It wasn’t all that long ago when the Raiders were one of the most promising young teams in the NFL. They were coming off a 12-4 season and has some very exciting young players. 2017 started off perfectly with two dominant wins and the Raiders looked like they were ready for a potential Super Bowl run. However, the wheels completely fell off in Week 3 against Washington.
“My hero was Tommie Smith,” Davis said, per Vic Tafur of The Athletic. “Fist in the air. Strength. That was quite a statement. I didn’t see strength in Colin kneeling, and there was some confusion at first over what he was kneeling for. A little bit before that Washington game, I had told the players that while I was the first person for social justice and the Raiders are the first team in the world for social justice, I would prefer that if you had something to say, you don’t do it in a Raiders uniform. Because then you’re speaking for all 53 players and everyone that works in this organization. And they may not all agree with you.”
Davis’ thoughts didn’t differentiate too much from how other owners were going about things. However, he did change his thought process relatively quickly.
Davis Eventually Changed Tune
The political climate is always changing and kneeling for the anthem became a very hot button topic. It got to the point where Davis had to give his team more freedom.
“Certain things happened and the national climate changed. Things got hot and that clicked me back to 1968,” Davis said. “I called in Derek [Carr] and Khalil [Mack] and told them that I can no longer ask them not to say something while you’re in uniform. And that if they were going to say something, say it with class and pride and try and say it as a team. There won’t be a fine.”
While that might have seemed like the right call, it ended up blowing up in the team’s face. The Raiders couldn’t come to a unified agreement and were blown out by a medioce Washington team. They lost the next three games and finished the season 6-10. After the debacle in Washington, rumors swirled that the offensive line let Derek Carr get hit because of his decision to stand for the Anthem. However, Davis doesn’t believe that was the case
“I wasn’t inside enough to know what was really going on, and I take the blame for that,” Davis said. “And it killed our team for the rest of that year. It tore at the heart of our team. It was a total defeat — socially, on the field, everything. It was a disaster. Just a terrible night. And it was my fault, because I was at the top of the food chain.”
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Davis Clarifies BLM Support
Davis is one of the few NFL owners who has come out and emphatically stated “Black lives matter.” However, he made sure that he doesn’t support the organization itself.
“I have taken a lot of criticism over saying Black Lives Matter,” Davis said. “I am not backing some Marxist organization, it’s just a clean statement. Obviously, all lives matter, but where we’re at right now, we have to make clear that Black lives matter because a part of our society needs to hear that after what’s been going on. We have to stop police brutality.
“We have two pandemics this year, social justice and COVID virus.”
The Raiders and the NFL could alienate some fans this season but Davis has made it clear that he’s more concerned with social change right now.