Davis continues to defy the odds – and the perceptions – and has slowly brought stability and vision to the Raiders organization.
Much like his father, Mark Davis has an insatiable appetite to win.
Since taking over the day-to-day operations of the team since his father passed away in 2011, Davis has spent every season and offseason rebuilding his father’s legacy and focusing it on one man to lead it – Jon Gruden.
The 2017 NFL season was not kind to the Oakland Raiders on the field as most prognosticators and experts expected them to win the AFC West, and make a legitimate Super Bowl run. Davis was no different. Instead of building on an exciting 12-4 season from 2016, the underachieving 2017 bunch closed out the losers of their last four games. They finished with a disappointing 6-10 record, and like Raider Nation watching helplessly as the team stumbled all year, Davis had enough and made a change at coach.
So again – as he had done in ernest since 2011 – he renewed his efforts to lure the one man that he believed more than any other, could return the Raiders to their once prominent role in the upper echelon of the NFL. Gruden.
For some, this seemed to have all the makings of a disaster, especially considering that the Raiders gave former head coach Jack Del Rio a four year extension in the off season. That was a bitter financial pill to have to swallow for Davis. Some even questioned if Davis could afford it.
And yet, not only did Mark do just that, he then opened up the check book and offered Gruden a 10-year deal worth an astounding $100 million dollars. And, according to both men at today’s press conference, money was never the issue. Davis’ goal has always been to lure Gruden down from the television booth to finish what he started in 1998 and couldn’t in that God-forsaken cold of New England in 2001.
It has been a remarkable win for the son of Al Davis. It has been a remarkable year for the unconventional Davis.
When Mark Davis took over the Raiders in 2011, after his father passed, most people believed he did not have what it took to run the team. Especially a certain group of media members, some of whom dubbed him “Tommy Boy,” after the 1995 Chris Farley film of the same name.
Every loss that Mark Davis has endured, every time he has been knocked down as owner of the Raiders, he has followed it up with a resounding win. During his six-plus year tenure as the franchise owner, he has slowly collected and surrounded himself with great football minds. Not just in the front office, but on the business side as well. People like Marc Badain, Dan Ventrelle, Reggie McKenzie and now Gruden.
The real genius in doing things his way is he does what so many have a problem doing. He simply lets people he trust do their job without getting in the way. Davis always jokes that “He knows what he knows, and knows what he doesn’t.” That’s easier said than done when you own one of the most storied sports franchises in the entire world.
Not everything Davis has done has panned out nor – in hindsight – were all of the decisions wise. He failed to get a stadium deal in Oakland, and then in Los Angeles. He has now failed on his first two coaches. But, after each defeat he has followed them up with better decision making and better calls. The franchise value has tripled under his watch. The team is building a state of the art stadium in Las Vegas. And, now, he has the final piece in place to coach his team for the next 10 years.
I often wonder about those people who called Mark Davis “Tommy Boy” as an insult, and if they ever actually watched the movie. The way I remember the film, in the end, Farley’s character showed he was his father’s son and saved the family business. It may be that “Tommy Boy” is the best compliment you could probably pay the man.
Mark Davis is not an owner who likes to be out front and in the spotlight all the time. He’s perfectly comfortable leading in his own way. It’s about time those around the league, and those in sports in general, give the man the credit he is due.
Davis got his coach, he got his stadium, and soon he’ll get the respect and credit he deserves.