On the same day that the Raiders officially hired a new president, team owner Mark Davis addressed the deeper issues that sparked organizational upheaval. Davis, in comments on Mick Akers from the Las Vegas Review Journaldiscussed for the first time the allegations of dysfunction and hostility in the workplace that have surfaced in recent weeks.
“The culture of this organization is so important to me,” Davis told Akers. “Since the articles came out, not just in the New York Timesbut the [Review-Journal] . . . I take that very seriously. So we looked at all of these things and we listened to the people who work in the organization and I think we started making the changes that are needed to bring the culture back to where we feel we are all can be positive.”
The fact that the Raiders conducted their own investigation will conjure up memories of Commissioner Roger Goodell’s February statement that a team (in this case, the commanders) cannot investigate itself. The League’s role, if any, in this process remains unknown.
Efforts culminated in the hiring of Sandra Douglass Morgan as the team’s new president. The Raiders also hired Heather DeSanto as the team’s new VP of Human Resources.
“[Morgan] understands that it’s about people first, and that’s the kind of culture we’re going to build,” Davis said. “She looks forward to meeting everyone in the organization in person, getting to know them and receiving their feedback and beginning to build that family culture again.”
One of the team’s most outspoken critics, former HR rep Nicole Adams, welcomes the change when it comes to anything other than window dressing.
“I think this is a wonderful step [Davis] trying to improve the team’s image, but hiring the first-ever black woman president doesn’t necessarily mean things will change,” Adams told Akers via text message. “I just hope that the new president is the person who will really improve the culture of the team and not just a figurehead deployed to take the heat out of them.”
Davis obviously believes that the personnel changes will lead to changes in the culture.
“We started to get more corporate in the organization where a title was more important than the person holding the title,” Davis told Akers. “It got to the point where people could be replaceable. ‘We can get [a senior vice president] for it everywhere.’ That was never what the Raiders organization was about. It was always about the people and the family first. . . . We could never really start the Las Vegas Raiders with a culture that had momentum.”
That momentum has to start now. And while it will be a very good thing if things change for the better, the question is what exactly happened in the past and if there is any real responsibility for it.
That’s the only thread the Raiders situation shares with past troubles in Washington. Things are changing, hopefully for the better. But it’s not like putting a new coat of paint on a dingy old wall. Past imperfections must be properly understood, and the team and league must be assured that those responsible for wrongdoing are getting something more than one don’t do it again
Hopefully the Raiders will appreciate that. Hopefully they don’t absorb the same outrage that has emanated from commanders in recent weeks, with possessions lashing out at those who still have unanswered questions about what really happened and what is actually being done about it.