Now that we've all had our time to appropriately mourn the loss of Al and celebrate that emotional victory, it's time to get back to work. For us, along with our day jobs, that means considering the future of our beloved Raidahs.
One thing's for sure - the days of the Raiders being a one-man show are over. There will never be another Al Davis, and I'm sure Mark D realises as much. It's already been established that he doesn't enjoy the personnel side of things, it isn't his area of expertise and he would look to hire a general manager to handle that aspect of the team.
The question is - who?
I have made my views clear in earlier comments. If he wants the job in addition to his coaching duties, I think Hue Jackson should have it. It's his team and his scheme, he knows who fits best where, he has a sharp mind and - possibly most importantly - he knows The Raider Way. He could be our Bill Belichick.
However, let's assume that he doesn't want the job for the long term or Mark D and Amy Trask don't want to further burden him/feel he's the right man for the GM job. Then who are the candidates?
I've seen the usual "big name" suspects being bandied around. Other than Jon Gruden, I wouldn't want any of them. Most of those guys - Parcells comes to mind here - have outsize egos and a manner of dealing with people that isn't the Raider Way. I keep referencing this, but it's really the only thing I have to explain it. You guys all know what I mean. Gruden is different in that he understands it, but even so I'm not sure if he is the right man for a GM job. He's a great coach, but when you look at the Tampa Bay teams he built...not very impressive.
Nor do I believe John Madden is a real possibility. He may serve in an advisory role, but he's not leaving his comfortable retirement for the grind of a general manager position even with his beloved Raiders.
Instead, I applied the principle of What Would Al Do? Consider his coaching hires. Al always loved to go after young, ambitious, aggressive head coaches. Our current general is one such example. So was the afore-mentioned Gruden. Madden was pretty young when he became our HC. That's the same sort of thing we need from a GM. I'd also definitely be biased in favour from guys from winning programs. Those guys will have learned from those above them what it takes to build a winning squad in the NFL and how to go about it - sprinkle that in with a little Raider magic and we're back to the Superbowl, baby.
With those factors in mind, here's a list of a few contenders Mark Davis and Amy Trask should be looking at.
Eric DeCosta (Director of Player Personnel, Baltimore Ravens)
DeCosta has been with the Ravens for his entire 16 year NFL career, working his way up from a scouting role to director of scouting to his current role as Ozzie Newsome's right hand man. During that period the Ravens have been a pretty consistent and successful franchise, and he's played a significant role in the drafting of guys like Terrell Suggs, Haloti Ngata, Ray Rice, Joe Flacco et al.
He would be hard to get - he withdrew from contention to become the Seahawks GM a couple of years ago, and Steve Biscotti has come out and said he views him as Newsome's successor. However, given that Ozzie doesn't seem likely to retire soon, he might be more open to offers now. Taking over from the legendary Al Davis and moving the Raiders into a new age of glory has to be an appealing prospect to a young, ambitious sort like DeCosta. If he had a good relationship with Hue during their time in Baltimore together, that would be another benefit. DeCosta would be the first person I would target for the job.
Doug Whaley (Assistant General Manager and Director Of Player Personnel, Buffalo Bills)
Before joining the Bills, Whaley was on the Steelers' personnel team between 1999 and 2010. He was known for his eye for defensive players - he had a major role in scouting and drafting/signing Troy Polumalu, LaMarr Woodley and James Harrison (to name a few examples). His mark can already be seen in the Bills' draft of Marcel Dareus.
Cedric Saunders (Vice President of Football Operations, Detroit Lions)
Saunders has worked his way up the Lions' ladder since the Millen days. He's seen how a franchise can get totally munted (and, by extension, how to prevent that from happening) and how to fix it. He's known to be involved with Detroit's drafting, which has been exemplary in the Mayhew era.
Tim Terry (Assistant Director Of Pro Personnel, Green Bay Packers)
The Packers wouldn't let Winston Moss interview for us last year, but might be more inclined to let Terry do so for a job like this. He's the most out of left field of all the candidates I've presented but brings invaluable knowledge of a winning culture in Green Bay and the knowledge of Ted Thompson's lessons.
The worst mistake we could make is going after a guy just because he has a "name" and expecting him to be the next Al Davis. No one will ever replace Al. But getting someone who is the diametric opposite of him, as most old-school football guys are, will not only set this franchise back but sell out it's soul. And we are one of the last teams in the NFL who can truly say we have soul.
Obviously there are far more talented candidates out there - but these are four who I would hope Mark and Amy are keeping an eye on for the future.