Many people hoped there was more to the firing of the Raiders PR Director Zak Gilbert which was a surprising move that Owner Mark Davis orchestrated last week. It now appears that it really is as simple as Mark not appreciating the direction that Gilbert took on what he allowed to be written about Al Davis.
Mark Davis may be willing to handle insults said about himself (such as his gnarly hairdo) but he will by no means tolerate insults to his father or the shield that his father had built, this according to Monte Poole of MercuryNews.com. The Davis family legacy is about more than just the final decade of Al's life, and the team's media needs to understand that it is important to Mark that Al's legacy be looked on graciously.
Mark did not provide a direct response about the firing of Gilbert, but in essence he really did reveal that he did not like the approach that the Raiders were taking to distance themselves from his father. He does not want to move on with the image of Al being incapable of adapting to the new NFL, he wants the image to be the timeless ones of his father holding the Lombardi trophy.
Some mistakenly believed this firing of Gilbert was a swipe at the person responsible for bringing Zak Gilbert into the mix, Reggie McKenzie, but Davis wants to make it clear that he supports his GM.
"Not at all. Reggie understands why I made the decision I made. Look, I understand what Reggie is trying to do. Reggie's fine. He's the one guy that I've hired. I've got to give him room to do his job.”
The plan on the Raiders half has been clear since moving into the marketing campaign of a New Era of Excellence though. Al is gone and the Raiders will be different now is the general gist of it. Mark loves what his dad had built and the Davis family legacy, he does not want the team to move on from who they were. He just wants the team to move on from the losing that they recently have been guilty of.
One can hardly blame Mark for not liking the articles about Al and the Raiders being a new team now that he is gone and Reggie is in charge. Al Davis did a lot for this team, this league, and this sport in general and he should be remembered for that more than his years of ineptitude towards the end. That really hasn't been the case during Zak Gilbert's time as the PR Director for the Raiders.
The problem that comes up with firing Gilbert over articles that other people were writing about Al Davis is clear, it was other people writing the articles and not Gilbert himself. He only has so much power to wield and to believe that he could have stopped so many articles about Al no longer being in control being a good thing for the Raiders is definitely naive.
It does make sense that Mark believed Zak's style of marketing the team was intended to distance themselves from Al though, which is not the direction that Mark wanted to take. Mark did not like the perceived intent on the Raiders side to distance themselves from what Al Davis had done because it was only concentrating on the recent years of failure and not his decades of success. The legacy of Al Davis is far more than his ending, its his entire span of his life with the Raiders. That was not something that was coming across publicly from the Raiders end.
Mark doesn't believe that Gilbert had done his job badly though, he just didn't do it in the manner that Mark wanted him to. Zak was responsible for some moves that Mark says the team will continue to embrace, such as the rekindling of relationships between the Raiders and former greats of the team that had spent years being scorned from the organization.
“The things we did last season (including welcoming Jon Gruden and Marcus Allen, both of whom had sour relationships with Al Davis) were the right things to do. We still believe in that. We'll continue work with people for the good of the franchise."
Mark also fully admits that Zak Gilbert had trumpeted that the Raiders would return to greatness and that Zak had believed it admirably. Davis fully believes that his team will return to greatness as well, he just imagines that greatness to come from a different direction than the one that Gilbert had been taking. If there is one thing that Mark wants you to know with clarity, it is that this team is destined for greatness again.
“My concern is winning.” he says, “The Raiders will be great again. Write it down. The Raiders will be great again.”