Davis says Gilbert firing not a shot at McKenzie


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.

23 responses to “Davis says Gilbert firing not a shot at McKenzie

  1. Al Davis fired Mike Shanahan, Lane Kiffin, and numerous others. Mark Davis did not renew the contract of an employee. There is a difference.

  2. The reasons for Gilbert not being retained are made pretty clear, actually. Read the article again. Pay particular attention to the third and last two paragraphs.

  3. If Gilbert did his job well, then he wasn’t fired for work-related reasons but for personal ones. If I were a Raiders fan I would be pissed because these are the reasons why certain coaches and players don’t want to go to Oakland…

  4. I’m willing to bet that this was a personal reason, they probably had a bump in at the water cooler and Gilbert said something that rubbed him the wrong way and it became a matter of principle that Davis let him go. We just don’t have the specifics, but all of the clues all along suggested this was not a performance-based decision and seems like Davis is confirming as much and giving us that extra hint.

    So the lesson here is sometimes it’s not business, it’s just personal, and if you want to work for this team then don’t personally annoy or piss off Mr. Davis in any direct way or indirectly with any opinions that he finds to be offensive. If you can’t adhere to that, then you might not be with the team for the long-term. Make your choice. Oh and don’t discuss politics around the workplace, that could be a danger topic.

  5. Gilbert’s contract was not renewed. He was not fired, he was not rehired. Why do you guys always do your best to mislead. He is no longer with the Raiders because he did not do a good job promoting the history of Al Davis and Raiders of old.

    We all know the story of McKenzie’s hire and the situation he was put in. Repeating it over and over to help protect McKenzie and keep hacks like those at ProFootballTalk happy is not the job description of PR Director to the Raiders.

    Like Gilbert’s slight of hand tactics ta allow McKenzie ample room for mistakes, your constent misinformation is getting old.

  6. trying to make a mountain out of a molehill eh…

    how about this he fired him because he can.(period)

    end of story …next….now name all 32 pr directors in the nfl….oh somebody is going to pass on the job…schucks

  7. Raider BEAT writers are awful and awfully bias. Michael Silver bleed hatred towards the Raiders after they fired his good friend Hue Jackson. So combine that with the fact that PR guys are generally very good to media types, you have complete animosity towards one person, Mark Davis.

  8. I don’t know much about this, if anything at all but … we are products of our environment. Mark saw how his father ran the club and it is my understanding that Mr. Davis, the elder, allowed no sort of dissension within the ranks of the Raiders. He demanded absolute loyalty to the team. Perhaps Mark has adopted this philosophy and did indeed have some sort of personal run-in or disagreement with Gilbert, so, bye-bye baby.

    Pure supposition on my part.

  9. Mark Davis made the correct decision in this move. So would Robert Kraft wouldn’t do the same thing? Lets say if a guy went to SI and said “yeah the pats cheated 5 years ago” You don’t think Kraft would of fired him?
    Mark Davis runs the show at the end of the day. This is the Raiders and that’s what he has shown Reggie who has been going around saying “it’s my team” McKenzie is not the owner. It’s funny McKenzie will say “It’s my team” but then not take the blame for their poor season last year, instead he blames Hue Jackson, a guy who brought the Raiders 1 play away from winning the west

  10. Despite what the critics may believe, the Raiders are headed in the right direction.

    Once they start winning I’m sure PFT will begin monitoring other PR firings throughout the league.

  11. How ironic is it that you guys bar comments critical of the job you do reporting and presenting what is really going on? Maybe your constant need to present the Raiders as archaic and petty is merely a projection of your own tendency to behave the same way?

    Once again: by this article you imply – albeit unintentionally – that Poole has done a poor job of interviewing Mark Davis, assuming that the question everyone in the world (or at least, in the Media World) would have asked simply wasn’t. Did he forget? Is he bad at his job? How dare I ask such an insolent question of the mighty PFT??? The greatness of Pro Football Talk is in it’s future!

  12. Jeez, you’re really trying to make an issue out of this. I can’t remember this site ever paying so much attention to a PR person not having a contract renewed. If you read the article by Monte Poole, most of your questions would have been answered about Mark Davis being irrational or employees walking on eggshells. In fact, after reading the article, it sounds like Mark Davis is VERY rational and aware of his weaknesses. In fact, one note in the article indicates that the employees are LESS likely to be walking on eggshell around the Raider facility: “Trask, who presided over the business operation and was the point person for the team’s search for a long-term home, was a respected executive but a feared supervisor. Several Raiders employees indicate her departure has reduced daily anxiety at the team’s Harbor Bay headquarters. ” Mark Davis not keeping Zak Gilbert was more a philosphical difference about how the team portrays its history under Al Davis. Rather than blame Al for the past 10 years, Mark Davis wants to point to Al’s career contributions to the Raiders and the league. That’s understandable. It’s his father. If you read the article, you might have understood it too.

  13. Well PFT being that I’m a Raiders fan and like others I’m sure you will delete this at some point but I’m putting it out there anyway.

    You hacks will not let this go will you? How long are you going to beat this dead horse? If you read the article, Mark Davis didn’t like the way his father was portrayed in his last years at the helm. Al Davis is a central figure in the history of the NFL. To paint such a bad picture based on the last 10 years is juvenile, while ignoring the 40+ years of contributions he made to the NFL. The NFL wouldn’t be what it is today if not for Al Davis. In the last 10 years did he lose it?? Of course. Was his decision making bad? Of course he did.

    With that being said, his contributions to the sport far outweigh his short comings. But you cats want to harp on the last 10 years to cover 50 years of existence and now you act like this Zak Gilbert got hung from the rafters. His contract was not “renewed”. That does not constitute a “firing”.

    You PFT writers really need to brush up on your skills because they are really lacking.

  14. A website run by a lawyer should know that firings usually don’t get public explanations & can lead to lawsuits when they do.

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