Which Raider great got to light Al Davis’ memorial torch for last time in Oakland?

Raiders' future Hall of Famer Charles Woodson was the last choice to honor Raiders' late owner

Mark Davis, son of former Oakland Raiders owner Al Davis, gestures to the crowd after lighting the torch before their game against the San Diego Chargers at O.co Coliseum in Oakland, Calif. on Sunday, Jan. 1, 2012. (Nhat V. Meyer/Mercury News)
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Before being dismantled and sent packing to Las Vegas along with the Raiders, the Al Davis Memorial Torch was ceremoniously lit one final time at the Coliseum on Sunday.

The season-long mystery over who would get the honor of flipping the switch was solved when Charles Woodson did the honors before the Raiders faced the Jaguars in their last ever game in Oakland.

Woodson, a future Hall of Fame defensive back, has been one of the most vocal supporters of Oakland and its fans over the years and was a popular choice Sunday. He was humbled to have been chosen.

“That was special. That was special. To be the guy that Mark Davis wanted up there on that podium to light the torch for Al Davis,” Woodson said. “I mean, really special. We all know what Al Davis means to the NFL, what he means to the Oakland Raiders. He is the Oakland Raiders.”

From Hall of Fame coach John Madden, who first ignited the flame a week after Al Davis died in 2011, to Woodson, there was a star-studded list of distinguished Raiders alumni and celebrities who Mark Davis called upon to fulfill the duty for home games.

The torch at the Coliseum will be permanently relocated at the Raiders new headquarters in Henderson, Nev. Once there, the torch will be part of an elaborate memorial to honor the team’s former owner and NFL icon.

Mark Davis will go bigger and better when he honors his father at the team’s new, $2 billion Las Vegas Allegiant Stadium, the Raiders’ new home beginning next season. The new torch they’ve designed will feature “no-fire technology.” It’s a massive, 85-foot sculpture made from a 3-D printer using carbon fiber and aluminum.

In the irony of ironies, Al’s memorial was designed in Kansas City, home to one of the team’s fiercest rivals since the Raiders’ inception in 1960. Kansas City is where one of only two 3-D printers in the entire world exists that could produce a project this massive.

It may be hard to argue with the choice of the final torch lighter in Oakland, it also would have been quite a tribute to Davis’ ground-breaking legacy of hiring without regard to race, gender or ethnicity if we’d seen Tom Flores, Art Shell and Amy Trask sharing the honors Sunday.

Flores was the first minority head coach in NFL history to win a Super Bowl. Shell, a Hall of Fame tackle, was the first black head coach in modern NFL history. Trask was the first female CEO in NFL history.

The 83-year-old Madden, who has dealt with some health issues in recent years, also would have made a great choice as well. He brought Oakland its first Super Bowl title in 1977 and, considering he first lit the memorial, it would have made for nice closure.


Here’s a look at a list of those who have lit the Al Davis memorial flame since it was unveiled after the former Raiders owned died in 2011 (with opponent in parentheses):

2011: John Madden (Browns); Jim Otto (Chiefs); Fred Biletnikoff (Broncos); Jim Plunkett (Bears); Clem Daniels (Lions); Mark Davis (Chargers).

2012: Reggie McKenzie (Cowboys); Willie Brown (Lions); Tom Flores (Chargers); Marcus Allen (Steelers); George Atkinson (Jaguars); Cliff Branch (Buccaneers); Jon Gruden (Saints); Raymond Chester (Browns); Hall of Famers: Jim Otto, George Blanda’s widow, Willie Brown, Gene Upshaw’s widow, Fred Biletnikoff, Art Shell, Ted Hendricks, Mike Haynes, Howie Long, Ronnie Lott, Dave Casper, James Lofton, John Madden, Rod Woodson, Carol Davis (Broncos); Phil Villapiano (Chiefs).

2013: Daryle Lamonica (Cowboys); Dick Romanski (Bears); Ted Hendricks (Jaguars); Ann Margaret (Washington); Lester Hayes (Chargers); Art Shell (Steelers); Ray Guy (Eagles); Rod Martin (Titans); Bo Jackson (Chiefs); Al LoCasale (Broncos).

2014: Al’s Angels, office staff: Kristi Bailey, Carolyn Paul, Karen “Fudgie” Otten (Lions); Charlie Smith (Seahawks); Mike Davis (Texans); Raiderettes (Dolphins, in London); Tim Brown (Chargers); Nnamdi Asomugha (Cardinals); Napoleon McCallum (Broncos); Joe Morgan (Chiefs); Ronnie Lott (49ers); Ron Rickard (Bills).

2015: H. Rod Martin (Rams); Morris Bradshaw (Cardinals); Alexa, Kendra and Marissa Stabler (Bengals); Art Thoms (Ravens); Al LoCasale family (Broncos); First responders (Jets); Army, Navy, Marines, Coast Guard, Air Force (Vikings); Dave Casper (Chiefs); Warren Wells (Packers); Tailgate Challenge winner (Chargers).

2016: George Buehler (Titans); Oakland Police Department (Seahawks); Pete Banaszak (Falcons); Mark van Eeghen (Chargers); Henry Lawrence (Chiefs); Otis Sistrunk (Broncos); Tommie Smith (Texans, in Mexico); Monte Johnson (Panthers); Bobby Romanski (Bills); Clarence Davis (Colts).

2017: Otten brothers (Rams); Delisa “Momma” Lynch (Seahawks); Rickey Henderson (Jets); Andre Ward (Ravens); Kent McCloughan (Chiefs); George Lopez (Patriots, in Mexico); Greg Townsend (Broncos); Mike Haynes (Giants); Next generation of Raider Nation (Cowboys).

2018: Youth football coaches (Lions); Ron Wolf (Packers); Howie Long (Rams); Darren McFadden (Browns); UK Raider family (Seahawks, in London); Dan Conners (Colts); MC Hammer (Chargers); Marcel Reece (Chiefs); Reggie Jackson (Steelers); Marshawn Lynch (Broncos).

2019: Cotton Davidson (Rams); Mervyn Fernandez (Packers, in Canada); Lincoln Kennedy (Broncos); John Vella (Chiefs); Steve Wisniewski (Bears, in London); Women of ’70s: Wives of Dave Casper, Jim Otto, Art Shel, Tom Flores (Lions); Matt Millen (Chargers); Sebastian Janikowski (Bengals); Shane Lechler (Lions); Charles Woodson (Jaguars).


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