Too much life. Too much conflict. Too much achievement, paranoia, defiance, success, hatred and defeat.

There's just too much Al Davis to coherently measure and discuss in the immediate period of his passing. In the end, being Al was probably too much for even himself.

So I don't want to spend today stuck on the big picture or wonder what happens to the vacated gloom of the Raiders franchise now.

It's too big. It's too jumbled. I'll leave the myth/legend/Super Bowls/excommunications to others and other days.

What hits me now is one moment that feels, in retrospect, like the symbolic end of an era, before things began rapidly spinning away for good.

What I remember is Davis, at the tail end of another losing season, thundering one last time about life, death and defeat.

It was near the end of the 2006 season -- four years after the Raiders' last Super Bowl appearance -- as Art Shell's team wheezed and groaned, the Raiders mourned longtime employee "Run Run" Jones, and Bill Walsh fought cancer.

The Raiders lost again that day, then Davis came out to speak about mortality, and he sounded like a philosopher potentate. A wacky one, but still one worth listening to. Still with a flicker of light in his eyes.

He didn't look sick, just sad. He didn't sound crazy, just angry.

When Davis spoke like that, there was nobody in the world who was ever as fascinating. And I think this was the last time he ever spoke like that in public.


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"I've lost a lot of friends," Davis said. "I've lost Red Auerbach, Lamar Hunt ... There's my friend across the bay, who I love, Bill Walsh. I worry about him.

"There's 'Run Run' ... After a while, you run out of tears. But life goes on. The Raiders go on. We've got to get out of this."

This is where, again in retrospect, I believe Davis was close to realizing that his franchise wasn't what it used to be mostly because he wasn't what he used to be.

I think he almost realized that. I asked him then: Do you have to change the way you're doing things, and have always done things, in order to win again?

"You seem to know what I like -- what do I like?" Davis said.

Quarterbacks who throw deep and fast wide receivers, right?

"Did we throw the ball deep with (Rich) Gannon?" Davis said. "Did we throw the ball deep with (Ken) Stabler? We threw the ball deep with (Jim) Plunkett and won two Super Bowls.

"What I say to you is: five decades, five Super Bowls, four head coaches, four different quarterbacks.

"I want to win. Obviously in life, I like certain things. I like beautiful women more than unbeautiful women. I'm not in any way demeaning the unbeautiful women."

How gallant. How Al. A man from another time, trapped in the present, and dealing with it.

That's the Al Davis I'm going to remember, and I'm sorry if he, now sequestered in his eternal lodging, is angry that I'm not going to remember Willie Brown returning an interception or Pete Rozelle handing over that trophy.

I'll remember the impish Al. The argumentative Al, the Al who relished the sly back-and-forth with local reporters.

I'll remember this Al most of all: Worn from battle, but full of pride and awesome to behold.

"I want to win," Davis said. "I will. Always have."

Then he stopped talking. Went away. Never won again. It feels like he never came back. That's the Al that everybody who follows sports should and will mourn.

Read Tim Kawakami's Talking Points blog at blogs.mercurynews.com/kawakami. Contact him at tkawakami@mercurynews.com or 408-920-5442.