Washington Redskins general manager Bruce Allen returns to Oakland for the first time since the death of his former boss, Al Davis, when the Raiders host the Washington Redskins Sunday at O.co Coliseum.
Allen was a senior executive under Davis from 1996-2003 and still is identified by much of the fan base as a link to a more successful time.
He won the George Young Executive of the Year award in 2002 when the Raiders won their third straight division title and an AFC championship.
After leaving the Raiders to re-join Jon Gruden in Tampa Bay as general manager in 2004, Dan Snyder hired Allen to be the Redskins general manager in 2008.
Washington's coach, Mike Shanahan, is a former Los Angeles Raiders coach who feuded with Davis off and on since his firing in 1989.
Before boarding a flight to the Bay Area, Allen took time out to answer six questions in a phone interview:
Q: Mike Shanahan said that regardless of any differences he had with Al Davis, he always considered him an icon and the face of the franchise and it would be strange competing against the Raiders without his involvement. What are your thoughts?
Bruce Allen: Obviously, and Mike and I have talked about it, we had a different relationship with Al (laughs). I don't feel anything different. Whether it's George Halas or Paul Brown, those franchises represent everything those men believed in. When you play the Bears, you feel Coach Halas there. When you play the Raiders, you're going to feel Al Davis.
Q: Is there any memory that jumps out regarding your time working for Al Davis?
Bruce Allen: I could never narrow it down to one. But there are thousands and there is nothing that could happen in a football game where I can't refer back to something that happened as a Raider and there's nothing that happens in this league that you can't feel the touch of Al Davis and his thoughts, whether you agreed with him or not. His impact will truly live on the league, as does Coach Halas.
Q: You've moved to the Bucs and Redskins, but you are still identified with a period of success here by a lot of fans. Do you still hear from Raider fans who remind you of that time?
Bruce Allen: I see Raider fans . . . the one nice thing about their brand, similar to the Redskins, it's a national brand. You see their fans in different spots and the enthusiasm of these traditional fans, the ones with great legacy and history, they reach out and they remember the different games. I saw Jon Gruden doing that Monday night game and he forgot the play where they called the mysterious tripping penalty on Frank Middleton. And my e-mail here at the Redskins filled up with a bunch of Raider fans trying to get me to remind Jon about it during the broadcast. So yeah, I still hear from the Raider fans.
Q: Do you see progress with the Redskins in the last game? Are you optimistic you'll pull out of this 0-3 start?
Bruce Allen: It's simple. The other games don't matter. Last season doesn't matter. It's one game, and we've had a good week of practice so far and it's the team that plays the best on Sunday that will win.
Q: What is your stance on the seemingly growing number of people that want the Redskins to change their team name?
Bruce Allen: It's been an issue that has been off and on since the 60s, really. It goes in different waves. Every survey you look at, whether it's with the Native Americans which (number) 90 percent to 9 in our favor, or Associated Press, or in this area, our fans and the people understand, we're a football team. And for 81 years we've represented our millions of fans well and the great alumni that played for us. That's who we are. We're proud of it. We'd like to have won more than five world championships. We haven't. But our goal is to live up to the legacy that was left to us.
Q: How would you feel about lighting the Raiders torch some day in memory of Al Davis? Heard anything about that this week from Mark Davis?
Bruce Allen: Oh, it would be an honor some day. But really, we've got to figure out how to play a game and I'm sure that's what he's doing.