Raiders Owner Mark Davis Crushes the NFL While Evoking Memories of His Dad Over the NFL’s Handling of the Jon Gruden Scandal
One of the most iconic images in NFL history is the late Raiders owner Al Davis stalking the sideline with his white jumpsuit, sunglasses, and slicked-back hair. Today, his son Mark Davis owns the team, but it seems like not much has changed. The Raiders are still involved in controversy, and a man named Davis is giving answers to the media that stick it to the NFL.
Raiders owner Al Davis was an NFL renegade
Al Davis is, without a doubt, one of the most interesting men to step on a football field. He not only owned the Raiders franchise — and won three Super Bowls with his teams — but also served as a coach and general manager along with being the commissioner of the AFL prior to the AFL/NFL merger, per NFL.com.
The originator of the famous phrase, “Just win, baby,” was also an agent of social change throughout his life in pro football. He hired the first Latino American head coach (Tom Flores), the first Black head coach (Art Shell), and the first female CEO (Amy Trask).
He also loved fighting with the NFL.
In 1980, he filed an antitrust lawsuit against the league to allow him to move the Raiders from Oakland to Los Angeles. He won that suit in 1982 and moved the team from Northern to Southern California.
A little more than a decade later, he moved the team back to the Bay area, suing the league twice more. The first lawsuit alleged the NFL “sabotaged the team’s effort to build a stadium at Hollywood Park in Inglewood.” The second claimed the Raiders still owned the rights to football in LA, even though the team was back in Oakland. Davis and the Raiders lost both these court cases.
The most “Al Davis” of all these legal issues came in 1986, though. That’s when the rival United States Football League sued the NFL under antitrust laws. Davis was the only NFL owner who sided with the USFL.
Davis died Oct. 8, 2011, and his son, Mark Davis, now owns the Raiders.
Mark Davis gave an answer about the on Gruden scandal his dad would be proud of
Mark Davis picked up right where his dad left off. He moved the Raiders to Las Vegas for the 2020 NFL season. Then, he pulled another move from Al’s playbook, hiring back former Raiders head coach Jon Gruden. This action reflected his father’s old adage, a Raider is a Raider for life.
That move by Mark Davis ultimately led to one more time-honored Raider tradition: headline-making controversy.
As part of an investigation into misconduct by the Washington Football Team, leaked emails came out that showed Gruden used racist, misogynistic, and homophobic language in emails from at least 2011 to 2018, per the New York Times.
Gruden resigned after the emails came out, saying in a statement, “I love the Raiders and do not want to be a distraction. Thank you to all the players, coaches, staff, and fans of Raider Nation. I’m sorry, I never meant to hurt anyone.”
Less than a month later, at the NFL Owner Meetings, Mark Davis is firing shots at the NFL for the Gruden scandal.
He never condoned Gruden’s language or disputed that he should have resigned. However, Mark Davis does take issue with the NFL’s handling of the emails, calling it a “timing issue,” per NFL Network’s Tom Pelissero.
The Raiders owner has also called on the NFL to issue a full written report on their investigation into the WFT and release the trove of 650,000-plus emails examined during it.
When asked if he felt that the Raiders were treated unfairly by the NFL as the only team to suffer public consequences from this scandal, Mark Davis gave the exact answer that his father likely would have if he were alive today.
“We’re the Raiders. We’re used to this.”
The Raiders look to keep their post-Gruden hot streak going after their bye week
The current incarnation of the Raiders football team is currently on what is likely a much-needed break from its 2021 season.
The 2021 Raiders go into their bye week 5-2, atop the AFC West.
It has been a tumultuous season on the field for the Raiders on the field this year as well. The squad started 3-0, with two dramatic overtime wins against the Baltimore Ravens in Week 1 and the Miami Dolphins in Week 3.
Back-to-back losses followed, including a lifeless 20-9 defeat by the lowly Chicago Bears in scandal-plagued Gruden’s last game as an NFL head coach.
Under interim head coach and former special teams coordinator Rich Bisaccia, Las Vegas has ripped off two wins in a row, drubbing both the Philadelphia Eagles and the Denver Broncos.
After the bye in Week 8, the Raiders will welcome the now 2-5 New York Giants to “the Death Star,” in a game that should be another W for the Silver and Black.
The schedule after that gets much tougher for Derek Carr and company. The season’s home stretch includes games against the Kansas City Chiefs (twice), Dallas Cowboys, Cincinnati Bengals, and Los Angeles Chargers.
If the team can produce a .500 record in these last 10 contests, it should be enough to get them into the playoffs. It would be the first time in the postseason since 2016 and just the second time since the franchise’s Super Bowl loss (to Jon Gruden and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers) in 2002.
While Al Davis would be appalled by Gruden’s emails, he would surely be thrilled with the Raiders’ response. Winning games in the midst of controversy to stick it to the NFL is what Mr. Raider himself was all about.