If you want to know what the term total package means when it comes to sports and more specifically to football and total package gets thrown out a lot, but to me it’s about someone who does every aspect of their job very well doesn’t having any glaring weakness’. Doesn’t have a characteristic, where people may say “I wish he did this or that better”. A QB who’s a total package would be someone who can throw the football with zip, throw it far, throw it accurately with touch, short, medium and deep, who’s mobile enough to buy time when under pressure, reads defenses well, knows when to throw the ball and to who. But those are just the physical attributes, QB is the most important position in football it’s that simple.
That’s why quarterbacks they get a lot of the credit and blame, it’s also the second hardest position to play in my opinion other than center. QB also have to have good mental qualities, know who and when to congratulate someone and to get on them something that both Dan Marino, Dan Fouts and Troy Aikman all did very well, which is one reason why they are all in the Hall of Fame. You have to make sure everyone in the huddle is on the same page and in the right position and you understand what the head coach, offensive coordinator and QB coach is expecting from you and the offense. You also have to know when to audible and what audible to call, do you still want to play QB. Or maybe try to become a lawyer or doctor instead, those jobs might be easier to get and perform.
Calling Al Davis a total package as an NFL executive, is like calling Magic Johnson a good point guard. Or saying the weather is warm in South Florida, not only stating the obvious, but doing it from the bottom. Al Davis was the most complete football man not only in the American Football League, but in the last fifty-years of the NFL. And his influence on the league and game is in the same neighborhood as Paul Brown, George Halas, Well Mara, George Marshal, Pete Rozelle and others. Just to start with Al Davis as an executive as basically General Partner of the Oakland Raider franchise as well as its General Manager.
You’re talking about someone who establish his own system. “This is the kinda team I want o have on both offense and defense”. On offense with the vertical spread offense, spread the defense out and make them defend the whole field both in the passing and running games. Beat the defense up with the offense by going right at them man-on-man blocking, power running game. On defense take it to the offense, put the fear of God into them when they try to catch the ball or run the ball up field because they had linebackers and defensive backs that could hit and tackle real hard. And corners that could cover one on one in bump and run coverage without getting beat. Which meant that freed up the linebackers and DB’s to stuff the run and rush the QB.
After Al Davis established his system or game plan for victory, he than went to get the coaches who could run this system. John Madden, Tom Flores and Art Shell with great assistant coaches like Hall of Fame CB Willy Brown and others and drafted and signed the players who would play well in that system including eight Hall of Famers. Seven of them players that he introduced himself like Howie Long perhaps the best all around DL of his era. Both as a pass rusher and run defender. And would go to great lengths to get those players like drafting from small African-American colleges.
Schools that other pro football executives weren’t drafting from like offensive tackle Art Shell. As well as taking chances on players that other clubs gave up on like QB Jim Plunket who won two Super Bowls with them in 1980 and 83. And taking chances on people because he believed they were worth it. And deserved the jobs that they were getting, like hiring the first Latin-American head coach in Tom Flores in 1979 and the first African-American head coach in Art Shell in 1989.
If people are judged by how well they treat people or how they well they are treated and boss’s are judged by how long people work for them, then Al Davis was a great man, because that old expression “Raider for Life”, is an old expression for a reason because it’s so true and been used over and over. If you treat your workers well, they’ll do the best job that they can because they want to work for you and share your goals.
Which in the Raiders case was really a “Commitment to Excellence”, that you figure out what your system is going to be. Make your goals clear and then surround yourself with the best people that you can to run your system. And then treat them as well as they can be treated but also fairly. And that’s what Al Davis’s “Commitment to Excellence” was.