Las Vegas Raiders: Mark Davis has been invisible when it matters

Aug 14, 2021; Paradise, Nevada, USA; Las Vegas Raiders manager Jon Gruden (second from left) celebrates with fans after defeating the Seattle Seahawks at Allegiant Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Orlando Ramirez-USA TODAY Sports
Aug 14, 2021; Paradise, Nevada, USA; Las Vegas Raiders manager Jon Gruden (second from left) celebrates with fans after defeating the Seattle Seahawks at Allegiant Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Orlando Ramirez-USA TODAY Sports /

The Las Vegas Raiders have gone through a tough time the last week, and team owner Mark Davis has once again been invisible.

On Friday morning it looked like the Las Vegas Raiders were ready to rebound against a below-average Chicago Bears team and try to improve to 4-1. Then, the Wall Street Journal reported that Head Coach Jon Gruden reportedly used racist remarks to describe NFLPA President DeMaurice Smith in emails sent in 2011.

Gruden apologized for the emails, but the Raiders came out flat and disinterested in the game and lost with questions on where the team’s focus lay.

Defensive end Yannick Ngakoue responded after the games to questions about Gruden with “no comment”, while other players were supportive of their coach. The next day, the New York Times reported that Gruden used homophonic and misogynistic statements as well and he soon resigned.

This raised questions about how Gruden even coached on Sunday after Owner Mark Davis had all of these emails in possession.

This was the first questionable decision for Davis in terms of optics. How do you let Gruden coach after these comments and the ones you knew were coming? Then how do you not make a stronger statement by firing Gruden rather than accepting his resignation?

Davis didn’t even condone Gruden’s words or actions. Davis simply made a statement accepting the resignation and appointing Rich Bisaccia as interim head coach.

This continues Mark Davis’ questionable leadership. Aside from the questions as to why these emails were leaked now after the NFL possessed them for nearly a year, or why none of the other 650,000 emails leaked, or why Gruden was the only one to take the fall for the Washington Football Team’s investigation.

It begs to question, is Mark Davis fit to run an NFL organization?

To Davis’ credit, he did get the Raiders to a state-of-the-art stadium in Vegas, but what else has he done? He hired Reggie McKenzie and Dennis Allen and Jack Del Rio, all were mostly failures aside from a fluky 2016 playoff run. He brought Gruden out of the broadcast booth, gave him full control of the organization, and all he got was a below .500 record, questionable decisions, and a controversy that stains the Raiders sacred shield.

Davis is someone who has repeatedly preached inclusion and equality. He voiced support for Carl Nassib when he came out as the first openly gay NFL player. He leads a franchise that has been trailblazers, from hiring the first African American Head Coach, the first Woman Executive, the first Latino Head Coach, and an organization that preaches Once a Raider, Always a Raider.

Is Jon Gruden going to always be a Raider?

The Raiders are a proud franchise, one that continues to honor every member of its organization, through bricks that built this stadium in Las Vegas, yet Jon Gruden swindled and blinded Davis. Mark Davis hung onto what Gruden did with this team 20+ years ago. His father, Al Davis, saw through Gruden.

Davis gave Gruden the keys and he didn’t crash the car, he drove it off a bridge, not just the football, but the whole organization.

The Raiders lack leadership

My question is, where is Davis? He seems to be a boy who lost his favorite thing in the world and is now depressed and hiding, rather than taking a leadership role. He is waiting for Bisaccia to address the media, rather than have himself, the longest-tenured, blood of this storied organization, face the music. It is embarrassing, it is weak, and it is unsurprising.

Davis continues to hide. He made Jack Del Rio announce his own firing. He never discussed the Khalil Mack trade, or the Antonio Brown fiasco, or the lack of success since his ownership tenure began. Davis never even talked when Derek Carr broke his leg in 2016 and then the team’s first good season in 15 years was destroyed.

Where is Davis now? Where is PR director Will Kiss? Kiss should be urging Davis to take responsibility during a crisis, it’s the first thing they teach you in PR.

Davis needs to stand with his players if there’s any hope in continuing this season, but it seems he won’t. When asked for comment, he said to ask the NFL, that they have the answers. That is not the kind of response you would expect from the owner of such a proud franchise.

Mike Mayock and Rich Bisaccia took the podium and spoke like leaders, giving hope that this franchise is in the right hands moving forward at head coach and general manager. But how long with that last?

Who knows how the team will respond after a tumultuous weekend and early week. How could they focus and recover and make a run? By all accounts, Bisaccia is a beloved coach and he could right this ship in time to make the playoffs, but more than likely this will kill the season and there’s no one to blame but Mark Davis.