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Reggie McKenzie given leeway to build Raiders long term

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Reggie McKenzie says in an interview that Raiders owner Mark Davis is in it for the long haul regardless of how the team fares this season.


The Raiders have been in a speeding car headed for a crash for quite some time. Al Davis kept his foot on the gas pedal and removed the brakes because they got in the way. Now, that sports car has been totaled, and didn't even come close to competing in the race.

Reggie McKenzie has been scrapping the pieces of this high-priced clunker. In most cases, he has had to pay to have those pieces hauled away for parts.

The Raiders will now be built slowly with bargain parts until the handcrafted ones arrive and are fine tuned for optimal performance. According to McKenzie, the owner of this racing team is along for the ride with no intention on overhauling his entire crew even if he trails the pack all this season.

"No, I don't fear that," McKenzie told Sports Illustrated's Peter King. "You know what? I don't think along those lines. I just think of doing what's needed to make this team the best it can be long-term. That's my job. But fearful? No. Not at all. Mark knew the cap part of this was going to be a two-year deal. Mark is not his father. He is allowing me to do this, and we talk about the process all the time. He's allowing me to do the job that needs to be done.

"We've talked about that. Remember -- the way I was raised in football, in Green Bay, was not as a big spender in free agency. I hope we continue to draft well, and I hope we can sign our own players, because that's the way I believe you win in this league. You draft, develop and sign your own players. Mark is on board with that, and what we have to do now and in the future, he's on board with and understands and he supports.''

In other words "Slow and steady wins the race". But while we are making Reggie McKenzie out to be the tortoise taking over for the hare, he would like everyone to know he is not simply submitting to the notion the Raiders will be losers this coming season.

"But as far as taking our bruises now, I do want you to know we're in this to win this year," McKenzie said. "We will compete. This is not a throw-in-the-towel deal."

The idea that the Raiders could put a competitive product on the field this season is not all that farfetched. The Colts dismantled their team and went 11-5 last season - a season removed from going 1-15. Granted, they had plenty of "Luck" to help with that new team. The Dolphins did the exact same thing. They went from 1-15 to 11-5 in once season when Raiders new offensive line coach Tony Sparano brought the Wildcat to Miami.

Basically, this off-season should be no different than any other off-season the Raiders have had with regard to the hopes of the fans - expect the worst; hope for the best. At least in this case, there is a plan in place. Even if getting off the blocks doesn't look incredibly promising.