The Raiders organization is no stranger to controversy, but recent developments there have been even more contentious than usual.
Late last year, Jon Gruden was forced to resign after private emails were leaked to the press.
Then in May, former team president Dan Ventrelle claimed he was fired after raising concerns about the behavior of owner Mark Davis.
Ventrelle said that Davis was “dismissive” of the issues and “did not demonstrate the warranted level of concern.”
The former executive also elevated his complaints to the league level after “multiple written complaints from employees” about Davis’s behavior.
Now, the Raiders owner has spoken out about the team’s internal investigation into the matter.
Davis says he took the allegations “very seriously,” and “listened to the people who work in the organization:”
“The culture of this organization for me is so important,” Davis said. “Since the articles that came out, not only in The New York Times, but the [Review-Journal] … I take those very seriously. So we did an investigation into all those things and we listened to the people who work in the organization, and I believe we started to make those changes that are necessary to get the culture back to where we feel we can all be positive.”
Interestingly, Davis seems to acknowledge that the workplace culture was indeed flawed. By saying they’ve started to “make those changes that are necessary to get the culture back to where we feel we can all be positive,” it’s implying that there were structural issues that needed addressing.
A report from SI also explained that Roger Goodell previously said teams could not investigate themselves:
“NFL commissioner Roger Goodell said in February that teams could not investigate themselves, per ProFootballTalk. This quote is in reference to the ongoing Commanders investigation, but it could relate to the Raiders’ situation now, too. Davis did not go into details as to how the organization conducted the investigation.”
After a former HR employee backed up Ventrelle’s claims, Davis said that employees were becoming more “replaceable:”
“We were beginning to be more corporate in the organization where a title was more important than the person that was wearing the title,” Davis said. “It got to the point where people could be replaceable. ‘We can get [a senior vice president] for this anywhere.’ That’s never been what the Raiders organization has been about. It’s always been about the people first and family. … We never really got to start the Las Vegas Raiders with a culture that had momentum.”
The Raiders also recently announced that they had hired the first black president in league history:
But that did not fully assuage the concerns of the former HR employee Nicole Adams, who explained her concerns that the new president could be a “figurehead:”
“I think it’s a wonderful step that [Davis] is taking towards trying to improve the team’s image, but hiring the first-ever Black female president doesn’t necessarily mean that things will change,” Adams said. “I just hope that the new president is the person who is truly going to improve the culture of the team, and not just a figurehead put in place to take the heat off of them.”
There’s certainly a complicated, interesting situation developing here. Davis seemed to acknowledge that the culture did have significant issues that needed to be fixed, and there’s already concern raised that the new president could be a symbolic hire meant to distract from previous problems.
It’s also not been confirmed whether the NFL is conducting their own investigation into the team, but it seems like there might be more to this story down the road.