The Oakland Raiders Owner Mark Davis, according to reports, is planning to file for relocation from Oakland to Las Vegas. Mr. Davis will do this sometime between now and February 15th. The mainstream media view has been that Davis is taking that action because Oakland “hasn’t done anything” (another popular refrain) in working to build a stadium in Oaktown.
Well, that’s the mainstream media view, but the truth says otherwise. The truth says that the Oakland Raiders themselves are to blame for not having a new stadium in Oakland. The truth was said by one person, one unexpected source: NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell.
At the Charlotte NFL Spring League Meeting on May 24, 2016, Commissioner Goodell was faced with two questions posed by this blogger and on the matter of the Raiders allegedly not dealing in an honest, good faith way with the City of Oakland (Zennie Abraham’s vlogs from the NFL meeting at Zennie62 on YouTube):
The first one: “I’ve talked to a number of Oakland officials including the mayor as recently as yesterday and they all expressed – and this goes back the last 12 months – concerns that the Raiders are not negotiating with them in a way that they can trust. When I point out to them that the NFL relocation bylaws call for negotiating in good faith, they say they have no confidence in the National Football League’s desire to police that. Can you clarify what’s become, behind closed doors, a very big mess?
Commissioner Goodell said this: “I think this has been a very transparent issue. I spoke to the mayor last night at ten o’clock, so I’m in touch with her. I’ve told her before if there are proposals or solutions that she can identify or that we can help them identify. We have given from an ownership standpoint, another $100 million – a total of $300 million to get a stadium built in Oakland. We believe in that market. I know Mark Davis does, but there has to be a solution that’s developed. It’s not just on us, there’s got to be a cooperative agreement to try to find that solution. It’s been a long time coming, as you know. This isn’t something that started 12 months ago. This has been a long time that we have been seeking a solution in Oakland, and it’s time to get to that, and we will play our part, and I know the Raiders will also.”
I then followed up with this question: “Is it a big concern that Mr. Davis is perhaps playing his own game and not following anybody else? And this has to do with Las Vegas-UNLV President Len Jessup releasing a statement where they went off, meaning the Raiders, to visit them, the city of Oakland had no knowledge of it, the Raiders told the city of Oakland, “we’re not going to meet with you.” They didn’t tell them about Vegas. They said, wait until we’re through with Houston, meaning Los Angeles, then they said wait until we have a new lease agreement signed, which happened on the 27th of April. So there are a number of people, Council members on down, the city attorney’s office, they’re really concerned the Raiders aren’t playing fairly. “
Commissioner Goodell responded with this: “I take a different view on that. The Raiders have been very open on the challenges to get a stadium built. It’s not fair to shift all of that responsibility to the Raiders. They bear some, but public officials, the private sector, the Raiders, the NFL — we all have a responsibility. It’s a shared responsibility. It’s not one for standing there and saying it’s somebody else’s responsibility. We all need to work together to find a solution.”
Note that Goodell admitted the Oakland Raiders “bear some” responsibility for a new stadium not being built in Oakland to date. That statement is unprecedented, because in the case of St. Louis and San Diego, there’s no record of Commissioner Goodell placing any level of blame on the Rams or the Chargers for not having new stadiums in San Diego and in St. Louis.
Now, the Rams are in Los Angeles and the Chargers are headed to LA to join them, eventually, in the same new stadium in Inglewood, California. But, that the Commissioner of The NFL would make a statement that opens to door to casting blame on the Raiders for their problems is unusual to say the least. It would seem to point to the league itself having disagreements with how the Raiders have behaved in Oakland. Indeed, there are a number of fans who point fingers at Davis for what they say has been unnecessarily antagonistic treatment toward them. Moreover, there are many accounts of Davis deliberately trying to upset Raider Nation.
On August 1, 2016, Yahoo’s James Arcellana wrote “Over the weekend Oakland Raiders superfan Dr. Death, who is perhaps most well known for his efforts to try and keep the team in Oakland, was at training camp covering events on social media as he usually does. Among the many tweets and periscope videos sent out was one where he interviews members of the well known Raiders booster club 66th Mob. In that interview, a member of the 66th Mob who goes by Godfather Griz recounted an interaction with Mark Davis earlier in the day…In recounting the interaction, Godfather Griz explained that when he told Mark Davis that a move to Las Vegas would splinter the fan base and he would lose the support of many Oaklanders. According to Griz, the response from Mark Davis was that he would be ok with that.
But Arcellana, perhaps afraid of upsetting the Raiders or because he did not know, left out the part of that encounter that sent Raider Nation into a frenzy, and accused Davis of trying to pick a fight with them and hurt their feelings.
A Periscope video you can see here made by Dr. Death just after the training camp encounter last year, tells a different, and not watered down, story. Godfather Griz explains that Davis walked over to him and the Forever Oakland group, and asked him how things were. Davis reached out to shake Griz hand, but Griz refused and asked him “Are you going to keep the team in Oakland.?” Davis said yes, for the next three years, but after that,” and Griz gave a wave of his hand, as if Davis was saying ‘We’re gone.’ Griz then explained to Davis that he would be dividing the fan base, and that he was not an Oakland Raider. Davis said “I’m OK with that.”
But it didn’t end there. Griz comments that Davis says “that’s good” and Griz responded that it’s not good. Griz’s partner remarked that she said to Davis there would be a lot of fans would be disappointed; Davis said “I don’t care.”
Griz is a season ticket holder who drives from Fresno to see the games and is one of many thousands of passionate fans who make up Raider Nation. For Davis to walk over to him and then make comments that knowingly hurt his feelings and many others in Raider Nation is purely nonsensical.
Davis basically admitted he has no problem alienating a fan base that has given his Raiders organization a season ticket wait list for the first time in its history, and in the same 2016 year that he went to training camp and openly pissed off key members of that same group. He also admitted that he didn’t care if they were upset.
This happened after Commissioner Goodell’s statements, but his comments were referring to the same Raiders owner at the center of why the Raiders “bear some” responsibility for not having a new stadium in Oakland.
Mark Davis does not at all care about the feelings of Oakland Raiders fans with respect to his Las Vegas relocation effort. He has admitted that, and is taking actions that prove that. Davis actions are causing many of his key fans emotional harm. Moreover, Davis may be creating the climate for a lawsuit that could, itself, and separate from any NFL Owner action, keep the Raiders in Oakland.
In the law that’s the concept of “Intentional Infliction of Emotional Distress” That is, according to record, “Extreme or outrageous conduct that intentionally or recklessly causes severe emotional distress”. If you listen to Griz’s statements to Dr. Death, Davis conduct was extreme and outrageous, given the idea that as an NFL Owner you don’t want to upset your fan base. Davis stated view that he did not care if he divided or upset Raiders fans was obviously intentional. And it has caused emotional distress: the expression of anger, as Griz has shown, and also by Dr. Death, in a now famous outburst at Raiders Headquarter that featured him screaming at the building, calling for Davis to stop his relocation efforts, and looking (as many have said, including this blogger) like a crazy person. There are many more examples of Raiders fans expressing anger over Davis’ relocation actions.
These are reactions, expressions of emotional distress, that Davis, given his words to Griz, seems to be “Ok” with. While he may be ok with making Raider Nation crazy mad, Davis will discover how wrong his actions really were if fans file an injunction to stop him from taking the Raiders out of Oakland and to Vegas. Given how much evidence Mark Davis has given Oakland Raiders fans to use against him, don’t be surprised if they form a winning legal effort.