Thoughts and Reaction: How The Raiders Moved To Vegas

Nov 21, 2016; Mexico City, MEX; Oakland Raiders owner Mark Davis reacts before a NFL International Series game against the Houston Texans at Estadio Azteca. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports
Nov 21, 2016; Mexico City, MEX; Oakland Raiders owner Mark Davis reacts before a NFL International Series game against the Houston Texans at Estadio Azteca. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports /

Thoughts and reaction from an ESPN story on the details behind the scenes of the Oakland Raiders approved relocation to Las Vegas.

ESPN The Magazine recently ran a story by Don Van Natta and Seth Wickersham, which detailed the events surrounding the Oakland Raiders approved relocation to Las Vegas. The news has understandably dominated sports headlines, and the column by Van Natt and Wickersham is filled with interesting insight and behind-the-scenes nuggets.

The Davis Legacy

Many fans and media observers alike continue to believe that this move was “all about the money”, but for Mark Davis, it’s more complicated than that. It was about something that can’t be bought — it was about legacy.

For years, the late Al Davis had hoped to build a new stadium in Oakland. But after years of battle with the city, that never came to fruition. And the task of getting the Raiders a new stadium to play in was passed onto Mark when Al passed away.

Upon meeting Las Vegas based billionaire Sheldon Adelson, Davis startled Adelson with a surprising admission. Davis told him that he didn’t care about money.

"“I don’t want to make any money,” Davis told Adelson, moments after their introduction. “I just want to protect my dad’s legacy.”“Well, I do things to make money,” Adelson replied. “I don’t understand that. Everyone wants to make money.”"

Depiste the NFL’s long-time opposition of sports gambling, Davis still managed to get a deal done, gaining public funding, a major loan, and with all of that, the graces of his 31 peers. But before that, Davis had failed to gain approval for the Carson stadium project — something that stuck with him.

"“I finished third in a three-horse race” -Davis on the L.A. relocation debacle"

Politics and Relocation

Adelson was obviously a key factor in the move to Vegas, even though he wasn’t there at the finish line. The relationship between Davis and Adelson seemed tumultuous at times, but at the end of the day, Davis gained the approval of Adelson to let this move happen, even if he wasn’t involved.

That last part is an important note to this story, as there were reports that Adelson would block the move if he wasn’t involved. But fortunately for Mark, that never happened.

"“Adelson was playing by his own rules – and Davis tried to as well. He had learned firsthand the lasting lesson from Stan Kroenke’s relocation of the Rams, with Jones serving as lead blocker: To control your own destiny, you need the land for a stadium. Don’t wait for approval from the league. Just go.”"

The consensus as to why Adelson backed out is because he wanted ownership of the team. But as Mark said to Adelson in their first meeting, his primary concern was his Father’s legacy. So that wasn’t going to happen.

Jerry Jones

By now, it’s well known that Jerry Jones played an important role in making all of this happen. As the biggest voice in the room of the NFL Owners, this move doesn’t happen without the approval of Jerry.

"“Through his own brand of stubborn genius and a little bit of luck – and with a major assist from Jerry Jones, who played six different roles – Davis outmaneuvered everyone”"

In the fallout of Adelson’s exit and Davis being subsequently ridiculed in the media for “screwing up” what looked like a sure thing, Jones scrambled to put together investors and flexed his influence over other NFL owners in getting a stadium deal done, and finally at the owners’ meeting in Phoenix to get it approved.

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Despite getting some help from what many in Raider Nation see as a rival in the Cowboys’ owner, Mark was able to finally secure a new a stadium and accomplish something his legendary and maverick father never could — partnership and agreement with the NFL.