On the same day that the Raiders officially hired a new president, team owner Mark Davis addressed the deeper issues that have sparked an organizational upheaval. Davis, in comments to Mick Akers of the Las Vegas Review-Journal, discussed for the first time the claims of workplace dysfunctional and hostility that have surfaced in recent weeks.
“The culture of this organization for me is so important,” Davis told Akers. “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.”
The fact that the Raiders did their own investigation will conjure memories of Commissioner Roger Goodell’s explanation from February that a team (in that case, the Commanders) cannot investigate itself. The league’s role, if any, in this process remains unknown.
The efforts have culminated in the hiring of Sandra Douglass Morgan to become the team’s new president. The Raiders also have hired Heather DeSanto to be the team’s new V.P. of human resources.
“[Morgan] understands that it is the people first and that’s the kind of culture that we’re going to build,” Davis said. “She’s looking forward to meeting everybody in the organization, one-on-one, to get to know them and get their feedback and start building that family culture again.”
One of the most outspoken on-the-record critics of the team, former H.R. employee Nicole Adams, welcomes the change, if it’s something other than window dressing.
“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 told Akers via text message. “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.”
Davis obviously believes the changes in personnel will lead to changes in culture.
“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 told Akers. “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.”
That momentum needs to start now. And while it will be a very good thing if things change for the better, the question becomes what exactly happened in the past, and whether there will be any real accountability for it.
That’s the one thread that the Raiders situation shares with the past issues in Washington. Things are changing, hopefully for the better. But it’s not like applying a fresh coat of paint to a dingy old wall. The past imperfections need to be properly understood, and the team and the league need to be sure that those who were responsible for misconduct get something more than a don’t do it again.
Hopefully, the Raiders will welcome that. Hopefully, they won’t adopt the same indignation that has emanated from the Commanders in recent weeks, with ownership lashing out at those who still have unanswered questions about what truly happened and what actually will be done about it.