The day Steve Bisciotti bought the Baltimore Ravens is a blur.
On March 28, 2000, in Palm Beach, Fla., at the league's annual spring meeting, Bisciotti walked into the room of NFL owners shortly after they had voted to approve him, and the whirlwind didn't stop for almost eight hours. At 39, Bisciotti was looking around at a whole new club he had joined. He saw Wellington Mara and Dan Rooney and couldn't believe he was among the elite of a game he so loved.
One by one, other owners would come up to him and give some variation of congratulations.
. "It was this wonderfully surreal day," Bisciotti said.
[Related: Raiders owner Al Davis dies at 82]
But then came his real introduction to the league. As Bisciotti was leaving the meeting, he encountered Oakland Raiders owner Al Davis, who died Saturday at age 82. Dressed in one of his typical all-white outfits with silver-and-black trimmed glasses, the then-70-year-old Davis still cut a striking pose. He was equal parts genius, historic figure, rabble-rouser and, to some, villain. He was one of the great figures of the NFL, both as a Hall of Famer and agitator.
The then-39-year-old Bisciotti was fascinated. In the years after, Bisciotti paid Davis great respect, visiting him whenever the Ravens and Raiders play.
"Al is this magnetic personality, just so brilliant in everything about football and I immediately thought to myself, I want to really pick his brain, try to learn from him," Bisciotti said. "So I introduce myself and say, 'Al, I would really love to come out to California and sit down with you sometime, just talk about football.' I told him I had some meetings out in California, so I'd like to come over and see him. I really didn't have any meetings out there, but I figured it was a good excuse.
"I remember it so distinctly because we were standing in this hall just outside the meeting room. Down at the far end was all the media, and we were just stopped there for a second. Al looked at me, smiled and said, 'No, kid, you don't want to be associated with me.' "
[Photos: Al Davis through the years]
Of course, Bisciotti didn't become a billionaire without persistence.
"I said, 'No, Al, I really mean it.' He just looked at me, put his hand on my arm to make the point even stronger and said, 'No, I really mean it.' Then he just walked down the hall and disappeared into this group of reporters. I just stood there with my mouth open thinking, 'What just happened here?' It took me awhile, but I realized, in his own way, Al was protecting me. At the time, he was doing something to cause trouble in the league, suing the league, causing some controversy. He was telling me, 'You don't want to be associated with me from the start.' "