New Raiders GM Reggie McKenzie said Tuesday at his introductory press conference that the firing of head coach Hue Jackson was a decision he made prior to his arrival at team headquarters.
McKenzie, the former L.A. Raiders linebacker who was hired last week after a long career in the Packers' front office, shared the podium with owner Mark Davis in a packed media room in Alameda.
McKenzie disclosed that when he interviewed he was told that the position of GM would include the power to hire and fire the coach. After accepting the job, McKenzie said he informed the team's owner of his intention to dismiss Jackson.
"No. 1, I want my guy. Everything is based on performance," McKenzie said. "But I go with my gut a lot, so when it's time to make the final call, my gut is going to tell me one thing. When I met, interviewed, with Mr. Davis, Mark told me the general manager would have the power to hire and fire the coach. Recently I let him know that I would like to move on from coach Jackson and began my search for a new coach -- and he was OK with that.
The new general manager said that he'd studied the Raiders and Jackson this year and had made up his mind about the coach's fate within "the last couple of days." The move came four days after the team announced McKenzie's hiring.
"The decision to move forward and where we are going into this new era, it's going to be a time for change," McKenzie said. "I felt there was a need for change at the head coaching position, from the top. We're moving into a new era. No disrespect to coach Jackson but this was something I wanted to do, start anew."
McKenzie spoke of reshaping the franchise with his vision and leadership.
"The legacy of the Raiders is steeped in tradition but with all things there comes a time when change is necessary and for the Raiders, that time is now," McKenzie said. "The Raiders organization, with respect and deference to all its tradition and history, is about to embark on a new era."
What exactly that entails is a quality that McKenzie will define. As it applies to the roster, it will include physical ability, of course, but intangibles will be a part of the process, according to the new GM.
"You want to make sure youve got productive, good football players," McKenzie said. "Its not totally talent. I want some guys who love to play the game, thats going to play hard, thats going to play tough. Thats what Im looking for. Im looking for some guys who want to play and want to win."
Asked about his role in the firing of Jackson and the hiring of McKenzie, Davis said the process of moving the Raiders forward was initiated by the death of his father, Al Davis, the team's longtime owner.
"Change happened on Oct. 8," Davis said, referencing the day of his father's passing. "And we had to bring this full-around. The one thing I do know is what I don't know. And the one thing I did know was I needed to bring the right people in here. I had the right people to consult with (former Packers GM) Ron Wolf and (former Raiders coach) John Madden, and those kind of people. We discussed a lot of things about the Raiders organization and which way it should go.
"And my feeling always has been that if my father wasn't here we needed somebody to run that football side of the building. And I needed to find the right person and I truly believe that Reggie McKenzie is the man for this job and I think you'll all see that as we go along."
Davis said he had a lot of respect for Jackson, that the coach had "brought a lot to this organization. But as Reggie said, it is time to move forward, and that's what we're going to do."