Mark Davis owns the Raiders, but he sounds more like the team’s biggest fan than the guy who pays the bills.
Whether that’s a good thing or a bad thing for the long-term health of the franchise won’t be evident for years.
But one thing is certain: Davis spends a lot of time thinking about what it would be like for the Raiders to return to prominence.
In a one-on-one interview with Vic Tafur of the San Francisco Chronicle at the NFL Combine in Indianapolis this week, Davis said the team’s downward spiral and the impact losing has had on its loyal fan base “hits me in the heart.”
“My real goal is to perpetuate the legacy of my father,” he told Tafur. “I am not here to do anything for me. The Raiders are a way of life for a lot of people, and it’s my responsibility to get that back, that pride, that poise, that commitment to excellence.”
In the interview with Tafur, Davis sounds like a man who’s allowing general manager Reggie McKenzie and head coach Dennis Allen to make the decisions. While he’s involved – he went to Indianapolis and says he sat in on interviews with top prospects, including several quarterbacks – it sounds as if he knows it’s the best thing to let his football people make football decisions. In talking about the quarterbacks available in the draft, Davis notes that, “I haven’t really sat down with Reggie and Dennis to see what they’re looking for in a quarterback.”
Yet Davis said he knows what he’s looking for, and that’s a marquee, playmaking quarterback who can be the face of the franchise and the force behind a future that would get Oakland "to multiple Super Bowls.”
“In my opinion, the quarterback is the driving force in the league,” Davis told the Chronicle. He pointed to the Colts turning things around by drafting Andrew Luck, the Chiefs getting better by trading for Alex Smith and the Broncos becoming a force by getting Peyton Manning.
“We have to find somebody in the draft or in free agency that is going to be the identity of the Raiders,” Davis said of the quarterback position. “I don’t know if we really have an identity now.”
But after watching consecutive 4-12 seasons by the Raiders, Davis sounds as if he will now turn into a very impatient owner/fan if things don’t get better in 2014 in Oakland.
Like his father and the Bay Area fans who’ve supported the Raiders for decades, Mark Davis will want to see results.
As Chris Wesseling of NFL.com wrote this week, this is a make-or-break year for McKenzie and Allen. And from what he’s said, Davis sounds as if he’ll pull the plug on both if he doesn’t see results this season.
“Every offseason is the most important at the time, but this is one that we’ve been building toward the last few years,” Davis said.
Like your neighbor with the silver and black Stabler jersey, Davis isn’t going to be patient much longer.