The Raiders issued a statement Monday announcing general manager Reggie McKenzie no longer was with the team, but the words weren’t attached to anybody. It wasn’t coach Jon Gruden thanking McKenzie for his service, nor was it owner Mark Davis.
Gruden answered questions about McKenzie’s departure during his Monday press conference, but Davis didn’t say anything about it at first, though he was the one to let McKenzie go. He is, after all, the bosses’ boss.
Davis broke his silence on McKenzie’s firing in a brief Tuesday interview with NBC Sports California that focused solely on that topic.
“Reggie is a great person with a great family,” Davis said. “It was tough [to make the decision]. It was tough for him early on, but he was unselfish. He could’ve done some things for instant gratification, but he didn’t do that. He worked hard for our organization, and we are thankful for everything he did for the Raiders."
Davis is right -- it was tough early in McKenzie’s tenure, which started in 2012. The Raiders were in dire salary-cap straits, without many draft picks available to rebuild the roster. He made tough choices to get the team right financially, and he hit on enough draft picks to build a quality 12-4 squad in 2016.
Success wasn’t sustained, though, and it didn’t work with McKenzie and Gruden together this season despite Davis' best wishes that it would. Davis became close with McKenzie over the years as a friend, as well as in a business relationship, so the decision to fire the GM was difficult even with the 3-10 Raiders' struggles.
Davis will be involved in finding McKenzie’s replacement and the right executive to work with Gruden as he begins a roster rebuild this offseason.