Opinion: Jon Gruden’s departure raises question of what the Raiders stand for
One of the most interesting statements around Jon Gruden leaves Monday night as head coach of the now Las Vegas Raiders, was made by team owner Mark Davis, who is the son of Raiders founder, late Al Davis.
Friday, by ESPN report, Mark Davis said the content of Gruden’s emails – apparently using racist, misogynistic and homophobic language – was “disturbing” and “not what the Raiders stand for.” So, the first week of a Raiders organization without Gruden, what do the Raiders represent?
One of the interesting things for me about the Raiders comes from my experience living around the world. The NFL is hugely successful in countries like England, Germany, and other places I have lived. Raider Silver and Black is not only hugely popular, but it’s most often used as symbolic streetwear, rather than just NFL fan gear, around the world.
When you break that down, that means the Raiders silver and black represent something, which is why everyone from hipsters to people who are or want to portray themselves as gang members wear their colors around the world. whole.
But the idea that this franchise can withstand anything – that there is a global Raiders brand of true, loyal fans – is shattered. in a compelling 2019 article on the East Bay Express. The Raiders’ global brand myth is just that – a myth. When we dive into the actual number of fans and the different metrics we look at for supporting fans away from “home” – defined as Oakland – they are just poor.
The author suggests that this idea of positioning the Raiders as a different kind of “American team” – even if it reflects a different America than the existing American NFL team, the Cowboys – was used to arm the Raiders move to Los Angeles and now Las Vegas:
“I bring this up because this once harmless illusion shared by NFL executives and non-Bay Area fans is no longer so harmless, as it has been used to justify the team’s impending and surely regrettable relocation. NFL owners said the Raiders could build a fan base in Las Vegas, which would be visited and grown by fans in Los Angeles and other communities outside of Nevada.
Put simply, this type of thinking is stupid – if not insane – especially when used to defend Mark Davis’ plan to stab East Bay fans for the second time. “
But maybe the Raiders need to Raid?
The word raider actually comes from Middle English when the Vikings invaded. Viking raiders were murderers and looters. Their name literally evokes murder and theft – not actually “win” or “last”. True Viking raiders traveled thousands of miles east and south: across the Baltic, on the rivers of modern Russia, and across the Black Sea to threaten Constantinople in 941.
“Nobody imagines that they were there to capture the city”, Cambridge University historian Simon Franklin says in Smithsonian. “It was more terrorist – it was about instilling fear and getting trade concessions.”
Raiders players have always been or nurtured the character of outlaws more than just soccer field warriors. The names of Alzado, Sistrunk, Stabler, Tatum, and many more conjure up images of the dark side, the stadium, and the team you might never get out of or get over from facing. They were, at the very least, the bad boys in the NFL.
In a piece of this summer announcing that Mark Davis was building a $ 14 million desert mansion just outside Las Vegas, CBS Sports (an ironically one of the great historic conduits of the Silver and Black Raiders message and meaning) has perfectly summarized what the team represents:
Whether passing through Oakland, Los Angeles or Las Vegas, the legacy and mystique of the Raiders has long focused on their status as the designated “bad guy” of the National Football League. This is what influenced nicknames such as “The Black Hole” at the old Oakland Coliseum and the new “Death Star” at Allegiant Stadium in Las Vegas.
As Michael epstein, a lawyer and close follower of the NFL points out:
“Although the Raiders of the ’70s and’ 80s were seen as outlaws and anti-establishment as players and as an organization, Gruden’s emails are totally different because they are derogatory and / or discriminatory towards several groups. Such comments and the tone of the comments cannot be accepted when we collectively strive to create a more inclusive society and a more inclusive National Football League.
One remarkably interesting legal item to consider here is the remaining $ 60 million on Gruden’s 10-year / $ 100 million contract. He was not fired from the Raiders “for cause” nor was he fired. Normally, when a contract employee resigns, they sacrifice the remaining payments due on their contract – they simply choose not to perform their contractual obligation anymore, so that they don’t get paid.
But in such a politically charged start, many observers of the intersection of sport and law would be shocked if Gruden did not walk away with a large payment that had been pre-arranged as part of his very quick and relatively straightforward resignation.
Is the narrative here that he voluntarily gave up $ 60 million? Football insiders who report Gruden’s departure and don’t dig into the payoff are complicit with those in power who want this all to go quickly without looking into some of the deeper issues involved.
Ray dennis, a brand strategic advisor who is a longtime Raiders fan and has advised professional sports franchises, sums up the current disconnect to something fundamental about the Raiders as a franchise – a rich history to which the Gruden saga night :
“Al Davis used to give opportunities to black players during the civil rights era, so having a race-insensitive leadership does not match that heritage.”
And that may have been the last straw for the Davis family. Because, as the East Bay article pointed out:
“One of Al Davis’ favorite slogans was’ The Will to Win ‘. But when it comes to the Raiders on TV, not enough people nationwide have the willpower to watch. “
If the Raiders risk straying too far from their story, from the self-created image of “what the Raiders stand for,” the team will bleed a lot more money than the amount left in Gruden’s contract and could rock. the very foundation of what it is to be a part of the Raiders family.
Aron Solomon, JD, is the chief legal analyst at Digital Esquire and the editor of Today’s squire. He has taught entrepreneurship at McGill University and the University of Pennsylvania, and was elected to the Fastcase 50, recognizing the top 50 legal innovators in the world. Aron was featured in CBS News, United States today, ESPN, TechCrunch, The hill, BuzzFeed, Fortune, Venture out, The independent, Yahoo !, ABA Journal, Law.com, The Boston Globe, and many other leading publications.