We don't just cover the North Bay. We live here.
Did You Know? In the first 10 days of the North Bay fire, nearly 1.5 million people used their mobile devices to visit our sites.
Already a subscriber?
Wow! You read a lot!
Reading enhances confidence, empathy, decision-making, and overall life satisfaction. Keep it up! Subscribe.
Already a subscriber?
Oops, you're out of free articles.
Until next month, you can always look over someone's shoulder at the coffee shop.
Already a subscriber?
We don't just cover the North Bay. We live here.
Did You Know? In the first 10 days of the North Bay fire, we posted 390 stories about the fire. And they were shared nearly 137,000 times.
Already a subscriber?
Supporting the community that supports us.
Obviously you value quality local journalism. Thank you.
Already a subscriber?
Oops, you're out of free articles.
We miss you already! (Subscriptions start at just 99 cents.)
Already a subscriber?

Shame on the Oakland Raiders. Shame on Raiders' owner Mark Davis, such a silly man.

The Raiders fired their head public relations man on Saturday, although he'd been banned from the Raiders' facility before that. The man's name is Zak Gilbert and he's a good guy, and this firing makes Mark Davis seem like a twit — not for the first time in his life.

You may be thinking, "Why should I care if a PR guy gets the axe?"

It's a fair question. I'll try to explain.

Last April, Sports Illustrated's Jim Trotter wrote a piece about the Raiders. From what I've been told and from what I've read, Mark did not like the way his dad, Al, and the Raiders were portrayed in Trotter's piece. And he did not like that general manager Reggie McKenzie was portrayed as the team's savior.

Trotter wrote about the Raiders' recent history of futility, a reasonable way to explain the context of what the Raiders need to overcome now. Trotter cited the record of what Al did wrong and what Mc-Kenzie is trying to do right. There is nothing unusual about that.

From what I've been told, Mark also objected to how he was portrayed in the SI piece. I thought Trotter portrayed him in a positive light.

Trotter quotes Mark: "The one thing I know is what I don't know — that's why I hire people to handle these things."

That is a perfectly reasonable quote and it shows Mark having humility and good judgment.

Mark also says this about McKenzie: "Reggie's my guy. He did inherit a mess, and he's still cleaning. I can be patient with him. I'm giving him the whole shot (five years). I'm not saying everybody else gets that same shot, because not everybody else is my guy. But Reggie is the one hire that I made — him and Carson (Palmer)."

This quote shows fair-mindedness. It also implies McKenzie may last long into the future, but others may not. That almost surely is a warning to coach Dennis Allen.

I am told Mark had problems with how he was quoted. So, he fired Zak Gilbert. Please think about this. Mark agreed to an interview. Mark willingly spoke on the record. Mark didn't like how his quotes came out. Mark blamed the PR guy. Mark fired the PR guy for what Mark said.


This firing is all about Mark's ego. He thought it would be easier to turn around the Raiders than it has been. A combo of Sid Gillman, Bill Walsh and Al Davis could not have turned around the Raiders in one year. When the Raiders continued to be bad last season, Mark's self-esteem took a blow. He knows what people whisper.

Everything Mark has is a gift. He has earned nothing. Al, who sometimes treated him with contempt, gave him the team even though, in his whole life, Mark never learned enough about football, never immersed himself in the organization, never fought for credibility in the NFL. Part of this was Al's fault. The Browns in Cincinnati and the Rooneys in Pittsburgh pass down the tradition and the knowledge from one generation to the next.

Al never passed down anything to his son, partly because Al was not the passing kind and partly because Mark is Mark.

Want more? See Jose Tapia's amazing designs on Instagram @jaytee_thebarber


Read this story in Spanish at La Prensa Sonoma.

When Mark took over after Al's death, a feeling prevailed that the Raiders were being reborn. Writers like me praised Mark for tearing down the wall — think of the Berlin Wall — and for instituting a new, modern, open culture. Mark needed to change things because, under Al, it had become downright weird at the Raiders.

But this firing shows it's the same old Raiders — secretive, vindictive, nasty.

I'm going to make a bold statement. Please consider what I say. Zak Gilbert was important to you.

If a writer wanted time with McKenzie or Allen or any player you can name, Zak made it happen. This was brand new. This was great. And it meant you the reader and you the fan learned stuff about the Raiders you hadn't learned in decades. You were more in the know than you had been. You had insight into the team and the personalities who run it.

Sometimes, you get sore at sportswriters. Sometimes, I get sore at myself. But we work for you. We write stories for you. We are your ambassadors to a team. We go places you are not allowed. Without us, you would know almost nothing. And Zak, because he is a first-rate PR guy, helped us do right by you while he respected the proper limits imposed by any sports organization.

Zak Gilbert tore down the wall.

Except he didn't tear down the wall. Mark always wanted the wall. Mark felt protected by the wall. Mark was in love with the wall.

Zak was on the job just one year. He bought a house in the Central Valley and commuted every day to Alameda. I'm guessing Mark didn't pay him a whole lot, certainly not enough to live in the 510. Before coming to the Raiders, Zak ran sports public relations at Colorado State University, and before that he was assistant PR director with the Packers from 2001-2007.

That Packers reference is the key. McKenzie was at Green Bay with Zak. McKenzie brought Zak to the Raiders and cleaned up the public-relations department. By firing Zak, Mark is taking a shot at his general manager, certainly showing him no respect.

It's rare when the Raiders, so overshadowed by the 49ers, finally grab the headlines. But they grabbed the headlines for all the wrong reasons — because they screwed up.

Mark Davis, such a silly man.


For more on the world of sports in general and the Bay Area in particular, go to the Cohn Zohn at cohn.blogs.pressdemocrat.com. You can reach Staff Columnist Lowell Cohn at lowell.cohn@pressdemocrat.com.

Show Comment