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Mark Davis (American football)

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Mark Davis
Mark Davis (American football).jpg
Davis in 2017
Born
Mark M Davis[1]

(1955-05-18) May 18, 1955 (age 67)[2]
Alma materCalifornia State University, Chico
OccupationBusinessman and sports franchise owner
Years active2011–present
Known forPrincipal owner of the Las Vegas Raiders and Las Vegas Aces
Parent(s)Al Davis
Carol Davis

Mark M Davis (born May 18, 1955)[1][3] is an American businessman and sports franchise owner. He is the controlling owner and managing general partner of the Las Vegas Raiders of the National Football League (NFL), and the owner of the Las Vegas Aces of the Women's National Basketball Association (WNBA).[4][5][6] He is the son of Al Davis, the principal owner of the Raiders from 1972 until his death in 2011. Upon the elder Davis's death, Mark along with his mother Carol Davis inherited ownership of the Raiders, with Mark taking over as operating head of the franchise. As of October 2015, Davis has an estimated $500 million net worth.[7]

Early years[edit]

Davis was born in Brooklyn, New York to Al and Carol Davis.[8] He is a graduate of California State University, Chico.[3]

Prior to owning the team, Davis was involved in the retail part of the Raiders' business where he helped develop the organization's Raider Image stores. He also spent time in the Raiders equipment department where in 1986 he developed the muff-style hand warmer for football.[9] In 1980, Davis represented Raiders player Cliff Branch in contract negotiations with the team which resulted in a deal that included an annuity (active until Branch's death in 2019) and got Mark kicked out of his father's house for being too close to the players. He later lived with Branch when the team moved to Los Angeles.[10]

Professional sports[edit]

Oakland / Las Vegas Raiders[edit]

Davis and his mother, Carol, inherited the team after the death of his father, Al Davis, in 2011.[11][12] Mark and Carol own a 47 percent share of the Raiders through Al's company, A. D. Football, Inc.; the stake is contractually structured to give them controlling interest. Mark took over his father's old post of managing general partner and became operating head of the franchise.[13] He controls the Raiders' day-to-day operations and represents the Raiders at owners' meetings.

Relocation to Las Vegas[edit]

Davis gained control of the team towards the end of the Raiders lease with the Oakland Coliseum, a facility that dates back to 1965 and had multiple issues due to its age. It was also at the time the only facility that still housed both a Major League Baseball and NFL team, a major point of contention for both leagues. As such, Davis put himself in charge of an effort to construct a new stadium for the Raiders, an issue that his father Al was never able to solve in his tenure as owner. He initially stated a desire to keep the Raiders in Oakland (preferably on the Coliseum site) or the immediate area. Due to the lack of a stadium plan, Davis began to communicate with representatives in other cities such as Los Angeles, San Antonio, and Las Vegas.[14][15]

In late February 2015, Davis announced that the Raiders would pursue a shared stadium in Carson, California, with Dean Spanos and the San Diego Chargers.[16] Davis' and Spanos' proposal directly competed with and eventually lost to Rams' owner Stan Kroenke and his proposed stadium in Inglewood.[17]

Until after the Carson vote Davis was also actively working towards a resolution in Oakland.[18] In an interview, he said "we are trying everything possible to get something done in Oakland right on the same exact site we're on right now".[18] However, after a dispute over rent in Oakland where the city raised the rent on the team after the Carson plan failed and due to lack of what Davis saw as a credible plan from Oakland, Davis began exclusive discussions with Las Vegas. He initially teamed up with Sheldon Adelson to get a stadium in Las Vegas though after funding was acquired for the stadium Adelson was cut out of the deal.[19] On March 27, 2017, the National Football League officially approved the Raiders move from Oakland to Las Vegas in a 31–1 vote, ensuring them a new stadium in the process.

Las Vegas Aces[edit]

On January 14, 2021, Davis agreed to purchase the Las Vegas Aces of the Women's National Basketball Association from MGM Resorts International.[20] The purchase was approved by the WNBA and NBA on February 12, 2021.[21] Prior to owning the team, Davis had been a Aces' season ticket holder and a frequent attendee at home games. Davis said that discussions to purchase the Aces began shortly after he remarked to MGM Resorts CEO Bill Hornbuckle at a game that the players should get paid more. Prior to making a formal bid, he had a meeting with Aces forward A'ja Wilson to gauge her thoughts about him taking over the team. Shortly after the purchase of the team by Davis, ground was broken on a training facility for the Aces in Henderson next to the Raiders facility. The 50,000 square foot facility will house the Aces’ practice facility, offices, training room and lockers and is expected to be completed by 2022.[22] In May 2021, Davis hired former LSU Lady Tigers basketball head coach Nikki Fargas as team president. On December 31, 2021, Becky Hammon was hired as head coach in a deal that made her the highest paid coach in the WNBA.[23]

