During Al Davis’ long reign as the owner and managing general partner of the Raiders, he wore many hats. When he passed, he left his son scrambling to fill his shoes. He would need a general manager to help him, but to do that he would need to reach out to the great minds of Raiders past to get the right guy.
Mark Davis has been a part of the Raiders for 48 years. During that time, he has gained a lot of insight into what makes an organization function. But there are no other NFL teams in this league that function like the Raiders. His father was a library of knowledge about the NFL and the Raiders.
There have been a few great minds who have come through the Raiders’ organization and have taken some of the knowledge and insight with them. In particular John Madden and Ron Wolff. Both are retired and free to give advice based on their knowledge, and they contributed in any way possible to making Mark’s decision on a general manager the correct one.
“Change happened on October 8th,” said Mark Davis referring to the death of his father, Al Davis. “We had to bring this full around. The one thing I know is what I don’t know. The one thing I did know was I needed to bring the right people in here. I had the right people to consult with, with Ron Wolff, John Madden and those kinds of people. We discussed a lot of things about the Raiders’ organization and which way it should go. My feeling always has been that if my father wasn’t here we needed someone to run that football side of the building. I needed to find the right person. I truly believe that Reggie McKenzie is the right man for this job and I think you’ll all see that as we go along.
“My long-term goal was to research and identify a general manager to lead the Raider organization into the future,” said Mark Davis. “I consulted with Ron Wolff… He told me who the best candidates were and what their positives and negatives were, and gave me an idea of the different types of general managers there are throughout the league… one of which was Reggie McKenzie… and then he sent me off on my way to do my research. He didn’t make any suggestions. He didn’t say ‘hire this guy or hire that guy’.
“Unfortunately league rules prohibited us from contacting any current employees from other NFL teams until the end of the regular season… On January 1st the shackles were off and we were finally able to ask the Green Bay Packers for permission to interview Reggie McKenzie to become general manager of the Raiders… We met with John Madden for about six hours and reached an agreement that Reggie would become the general manager of the Oakland Raiders.”
Reggie McKenzie valued his time as a Raider and looks back on it fondly. In one of his more emotional moments: “This is where I came from. I’m back home now. I’m back home.” He has had a long relationship with Ron Wolff during their time together in Green Bay. Wolff drafted him to the Raiders and hired him to the Packers’ front office after his NFL career. So when Wolff gave his list of potential candidates, of course McKenzie was on it. Along with glowing reviews.
So even with the choices Wolff gave Davis, there was really only one choice.
“This is the only interview we did together,” said Davis. “And it was the only interview I did for this position. I had to wait three months to do it and I knew by then who I wanted.”
“[Madden] was fantastic, just fantastic. Again, I’m not going to get into specifics, but he really was very helpful to me. To get us started… We met for about four hours with Reggie, then John took off, Reggie and I met for another two hours and came to the decision that we were going to do it.”
As Davis puts it, he’s “got one of the largest extended families in the world” in the Raiders’ current and former players, coaches, and front office personnel. And in his time of need, he reached out to them and they were there for him. Now he has yet another former player in the mix as the Raiders’ current General Manager. Keeping it in the family.