Napa, Calif. — Al Davis was moving slowly, using the walker he needs because of a lingering quadriceps injury, wearing black, of course.
"I want you all to know I'm alive," the Raiders owner said Tuesday. "I'm very healthy, can still smile and work out five days a week. If we could do away with this walker ... ."
Davis, in his first news conference since rehiring Art Shell as head coach back in February, addressed a number of topics ranging from John Madden's upcoming Hall of Fame induction to Shell's training camp, Jerry Porter's trade demand, the NFL's search for a new commissioner and his own health.
"I feel great," said the 77-year-old Davis. "Especially if we win, I'll feel great. I do feel great. I have a quadriceps problem that no one seems to be able to fix for me, and I certainly won't touch it with an operation."
Davis has not spent as much time at training camp as usual because he was back in Detroit last week working on the NFL commissioner search committee.
But since returning to California, Davis said he has watched tapes of all the practices and is still a presence around the team he has ruled for more than four decades as a coach and owner.
"He watches every single snap ... studies every single player on this football team," Shell said. "He knows the players on this team. He watches every single snap and studies every play. ... That's what he's done all those years."
Davis held the news conference at the Raiders' training facility mainly to discuss Madden entering the Pro Football Hall of Fame, 28 years after his tenure as Oakland coach ended. Davis will introduce Madden at Saturday's induction ceremony, his record ninth Hall of Fame introduction.
Madden was only 32 when Davis hired him to coach the Raiders in 1969. Before leaving the sideline for the announcing booth in 1978, Madden led Oakland to a 103-32-7 regular-season record and a victory in the 1977 Super Bowl. Oakland never had a losing record under Madden, winning seven division titles and making the playoffs eight times.
"His record is just unparalleled among coaches," Davis said. "His enshrinement in the Hall of Fame should have come a long time ago."
Davis, coming off three straight losing seasons for the first time since joining the franchise as coach in 1963, said he hopes Shell can return the team to the level it reached with Madden at the helm.
Davis once again admitted it was a mistake to fire Shell after the 1994 season. Shell had led the team to the playoffs three times in five full seasons as coach.