Philosophy and Management style[edit]

In his ownership of the Raiders, Davis has focused on business matters while leaving on-field matters to the football operations staff. This form of management is in stark contrast to his father, who was well known as one of the most hands-on owners in professional sports. Al Davis became general manager of the Raiders in 1966 after returning from a short stint as AFL commissioner, and remained head of football operations after becoming principal owner in 1972. He exercised near-complete control over both business and football matters until his death.

In 2013, Davis fired the Raiders public relations director because of a Sports Illustrated article that was critical of Davis' father. Davis stated that the director's replacement needed to understand the importance of his father's legacy and actively protect it.[24]

In his ownership of the Aces, Davis has focused on business matters while also dabbling in team operation matters when necessary.

On domestic violence in the NFL[edit]

Davis spoke out publicly on the issue of domestic violence in the NFL, following San Francisco 49ers defensive lineman Ray McDonald's arrest on August 31, 2014.[25] Davis disagreed with Jed York's decision to keep McDonald on the active roster, proposing that the league should suspend any player arrested with pay while "the investigation moves forward"[25] This was the first proposal of this kind following the Ray Rice assault video surfacing, that specifically called for an immediate suspension of players rather than leaving the decision to suspend up to the respective franchises themselves. In March 2015, Davis again went public on the issue of domestic violence, shutting down rumors that the Raiders' started negotiations with Greg Hardy, who was convicted on domestic abuse charges earlier that year.[26] The Raiders' organization has traditionally been vocal about domestic violence issues, with direct involvement with the Tracey Biletnikoff Foundation, created by Hall of Famer Fred Biletnikoff to support community substance abuse treatment and domestic violence programs.[27]

On social justice and player protests[edit]

Davis has spoken out publicly on the controversial National Anthem protests in the NFL, where players kneel during the playing of the pre-game National Anthem to protest social injustice and police brutality on African Americans. Davis originally preferred his players to stand, but after comments made by President Donald Trump calling protesting players "Sons of Bitches" and saying they should be fired for kneeling, Davis changed his stance. In a public statement the following weekend he stated, "About a year ago before our Tennessee game I met with Derek Carr and Khalil Mack to ask their permission to have Tommie Smith light the torch for my father before the game in Mexico City," Davis told ESPN's Paul Gutierrez. "I explained to them I was asking their permission because I had previously told them that I would prefer that they not protest while in Raiders uniform. And should they have something to say once their uniform was off, I might go up there with them. Over the last year, though," Davis continued, "the streets have gotten hot and there has been a lot of static in the air and recently fuel has been added to the fire. I can no longer ask our team not to say something while they are in a Raider uniform. The only thing I can ask them to do is do it with class. Do it with pride. Not only do we have to tell people there is something wrong, we have to come up with answers. That's the challenge that's in front of us as Americans and as human beings."[28]

In May 2018, Davis abstained from an NFL owner resolution on the anthem protests that called for players to stand or stay in the locker room until after the anthem is played or face a team fine for kneeling, locking arms or raising their fist. Davis abstained along with San Francisco 49ers owner Jed York after speaking out on social justice issues to the other owners.[29][30]

In April 2022, Davis stated that he would welcome Colin Kaepernick to the team with open arms if general manager Dave Ziegler and head coach Josh McDaniels wished to sign him stating that he believed in him and that "he sacrificed a lot of the things that he could've been doing in his life to get a message across about police violence and equity and inclusion in America, and I stand by that."[31]

On the Washington Football Team workplace conduct investigation[edit]

Davis has spoken out in favor of a written report of the Washington Football Team workplace conduct investigation and the release of such a report in stark contrast to the other NFL team owners who oppose releasing a report and the NFL announcing a report would not be forthcoming. A year-long independent investigation into the Washington Football Team's workplace culture under owner Daniel Snyder, led by lawyer Beth Wilkinson, was concluded in July 2021 and found that several incidents of sexual harassment, bullying, and intimidation were commonplace throughout the organization under his ownership.[32][33] Davis said that the public and possible victims deserve a written report. Information leaked from the investigation in October 2021 showed that Raiders head coach Jon Gruden, then employed by ESPN, wrote emails over a 10-year period to then-Washington Football Team president Bruce Allen that included racist, anti-gay and misogynistic language. Gruden resigned as head coach of the Raiders shortly after information in the emails were leaked to and reported on by the New York Times. Davis has in addition criticised the NFL for not disclosing the Gruden emails to him and the Raider orgaization when the league discovered them in June 2021 as part of the investigation so action could have been taken by him and the team before the start of the 2021 season.[34]

