Now the question: Who succeeds Al Davis?
That's been a lingering question for years, or at least while Davis was in declining health. The obvious successor is his son, Marc, but there has always been a feeling that he's not interested. He and Davis' wife are the direct heirs.
So who is it? There are strong personalities within the organization, with CEO Amy Trask the most noteworthy. She represents the Raiders at league meetings and is bright, forceful and, most important, a confidante of the former owner.
But people who should know tell me there never has been a frontrunner -- that is, other than Davis' son. What's more, they said they can't be certain that Davis' majority share in the Raiders would not be sold when he was gone.
Well, now he is. So somebody has the uneviable task of stepping into the position once occupied by the most powerful owner in the NFL and one of the most powerful figures in pro sports. Al Davis cared passionately about his club, and he cared passionately about winning. He molded the Raiders, and, like or not, he's responsible for who they are today.
And who they are is a decorated franchise that dominated the NFL landscape, then fell into nothingness, before resurrecting itself last season.
Now, it seems, it's headed in the right direction -- only now that direction must be steered by someone other than Al Davis. For the time being, there is a void -- one that will last for some time. You don't simply step in for an Al Davis and become what he was to the Oakland Raiders and the NFL.
You don't. You can't. You won't.
I just wonder where the Oakland Raiders go from here. Because Davis' health had been an issue for years, I would be surprised if he didn't leave detailed instructions how he wanted the franchise run. What I don't know is if the Davis family retains the controlling interest -- basically, if it keeps it or if it sells.
No matter what happens, there is an emptiness and a loss that will not be filled ... or overcome ... for some time.