So now that Mark Davis will formally apply to move the Raiders twice in two years, the second time with the news coming this morning under cover of hangover, maybe this was to convince the last few stragglers that Davis really wants to keep the team in Oakland.
This is not to say that if he actually gets approval to move his team to Las Vegas that he’s the only one you may be want to be angry at. Hell, be angry at whomever you want. We are an angry country right now, and there’s no reason why you shouldn’t get your piece of the bilious action.
But do not be fooled into thinking that Davis is being forced to leave by mean old Libby Schaaf and the Oakland political structure, or action malaprop Roger Goodell, who is already being blamed enough by his employers for turning Southern California into a hot mess with a side of tubercular phlegm, or Jed York, who benefits from the Raiders’ departure but otherwise is up to eyelids in his own problems, or that amorphous blob of media whose typing and speaking is singlehandedly responsible for all evil in the world, including this.
Mark Davis has craved escape from Oakland for years – some people within the NFL diaspora even suspect that he has wanted to go back to Los Angeles since the team left Los Angeles to go back to Oakland. The stadium debate, the lack of fear among the political class when confronted by moving threats, the lack of glamor, the absence of celebrities among which to frolic . . . it all allegedly added up to dissatisfaction
That has led not just to his totally expected filing but his eagerness to join Dean Spanos in the ill-fated Carson venture that ended a year ago but had already been more than a year in the forging.
The only real difference this time is that he has what most people think is an excellent chance to pull it off – as opposed to last time, when he was regarded as a hopeless and helpless tool of forces beyond his control.
The nettlesome piece of Sands Casino owner/stadium investor/putative-partner-bait Sheldon Adelson has not yet been solved, but Davis’ minions claim he can do the Vegas stadium deal (listed at $1.9 billion, though many people think it is considerably less) with or without Adelson. It is not yet clear what Adelson could do if he is cut out of the deal, since he has unimaginable throw-weight in town, but for the moment he is not a declared obstacle.
The next matter, the local political structure’s steadfast refusal to knuckle under to the NFL’s standard extortions, is a huge prod for his departure. The city didn’t really bother to do anything as regards the Coliseum, and when it belatedly and quarter-heartedly offered the Fortress Group as its agent for stadium construction, the league dismissed it out of hand because – well, because it wasn’t theirs, either by deed or by wink-and-nod.
This tends to fly in the face of the last-ditch Oakland-only supporters theory that Davis’ fellow owners are just setting him up for another massive humiliation. That possibility cannot yet be ascertained, and nobody has even lost money wagering on the NFL owners’ collective mendacity, but there is a sense among NFL observers (who in fairness also thought the Carson deal would happen) that Davis was told to cut his own deal, has cut his own deal, and should not now be punished for having done so.
But that’s still for the owners meetings March 26-29 in Phoenix. What we know is simply that Mark Davis has wanted to leave Oakland for at least two years and quite likely more, and he will now make it official a second time.
So if he ever dares to say he wanted to keep the team in Oakland but just couldn’t, you may rest assured that if he ever felt that way, it is now ancient history.