as much as you love your Broncos.”

What is love though?

Love is patient, love is kind, love does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud.  It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs.  Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with truth.  It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always preservers.  Love never fails.

Jesus wants me, a Bronco fan, to let go of all the hate I have for the Raiders.  So what if Al Davis never payed my beloved former coach, Mike Shanahan.  Life isn’t about money and I am sure Mike Shanahan has enough money and during his time with the Broncos he sure got the wins against the Raiders, as well as two Super Bowl wins for my team.  I think if I am to mourn Al Davis, I have to be different.

So how does a Bronco fan mourn Al Davis?  First, I stop trying to win at all costs (This is going to be difficult for me, ’cause I’ve been known to wish injuries on my least favorite players).  And Secondly, I need to look at the bigger picture of life.  Football isn’t just a fun diversion, remember how it helped restore hope to our nation after September 11th?  Sports are important, but loving our neighbors is more important.

What would Tebow Do?  Tim Tebow, the much debated quarterback for the Broncos, is a Christian who has made a name for himself by standing up for what he believes in.  I believe he would go out and play the game with the talent God gave him, but also respect his opponents with a Christlike love.  But that’s just a guess.  I know Tebow’s not Jesus.

Neither was Al Davis.  He was just a man (a neighbor), but a man created in God’s image.  He may have just wanted to win and maybe that’s what created such a good rivalry between the Broncos and the Raiders, but life is bigger than the victories on the field.  I can mourn Al Davis because he was one of God’s creation.  I can mourn him because as a Christian I am called to be different, to see past the gridiron, and to love even him, my enemy.

Brendan is a Bronco fanatic.  He thinks Tebow is exciting and wants his team to do well.  He is enjoying being back in Colorado where he can watch the Broncos after attending The Neighborhood Church.


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8 responses to “How Does A Bronco Fan Mourn Al Davis?

  1. Brendan:

    This is football blasphemy.

    Great application of Jesus’ words into an every day situation. And thanks for letting me see Al Davis as someone God loved no matter what I thought of him. Dad

  2. Georgie-ann

    1 Corinthians 9:24-27 [Striving for a Crown]

    24 “Do you not know that those who run in a race all run, but one receives the prize? Run in such a way that you may obtain it.

    25 “And everyone who competes for the prize is temperate in all things. Now they do it to obtain a perishable crown, but we for an imperishable crown.

    26 “Therefore I run thus: not with uncertainty. Thus I fight: not as one who beats the air.

    27 “But I discipline my body and bring it into subjection, lest, when I have preached to others, I myself should become disqualified.”

    With all due respect to the world’s sports fans, (since I’m not one!), I’ll hopefully be brief!

    What is most significant to me in these verses, is the comparison of the “perishable crown” (a reference to the Olympic olive wreath and worldly glory and triumph), to the “imperishable crown” (the Crown of Eternal Life and spiritual glory and spiritual victory).

    I think you have done a good job describing both!

    Of course the ultimate spiritual victory, God’s victory over satan at the “last trump” is in God’s hands. But where do we wish to be standing on that day? This is given to us and our “free will” to decide and wrestle with, not only as “mental assent” but as victors in a struggle with our own flesh and flesh-derived thinking, the “ways of the world,” and even the temptations of satan, his mean little self.

    Paul urges us in:

    Romans 12:2 “And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God.”

    Your presentation is a beautiful example of applying exactly this principle to a common life experience. You are thinking about it, considering the “issues” involved. In such a way, we come to new conclusions about things and impulses that we have formerly taken for granted.

    To get to the concept of “winning by losing” is a very big leap. Of course, Christ is our greatest example of this, but I am reminded of the story of St. Francis, and the stories of so many other great saints in Christian history, who relinquished their claims on the “perishable goods and glories” of this life, in favor of obtaining the “imperishable crown” of glory in the eternal life — and not all by dying, by any means!

    To radically serve Christ in this world, as Paul did, takes an inner strength and dedication and willingness “to be different,” as you very well describe, that far supersedes the most astounding yet fleeting and perishable athletic efforts.

    To be honest, I found school sports, and such, to be mostly a more or less wholesome and meaningful interaction for people who knew each other. But I think that since Big Money and Advertising has gotten “all over it,” everything has been ratcheted up to a level of compulsion and hype that easily “misses the (spiritual) mark,” creating and extending that “irresistible vortex” for our energies and attention, that causes some better commonsense places within us to be eclipsed — and perhaps in many cases completely usurping or replacing a devotion that belongs to God.

    P.S.,…please remember, this is a loving “grandma” speaking,…youth and strength certainly have their “life season” to be exercised and enjoyed, but idolizing such things can easily become foolish,…the virtues of good character (as in your Tim Tebow) are ultimately far more significant and lasting in the long run — (just ask any honest “oldster!”),…keeping balance and perspective in life is a blessing, and truly we need God’s help to do it!

    “Play ball!”


    • I love what Paul says about running the race. It’s why I try my best. Thanks for always reading and commenting on the blog. Your insight is always very thoughtful and really adds to the ideas of the blog.

      • Georgie-ann

        Hey, Brandon,…good work!

