Ben Davidson dead at 72

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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 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.

23 responses to “Ben Davidson dead at 72

  1. sad to hear about this

    Big Ben Davidson

    Go get the Movie MASH and watch Ben Davidson at the end of the movie, where they have the foot ball game.

  2. Contrary to what Mr Davis thought, the greatness of the raiders is with it’s past and those iconic figures of the past are slipping away too quickly.

    RIP Ben!

  3. An all-time great Raider. Was one of the leaders on a Raider defense appropriately named nick-named “Eleven Angry Men”. Larger than life, you will be missed. RIP Big Ben!

  4. I remember the game when he broke Joe Namath’s cheek and they had to design a new, different face mask for Broadway Joe by the next game Jets played. That game is a long time gone.

  5. The Raider Nation will miss you. Thank you for the memories!

  6. A great Raider and a real character in the Bay Area sport scene. R.I.P. Mr. Davidson

  7. RIP Ben. The most fearsome defensive player of his era, and the reason I am a Raiders fan. Thanks for the memories.

  8. The Raider teams of today are dysfunctional with no fan support. You put the Raiders on map and now they are as lost as their sorry fans!

  9. I’m a life long Ram fan but Ben Davidson was one of my favorite “old time” non-Ram players. Never got to see him play….just learned about him over the years thanks to NFL Films, countless books, magazines, commercials and internet stories. Sorry to see him go. My thoughts to friends and family.

  10. Not sure I understand the attitude of thumbing down a comment of RIP or anything of that nature. It does not matter if the deceased is from a rival team or not. We should have more respect than that. I have noticed this several times and just do not get it. Can we get a little more class? I am not a Raider fan, but I most say R.I.P. to Mr. Davidson, and best regards to his family.

  11. when he sphered tackled dawson it was an all out brawl afterwards….nfl film must have that played sealed and buried…can’t find it anywhere

  12. fdugrad says: Jul 3, 2012 6:33 PM

    I remember the game when he broke Joe Namath’s cheek and they had to design a new, different face mask for Broadway Joe by the next game Jets played. That game is a long time gone.
    Davidson knocked Namath’s helmet off, but Ike Lassiter broke Joe Willy’s face. I think that was the same game Namath got punched in the nuts, and one of the Jets defensive backs got ejected and flipped off the crowd. The Raiders and Jets had a nice rivalry back then. And my dad hated Namath, so we always got to go when the Jets were in town.

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