Mark Davis

Roger Goodell says NFL will look at improving Rooney Rule, diversity hiring


Roger Goodell says NFL will look at improving Rooney Rule, diversity hiring

ORLANDO, Fla. – The NFL concluded that the Raiders did not violate the Rooney Rule when hiring head coach Jon Gruden. The Fritz Pollard Alliance, which promotes diversity hiring in the NFL, vehemently disagreed.

The Raiders interviewed minority candidates Tee Martin and Bobby Johnson for their head coaching vacancy, well after widespread knowledge owner Mark Davis was bringing Gruden back.

The Raiders obeyed the letter of the Rooney Rule, which demands at least one minority candidate be interviewed for head coach and GM jobs, but many believe they violated its spirit.

That prompted a question to NFL commissioner Roger Goodell about whether the Rooney Rule would be re-examined in the future.

“I think our efforts in this area we have to look at more broadly, because it’s not just about the Rooney Rule,” Goodell said Wednesday at the end of the NFL owners meetings. “Our efforts never were. I think it’s an important, fundamental element of that, but I think it’s more broad. How do we create the opportunities and do everything to train and give people experience to advance their careers? We have to do that with a tremendous focus on diversity, so we have people performing at the highest levels. That’s a core value of who we are and what we do. That will come in multiple forms.

“Will we look at the Rooney Rule to see if we can improve it? Absolutely. Are we going to look at training methods to give coaches and GMs and others in our operation better opportunities to expand their roles? That’s what we do very well. We’ll look at all of that.”

The Raiders have been leaders in diversity hiring for decades. They had the NFL’s first African-American head coach, the first Latino head coach and the first female CEO.

Davis' 'biggest challenge' is Raiders serving Oakland market while prepping for Vegas move


Davis' 'biggest challenge' is Raiders serving Oakland market while prepping for Vegas move

ORLANDO, Fla. -- The Raiders plan to spend the next two seasons in Oakland. Owner Mark Davis doesn’t want to leave the East Bay until his new Las Vegas Stadium is complete in Aug. 2020.

They have a one-year lease option to play at Oakland Coliseum. Davis wants to remain there in 2019, though a new agreement must be reached for that year.

The Silver and Black will continue serving two markets, as they practice and play in Oakland while moving forward with new digs, ticket sales and increase community outreach.

The Raiders, Davis in particular, have been careful to pay homage to the Bay Area market they still call home, even while so much focus on the business side is honed on Las Vegas.

It’s a delicate balance Davis must walk to keep his Raider Nation intact.

“I said a few years ago that it was the biggest challenge,” Davis said on Sunday at the NFL owners meetings. “Right now, we’re serving the Oakland market. The fans there, and the Raider Nation is what we’re serving. We have never deviated from that, and we have great respect for everyone up there.”

The Raiders remain an Oakland team. They don’t sell Las Vegas Raiders merchandise, even in Sin City, but have increased community outreach in Nevada. They have opened a Raiders Preview Center in the market that acts as a museum and shows plans for a new stadium being constructed off the Las Vegas Strip.

Ticket demand is high. The Raiders have taken 50,000 deposits on season tickets, a monster number that shows the draw of an NFL team in that market. The team has started selling suites and is starting to open up club seats for purchase.

Oakland Raiders fans, however, will get first crack at seats in the new place.

“All current season ticket holders have first priority coming in, which is different that how others have done it,” Davis said. “From there, we’ll move into the local market.”

Davis has great affinity for the East Bay and Oakland in particular, and saying he wants to win a championship before moving away isn’t lip service. He’s passionate about that quest.

“The Raiders were born in Oakland, and that will always be part of our DNA,” Davis said. “No matter where we go, that was our home. That’s where we started.”

The Raiders moved to Los Angeles for a time, returned to Oakland and are leaving again after landing a sweetheart stadium deal that includes $750 million in public funds. The Raiders are assuming the cost of a significant portion of the $1.8-billion project, which will get final approval at these owners meetings.

Davis wasn’t able to secure a deal in Oakland, where publics funds weren’t available beyond infrastructure improvements. They were mired in a complex situation with MLB’s Athletics also on the Oakland Coliseum site, and at times butted heads with local politicians. Those exchanges remain a point of frustration for the Raiders owner, but he chooses to focus on making the most of his remain time in Oakland.

Local TV ratings are down, but Raiders fans still show up in droves on game day and create a home-field environment. Focus there is on football, not the fact the Raiders are moving again.

“It has been interesting,” Davis said. “I expected more blowback than we’re received. There’s a vocal part of the fan base that is really angry, but 99.9 percent of it is positive. It’s been amazing to me how great our fans have been. I’m seeing less and less of the anger every day.”

The transition from Oakland to Las Vegas can be an awkward one, asking for support from a community you’re leaving to join another. Davis understands that fact. He understands the anger and frustration and is trying to be as forthright as possible and explain to fans exactly why he’s making decisions.

“I’ve always tried to be honest and transparent,” Davis said. “I think people have been surprised the last two years that we’ve sold that stadium out. The key thing is to be honest (with fans).”

Even with football stability and new stadium in the works, Davis can't kick back


Even with football stability and new stadium in the works, Davis can't kick back

ORLANDO, Fla. – Mark Davis had one crazy year. The Raiders were approved to relocate to Las Vegas over a year ago at the NFL owners meetings in Phoenix, and comes to the annual event looking for final approval on a $1.8 billion stadium and financing plan for new digs just off the Las Vegas Strip.

Davis expects a formal vote will come Tuesday. It’ll rubber stamp a new venue that was essentially approved with relocation, but dotted I's and crossed T's won’t mean Davis can kick back.

Neither will unprecedented stability within the Raiders organization. Davis has head coach Jon Gruden on a 10-year contract. General manager Reggie McKenze has a few years left on his deal. Franchise quarterback Derek Carr has a big money deal. Khalil Mack will have one soon.

And, for the first time since the 1960s, the Raiders will have a new stadium to increase revenues. The stadium should be done in Aug. 2020. Davis said Sunday that he isn’t looking that far ahead. He is comfortable, but not yet satisfied with the Raiders’ lot.

“I have great people on the football side with Jon and Reggie and I have great people on the business side with president Marc (Badain) leading the way,” Davis said during a 30-miunte interview. “We have a good foundation right now. We’re heading in the right direction as an organization, but I still can’t just put my feet up. The ground breaking was great. The ribbon cutting will be better. Maybe I can relax after that.”

The Raiders will remain in Oakland until the new stadium is built. They will exercise their one-year lease option to play at Oakland Coliseum for the 2018 season, but don’t have 2019 locked down yet.

Davis wants to play 2019 at the Oakland Coliseum as well, but a lease hasn’t yet been worked out. The Raiders have spoken to the Oakland Coliseum site’s joint powers authority about a deal for 2019, but that deal isn’t done.

“We want to play there, but they have to be reasonable as well,” Davis said. “We’ll see. We haven’t gotten into serious taking stages. It’s not a problem finding a place to play for a year, but we seriously want to play that in Oakland and bring a championship to that city.”