Mark Davis not celebrating Raiders' move to Vegas 'like I would like to be'

Mark Davis not celebrating Raiders' move to Vegas 'like I would like to be'

The Raiders were approved to relocate from Oakland to Las Vegas last week by a 31-1 vote of NFL ownership, but the Silver and Black won’t be packing up quite yet.

They could play as many as three seasons in a market they’re leaving, creating a limbo period that isn’t fun for many. That includes Raiders owner Mark Davis, who has been stressed about this move despite securing a sweetheart deal to build a new venue just off the Las Vegas Strip.

"I’m not celebrating anything like I would like to be,” Davis said Tuesday in an extended interview with 95.7-The Game host JT the Brick. “We’re building a world-class venue in the entertainment capital of the world that will be great for Super Bowls and big events, but I still have a feeling for the fans in the Bay Area. I’ve met with a number of them, and anything I say isn’t going to soothe them. It makes this whole thing bittersweet.”

Davis detailed several starts and stops in stadium talks with Oakland and Alameda County, explaining to fans why he eventually turned full attention to Las Vegas. He said the Raiders nearly had a term sheet for a stadium completed with development company Colony Capital, and that a 10-year lease extension between the Athletics and Oakland Coliseum in summer 2014 derailed that Raiders stadium effort.

Davis referred to that A’s lease as an obstacle several times during the interview where he said he exhausted options to stay in the Bay Area despite a desire to do so. He also said the NFL pushed hard to keep the Raiders in place.

“The only people Oakland was in competition with was themselves,” Davis said. ”If they could’ve come up with a deal that could’ve given us the land or leased it at reasonable terms and gave us the infrastructure and ability to find a developer to bridge the funding gap, we may have been able to do something on that site. I believe it’s a phenomenal. Sundays at that stadium are the greatest. …Plans the city had would downgrade that game day experience.”

Davis said he offered a 20-percent stake in the Raiders at favorable rates to development companies and Athletics ownership. Offering a stake to the Athletics was new information, something originally expressed when Davis and team president Marc Badain had lunch with then-A's owner Lew Wolff and another top executive. 

The Raiders wanted both teams to vacate the Coliseum site and return when two sport-specific stadia were complete. The A’s didn’t pursue that plan, and it didn't go much further. The Raiders kept trying different alternatives, Davis outlined in the interview, but weren't able to secure a stadium deal in the East Bay.

“We’ve tried to get help to build (a stadium) either with the A’s or on our own, but we do not want to build in the corner of that parking lot,” Davis said. “We were never going to do that. We want to build something that’s going to be great, a world-class stadium that the Raiders, the NFL and, most of all, the fans are proud of. That wasn’t going to happen.”

That, and a messy lease negotiation in 2016 shifted Davis' focus outside the market, where he eventually secured financing on a $1.7 billion stadium in Las Vegas that includes $750 million in public funds and a loan from Bank of America. 

The Raiders hold one-year lease options to play at Oakland Coliseum in 2017 and 2018. Davis has said he hopes the Raiders will remain in the Bay Area in 2019 – his Las Vegas stadium won’t be ready until 2020 -- though the Oakland Coliseum authority has balked at that prospect. The Raiders could also play at Cal's Memorial Stadium or Levi's Stadium if they choose to remain in the Bay Area in 2019. Davis is adverse to renovating UNLV's Sam Boyd Stadium for just one season, considering it won't permanently host any team beyond that season. 

Davis vowed to remain active in the Bay Area community before and after the Raiders leave, and hopes to shield his team and employees from fan ire over his decision to move.

“If there’s blame to be given, it should be aimed at me,” Davis said. “I’m the one who made the decision. My dream is for us to play out the next two, possibly three seasons in Oakland. I’d like to bring a championship to Oakland. I’m hoping that, in time, emotions will dry and that we’ll be able to do something of that nature.

“…I feel like I should say I understand that there is anger and disappointment, and that it should be pointed at me and not a Derek Carr, Khalil Mack and Jack Del Rio. Those guys want to bring a championship to the Bay Area.”

Marshawn Lynch excellent fit for Raiders scheme, ailing Oakland fan base

Marshawn Lynch excellent fit for Raiders scheme, ailing Oakland fan base

Marshawn Lynch is a Raider. He announced that fact on Twitter in his own unique way Wednesday, completing a month-long process from initial interest to final signature.

The Raiders gave him a new contract and traded Seattle for his rights, allowing the Oakland Tech High grad and Cal alum to come out of retirement and play for his hometown team.

That’s good news for Raiders fans on several fronts. He fills an immediate need at running back created when Latavius Murray left for Minnesota.

It temporarily tempers, though certainly doesn’t extinguish, rage about the Raiders relocating to Las Vegas.

[RATTO: Here's to hoping Marshawn Lynch upstages the NFL Draft]

Owner Mark Davis hopes to move his team when a new stadium is complete in 2020. 

Lynch won't be there. Lynch won’t represent Vegas. He’s an Oakland Raider, playing for the city he champions at every turn. Lynch regularly gives back to this community and might be its most popular native son right now.

Lynch missed playing football, but he wanted to represent his hometown. That was clear in his tweet. He explained it this way: “I’m really from Oakland doe like really really really from Oakland doe…town bizness breath on me.”

