For as long as Al Davis was at the helm of the Raiders ship the entire organization was shrouded in secrecy. Can’t fault Davis for his approach. He came up in an era when situations such as Spygate were not only routine but in many ways were encouraged. The win-at-all-costs mentality is still around in the modern era – as evident by Spygate – but since it’s a new age of media the old rules of shadow games simply no longer apply.
Unless it’s Oakland we’re talking about.
Until his passing, the Raiders were structured and run by Al Davis pretty much the same way for five decades. Press releases were rare. Most news trickled to the media weeks after it occurred. Hardly ever would you see a senior raking official engage in conversation about any goings on behind closed doors. And you almost never would have seen a line of questioning like Tyvon Branch fielded today which was later posted on the team’s official website.
That Branch would openly discuss his contract situation and how it might affect the team via a team source is a minor miracle of sorts. More importantly it is a testament to how much differently things are under the watchful eye of Mark Davis with Reggie McKenzie running the show on the ground floor.
The following answer from Branch really illustrates how much more transparent these new look Raiders are becoming.
Q: Did it enter your mind at all that it was important to sign a long-term deal so that the Raiders cap number would come down and they’d be able to sign some free agents?
Branch: I knew that my signing would help the cap, but I play football. I let my agent do all of the other stuff. I let him communicate with the front office guys. I just focus on my end and that’s playing football, working out, and being in shape.
Let that marinate in your mind for a minute. It might seem innocent but consider all the implications of the question. For one there is the open acknowledgement of the Raiders having serious cap constraints. That’s something that would have never been discussed openly by the organization let alone posted on the team’s website. If this were as recent as 2011 John Herrera would have denied there were an cap concerns then followed that up with a punch to the jaw of whoever asked the question.
Secondly you’ve got Branch giving the brutally honest answer of saying (in not so many words) “that’s a YP not an MP” with regards to helping the team to sign free agents. Again, another statement you’d be hard pressed to find under the Raider umbrella during the Al Davis regime.
Now let’s not get too carried away. Football is still a sport that is very much about secrecy so some things will never change. But anyone that’s followed the Raiders over the years knows that we’re entering a new and more open era of the Oakland Raiders. The wall is being torn down right before our eyes. It’s as refreshing as it is necessary.