Raiders owner Mark Davis has broken his silence. When it comes to his decision to fire P.R. director Zak Gilbert, however, it’s not clear what Davis is saying.
In a 2.5-hour interview with Monte Poole of the Bay Area News Group, Davis apparently didn’t explain precisely why he fired Gilbert. If Davis did, the reason didn’t make its way into the final article.
While the dismissal of the franchise’s mouthpiece has no relevance to wins and losses, the concern raised by many in the wake of the move was that, because G.M. Reggie McKenzie hand-picked Gilbert, the decision to fire Gilbert represents a shot across the bow at McKenzie. Not so, Davis says.
“Reggie understands why I made the decision I made,” Davis said. “Look, I understand what Reggie is trying to do. Reggie’s fine. He’s the one guy that I’ve hired. I’ve got to give him room to do his job.”
Still, to the extent the Sports Illustrated article that reportedly prompted Davis to exile Gilbert for several weeks before firing him arose from the common organizational narrative that McKenzie is merely cleaning up the mess that others (i.e., Al Davis and Mark Davis) made, the man who benefits most from the inevitably objectionable message pushed by Gilbert (i.e., McKenzie) would seem to be on less sturdy ground than believed.
Making the situation even more confusing is a concession from Mark Davis that Gilbert did his job well.
“I’ll agree with that,” Davis said. “I believe he did.”
The simplest and most obvious of questions either wasn’t asked or, for whatever reason, was omitted from the article. It’s pretty simple. Did you fire Gilbert because of the Sports Illustrated article? If so, what’s the connection between the content or tone of the article and any act or omission by Gilbert that made him worthy of being fired?
The failure to ask or answer that question does nothing to eradicate the impression that Davis will act irrationally or arbitrarily when it comes to employment decisions, firing people for things they didn’t do or outcomes for which they aren’t responsible. Even if McKenzie knows what really happened with Gilbert, others who work for the team need to know, too.
Otherwise, current employees will tiptoe on eggshells, and prospective employees with options will take jobs elsewhere.