Category Archives: Ben Davidson
The first time I actually met the Oakland Raiders ‘ Ben Davidson was in 1998, when I interviewed him for my master’s thesis, which I wrote about Sid Gillman. I met Ben at his home on Mt. Helix, and we spoke about the Chargers, Raiders, and how teams planned to defend against Gillman’s offenses. As always, Ben was a fantastic interview.
AFL – The Raiders and the Chargers played against each other many times each year. In preparation for these games, what would the Raiders do differently to combat the Chargers?
Yesterday afternoon I attended the Celebration of Life for former Oakland Raider, Ben Davidson, who passed away on July 2, after a battle with pancreatic cancer. It was a beautiful event, and I came away from it with a better understanding of Ben’s life outside of football. Of course, several of his football friends and former teammates were in attendance. Tom Flores, Ron Mix, Earl Faison, Bob Zeman, Otis Sistrunk, Marv Hubbard, Art Thoms, Dan Connors, Rod Sherman and others were in the audience, laughing and sharing wonderful old football stories.
I remember the first time that I saw Big Ben Davidson in my hometown of La Mesa. I was a high school junior, and a linebacker on the football team, when my dad pointed out a very tall man with a handlebar mustache standing a few feet away from me at a Souplantation restaurant. We did not speak, but I remember recognizing him from the great Miller Lite beer commercials as well. In many ways, La Mesa is still a small town, and after that, I would bump into Ben a couple of times each year. It wasn’t until I was in graduate school and writing my thesis on Sid Gillman, however, that I first spoke with him. I figured that I should have the input of one of Gillman’s opponents in my thesis, and so I gave Ben a call after finding his listing in the phone book. He invited me to his home, which happened to be just up the hill from me, and he gave me an excellent interview.
I have written before about growing up as a Chargers fan, and as such, developing a healthy dislike for the Raiders. I have also written about how much I enjoy the AFL’s badboy, Ben Davidson. The two might seem like mutually exclusive interests, but I would challenge anyone who has ever met Davidson (and not played against him) to say anything bad about the guy.
The video above helps to illustrate just how likeable Davidson can be. He is a down-to-earth guy, and recognizes just how unique his life has been. Think about it for a minute… Davidson went from playing for the 1960s Raiders, to acting in Conan the Barbarian, Behind the Green Door, and many other films and television shows. After that he became a member of the famed “Tastes Great-Less Filling” crew on the old Miller Lite commercials. In his downtime, he hopped on his motorcycle and traveled throughout the U.S. and Mexico, cruising and camping along the way, meeting and enjoying folks from major cities and Mexican pueblos alike.