What’s up RaiderNation? It is a sad day indeed as I write this article. A day that most here in the good ole US of A are celebrating the Nation’s independence from the tyrannical rule of England, and a day that the greatest nation of all (RaiderNation) would be celebrating the birthday of their forefather Al Davis. And while I am greatly saddened that Mr. Davis did not live to see his 83 birthday, I am also saddened that one of my all time favorite Raiders, Big Ben Davidson, (who wore number 83 for the Raiders incidentally) is dead.
Benjamin Earl Davidson died Monday night after losing his battle with prostate cancer, about the only opponent he couldn’t defeat. He was 72 years old. Davidson was originally drafted by Green Bay in 1961. After playing his rookie year in Green Bay, he then played for Washington in 1962 and 1963. He became a Raider in 1964, and would never play for another NFL team.
He was big (hence the nick-name) at 6’8″ and 275 pounds, but still very athletic having played basketball in high school. Athletic enough to hurdle offensive lineman and get to the quarterback with regularity. He was also known for his deep raspy voice, and his bristly handlebar mustache. It was his mustache that is referred to in the nation’s national poem, the Autumn Wind. One of my all time favorite quotes about Davidson was from fellow Raider lineman Tom Keating who said “Ben would hit the quarterback when he was getting into the car with his girlfriend after the ballgame”.
Davidson was an AFL All-Star in 1966, 1967, and 1968. He played for the Raiders until he left football in 1972. He later played for the Portland Storm of the WFL, before moving on to a career in commercials, playing on several T.V. shows, and in movies such as Conan the Barbarian, MASH, Necessary Roughness and others. Of these, he is probably best known for his Miller Lite T.V. commercials.
Big Ben Davidson was one of the players that I always admired for his toughness, his tenacity, and the swagger that he brought to the defense. If the current Raiders roster could have what he had, we would be Super Bowl bound without a doubt. RIP Big Ben, you will be sorely missed!!
Questions? Comments? Email me at OldTimer@silverandblackdaily.com