Let me precede this article with this obvious disclaimer--I'm no media expert and I do not and never likely will know Zak Gilbert. I'm rather uninformed compared to the rest of the media about Zak Gilbert, and have done my best all day to try and catch up.
However, I'd also like to point out almost every sans Levi Damien reading this does not know Zak Gilbert either. I'm speaking for the common fan, maybe even the casual fan, as I live straight in the heart of Bronco Country and have never even been to Oakland.
P.R and Media can get complicated sometimes, but from my research of what an NFL P.R. Chief does, here is what I've gathered--he oversees the image of the franchise and any media relations. He's not the guy manning the Twitter feed, posting Behind the Shield videos, or even designing those cool Raider photoshop jobs that pop up all over Twitter. He usually has a lot to do with press conferences and media releases.
Here's what else I've gathered--Gilbert was hired specifically by Reggie McKenzie, a guy who should truly run football personnel decisions, where as a more hands-on owner like Jerry Jones or even Arthur Blank would have hired the P.R Chief himself, but let's be honest, Mark Davis isn't exactly football savvy compared to his other owners. A reason, even more so, why the Amy Trask resignation hurt the franchise.
Therefore, Mark Davis theoretically could fire him whenever he wanted to, as it should have been his decision in the first place. I've read this several places as "an overreach in power". Why? It's his job? "Oh, but the firing was unjust".
Was it? Look at this media coverage the firing of our P.R. Chief got. You expect bozos and jackasses like Mark Kiszla, Gary Miller, and Vic Lombardi here in my hometown of Denver to ride this move for all its worth, and maybe even Bill Williamson and Adam Schefter, who also hailed from Denver at one point. However, Jason La Canfora and Ian Rapoport are usually fair, or at least quiet about their hatred, to the Raiders, and they're ripping them like crazy. Our local guys are even laying into Davis, especially Vic Tafur (whom I refused to follow for the outlandish things he has to say sometimes). Tafur said "so much for changing the culture" in a tweet this morning.
Here's my point--this national media backlash is why Gilbert's firing isn't as "devastating" as many are calling it. Mark Davis isn't inserting his father's culture. He made one personnel move. Firing Reggie McKenzie would be a time to make that claim. The perception of the Raiders, the hallowed silver and black, is still absolute fertilizer, taking that from the great Vin Scully.
How many tweets, facebook posts, or even messages did you, as a Raider fan, read that said "same old Raiders" or "the Raiders are always crazy"? Everyone on this blog knows the culture is changing. Now, you expect this from backwards Bronco or Charger fans, but when the national media is inserting these accusations, is the PR guy doing his job, a job I came to believe was "overseeing the overall image of the franchise to the media and the public"?
Now, I can already hear the "Gilbert was trying to change the image, and that's why he was fired" comments on this blog, of course referring to the SI article that was written by Jim Trotter about the Changing of the Guard in Oakland. Yes, but like a lot of bills running through congress now, those "leaks" and articles like Trotter's were half-assed and watered down to try and please the media, the fans, Reggie McKenzie, and Mark Davis all in one, which is impossible. As a P.R. director of a team undergoing this radical of change, you have to take one stance or another. Do we want to look like we're continuing a legacy, or are we becoming a different franchise? As awesome as it would be to be both, and it might even be the truth in the end, the media won't let us. Plain and simple.
No one outside the nation sees this new regime as the "new Raiders", no matter what they tweeted during the cuts we made or the draft. They don't believe us because they want us to be a punching bag. We're an easy target because when we're losing, it just kind of looks like 8 Sundays of Halloween among felons. I don't think that at all, but that's what it looks like to people I've spoken to. I love the tradition.
I can absolutely guarantee three things from this Zak Gilbert firing. Number one--the media still hates the Raiders. Number two--this firing will have ZERO impact on the football product on the field this year or any year in the foreseeable future. Number three--the next P.R. guy will be fired as well if he doesn't take an egregious stance one way or the other for Mark Davis.
I would like to know--how does the casual fan take this story? I didn't care until about 1 pm this afternoon, when the tweets just pissed me off enough to write something. Comment with your thoughts, and as always, Just Win Baby.