Ben Davidson, one of the Raiders’ most recognizable players from their days in the AFL, has died at the age of 72 after battling prostate cancer.
At 6’8″ and sporting a bushy handlebar mustache, Davidson was hard to miss when he was coming after quarterbacks as a Raiders defensive end in the late 1960s. He started in Super Bowl II and made three Pro Bowls during his eight years as a defensive force in Oakland. Davidson’s career started with the Packers and he also spent time with the Redskins before making his way to the AFL in 1964.
“We’ll miss him. He was larger than life and a wonderful human being,” said Raiders owner Mark Davis, via Paul Gutierrez of CSNBayArea.com. Davis and other past and present members of the Raiders organization are memorializing his father Al in Las Vegas this week.
Like many other famous Raiders, Davidson was known to bend or break the rules from time to time. A late hit on Chiefs quarterback Len Dawson in 1970 touched off a brawl with receiver Otis Taylor, a fight that wound up working out well for the Raiders when penalties gave George Blanda a chance to kick a tying field goal. The Raiders wound up beating out the Chiefs for the division title because of that tie. He also had some famous run-ins with Joe Namath that did much to create an image of the Raiders that has lasted for a long, long time.
Davidson’s fame was burnished after his retirement thanks to an appearance in one of the iconic Miller Lite commercials featuring athletes and other celebrities arguing about whether the beer tasted great or if it was less filling. He also appeared in movies like Conan the Barbarian, Necessary Roughness and M*A*S*H, the last of which came out while he was still playing for the Raiders.
Davidson’s death was first reported by former Raiders coach John Madden during a radio interview on Tuesday.