Raiders owner Mark Davis has decided to fire the team’s P.R. director, a year after new G.M. Reggie McKenzie hired him. Gilbert, in response to a move that many in the NFL media are criticizing, has opted for the high road.
Here’s his statement, which has appeared elsewhere but which he specifically forwarded to PFT: “I’d like to thank Mark Davis for the honor of serving the Raiders, and Reggie McKenzie for hiring me. I leave holding my chin up, knowing I dedicated every waking hour to promoting a positive image for our team. The co-workers in my Raiders family are extraordinary; the camaraderie we built was really special. Talking to Raiders fans on a weekly basis, I learned first-hand that their passion and loyalty is unmatched. I have great respect for the team’s history and took seriously the role of preserving it. Although disappointed that I can’t remain on the ride, I wish Reggie and Dennis Allen absolutely nothing but success in a bright future.”
According to Vic Tafur of the San Francisco Chronicle, owner Mark Davis wasn’t pleased with the manner in which he and his late father, Al, were portrayed in an April Sports Illustrated item about the current state of the franchise. After twice reviewing the entire article, a thorough and well-written analysis from Jim Trotter, I still couldn’t find anything about which Mark Davis fairly should have been upset.
Indeed, he met with Trotter and gave Trotter quotes — quotes in which Mark Davis admits that it ultimately was his decision to trade for Carson Palmer, and in which Mark Davis admits to having no expertise regarding football operations. Unless Gilbert promised Mark Davis that it would be a puff piece and that Trotter wouldn’t use anything Davis said that remotely could be construed as embarrassing or negative (which almost never happens), Davis has no legitimate beef with Gilbert.
Mark Davis is 57, and he’s been around football long enough to know that when someone speaks on the record, anything they say can and will be used against him, especially if it helps craft a compelling story.
The only nugget about the late Al Davis that seemed potentially inflammatory came from an unsourced account of an agent taking advantage of a coughing attack to inflate when discussions resumed the agreed amount of a player’s guaranteed money by $1 million. Given the current legal entanglements being experienced by Browns owner Jimmy Haslam, the agent in question could in theory be prosecuted for fraud. (We’re only partially kidding.)
Still, that information doesn’t make Al Davis look bad. It makes him look sympathetic, something that rarely happened during his tenure as the team’s owner.
Mark Davis seems to be on that same path. In the Trotter article, Mark Davis makes it clear that, beyond G.M. Reggie McKenzie, no one is safe. Gilbert found that out recently, and if Tafur’s report regarding the reason is true, Raiders fans should get ready for plenty more dysfunction in the coming years.