It is said that in order to lead effectively a strong manager must manage the voices in the hallway. In short, sometimes those whispering at the water cooler have valid criticisms that should be addressed. The Raiders are grossly undervalued. The primary reason is that Raiders have the weakest stadium revenue streams and have had this situation for over 20 years. The Raiders have a current stadium situation that can only be resolved through relocation. However, there are great hurdles to the location that the Raiders covet, Los Angeles. Mainly, getting public contributions will be the greatest hurdle. The already overtaxed locals are very tax adverse to any increases. However, there is another issue that Mark Davis has completely ignored.
Many Los Angelinos don’t want the Raiders mainly because of what they perceive as the team’s thug image. Recently, the Raiders had a joint practice with the Cowboys in Oxnard and Raider fans came out in droves to support the team much to the delight of Mark Davis. However, a fight broke out near the fans and right on cue a fan took it upon himself to swing his replica helmet at a Cowboy player. In one ill-fated swing confirming the fears of those opposed to the Raiders returning. Here is the video:
(Fan swings helmet about 6 seconds in)
Days later jokes abound about “typical Raider fans”. Anyone concerned about the image of his product and its association to violence should have been embarrassed. Both owners joked about the situation but only one of the two has a very serious image problem that could impede the forward progression of his business, Mark Davis. Here’s what the two owners had to say about the issue:
“I would have at least expected [Davis] to go over there and shut that group down,” Jones said, laughing. “I don’t know what was holding him back.”
Davis interjected that he just wanted his players to keep their helmets on.
“You’re supposed to be the host here, you go shut them up,” Davis said.
Jones even lauded one of Oakland’s players (offensive linemen Austin Howard) for his feistiness against the Cowboys players. Howard was involved in at least one scuffle.
“No. 77 is a tough guy. Got one of the most effective uppercuts I’ve seen in football,” Jones said. “Boy, that 77 was putting some hurt on ’em.”
Mark Davis has done an excellent job of rebranding the organization in his image however by taking this matter lightly he clearly doesn’t get it. Voters in LA aren’t desperate for football and even less so if the team in question will give way to an uptick in crime despite the great economic benefits to the community.
With all due respect Mr. Davis, a fan swinging a helmet at a player would have been an opportune time to remind fans that they are a vital PART of the team but they are not ON the team and should respect the boundaries of fans and players. As a symbolic gesture Mr. Davis should have identified the offending fan and suspended him from attending games or practices for at least one year. Furthermore, Mr. Davis, make a commitment to safety and ensure locals that will you do EVERYTHING in your power to make your venue THE safest in the NFL. A stadium where fans feel confident they will not be taking their life in their hands attending a game would create the type of intrinsic value that could make LA home again.