When Mark Davis took over control of the Raiders following the death of his father, Al, he didn’t pretend to be a football genius.
Mark Davis made it clear he was going to rebuild the franchise by hiring good people, establishing a solid front-office organization and letting football people make football decisions.
As the San Francisco Chronicle’s Scott Ostler wrote in 2011, “The likely scenario is that Mark Davis, in concert with chief executive Amy Trask, will hire one or two football people. My guess is they’ll hire one, a general manager.”
Davis did hire a GM in Reggie McKenzie, a year ago, to begin the rebuilding process, and McKenzie in turn brought in Dennis Allen as head coach.
Now it appears the Raiders may be on the verge of bringing in Football Man No. 2, former Packers and Seahawks coach Mike Holmgren, who most recently was in the front office of the Cleveland Browns.
According to several reports, the Raiders now are considering bringing in Holmgren for a yet-unspecified front office position relating to football, while also considering adding a business-operations executive. According to NFL.com’s Albert Breer, the leading candidate for that position is Scott O’Neil, former president of Madison Square Garden.
If all the reports prove to be true, Davis will have built just the solid front-office structure he wants – and a far different culture than the one that existed under his father, who ran the Raiders as czar for decades and had input on every aspect of the team, from roster moves to contracts to uniforms.
The Raiders Tuesday declined to confirm or deny the reports about Holmgren, telling the media: “As a general policy, the Raiders don’t comment on personnel matters, so the team isn’t able to confirm or deny the report. If the organization has more to say in the future, I will let you know.”
Holmgren and McKenzie, of course, worked together when both were with the Packers.
ESPN.com’s Bill Williamson reported that Holmgren already has visited the Raiders facilities, but is now in Europe and unavailable for comment.
Williamson believes if Holmgren joins the team, he’d likely be above McKenzie on the organization flow chart.
“I’m sure Holmgren and McKenzie would work well together, but there’s no doubt there would be another football mind in the building,” he wrote. “That is undeniable. So a power structure would have to be established. I don’t see Holmgren joining a team with which he wouldn’t have a powerful role.”
Would McKenzie be comfortable in the new setup? Is this something he and Davis have long discussed? Those are things we don’t know.
Another concern might be how Allen will feel about Holmgren looking over his shoulder. According to Williamson, Holmgren, 64, has said he’s interested in coaching again. If Allen doesn’t turn things around in 2013, might Holmgren step in as head coach?
Whatever happens, news of the Raiders bringing in Holmgren should be considered a positive sign that Davis is doing what he vowed to do. He’s changing the structure of the organization and bringing it up to par with the rest of the NFL in the 21st century.
And, most importantly, he’s committed to putting football decisions into the hands of football men.