Peter King of SI.com made it clear in his weekly Monday Morning Column that he believes Raiders general manager Reggie McKenzie is on the hot seat for the upcoming season.
Let’s, for a second, gloss over the fact that the Raiders’ weekend firing of director of media relations Zak Gilbert is the kind of knee-jerk Steinbrennerian move that Mark Davis’ father, Al, might have made. Might, I say — after a perceived unflattering story (which, ironically, was unflattering only to Al Davis, and to no one else in the Raiders organization) appeared in Sports Illustrated. And let’s divine what the firing means.
When Mark Davis hired Reggie McKenzie as Oakland’s general manager 17 months ago, he gave McKenzie authority over all football decisions. Immediately, McKenzie hired someone he knew from his days in Green Bay, Gilbert, who had worked as a PR assistant with the Packers. McKenzie inherited a team that was $48 million over the salary cap in 2012. This was clearly a long-term job. Very long-term. To fix the Raiders, even if all the decisions are right (and they never are in the NFL), would take three years minimum. Now, before the second season even begins, a key McKenzie hire is whacked. McKenzie’s hand-picked mouthpiece fired at a time when the public image of the Raiders was beginning to turn around.
If McKenzie’s own PR pick is fired primarily because of a story Mark Davis didn’t like — Davis had exiled Gilbert to working from home for the past six weeks since the story appeared — what happens if the Raiders stink again this year? And what happens if the riskiest pick in the 2013 draft, first-round Raider cornerback D.J. Hayden, who nearly died of a heart malady last November, doesn’t pan out?
I’ve said this before: You simply cannot judge McKenzie until he has the chance to oversee at least three seasons in Oakland, because of the morass the Raiders were in at the time of his hire. But if Mark Davis gets this skittish over a magazine story, you’re crazy to think McKenzie is certainly safe with another four-win season, or worse, in 2013.
I see where King is coming from, but believe he is reaching a little bit. But then again, if Mark Davis ends up running the team the way his father the late Al Davis did, McKenzie could be gone after this coming season if the Raiders only win a handful of games.