In most businesses where decisions are influenced by factors that for any number of reasons shouldn’t influence decisions (in other words, in all businesses), discretion is exercised. When it comes to the NFL and decisions made involving the Raiders, discretion flies out the window, apparently.
An excellent, thorough, and at times biting portrait of the modern NFL and its Commissioner from Mark Leibovich of the New York Times Magazine includes new details about the January 12 ownership meeting that resulted in the Rams getting the first L.A. golden ticket.
“Everybody wins in this deal,’’ Dolphins owner Stephen M. Ross said to reporters while leaving the meeting.
‘‘What about the fans of St. Louis?’’ he was asked.
‘‘Well, somebody has to lose,’’ Ross said.
The Raiders also lose, and for reasons not entirely related to business merit. The Raiders lose because their partners hold a grudge.
‘‘Oakland gets nothing,’’ Texans owner Robert McNair. ‘‘Al used to sue us all the time.’’
McNair didn’t even join the league until 2002, and yet his feelings about the litigiousness of a man who had been dead for more than four years are blunt and raw. How do the owners who actually lived through the worst of the legal battles feel?
The comments from McNair underscore a sense that has been percolating around the league for years. The Raiders won’t move to L.A. as long as Mark Davis owns the team.
For his part, Davis seems to think his status comes from a perception that he’s not nearly as rich as his billionaire colleagues.
‘‘Everyone thinks I have no money,” Davis told Leibovich. ‘‘But I’ve got $500 million and a team.’’
As long as Davis still has that team, that team likely won’t have a spot in L.A., even if the Chargers decide to stay in San Diego. And the league, based on the attitude expressed by McNair, won’t be likely to do Davis any favors as a result of the perceived sins of his father, who if anything was decades ahead of the curve in pushing back against a business model that, as it always has been constructed, potentially violates multiple federal antitrust laws on a regular basis.