On this Thanksgiving, let me forget about markets or my usual speaking against governments and the debt crisis.
One of the things that made America great was the freedom to have a dream and then to pursue it and make it happen. This year, three people who had an impact on me passed away. One was my grandmother, who was the last grandparent I had living.
The other two were great American legends who have had a huge impact on my life. They also were from two totally different spectrums.
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The first was Steve Jobs. Yes, I am one of those Apple nuts. I do all my work on Macbook pro and a Mac Mini. I have an iPhone, iPad, two iPods and just got an Apple TV. I think what Apple has done to consumer electronics is nothing short of amazing. It has made things simple, easy to use and revolutionized the smart phone market basically putting Research In Motion and Nokia on the ropes. Apple computers do not crash.
Most of all, its technologies gave us a vision of the future. Remember “The Jetsons”? We were all suppose to be in flying cars and have touch technologies by the time the year 2000 rolled around. Jobs made this a reality when we think of instruments that look ultra high tech and you can work in a touch of the screen: This is what the iPad and iPhone turned into.
Remember, Microsoft’s Windows really copied Jobs’ touch and click Macs of the 1980s. The man was truly a visionary.
The second great American legend was on the opposite end of the spectrum.
I am a football fan and my team of choice is the Oakland Raiders. Al Davis, owner of the Raiders, whether you loved him or hated him, was a once-in-a-generation owner.
He always holds a special place for me because in the 1950s when he was at Syracuse, Syracuse had the first African-American quarterback in college history, Bernie Custis (who went on to be the first African American pro football quarterback when he played for the Tiger Cats in the 1950s). There was obviously a lot of controversy against a black quarterback in the early 1950s and Davis stood up for Custis.
He went onto to commissioner of the NFL and owner-coach of the Raiders.
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He actually got his ownership with his involvement and running of the team not from being a billionaire. In that regard he will be the last of his kind. He built a dominant team in the 1970s and 1980s who won three Super Bowls and had one losing record from 1967 to 1985. For those who love old school football where players were loyal to their team, taken care of by their owner, Davis was our man.
From a business standpoint, he was also the first owner who branded before branding became big. The raiders were known for their rough play, Silver and Black colors and evil version of the Jolly Roger decal on their helmets.
By the 1980s, the Raiders were probably along with the Cowboys the most recognizable NFL team in the world. His methods were ruthless and unorthodox. He once fired a coach (Mike White) on Christmas Eve. Hunter S. Thompson described Davis by saying “Darth Vader was a punk compared to Al Davis.” He was ultra loyal to those who were the same and created enemies to those who saw fit as enemies.
At the end Davis held on a bit too long and the team struggled in his later years, largely due to his dominant role and poor personal decisions. Although his most recent team is a contender and it was nice to see him go out on a high note.
In the end, 2011 probably will be a year that ends with investment losses and losses of great people. However, in the end these types of people are what have made America great.
About the Author: David Skarica
David Skarica is a member of the Moneynews Financial Brain Trust. Click Here to read more of his articles. He also writes the Gold Stock Adviser. Discover more by Clicking Here Now.
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