The stories of how far behind the times the Oakland Raiders were in Al Davis’ later years are infamous. Last year, we passed along a story saying that new GM Reggie McKenzie asked the team to construct a modern-day “war room” for the NFL Draft because no such room existed at the team’s facilities. Now we’re learning that the team did not even have a full-time groundskeeper on staff under Davis, who died in late 2011.
Sports Illustrated’s Jim Trotter spent a season with the Raiders and wrote an excellent article about it for the April 22 edition of the magazine. The feature, called “The New Silver and Black,” talks about some of the changes McKenzie made with the franchise and how power was passed from Al Davis, to his son Mark Davis, and on to Reggie.
Early in the story, Trotter mentions that McKenzie was out for a jog around the practice fields at the Raiders’ training facility in Alameda when he noticed the poor field conditions. He said the footing was uneven and that there were goose droppings and dirt patches. Upon inquiring, McKenzie learned that the Raiders did not have a full-time groundskeeper on site. Instead, they outsourced the job to a local company.
Maintaining a field is a full-time job, and one would think an NFL team would place a pretty high priority on having top-of-the-line field conditions. Not the Raiders at the time.
Another frightening story shared by Trotter came from an agent, who says he was negotiating with Davis on a contract for a free agent. The two had agreed on a guaranteed money amount before Davis got off the call because he was having a coughing fit. When they resumed the call a day later, Davis supposedly asked the agent where they had left off. The agent told the late owner they had agreed on the amount of guaranteed money, and quoted him a price $1 million higher than the previous number. Davis didn’t notice and just picked up the negotiation from there.
The entire article is filled with great stories and information from Trotter, including details on who made the choice to acquire Carson Palmer. We recommend you pick up an SI subscription to read it if you don’t already have one. It’s really no wonder why the Raiders became so bad during the 2000 decade. They were just horribly managed in multiple aspects.