May 21, 2024

“Raider” – A Play Call That Is All About Respect For Al Davis

Sports often thrives on the narratives that interweave the past and present, the legends and the newcomers, the playbook and the playmakers. It’s about the intangible spirit that courses through a team, often encapsulated in a single word. Respect is one such word—a term that carries weight in locker rooms and on the playing field, a concept that can define careers and shape the very ethos of a team.

Memphis Showboats head coach, John DeFilippo, affectionately known as “Coach Flip,” is someone who embodies respect in its truest form. This was never more apparent than in Sunday’s game against the Michigan Panthers when a single play call brought his reverence for football’s history to the forefront and etched his name into the annals of the United Football League (UFL).

To appreciate the gravity of the moment, we must delve into DeFilippo’s past. His journey with respect began in 2007 when he was brought on board as the Oakland Raiders’ Quarterbacks Coach. Tasked with mentoring JaMarcus Russell, DeFilippo faced a challenging season that ended with a 4-12 record. Yet, his commitment never wavered, and he returned to the Raiders in subsequent years under different leadership, including Tom Coughlin, Dennis Allen, and Tony Sparano. These experiences shaped him, instilling a deep appreciation for the Raiders’ legacy and Al Davis‘ offensive philosophy.

Fast forward to the game that would become a historic moment for both DeFilippo and the UFL. The play call was a four verticals scheme, a strategy that stretches the defense and forces the safeties to make difficult choices—a hallmark of Davis’ offensive game plans. As the first half was drawing to a close, the call came in. Quarterback Troy Williams unleashed a perfect pass to Daewood Davis, who dashed for an 82-yard touchdown, the longest in the UFL’s nascent history. This electrifying moment not only sparked the Showboats’ offense but also rekindled the spirit of a bygone era.

ST LOUIS, MISSOURI – APRIL 20: Troy Williams #11 of the Memphis Showboats throws the ball during the second half against the St. Louis Battlehawks at The Dome at America’s Center on April 20, 2024 in St Louis, Missouri. (Photo by Dilip Vishwanat/UFL/Getty Images)

In the aftermath of the game, when asked about the genesis of the play call, DeFilippo’s response was steeped in respect. He revealed the strategy of their four verticals package—a tribute to his time with the Raiders, to Al Davis, and to the legacy of the vertical passing game. When they call “Oakland,” “Davis,” “Raider,” or “Plunkett,” they are invoking the spirit of the Raiders, paying homage to the innovative mind of Coach Davis.

And it wasn’t just DeFilippo who held this sentiment; it resonated through his players as well. Daewood Davis, the beneficiary of the historic touchdown pass, expressed his admiration, crediting Coach Flip as one of the best coaches he’s had in his career.

Through Coach DeFilippo, the lessons and philosophies imparted by Al Davis continue to impact the game and its players. It’s a chain of respect that links past to present, a tradition that transcends time. The “Raider” way, as taught by Davis, is not just about aggressive offense; it’s about respecting the game, the history, and the people who have shaped it. In that monumental play call, DeFilippo didn’t just make history; he honored it, proving that respect, when understood and applied, is more than just a word—it’s a living, breathing part of football.

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