On player pay and accommodations in the WNBA[edit]

Davis has spoken out in favor of increased pay and better accommodations for players in the WNBA. In response to criticisms of WNBA player salaries due to a low league salary cap and what is considered sub-standard league accommodations from Aces player Liz Cambage after Davis signed Aces head coach Becky Hammon to the most lucrative head coaching contract in WNBA history worth over $1 million dollars Davis stated "We have to be paying these women commensurate to what their abilities are and what they're doing. On the front office side and the coaching side, there is no salary cap. Becky Hammon didn't want to be a million-dollar coach. But I wanted her to be a million-dollar coach. Because I thought that she would be, in a sense, when the American Football League started, they had a television contract. And they had Joe Namath. And Joe Namath had the $400,000 contract and he sparked the imagination of everybody that 'This league is real.' "I felt that giving Becky Hammon the million-dollar contract ... would then show everybody that there is value here. Liz Cambage kind of came out with a statement, and I agree 100 percent with what she says. That the players do deserve more money. That they don't need to be flying on commercial flights. ... I agree with all of those things and those are things that the Las Vegas Aces are going to be champions of, and that we're going to grow for the good of everybody in this league."[35]

Personal life[edit]

Davis says he is a food connoisseur and has said that his favorite restaurants include Dan Tana's in Los Angeles, California, Joe's Stone Crab in Miami Beach, Florida, and P.F. Chang's.[36] Davis is known for his signature bowl haircut and for driving a 1997 Dodge Caravan SE which is outfitted with a bubble-top Mark III conversion kit as well as a VHS player mounted to the ceiling.[37][38] Davis donated $10,000 to the Gridiron PAC between 2016 and 2017.[39]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b Sapakoff, Gene (September 6, 2020). "Sapakoff: Raiders owner Mark Davis corrects Wikipedia on Charleston, Citadel ties". Charleston Post and Courier. Retrieved September 6, 2020.
  2. ^ "Mark Davis treats Aces' alumni to fancy Strip dinner". Las Vegas Review-Journal. May 21, 2021. Retrieved May 22, 2021.
  3. ^ a b Tafur, Vic (October 9, 2011). "Davis family will retain ownership of Raiders". The San Francisco Chronicle. p. B-9. Archived from the original on October 10, 2011.
  4. ^ "Davis family will keep ownership of Raiders, executive says". National Football League. October 8, 2011. Retrieved January 8, 2017.
  5. ^ Poole, Monte (January 10, 2012). "Monte Poole: Did Mark Davis make the call on Hue Jackson's firing?". Bay Area News Group. Archived from the original on January 10, 2012.
  6. ^ Williamson, Bill (January 6, 2012). "Mark Davis knows his role in Oakland". ESPN. Archived from the original on January 10, 2012.
  7. ^ Knowlton, Emmett (October 2, 2015). "Oakland Raiders owner is worth $500 million and still uses a 2003 Nokia phone and drives a minivan". Business Insider. Retrieved January 8, 2017.
  8. ^ Sapakoff, Gene. "Sapakoff: Raiders owner Mark Davis corrects Wikipedia on Charleston, Citadel ties". Post and Courier. Retrieved September 6, 2020.
  9. ^ Lloyd, Barbara (November 6, 1989). "ON YOUR OWN; An Updated Hand Muff (Published 1989)". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved February 12, 2021.
  10. ^ Keown, Tim (October 14, 2014). "Just live up to your dad's name and solve the NFL's L.A. problem, baby!". ESPN. Retrieved January 8, 2017.
  11. ^ Gutierrez, Paul (January 9, 2012). "Prepping for Tuesday's Raiders media conference". Comcast Sportsnet Bay Area. Archived from the original on January 10, 2012.
