Tension between the Las Vegas Raiders and the NFL is nothing new. The team and the league have frequently been at odds for decades, mostly thanks to the late Al Davis. Mark Davis now runs the Raiders and he’s been a lot less hostile towards the NFL. However, that could be changing very quickly.
Head coach Jon Gruden was forced to resign on Monday after a series of offensive emails emerged from the NFL’s investigation into the Washington Football Team. Though the investigation was into Washington, the Raiders are the only team that has been dealt a serious blow. Gruden was Davis’ dream coach and he gave the keys to the franchise over to him. Now he has to start over with another coach. According to Jason La Canfora of CBS Sports, Davis is extremely unhappy with the NFL:
Davis has turned his ire toward the league office, according to sources with knowledge of the situation, becoming very emotional at the meeting in which Gruden departed and mulling potential legal options. Davis has told others that he believes influential figures within the league office were intent on forcing Gruden out through calculated media leaks of the emails that contained racist tropes and homophobic slurs.
It remains to be seen if Davis has any legal recourse against the NFL. The Raiders have condemned what Gruden said in the emails but it is suspicious that they’d leak in the middle of the season.
“He thinks the league office is out to get him,” a source who has spoken to Davis told La Canfora. “He thinks it’s a hit job.”
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NFL Has Had Emails Since July
Nobody has come out and defended Gruden’s words and few have suggested he should’ve kept his job after the emails were leaked. However, the timing of the leaks is conspicuous. According to Mike Florio of Pro Football Talk, the NFL has had knowledge of these emails since July at the latest. Had the Raiders been made aware of these emails then, they could’ve figured out the situation with plenty of time to spare before the start of the season.
Obviously, there’s no ideal time to move on from a coach with as much power as Gruden but the middle of the season is the worst possible time. The NFL denies leaking the emails to the media but didn’t send them to the Raiders until the week of October 4. At the end of the day, the team didn’t have anything to do with Gruden’s emails but are getting punished in the middle of a season that sees them sitting with a 3-2 record. Davis has every right to be frustrated with how the NFL has gone about this.
Front Offices Expecting ‘Fireworks’
Though Mark Davis shares a last name with Al Davis, the two men are very different. Davis has worked with the NFL and hasn’t generally caused headaches for the league. This Gruden scandal could be a major moment for Davis and change his perception around the NFL. La Canfora suggests that sparks could fly during upcoming NFL meetings:
Members of other front offices and ownership groups believe this controversy will make for some fireworks at the upcoming NFL meetings in New York this month, with Davis upset with Commissioner Roger Goodell and others in the league office. Davis has generally kept a lower profile at these meetings than his father did, but that could be changing now.
Davis isn’t seen as one of the more powerful owners in the NFL but he does own one of the iconic franchises. He could end up going to war with the league just like his father did in the 1980s.