SBD/June 3, 2013/Franchises

Raiders Fire Media Relations Dir; Mark Davis Reportedly Unhappy With SI Article

Raiders Media Relations Dir Zak Gilbert, who had been "on the job for one year, was fired" on Saturday by team Owner Mark Davis, according to Vic Tafur of the S.F. CHRONICLE. Gilbert "had been brought in" by GM Reggie McKenzie, who had worked with Gilbert during his time with the Packers. Sources said that Davis was "unhappy with a Sports Illustrated story in April looking back on the team's 4-12 season in 2012." SI's Jim Trotter in the article "cast McKenzie in a good light but Davis didn't like how the story portrayed him or the job done by his father, late owner Al Davis, in the previous 10 years" (S.F. CHRONICLE, 6/3). ESPN's Adam Schefter wrote Gilbert "is tremendous at his job," and firing him "is ridiculously undeserved moved" (TWITTER.com, 6/2). PRO FOOTBALL TALK's Mike Florio wrote Gilbert had "worked very hard to shed the aura of misguided secrecy that previously had emanated from Oakland." Gilbert had done "a very good job of transforming the P.R. department into something resembling a non-dysfunctional media-relations operation, with press releases and cooperation and all the things that we come to take for granted from most of the other 31 teams." Florio: "And here’s the part where I gripe about Mark Davis, who absent compelling evidence that Gilbert did something to encourage Sports Illustrated to write the story that painted Mark Davis and or his father’s final decade or ownership in a not-so-favorable light is being way too sensitive about widely-held opinions." The "widely-held opinions are that, since the team’s Super Bowl berth to cap the 2002 season, the Raiders have been trapped in a quagmire of dysfunction" (PROFOOTBALLTALK.com, 6/2).

MORE WRITING ON THE WALL? SI.com's Peter King asks, "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?" You "simply cannot judge McKenzie until he has the chance to oversee at least three Raider seasons, because of the morass the Raiders were in at the time of his hire." But if 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." Gilbert's firing is "a bad sign for the immediate future of the Raiders" (SI.com, 6/3).
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