Mark Davis: If Vegas delivers, 'we'll be the Las Vegas Raiders'


Mark Davis: If Vegas delivers, 'we'll be the Las Vegas Raiders'

UPDATE (12pm on Thursday, April 28) -- The Raiders issued the following statement:

"The Raiders would like to thank the Southern Nevada Tourism Infrastructure Committee and Mayor Goodman for their time today as we continue to explore options for a permanent stadium solution. We appreciate the support and passion of Raiders fans everywhere."


Raiders owner Mark Davis delivered some big news on Thursday. He stepped to the podium and said, “I’m excited to announce here today the 14th pick in the NFL Draft…”

Davis didn’t finish that sentence. It was far too early to know whom the Raiders would make their first-round pick. Plus, he was in the wrong state.

[BAIR: Raiders' draft slot makes Reggie McKenzie's job 'harder']

Davis attended the Southern Nevada Tourism and Infrastructure Committee meeting in Las Vegas, and made a pledge that could impact the organization far more than any single draft pick.

Davis promised to work on relocating the Raiders to a $1.3 billion domed stadium proposal near the Las Vegas Strip if formally approved by the Nevada state legislature, and he backed it up with cash. Davis said Thursday morning that the Raiders would commit $500 million to the project, which also received support from MLS owner and soccer icon David Beckham.

The Raiders’ $500 million was the same originally offered to build an Oakland stadium, a figure that includes a $200 million loan from the NFL’s G4 program.

“Together we can turn the Silver State into the Silver-and-Black State,” Davis said at the SNTIC meeting.

Davis said this commitment was not just a leverage ploy.

“This is not a bargaining chip,” Davis said in a press conference. “…This is real.”

The proposed Las Vegas stadium is backed by some powerful folks. Las Vegas Sands Corp. is pushing this project in partnership with Ed Roski’s Majestic Realty. Roski long tried to build a Los Angeles NFL stadium in the City of Industry.

A total of $650 million would come from private sources, with the rest from the public via $50 million annual blocks from taxes on tourists.

The Las Vegas stadium proposal could house the Raiders, the UNLV football team, concerts and other large sporting events.

Davis’ backing is key to the stadium’s viability.

"We have made a commitment to Las Vegas and that's where it stands,” Davis said, via ESPN. “If Las Vegas can come through ... we'll be the Las Vegas Raiders."

Las Vegas is the country’s No. 41 media market with a local fan base far smaller than the Bay Area. Las Vegas is a tourist hub drawing outsiders to town with legalized gambling and lavish resorts. Raiders fans are a transient group, and Davis’ hope is that fans follow the team to a possible new locale.

“Las Vegas would not just be getting a football team,” Davis said. “They would be getting everyone who has worn the silver and black for the last 56 years.”

The SNTIC cannot approve a stadium project. It can be expected to make a recommendation to the state legislature. The Nevada State Legislature isn't scheduled to meet until Feb. 2017, though stadium proponents said Thursday they hoped to arrange a special August meeting vote on public funding for this project. 

A new Raiders locale requires approval from 24 NFL owners. Any relocation must be validated with a three-quarters approval vote of the membership, something that isn’t guaranteed given the league’s aversion to direct association with legalized gambling. Las Vegas hasn’t been considered a viable market for that reason, though there is some sentiment among owners willing to look past the gambling connection.

“I wouldn’t phrase it by saying there won’t be any problems,” Davis said in a press conference. “I would say that we would make them an offer they can’t refuse.”

Davis has been looking for a long-term stadium solution for year. He partnered with the Chargers on a stadium proposal in the Los Angeles suburb of Carson, but lost out to the Rams’ Inglewood project.

The Raiders have an opportunity to join the Rams in Inglewood if the Chargers, who have higher L.A. priority, decided to stay in San Diego.

Davis seems to prefer the Las Vegas market and greater control on stadium design – he values ingress, egress and a quality tailgating environment -- and outside revenue.

The Raiders signed a one-year lease extension with Oakland-Alameda Coliseum for 2016, with two one-year lease extensions built in. There has been little to no progress trying to build a new facility in the East Bay. Team and public officials seem stuck over the cost of land on the Coliseum site and where the MLB’s Oakland Athletics fit into a new development. The A’s also play at the Oakland Coliseum.

UNLV’s Sam Boyd Stadium is not a viable interim NFL stadium site, so the team could remain in Oakland under their recently approved lease extension options while a new Las Vegas Stadium is built. Davis did say the Raiders would play an exhibition game at Sam Boyd Stadium during that time.

