Co-Author of Al Davis: Behind the Raiders Shield, shares a brief insight into his life.
My Elite Network: Why did you decide to write the book, Al Davis: Behind the Raiders Shield?
Jon Kingdon: A lot of times when you're scouting, you’ll be sitting around with other scouts, sometimes you’re waiting 10 or 15 minutes for someone to come talk to you about players. You’re waiting with other Scouts sharing stories…Bruce Kebric and I would usually get the same reactions - scouts jaws would drop and they would always say to us: “You guys are going to have to write a book. After I left the Raiders, I was having lunch with Steve Corkran and he asked me what I was going to do and I said that I might write a book about my time with the Raiders. He said that he always wanted to write a book about the Raiders and it took off from there, bringing Bruce Kebric into the mix. . The three of us each brought a unique perspective to the book - Bruce's started with the San Diego Chargers about 10 years before I began with the Raiders and Steve Corcoran was a beat reporter covering the Raiders for about 20 years.
My Elite Network: Were there some stories that didn't make into the book?
Jon Kingdon: You know it's funny a lot of people were texting and asking us about players that we did not include in the book. We could have included Chester McGlockton who was an unbelievably talented defensive tackle. I remember we were playing the Chicago Bears and they were near our goal line and they were down by two points. Neal Anderson ran into the line of scrimmage and then broke to the outside. At 340 pounds, Chester ran him down and grabbed him by the collar, which was legal then, yanked him back and kept him from scoring. After the game, I was in the hallway by the locker room with Mr. Davis and Chester walked by. Mr. Davis said to Chester that the play he made at the goal line was one the greatest plays he has ever seen in all his years of football. Chester just shrugged, said “Okay” and kept on walking. That’s just how Chester was.
Jerry Rice was another favorite of mine even though I wasn't particularly close with him, I admired all the little things that he did. You know there's really nothing I can say about him as a player because it's all been said. But, his character stood out to me. At practice, anytime the quarterback would overthrow the receivers and they would let the ball boys go after the ball. However, Jerry Rice would go after the ball himself and then toss it to the ball boy. At Jerry’s first practice with the Raiders at a mini camp, the veterans went to the locker room and the rookies were kept out to run gassers. Jerry stayed out on the field encouraging the rookies. After they finished running, Jerry went over to each one and congratulated them on finishing, shaking hands with all of them. At training camp, we would have a table with jerseys, balls, or helmets for the players to sign. Some would and some wouldn’t. Every morning, I would see Jerry checking every item on that table to make sure he did not miss any of them.So those are just some of the stories that might go in the next edition of this book.
My Elite Network: How long were you with the Raider organization?
Jon Kingdon: I was there for 33 years. It did not take me long to learn how committed Mr. Davis was to winning. It was a challenge to deal with him because he knew so much. He had great retention. If you told him in our December meetings that you liked a particular player and you had a different opinion in the April pre-draft meetings, he would remind you what you said in December and want to know what it was that changed your opinion. He was not always easy to work for but ultimately it proved to be a very rewarding experience.
My Elite Network: How did you become a scout?
Jon Kingdon: When I started with the Raiders, there might have been 25 or 30 people in the entire organization, outside of players and coaches. Now there were literally hundreds emplyed by all of the teams. Back then, maybe there were eight coaches and now there 25 or 26 coaches. When I began, I would do everything - picking up players, dropping off schedule boards, basically anything that was needed. . Slowly, I started gravitating over to the scouting department. There was a gentleman named Joe Madro who was working as a pro personnel scout. Joe may have been the best offensive line coach in football history. I would watch film with him. He enjoyed my company and I learned a great deal of football from him. After that, I and I just kept pushing my way over to that department.
My Elite Network: Were their players that you wanted to draft, but, it didn’t work out?
Jon Kingdon: Certainly. The chapter is called “The Hall of Famers that Got Away” relates how much we wanted to draft Brett Favre in the first round. In fact, our department had Brett Favre as the 5th best player in the entire draft. However, Al had his mind set on Todd Marinovich and we simply could not get him to change his opinion since he had some on the coaching staff that would parrot his opinion. We ended up taking Marinovich. Can you image what would have happened if we took Favre?
My Elite Network: What was your relationship like with Al Davis?
Jon Kingdon: Al was born in Massachusetts and then grew up in Brooklyn. And I was born in Brooklyn and grew up on Long Island, so I think that was a East Coast connection. We would share a lot of dinners and he would talk candidly. He was able to open up and share some things that he would not feel comfortable with other people.
My Elite Network: Have there been one or two people that have influenced your life?
Jon Kingdon: Besides my wife and children, my parents and siblings and and my Uncle Marty, I would say the Raider organization for the most part. Amazing people. I worked there well over half my life. I had such great respect for Dr. Robert Albo. He was maybe the most dynamic man I ever met in my life. He was a big man with massive hands. He taught himself to be a magician. The Giants offered him a contract to play baseball. He wrote numerous books and magic and I was very fortunate to become very good friends with him for many years. …he had an enormous amount of magic.
My Elite Network: How can we get a copy of the book?
Jon Kingdon: We have a website: https://www.behindtheshield.net. where you can get the book and a personalized inscription if you so desire. We will be able to get it out quicker than Amazon as well.
It is also available on Amazon in book or Kindle. It has also become available on Audiobooks.
My Elite Network: What are you doing now? And where do you see yourself in five years?
Jon Kingdon: Besides promoting the book, I have been covering sports for a local paper called the Lamorinda Weekly which covers the three area high schools and St. Mary's College. As a former sports editor at Oberlin College, I have enjoyed covering these teams. Writing the football previews was no challenge but I have done stories on the water polo teams and on a couple of locals that made the 19 and under national rowing team. I had to do a lot of research on these sports to be able to ask the coherent and relevant questions. Maybe in five years from now, we’ll be writing another book: Al Davis: Further Behind the Raiders Shield.