Can the Raiders avoid taking a step back after the latest embarrassment?
Obviously, the league was turned upside down this week when emails were leaked by “someone” to both the Wall Street Journal and New York Times sharing personal comments from now former Las Vegas Raiders Head Coach Jon Gruden to Bruce Allen, at the time, the president of the Washington Football Team. The emails were gathered as part of the investigation first launched by a firm hired by Dan Snyder (owner of the WFT) and later taken over by the NFL to untangle the toxic workplace cultural cloud that has hung over the WFT for years.
Here’s my take. Gruden was obviously stupid, careless, and 100% to blame for his words and actions and his reputation will suffer. The fact that he even had these thoughts was appalling, but putting them in words etched in “high tech ink” was unfathomable. Every word I’ve heard others use that described his actions is true but the fact that THIS was what was purposely leaked, IMO, from the 650,000 emails that were part of the bigger investigation makes me think, more than ever, that agendas of higher ups somewhere did this on purpose.
So yes, the story was and is Gruden but what interests me also is why this was done and who put the target on him? Gruden has always been one to not be shy about targeting others with blame or questioning with an attacking style. Whether it was game officials, league office policies, not wearing masks during Covid-19 or publicly reacting negatively to the “powers at be”, he was outspoken...OFTEN. We will probably never know what happened, but it’s clear in this case that Gruden attacked the wrong target. In all likelihood, this was an orchestrated attempt to get the desired result and none of this was an accident. The leaking of the emails had to come from the top of the food chain somewhere.
I’m pretty sure there are other emails that will hold others accountable (for whatever) within this “big picture” email dump. It will be interesting if we discover the source of the leaks and if others will be fingered?
Once again, the real story is not how dumb Gruden was. The true story is that people think like he did and that’s sad. I just shake my head in reference to the fact that this is more evidence of the work that we all have to do socially and in our world today. In my 35 years inside the NFL I have not experienced anything similar to Grudens comments.
The only winner in this case is probably Urban Meyer, if you even remember who he is?
I don’t care how much money Gruden walked out the door with or what kind of language was in his contract that might indicate cause or no cause. It makes no difference to me and my simple mind. My focus becomes where does this leave the Raiders?
Left in the wake of this bombshell is a team that is now 3-2 and trying to right the ship for 12 more NFL games. I actually think that while this season might be in doubt, Raiders owner Mark Davis gets a reprieve from a bad decision he made to put Gruden in charge of an entire organization. There is no tangible evidence that Gruden's team building model was working. Gruden essentially wasted millions on attempting to build a team with a “ready-fire-aim” philosophy. He was a very good football coach but as a builder of a franchise, Gruden had no track record and that, in itself, was a giant gamble by Davis.
Mike Mayock, the team’s general manager, was hired by Gruden for a job that he had no training for. He answered to Gruden from Day One and all of his ideas and personnel decisions were run through the filter of the head coach. In theory, it isn’t a bad idea, but in this case, the Raiders have been hampered by failed draft choices and inconsistent free agent signings. Under Gruden and Mayock, the team building plan has seemed disjointed and constantly changing. There have been far more swings and misses than hits.
In reality, Mayock (who I like) is their personnel director, despite the title, and had spent zero time in the league prior to Gruden hiring him. I held the same position and title in Miami with then Head Coach Nick Saban so I understand how the mechanics work when the head coach is in charge. Having said that, the Raiders have excellent people in their scouting and personnel departments under Mayock. These should be valuable assets to any new decision makers and listening to the pros in their own building would be good.
I say this because with the right direction at the top, this organization can be successful. I just think it is going to take the right leader, the right perspective, and the right identification of talent from the right type of personality. This team can quickly turn a terrible negative situation into a positive.
That leader is probably going to have to come from outside the building and have a track record of success as a GM. Sure, there may be more internal change first, but we can’t forget this organization has already had exits from several high ranking (business side) officials since we flipped our calendars to 2021. There is no doubt there is currently a giant void of proven leadership.
I know Rich Bisaccia, the interim coach, now in charge, having worked together at the Chargers. He’s a good guy, a good communicator, and a straight shooter, not to mention a very good football coach. I think he will listen to ideas from others and not be afraid to make tough decisions on Sunday. I’m happy to see him get a chance. Offensive Coordinator Greg Olson will finally get a chance as well, to run an offense in his own light without anyone looking over his shoulder. Gus Bradley has proven to be an energetic voice with the players and employs a scheme that has paid dividends, with the right players, in the past.
My point is that with the right direction, a franchise that has broken down so many cultural and diversity doors in the past, from hiring minorities both on the field (first Hispanic and African American head coaches) and in the front office (much respected former CEO Amy Trask, the first woman to attain that position) can distance itself from the current narrative and refocus on winning football games with the right hire at the top.
Let’s hope Mark Davis uses this unfortunate situation as a mulligan to get the ship headed in the right direction.