As the Oakland Raiders progress through free agency and onto the draft, one person faded from the spotlight. In a business where owners treat the red light of a camera like the most intoxicating tequila, Mark Davis backed away. To his credit, he knows what his role and current impact are. As a result, you have not seen much of him or heard various quotes.
Like him or not, Jerry Jones ensures that his team is must see television. Whether suing the league over the commissioner’s contract, Jerral Wayne Jones stays ready to jump in the limelight. Meanwhile, Mark Davis patiently sits in the background, plotting moves. While Jones’ record of accomplishment dwarfs Davis, recently the Cowboys and Raiders have not enjoyed great on-field success. Cowboys’ trophies grow the same amount of dust as the Raiders.
From the outside, Mark Davis appears comfortable. Whether it is financially or just within, he strikes most as calm. However, with a camera or microphone in his face, Davis appears twitchy and uneasy. He is not the boat-rocking type of owner. When the anthem controversies raged, Davis gave a statement and stayed out of the fray. When Texans owner Bob McNair opened his mouth to stick both feet in regarding the protests, where was Davis? In the luxury box, watching the game. We live in an era of grandstanding; Davis sat back and let other owners embarrass themselves.
When the Raiders hired Jon Gruden, Mark Davis could step even further back into the shadow. For the first time since Al Davis’ passing, the Raiders truly enjoyed a public face. At the same time, Davis goes about his way, free of the public eye. In addition, Gruden embraces the adulation, attention, and publicity. The microphone and camera became how he made a living after Tampa Bay fired him. Therefore, Gruden relishes role.
When the Davis and Gruden agreed to a ten-year, 100 million dollar contract, he started a chain reaction. First, he served noticed to fans that the Raiders would do whatever they felt was needed to compete. Second, he absorbed Jack Del Rio’s contract without hesitation. Lastly, he put an otherworldly amount of pressure on Gruden’s shoulders, while painting himself as a hero. In essence, Davis gave a monster deal to a championship coach with a 57-55 record at his last stop.
Granted, if the Raiders fail to win a title during Gruden’s second stop, critics will brutalize Davis. Yet, he will escape because his legacy is not as visible as Gruden’s. In effect, those 100 million dollars only works for Davis. If the Raiders win multiple championships, Davis cements his image.
As mentioned, Mark Davis will enjoy his quiet dinners without reporters or cameramen. For a man that commands a franchise that increased its worth, relocating to a palatial stadium, the owner of the Raiders steps back into the shadows.