Here is a link to my column about Mark Davis and the Raiders after the Raiders’ ninth straight loss. The full text runs below:
OAKLAND — It’s difficult to write about the Oakland Raiders. Forgive me for getting personal.
No earthly reason exists to write a column about their 41-17 loss to Denver, about what happened in the game. The Raiders losing to the Broncos was a familiar story. The Raiders came. The Raiders played. The Raiders lost.
A columnist like me could write a satire about the Raiders, making jokes about the possibility the Raiders might go “defeated” this season, meaning they can finish with a record of 0-16. But, honestly, nothing is funny about their futility, inadequacy and utter hopelessness.
So, I want to talk seriously. Not about the team and those poor players who are trying hard. And not about the interim head coach Tony Sparano, also trying hard but overmatched and, in the Raiders’ long-term picture, absolutely pointless.
I want to talk about owner Mark Davis and what a miserable position he’s in and how it’s not his fault. Not that anyone feels sorry for him, or even should feel sorry for him. I want to say upfront I like Mark and think he’s a good guy and wish him all the best.
But Mark has no clue about running the franchise. He has a bad stadium deal, crummy revenues, almost no cash to sign free agents, and worst of all, no direction for the team, no plan anyone can locate even with an electron microscope.
All of that equals no for chance for success, as you have witnessed week after week.
I repeat none of this is Mark’s fault. In my opinion, it is his father’s fault. It is Al’s fault. It’s is Al’s obscene legacy to his son and to the NFL and to sports in America.
Shame on Al.
Bill Walsh used to ask me about Al’s succession plan. I had no idea what Al thought. Bill would say, “Do you think Al will leave the team to Mark?” Bill wouldn’t wait for an answer. He would say, “I’m afraid Al will leave the team to Mark. Gee, the kid isn’t prepared.”
You know why Mark wasn’t prepared to lead the Raiders? Because Al never prepared Mark for what awaited him.
Mark, I apologize for going after your dad, RIP. But it seems necessary and it seems fair.
I believe Al never wanted anybody to be more successful than he was with the franchise. His actions guaranteed that. His actions guaranteed Mark’s fate.
Al never schooled Mark in how to run a team, although Mark is making a decent, sincere, hopeful run at getting a new stadium in Oakland. Al never started Mark at the bottom of the organization, never made Mark work his way up learning every facet of the business. As far as I can tell, Al made Mark an outsider. Mark is the victim of Al’s bad leadership and — forgive me, Mark — a victim of Al’s careless parenting style.
No parent should do to a child what Al did to Mark. No dad should make sure his son is a failure.
This is such a sad story.
The league apparently is doing little to support the Raiders in the hope Mark eventually will sell — will be forced to sell. If you think the Mark Davis Raiders will move to Los Angeles, forget it. The league office and other owners do not want the Mark Davis Raiders in L.A. I’m sure Mark knows this.
During the Raiders’ bye week — they were a promising 0-4 at that point — well, during the bye week, Mike Holmgren traveled to the Raiders’ headquarters in Alameda to watch film with the coaches. This has been documented. You remember Holmgren. Great 49ers assistant coach. Coach of Green Bay and Seattle.
Mark needed an outsider’s opinion about the Raiders’ offense, needed help because he doesn’t know about offense. Holmgren has Bay Area roots and he is a prominent offspring in the Bill Walsh coaching tree and he almost surely wants a job, maybe even with the Raiders.
In his previous job, he flopped as president of the Browns. He probably wants to shine up his image. You can see why Raiders general manager Reggie McKenzie invited Holmgren to Alameda. Holmgren has been a success in the NFL and McKenzie, judging by his tenure in Oakland, is an abject, laughable failure. No knock on McKenzie the man. Good guy. Never should run a football team.
Here’s what McKenzie must be thinking. He and Holmgren are old friends from Green Bay. If McKenzie can lure Holmgren to Oakland as an adviser or as anything, Mark might keep him (McKenzie) around. Which means Holmgren is McKenzie’s lifeline and his last hope.
Well, wrap your mind around this. McKenzie does not deserve a shred of hope, not when it comes to staying with the Raiders. Mark needs to fire McKenzie when the final game of this season recedes into the ding dong of time. Frankly, Mark should fire McKenzie before that but the paperwork may be complicated and it’s probably better to wait another seven games for clerical purposes.
Note to Mark: You cannot allow McKenzie to use Holmgren as leverage to keep his job. Be clear about this. Holmgren was great in his day. His day has passed. You can see his day in the rearview mirror. Find someone new. Find someone with fresh ideas and passion.
Unfortunately, Mark has no clue about the football aspect of the Raiders — no one ever taught him. Mark has no idea where to turn for useful advice. I imagine him desperately searching for saviors, grasping for saviors. Dennis Allen was a savior. Dismissed. McKenzie was a savior. Failed. Holmgren is a potential savior. The wrong guy at this stage of his life.
In the best of worlds, Mark would not need a savior. Al would have prepared Mark to be his own savior. Al never even tried.
For more on the world of sports in general and the Bay Area in particular, go to the Cohn Zohn at cohn.blogs.pressdemocrat.com. You can reach Staff Columnist Lowell Cohn at firstname.lastname@example.org.