He’ll celebrate joining the Raiders on Thursday with a block party and autograph signing in Oakland.

Lynch will give East Bay fans something to cheer for that won’t be shipping off to Vegas in a few years.

Nothing can cure the pain of an NFL team leaving Oakland a second time. Wins are ibuprofen, giving short-term relief to an ailing fan local base. He can certainly help the Raiders provide that.

The Silver and Black needed a big, physical primary rusher to pair with elusive, yet smaller backs Jalen Richard and DeAndre Washington.

Lynch is that guy. There’s no question he’s a football fit.

Lynch is a strong interior rusher from several different formations. He could run well behind fullback Jamize Olawale, as a lone shotgun runner or in jumbo packages with quarterback Derek Carr under center and behind a hulking Raiders offensive line.

While new offensive coordinator Todd Downing will add some wrinkles to an existing scheme, the Raiders employ a versatile system that could suit Lynch’s many strengths.

Lynch ranks among the toughest, most aggressive backs of his generation and one of the best resisting tackles.

He averaged 4.3 yards per carry and 2.8 yards after contact per rushing attempt in his career, according to analytics site Pro Football Focus.

Lynch led the NFL with 245 broken tackles between 2013 and 2016 – 56 more than the next guy -- and he didn’t even play last season, per PFF.

He led the league with an unreal 3.1 yards after per contact in 2014, his last year fully healthy. He played just eight times in 2015 due to an abdominal injury that required surgery.

Lynch is completely healthy after his year travelling the world, doing charity work and expanding his clothing line, but effectiveness is always questioned of running backs over 30. Lynch turned 31 last week. He heads into his 10th season without having been hit in a while, and many believe he can produce like few others his age have in the NFL.

He’ll take the lion’s share of carries in a three-man rotation with Richard and Washington. He reportedly gets an extra $2 million if he's just the second Raider since 2010 to reach 1,000 yards. There’s motivation to push for that and other incentives in the deal. If Lynch is in vintage Beast Mode and fans are happy, the Raiders will gladly pay the extra freight.

Here's to hoping Marshawn Lynch upstages the NFL Draft

lynch-marshawn-phone-draft-young.jpg
AP

Here's to hoping Marshawn Lynch upstages the NFL Draft

Marshawn Lynch is going to upstage the NFL Draft for a few moments by announcing his signing with the Oakland Raiders Thursday.

The problem with this is obvious. He can’t upstage it all day long.

The NFL Draft is one of those events that demeans all who come in contact with it, because it basically extols the three virtues the owners find most inspiring – dishonesty, bullying and treachery. Between everyone lying about everything they do, making players submit to the most revolting reputational indignities, and just good old-fashioned broken promises like, “If you’re there at 119, we’re taking you, oh wait, we suddenly hate you and your skill set,” the draft is largely a festival of misery.

Not universally, mind you. Some players love it, especially the ones who hit the lottery, get picked higher than they thought they would and go to the perfect team for their talents and temperaments. That’s not the usual road, but there you go.

But mostly, nah. And we’re not even getting into the cavalcade of media self-anointeds who think they know what they’re talking about but only serve to remind us that not everybody is a fun companion in a bar.

Now the disclaimer: If you like the NFL Draft, fine. Wallow in every minute of it with our blessing. It'll keep you from all level of other mischief, and it is relatively harmless fun if you can deal with the aesthetic unpleasantries to which we just referred. Just understand that you are spending 356 minutes of party prep for three days of partying and six days of cleanup. It's a hamster wheel of fun, but it is a hamster wheel.

But then there's Marshawn Lynch, who overcame being one of those draft casualties (because Buffalo didn’t work for him, and he didn’t work all that well for Buffalo, either), is coming out of retirement to be traded and then rendered a Raider in the time still allotted for them to reside in Oakland. As a distraction, this will play well enough. It sure beats DeMarcus Cousins being traded by Sacramento during the NBA All-Star Game.

I suppose this is a heart-rending tale of one man’s loyalty to his city (the right place at the right price), although there is the naggingly worrisome component that going back to football won’t be good for his overall health. It is the risk he runs, to be sure, and one can only assume that he has made a clearheaded choice, but this is not a spot that treats its recidivists well.

That’s recidivists, as in “folks who walked away happily, then found out they needed it too much for their own good.”

Frankly, there is no good reason not to want this to turn out well for Lynch (the Raiders can take of themselves with or without him, and within two years will do exactly that), but it is a case of bucking some daunting odds in what is too often a zero-sum game. That’s a level of risk that should make anyone queasy.

But it is what Marshawn Lynch wants, risks and all, and as a grown adult he should get the opportunity few are afforded – to chase and catch his dream until it stops being a dream and becomes a chore.

If it works out for the Raiders as well, fine. Lynch isn’t the one who will put them over the top in a conference dominated by three teams – New England, the Patriots and Bill Belichick – but if he finds the athletic closure he seeks, it ought to be good enough for the rest of us.

Especially if it even momentarily minimizes the rest of the hot rhetorical/gasbaggy mess that is Draft Night. If nothing else, here’s hoping Marshawn Lynch is the star of the night. That’s not the way to bet, of course, but a person can hope.