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Tuesday, June 18, 2013


Will Ferrell Pictured with Ben Davidson at the Cancer for College Craft Beer Bus benefit.

"Big" Ben Davidson, renowned for his 1960s exploits as an Oakland Raider Defensive End, as well as his enormous frame, grandiose mustache and his famed Miller Lite commercials, was obsessed with collecting cans, and bottles, during his travels as both a professional football player and devoted family man.

    The six foot eight three-time AFL All Star and member of the AFL Hall of Fame began his football career with the Green Bay Packers — and that year the team won the NFL championship. Davidson later landed in the AFL with the Raiders, an iconoclastic team full of larger than life personalities and renegades, Davidson among them. Davidson played in Super Bowl II, three AFL championship games and the first AFC championship game. Davidson was part of the "Eleven Angry Men" defense that set the record for sacks in a season with 73 and made the Raiders the most notorious team in football.

    Davidson's formidable physical presence and equally tremendous personality made him a natural for Hollywood, starting with Robert Altman's "M*A*S*H" in 1970. He can be seen in the movies Conan the Barbarian and Necessary Roughness, as well as innumerous television guest star appearances from Charlies' Angels to Happy Days.

    But his most famous role was as himself in more than two dozen commercials for Miller Lite— he was, alongside Rodney Dangerfield and Bubba Smith, part of the popular, long-running "Tastes great, less filling" campaign that Advertising Age called the eighth-best advertising campaign of the 20th century.

    Despite his relationship with Miller Lite, Ben loved craft beer and could often be seen in Blind Lady telling stories of his travels while sipping a local IPA. It was on just such an occasion that we met Ben and learned about his extensive collection. After sharing a few beers the offer was given: if we display them, we can have them.

    Davidson spent his post-football years traveling the world with his friends and family including his wife of over 50 years, Kathy, and his three daughters— Janella, Dana and Vicky. An amazing storyteller, those adventures took him, on motorcycle, to the Panama Canal and around the US in a four-month adventure with fellow former Raider Tom Keating, but also on bicycle and in motorhomes, traipsing his family to all corners of the world.