Photo: Las Vegas Raiders and Las Vegas Aces owner Mark Davis (l), with Nevada Governor Steve Sisolak, May 8, 2022, by Ethan Miller/Getty Images
The haircut alone defines Mark Davis as a confident man, bent on doing things his way no matter how unpopular or costly.
It took some fierce chest-beating to accomplish what his legendary father, Al, couldn't in nearly 40 years owning the NFL's Raiders -- building a shiny new home for this franchise, bound by a self-proclaimed 'commitment to excellence' and 'just win, baby.'
So it begs the question, given how much front-office and sideline turnover as Davis has overseen in the past 12 months: Are the Raiders on fire and few people notice? Or care?
Starting last summer, Davis' right hand, team president Marc Badain, resigned. His sudden departure raised eyebrows around the league, considering he was such a key figure in the team's move from Oakland to Las Vegas and into Allegiant Stadium, the $2 billion facility Badain played a big role in constructing. (It's owned by the Las Vegas Stadium Authority).
The Raiders also had three other senior executives quit around that time -- CFO, VP of strategy and business development, and controller. Media reports suggest accounting issues factored into the exodus.
Then came Jon Gruden's old emails with racial and homophobic undertones (while he was still an analyst on ESPN's Monday Night Football), midseason. And there went the head coach, in October. He's suing the NFL.
In November, wide receiver Henry Ruggs III was allegedly driving drunk when his car, which authorities say reached 156 miles per hour, slammed into another vehicle, killing 23-year-old Tina Tintor, in Las Vegas. He's facing multiple charges and is due back in court next week for a preliminary hearing.
In late January, rookie cornerback Nate Hobbs pleaded guilty to a lesser charge after an arrest earlier in the month for suspected DUI.
At season's end, general manager Mike Mayock was shown the door. Rich Bisaccia, the special-teams coach elevated to finish Gruden's job, was replaced by longtime New England offensive coordinator, Josh McDaniels. Dave Ziegler, also from the Patriots, was hired as GM.
Last week, Dan Ventrelle, who joined the organization in 2003 and was chosen as Badain's successor as president, claims he was fired in retaliation for bringing staff concerns to Davis about the work environment he's fostered.
"I have committed almost 18 years of my life to the success of the Raiders as General Counsel and President," Ventrelle told the Las Vegas Review-Journal. "I take that responsibility very seriously, which is why multiple written complaints from employees that Mark created a hostile work environment and engaged in other potential misconduct caused me grave concern."
Ventrelle said he reported those concerns to the NFL, which is investigating. He also said he's retained counsel.
Davis told the Review-Journal: "The only thing I want made clear is that Dan Ventrelle was never president of the Raiders. He has always been the interim president. The interim was always a temporary designation to determine whether he would be the (full-time) president or not. I want that clear -- he is not the president of the Las Vegas Raiders. Never was. I think there's a misconception about that."
Sports Illustrated reports two other team officials also recently left -- a human resources VP and the chief operations & analytics officer.
What is going on?
Something seems amiss in Sin City.
So much of the public's attention on wayward NFL franchises is focused on the Washington Commanders and its co-owner Dan Snyder. There's a lot there, obviously. The Cleveland Browns and Miami Dolphins have been swept up in the Brian Flores-led lawsuit, for purported tanking. But the Raiders may be, quietly, just as dysfunctional as any.
NFL gigs are hard-earned, long-tenured opportunities, in many instances, and don't typically see clusters of change quite like this, barring a transition in ownership.
Mark Davis took over the club when his dad died in 2011. He hasn't come close to replicating the success from the Raiders' glory days. And now the gleaming headquarters has apparently become a magnet of gloom.
Here's hoping the dirt doesn't stay in Vegas and blend into the dusty surroundings.
That's my take. What's yours? Fire off your comments!