        I’m going to repeat Paul:

        Romans 12:2 “And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God.”

        I’ve been thinking that what happens as we compare God’s Word and Spirit to our lives, — as we find ourselves living in the midst of oftentimes conflicting impulses and judgments, and unexamined conventions and “common” practices, taken for granted by seemingly so many — we begin to get a sense and a vision of “a new way of living,” and a realm of greater truth and awareness and consistency that really does correspond more fully to God’s Word.

        Paul also tells us:

        Ephesians 6:12 “For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places.”

        Now, THIS is the valiant contest worth fighting! Our real enemy is pervasive and has a strong captive influence over those who succumb to his ways and non-values. It is really our enemy — exposing himself in those whose ways we can clearly see as being strong negatives — whom “we love to hate,” even more so than the co-opted person. It is in this perpetual challenge between the Light and the Darkness, that is “when, where and how” we DO truly prove ourselves to be “more than conquerors!”

        Romans 8:28-39 (excerpted)

        28 “And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose. …

        31 “What shall we then say to these things? If God be for us, who can be against us?” …

        35 “Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword? …

        37 “Nay, in all these things we are MORE THAN CONQUERORS through him that loved us.

        38 “For I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come,

        39 “Nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.”

        Once we catch sight of the differences between the ideals of God’s ways and His Kingdom, and our own inherent human tendencies to be narrow, petty, personal, self-satisfied, judgmental, prideful, fleshly, and conforming to less than we were created for, we begin to have a chance to make new choices.

        Once we understand more about God’s ways and agree with Him in our hearts, we’re on our own way to a transition where we find ourselves actually beginning to be on a “new wave length” with Him. And it’s a lifelong process, so no need to hurry!

        Paul again:

        Colossians 1:12,13

        12 “Giving thanks unto the Father, which hath made us meet to be partakers of the inheritance of the saints in light:

        13 “Who hath delivered us from the power of darkness, and hath translated us into the kingdom of his dear Son.”

        And God is So Good in so many ways!


  3. Georgie-ann

    so sorry!,…I mis-spelled your name!,…Brendan,…now I wonder how many times I’ve done that!

  4. Georgie-ann

    One further thought:

    I think that as we “grow older” (both “in the Lord” and simply age-wise) — holding onto our vision and understanding of God and His Word as it directs our path of Christian formation — we begin to acquire a positive taste and appreciation for the wisdom and peace (and love) inherent in God’s Ways, that are not our “par for the course” average human behavioral and thinking patterns:

    Isaiah 55:8 ” ‘For My thoughts are not your thoughts, Nor are your ways My ways,’ says the LORD.”

    As we become accustomed to the “new ways” (new to us, new to the “old fallen Adamic nature”), as our spiritual eyes develop, we begin to see and to truly be lifted into a realm (on that new and different wave length) where God’s Wisdom is recognized, accepted, and a very welcomed, confirming and strengthening Light unto our path:

    Psalm 119:105 “Thy word is a lamp unto my feet, and a light unto my path.”

    We often begin our journey faced with a stark, almost impossible, contrast between the “old man’s” habitually programmed thinking patterns — (action/reaction style, with all the accompanying weird and negative emotional patterns so ultra-familiar and endemic to our rather pitiful and helpless and out-of-control, yet prideful and defensive, human nature) — and what we see as a Christian call and challenge to be/become radically different, in what may seem to us to be an “idealized” position “in Christ.” The Good News is that over time, for the faithful who truly pray and desire the goodness of God’s Kingdom, this will eventually work itself out:

    Luke 11:9 [ Keep Asking, Seeking, Knocking ]
    “So I say to you, ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you.”

    As we allow God to work within us, by His Word and by His Spirit, we will experience a subtle transitioning process in which we will find a very great preference for living in God’s realm of peace. The world will continue as it continues and will challenge us often; satan will keep on being his bad self; but we can choose to experience the blessings of our “closer walk with God” in preference to being overwhelmed and caught up, without purpose, in the fray. In God’s realm, “love” is at home, but hatred would pull us away, back into a dark struggle we no longer desire to be part of. Not to say that we become inactive or dispassionate, but God’s wisdom leads us. We trust Him more. We allow Him to be the judge. We allow Him to direct our path.

    Isaiah 26:3 “Thou wilt keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on thee: because he trusteth in thee.”

    1 John 2:12-14

    12 “I am writing to you, little children, because for His name’s sake your sins are forgiven [pardoned through His name and on account of confessing His name].

    13 “I am writing to you, fathers, because you have come to know (recognize, be aware of, and understand) Him Who [has existed] from the beginning. I am writing to you, young men, because you have been victorious over the wicked [one]. I write to you, boys (lads), because you have come to know (recognize and be aware) of the Father.

    14 “I write to you, fathers, because you have come to know (recognize, be conscious of, and understand) Him Who [has existed] from the beginning. I write to you, young men, because you are strong and vigorous, and the Word of God is [always] abiding in you (in your hearts), and you have been victorious over the wicked one.”

    God is with us through all the challenges, and his rewards are precious. I think you’re off to a very great start!

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