Fayette County, GA – The call that came to me at 2:39 AM EST was innocent enough, and very kind: “Hey, Zennie, you in Oakland? We’re at this bar near District (an Old Oakland restaurant and night hangout)! Come and join us.” I had to pass because I’m here in Fayette County with my Mom, and even though I maintain an Oakland address, I’ve seen it maybe 57 times this year. My Mom’s been sick, and even though she’s getting better, I’m her only child and on top of that, have no one else to count on. It’s on my shoulders to be with her, and actually, I do enjoy the time I spend with her.
My friend was quite understanding. That’s why my friend’s, my friend. But, given that my friend is also friends with Oakland Raiders Owner Mark Davis, I had to ask the inevitable question: “What do you think of the lawsuit?”
“UGH!,” came the scream, and then “Are you kidding? Really, Zennie. I mean it’s so stupid! They’re suing him and the team and they haven’t even finished the season! It’s stupid!” Then, my friend asked me what I thought. So, love though I do, I calmly explained that the Raiders and Mark Davis knew this was coming. It has been brewing for the last two years and really the last six years. I went on to explain in detail, but my friend was having none of it. Voice rising, my friend said “I’m standing with Mark Davis! Ride or die!”
Then my friend calmed down a bit and said “You know, that Christmas Eve game’s going to be a sellout! The last one in Oakland. Well, Maybe. Mark’s got no place to go! He doesn’t know where he’s going to play. His team’s got no home. But he’s not turning back. Cliff Branch (the legendary Oakland Raiders wide receiver who’s amazing speed was a physical metaphor for the Raiders Offense of the 70s) says he hopes Davis calms down and swallows his pride. The Raiders could wind up playing in Oakland,” my friend said. “It’s all about pride, you know, with Mark.”
Then my friend continued “You don’t cross Mark Davis. He’ll find a way to get back at you. He’s like that. He takes this really personally. And he doesn’t forget.”
I calmly pointed out that Mark has picked arguments with Raiders fans and told Godfather Griz of Forever Oakland that he was “fine” with splitting Oakland Raiders fans. In other words, a number of people point to times Mark has said and done things that hurt their feelings, and so they issue a criticism, and he gets upset. Mark has to realize that he’s hurt the feelings of a number of people – he can’t be upset with them because they react in the negative. That’s human nature. He has to try and make things right with many people, inside and outside of Raider Nation.
I pointed that dynamic out to my friend, who did agree with me, saying “I know. I know.”
And that reminds of of the time Mark Davis went up to Griz at the 2017 NFL Annual Meeting after the Las Vegas Vote….
Anyway, I then remarked that if Amy Trask were in charge, we wouldn’t have this problem. My friend said “Yes! It would be a different story, but you know why she’s not with the Raiders, don’t you? It’s because Mark can’t stand anyone stronger than he around. He has to be the one.”
I brought up how Mark treated Oakland Mayor Libby Schaaf, and how he never returned her phone calls in 2015. The Raiders were upset that she publicly said that she would not use public money for the Raiders stadium deal, but anyone who knows anything about California politics and especially the climate created by the first Raiders Deal, knows that saying otherwise is the kiss of political death.
For Mark Davis not to know that means he was getting bad advice from someone. But, none the less, I pressed the Libby example, even though I am quick to add that Mark Davis had no problem with Oakland Mayor Jean Quan.
My friend was quick to say it wasn’t because Amy or Libby were women “No. Anyone. He has to be the one.” Wow. That was a total eye-opener.
My friend says that everyone who’s his friend knows that, and they stay out of the way. I remarked that some one of his friends, if they’re friends, should really talk to him about how his behavior has caused this situation. I said people who are predisposed to like Mark Davis because he owns the Oakland Raiders. So, if he said “Hey, I’m sorry for what I said” and tried to extend olive branches, many would forgive him.
I said to my friend “Talk to Mark. Just try and get him to calm down and take another approach.”
The Idea Of Suing For The Name And Colors Is Not What The Lawsuit Is About
My friend is of the impression that the lawsuit is about getting the Raiders Name and Colors. I said it’s not: it’s about seeking monetary damages for violating good faith business practices.
Candidly, I’m not in favor of a lawsuit that is a loser out of the gate. The last time Oakland went to stop the team it was by eminent domain and that crashed and burned in court. Moreover, the Raiders team colors and brand and name were created and advanced for the most part by Al Davis – Mark Davis is his son, and that sacred bond should be respected.
Where there is a chance rests, again, in the fact that the City of Oakland was lied to and treated like crap by the Oakland Raiders in its quest for a new stadium. Again, the Oakland Raiders have never, not once, presented an architectural drawing or model of a new stadium in Oakland. By contrast, the team’s done it for Carson and for Las Vegas. You can’t say you want to be in Oakland, and yet not show any real evidence that you do want to be in Oakland. Words are not enough. The City of Oakland can clean the Raiders clock in court, if it sticks to the facts and dates – not pie in the sky ideas about the name and the logo.
Oakland should focus on building a new sports brand and one that can be multi-sports and take advantage of the soon-to-be-huge sports gambling industry.
Moreover, Oakland’s lousy economic development staff and lazy, slew-footed habit of responding to economic competition got its collective butt kicked by the Master of Economic Development, and that’s Steven Hill, who was the State of Nevada’s Economic Development czar and is now the Executive Director of the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority. I’ve long held admiration for Steven’s work, and sure, he’s had some misses, as is common in the economic development business, but he’s had some big hits, like the Apple facility, and the Las Vegas Stadium project.
Moreover, Las Vegas and Clark County work as one unit, without the immature rancor of the kind that has existed between the City of Oakland and the County of Alameda and that has damaged Oakland’s ability and will to complete big projects. But I digress.
Hopefully, Mark Davis calms down and gives Oakland the gift of one more season at the Coliseum. Pipe dream? Maybe. But Cliff Branch thinks he should play in Oakland, and that means other Raiders players do to. This looks like a great time for a group of peacemakers to step forward: people loved by both sides, who could broker a deal.
Here’s my idea for a team: Leigh Steinberg, Rep. Barbara Lee, Senator Kamala Harris, Governor Gavin Newsom, John Madden, Raymond Chester, Kenny Shedd, Cliff Branch, Willie Brown, Condoleezza Rice, and Piper Jaffrey Managing Director Diane Paauwe.
Zennie Abraham is the CEO of Zennie62Media