Our good friend Mike Silver of Yahoo! Sports has penned yet another intriguing and thought-provoking item. This one focuses on the possible reasons for the termination of Raiders coach Hue Jackson.
Silver’s theory is that Jackson knew too much about how poorly late owner Al Davis used to treat his son, Mark Davis, and that Mark Davis wants to remove from the organization anyone with direct knowledge of those interactions. “To project an image of authority,” Silver writes, “Mark Davis needs to surround himself with employees who didn’t see him routinely disparaged and condescended to by his legendary father.”
Silver believes that Mark Davis is the classic Chris Farley (pictured) character known simply as “Tommy Boy,” and that Mark Davis couldn’t stomach “the thought of presiding over a team with a brash, intelligent and charismatic coach who knew how dismissively his father used to treat him.”
It’s funny and it’s fresh and it’s clever, but it’s also quite possibly dead wrong.
Upon the passing of his father, Mark Davis promptly sought the counsel of John Madden and Ron Wolf for assistance in finding the right person to assume the reins of the football organization, and Mark Davis accepted their advice that Reggie McKenzie is the right man for the job. Silver criticizes Mark Davis for not going through the motions of interviewing other candidates, praising 49ers owner Jed York for doing the same thing last year when a stream of second-tier possibilities rolled through the offices at a time when everyone knew Trent Baalke was getting the job. But York was, in the opinion of many, simply was setting up a phony competition that Baalke would be able to win. Mark Davis decided not to waste time and money by bringing in a bunch of guys with no shot at the job, something Al Davis routinely did when hiring a coach, if only to pick their brains regarding the things other teams do.
Moving forward, Silver thinks that Mark Davis will urge McKenzie to dump any members of the football operation who know about the way that Al Davis supposedly used to mistreat Mark Davis. If that happens, then perhaps Silver’s theory is right. If it doesn’t happen, then Silver’s hypothesis is wrong.
For now, Mark Davis deserves the benefit of the doubt. Mark Davis acknowledged on Tuesday that he knows what he doesn’t know, a rare trait among NFL owners who think that knowing a lot about something other than football gives them the ability to figure out a game that is far more difficult than it looks on TV. By all appearances, Mark Davis has handed the keys to McKenzie, and Mark Davis plans to get out of the way.
Likewise, the annual sense of urgency that often characterizes the latter years of an aging NFL owner’s life likely will evaporate now, with a longer-term view of the franchise replacing the continuous tweaking that Al Davis surely felt compelled to do in order to get one more Lombardi Trophy during his lifetime.
And maybe, in the end, Mark Davis is opting not to “kneecap” (as Silver puts it) guys like Hue Jackson because they know too many embarrassing facts about Mark Davis. Maybe Mark Davis opted to move on from Hue Jackson because Hue Jackson behaved too much like Al Davis — and maybe Mark Davis believes the Raiders can be run without big egos, hot tempers, or dismissive comments.
Maybe Mark Davis really is Tommy Boy. In the end, however, Tommy Boy figured out how to save the company. If Mark Davis, like so many other owners smart enough to know the limitations of their abilities do, defers to the football experts, the company owned by Al Davis may not only survive, but once again thrive.