Irvin, Mack given a day off from Raiders practice


Irvin, Mack given a day off from Raiders practice

ALAMEDA – Khalil Mack and Bruce Irvin were out at Raiders practice Wednesday for the stretching period. Both edge rushers left one-at-a-time during the individual period, which was open to the press, headed into the main building and did not return.

There was no perceived reaction, certainly no surprise, from the coaching staff or players on the field. Irvin and new defensive coordinator John Pagano were seen joking around on the field before practice began in earnest. 

Both Irvin and Mack were given a practice off. A Raiders official called it a day off/rest-type day that was not injury related. The Silver and Black typically practice in pads or shells on Wednesday, but were in jerseys and sweats in the interest of recovery.

This day off's timing did raise an eyebrow.

Wednesday marked the first practice Irvin has missed since training camp. Mack hasn’t missed one in months.

Mack and Irvin’s downtime also came a day after beloved defensive coordinator Ken Norton’s firing.

Several defensive players were upset about Norton's firing, but Mack and Irvin especially were among those loyal to Norton. Mack and Norton developed a bond after the coach was named defensive coordinator in 2015. Norton and Irvin go way back to their days together in Seattle. Irvin credits Norton for helping him get on the right path and stay there.

Neither player was happy Norton got the axe. Irvin made his displeasure clear, tweeting “BULLS***” shortly after news of Norton’s demise broke. Mack told ESPN “I like to keep my thoughts private.” Defensive stars declined comment Wednesday or didn't appear in the locker room when the media was present. 

It isn’t immediately clear if the non-injury related day off was related to Norton’s dismissal. Head coach Jack Del Rio won’t speak to the media again until Friday. New defensive coordinator John Pagano is scheduled to speak Thursday afternoon.

Del Rio addressed the media before Wednesday’s practice, and was asked how he’ll handle players unhappy with the in-season shake-up.

“I don’t try and 'handle' them,” Del Rio said. “I think the biggest thing is to understand the relationship, respect that, give him a little space and then at the end of the day, we’re going to get on with our work. But, I’m human. It wasn’t easy for me either.”

Del Rio: 'Nobody should feel comfortable,' following Norton firing


Del Rio: 'Nobody should feel comfortable,' following Norton firing

ALAMEDA – Raiders head coach Jack Del Rio put out a statement Tuesday explaining why he fired defensive coordinator Ken Norton Jr.

He went into greater detail Wednesday afternoon, his first time facing the media since a change was made

Specifics will be discussed further down this story. We don’t, however, want to bury the lede.

Del Rio’s main message wasn’t about Norton. It applied to all in Silver and Black. This season has not met lofty expectations. That is unacceptable.

“I know one thing,” Del Rio said. “Nobody should feel comfortable, because what I’ve been watching is not good enough.”

Del Rio didn’t absolve himself from blame. Norton got fired, but everyone has played a part in this disappointing 4-6 record.

“It’s always shared,” Del Rio said. “A change was made, obviously. We all share in it, all of us, starting with me. It’s coaches and players. It’s a team game, and we’re all in it together. And nobody is coming to help us.”

The Raiders must look inward to start a prolonged winning streak they’ve shown little evidence they can create.

The seat will be warm under players and coaches alike, even if only one change was made. Expect further shakeup on the coaching staff after the season, if vast improvements don’t come down the stretch, possibly with several position coaches being shown the door. More than a few higher profile players could be cut or allowed to leave, especially on defense.

While Del Rio has taken more heat the past month than at any other time in his Raiders tenure, expect him to be around a longer term. He was given a contract extension in February, and has significant capitol built after changing the culture in Oakland and re-teaching this team how to win. One bad year, even if this season continues heading downhill, shouldn’t erase that.

Del Rio was looking to shake things up, and Norton was the obvious move. Experienced play caller John Pagano was on staff – he was Chargers defensive coordinator from 2012-2016 – and firing the popular Pagano’s style could create some new waves and looks that any offensive Norton would make an impact in the locker room and prove this story’s opening quote, that no one should feel comfortable.

Del Rio hopes firing Norton will be a shock to the defense’s system.

“I really felt like I needed to shake things up,” Del Rio said. “We couldn’t continue doing what we’ve been doing to this point. So I made the call. The whole idea is to change what we’re doing and make sure…what I’m looking for at the end of the day is for us to play fast on defense. We weren’t playing fast enough. We weren’t playing confident enough.”