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Did Magic Johnson play key role in stealing Kliff Kingsbury from Raiders?

Magic Johnson looking on

Mar 23, 2018; Omaha, NE, USA; NBA former player Magic Johnson watches during the first half between the Clemson Tigers and the Kansas Jayhawks in the semifinals of the Midwest regional of the 2018 NCAA Tournament at CenturyLink Center. Mandatory Credit: Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports

Kliff Kingsbury pulled one of the stranger moves of the NFL offseason. It appeared Kingsbury was set to become the new offensive coordinator of the Las Vegas Raiders, only for him to abruptly change course and take the same position with the Washington Commanders.

While there has been plenty of speculation over what led to the change, Raiders coach Antonio Pierce inserted one unexpected name into the conversation: Magic Johnson.

In an appearance on “The Pivot Podcast,” Pierce suggested that Johnson, a member of the Commanders’ ownership group, intervened late in the process to bring Kingsbury to Washington.

“Until you put pen to paper, that’s the one thing I learned. No different than the lesson in free agency,” Pierce said. “Teams are recruiting you. Things are going on. Listen, Magic Johnson’s pretty good. I think he can still dish it out a little bit. If I’m losing to Magic, I’m okay with that.”

As it turns out, Pierce is probably telling the truth. One under-the-radar report from prior to the Super Bowl from Ian Rapoport of NFL Network suggested that Johnson had been a key figure in intervening and suggesting to Kingsbury that he might have a landing spot in Washington. Another report from ESPN’s Adam Schefter suggested that the Commanders had been willing to offer Kingsbury an extra year on his contract that the Raiders refused to do.

Whatever the case, Johnson certainly seems to have played a significant role in stealing Kingsbury from the Raiders. Perhaps this is what Ben Johnson meant when he supposedly derided Washington’s ownership as being made up of “basketball guys.”


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