I don’t say this very often, though it happens far more often than I say it.
I was wrong.
And here’s something I say even less frequently: Mike Silver was right.
Rewind to January 2012. Silver, a good friend of the site and a well-respected figure in NFL media circles, penned (or at least typed) a body slam of new Raiders owner Mark Davis.
Silver compared Davis to “Tommy Boy,” the inept cinematic son who inherits the business from his father and proceeds to bungle everything. Silver believed that Davis would rid the organization of everyone who witnessed the manner in which the late Al Davis treated (or, as the case may be, mistreated) Mark.
When long-time Raiders CEO Amy Trask announced her resignation with the kind of blunt tone that suggested there was much that she was restraining herself from saying, I considered admitting defeat then. Now that Mark Davis has fired the P.R. director who was hired on the new owner’s watch, I’m ready to concede the point to the man whom former Raiders spin doctor John Herrera once defamed as the “smoke pot . . . smokin’ buddy” of Tim Kawakami.
Via Vic Tafur of the San Francisco Chronicle, the Raiders have parted ways with Zak Gilbert. Hired presumably at the strong recommendation of new G.M. Reggie McKenzie, Gilbert had (in our view) worked very hard to shed the aura of misguided secrecy that previously had emanated from Oakland. And Gilbert had done (in our view) a very good job of transforming the P.R. department into something resembling a non-dysfunctional media-relations operation, with press releases and cooperation and all the things that we come to take for granted from most of the other 31 teams.
According to Tafur, however, Mark Davis wasn’t pleased with the manner in which an April article in Sports Illustrated portrayed him. So Davis put Gilbert on leave while deciding what to do with him, and Davis has since decided to fire Gilbert.
Here’s the part where I gripe about old-media companies hiding two-month-old content behind a pay wall, since that’s where the link in Tafur’s story took me. I’ll otherwise keep looking for the story so I can see whether Davis has any legitimate reason to be upset. [UPDATE: Actually, we should have griped about Tafur linking to the pay-wall version of the story. It's currently available free of charge, which means that SI likely will survive in this new-media age longer than Pro Football Weekly. Oh.]
And here’s the part where I gripe about Mark Davis, who absent compelling evidence that Gilbert did something to encourage Sports Illustrated to write the story that painted Mark Davis and or his father’s final decade or ownership in a not-so-favorable light is being way too sensitive about widely-held opinions.
The widely-held opinions are that, since the team’s Super Bowl berth to cap the 2002 season, the Raiders have been trapped in a quagmire of dysfunction. From horrible free-agent decisions to abysmal draft picks to mismanagement of the salary cap to the “smoke pot . . . smokin’ buddy” attacks on the media, the Raiders became the NFL’s laughing stock.
By cleaning house and hiring his own G.M. and head coach, it seemed that Mark Davis realized drastic change was needed. That’s why we tried to downplay Silver’s take on the situation, assuming he was primarily trying to defend the oft-erratic coach Davis had fired, Hue Jackson.
Recent events, culminating with the termination of a P.R. director who was trying to lead the Silver and Black out of the dark ages, make us agree with Silver.
But we’re still not ready to compare Mark Davis to one of Chris Farley’s most memorable characters. After all, Tommy Boy finally gets his act together and saves the company.