  12. ^ "Statement from Raiders owner Mark Davis". Comcast Sportsnet Bay Area. January 10, 2012. Archived from the original on July 28, 2012. Retrieved January 10, 2012.
  13. ^ Dickey, Glenn (January 5, 2012). "Oakland Raiders in need of major front-office makeover". The San Francisco Examiner. Archived from the original on January 10, 2012.
  14. ^ "Raiders owner Mark Davis admits meeting in San Antonio". USA Today. Associated Press. July 30, 2014. Retrieved June 5, 2015.
  15. ^ "Q&A with Oakland Raiders owner Mark Davis – NFL Nation". ESPN. Retrieved June 5, 2015.
  16. ^ "Chargers, Raiders will jointly pursue an NFL stadium in Carson". Los Angeles Times. February 20, 2015. Retrieved June 5, 2015.
  17. ^ "Stan Kroenke ready to show NFL owners detailed Inglewood stadium plans". Los Angeles Times. March 21, 2015. Retrieved June 5, 2015.
  18. ^ a b "Mark Davis: We're trying everything to get Oakland stadium deal". National Football League. Retrieved June 5, 2015.
  19. ^ "Sin City or Bust: How the Raiders went Vegas, baby". ESPN.com. Retrieved February 12, 2021.
  20. ^ "Mark Davis, Raiders owner, agrees to purchase Las Vegas Aces WNBA team". KTNV. January 14, 2021. Retrieved January 14, 2021.
  21. ^ "WNBA approves Raiders owner Mark Davis' purchase of Aces". Las Vegas Review-Journal. February 12, 2021. Retrieved February 12, 2021.
  22. ^ "Mark Davis building Aces training facility in Henderson". Las Vegas Review-Journal. February 15, 2021. Retrieved February 17, 2021.
  23. ^ "Sources: Hammon, Aces near richest WNBA deal". ESPN.com. December 31, 2021. Retrieved January 1, 2022.
  24. ^ "Raiders' Mark Davis: 'Reggie's fine'". ESPN. June 9, 2013. Retrieved June 9, 2013.
  25. ^ a b Cindy Boren (September 18, 2014). "Raiders owner Mark Davis says he can solve the NFL's domestic-violence crisis". The Washington Post. Retrieved June 5, 2015.
  26. ^ "Mark Davis is not happy Raiders used as Greg Hardy's leverage". Yahoo Sports. March 13, 2015. Retrieved June 5, 2015.
  27. ^ Peterson, Anne M. (May 7, 2000). "Former Raider Star Biletnikoff Honors Deceased Daughter". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved June 5, 2015.
  28. ^ "Mark Davis: 'I can no longer ask our team to not say something while they are in a Raider uniform'". Silver And Black Pride. Retrieved May 24, 2018.
  29. ^ "Mark Davis abstained from owner vote on anthem resolution, spoke up on social justice issues". Silver And Black Pride. Retrieved May 25, 2018.
  30. ^ "Raiders' Mark Davis confirms he abstained from anthem vote". The Mercury News. May 24, 2018. Retrieved May 25, 2018.
  31. ^ "Raiders' Davis strongly believes in Kap, knows QB deserves chance". RSN. Retrieved April 28, 2022.
  32. ^ Keim, John. "Who is Beth Wilkinson? Lawyer leading Washington NFL team's investigation has high-profile history". Washington Post. Retrieved September 1, 2020.
  33. ^ Hobson, Will; Clarke, Liz; Reinhard, Beth; Maske, Mark (July 1, 2021). "NFL fines Washington Football Team $10 million; Tanya Snyder to run operations for now". The Washington Post. Retrieved July 2, 2021.
  34. ^ "Raiders' Davis wants written report of WFT probe". ESPN.com. October 27, 2021. Retrieved October 28, 2021.
  35. ^ "Aces owner Mark Davis says he agrees '100 percent' with Liz Cambage's WNBA criticism". sports.yahoo.com. Retrieved February 4, 2022.
  36. ^ "The TK Show – Mark Davis – EP04A". SoundCloud. Retrieved April 9, 2015.
  37. ^ Wickersham, Seth; Van Natta Jr., Don (April 13, 2017). "Sin City Or Bust". ABC News. Retrieved September 7, 2018.
  38. ^ Keown, Tim (October 14, 2014). "Just live up to your dad's name and solve the NFL's L.A. problem, baby!". ESPN. Retrieved September 7, 2018.
  39. ^ "Get to know Mark Davis, the Oakland Raiders' owner". Sports Illustrated. July 16, 2018. Archived from the original on January 31, 2019. Retrieved January 31, 2019.

Further reading[edit]