Why Mark Davis has Raiders in better shape in Vegas than Al Davis did in Oakland

©The Mercury News

Has serenity arrived at dysfunction junction?

Things are going smoother for Mark Davis in Las Vegas than they ever did for his father Al Davis during the Raiders’ second act in Oakland. For East Bay fans that are heartbroken over the Raiders leaving town a second time, it’s a tough concept to swallow but impossible to refute.

Allegiant Stadium will not only be done on time, but has already exceeded all expectations with $549 million in sales of personal seat licenses, according to the Las Vegas-Review Journal.

It’s the inverse of the PSL fiasco that occurred when the Raiders returned home in 1995. PSLs supposedly were selling out, but it was an illusion. Fans were making multiple requests on credit cards in favor of not getting one. The disaster included empty seats and television blackouts.

The practice facility in Henderson, Nevada, is on track and could conceivably be their base of operations for whatever training camp entails if it can’t be done in Napa amid the coronavirus pandemic.

It’s been five years since Mark Davis was basically kicked to the curb by NFL owners when a proposal to be joint tenants of a $1.7 billion stadium in Carson was rejected in favor of Rams’ owner Stan Kroenke’s plan in Los Angeles.

Now? Kroenke and the Rams just borrowed $500 million from the NFL to go along with the $400 million it was loaned at the outset.

Imagine if the Rams and Chargers needed to play home games in Las Vegas because California shelter-in-place restrictions made playing in SoFi Stadium impossible early in the season.

Mark Davis would never admit it, but “Raiders to the rescue” would have a nice ring to it.

The Raiders lost out on hosting the draft April 23-25 because of the pandemic, but will get another shot in 2022. You can bet they’ll be awarded a Super Bowl as well as the NFL has softened on gambling in order to collect more money and embraced a city that a decade ago was forbidden fruit.

Contrast that with a constant state of conflict between the Raiders organization, the city of Oakland and Alameda County. Local politics provided a perpetual state of chaos, with plenty of disdain in both directions.

Most of the problem had to do with the fact that Mark Davis required a lot more help financially than he could get from a Bay Area municipality and didn’t have the clout to do it privately.

Things are looking up for G.M. Mike Mayock (right) and Raiders owner Mark Davis. AP Photo

Davis needed money. The city and county didn’t have it, and wouldn’t have parted with it anyway. That’s California, and the belief that sports franchises ought to pony up for their own home is shared by most of its residents.

It was a stalemate all the way up to the final season in Oakland, with the laughable idea of the Raiders playing at sites such as Levi’s Stadium and Oracle Park even though the 49ers weren’t keen on either and would do what it took to make sure it didn’t happen.

The Raiders handled that poorly, but they’ve played their cards right in Las Vegas at every turn. The Raiders love their East Bay fans — reportedly 7,000 PSLs were sold to those who had season tickets in Oakland — but have no such feelings for the city and county.

The moment on May 1 when a northern district U.S. District Court dismissed a lawsuit by the city of Oakland for damages over the Las Vegas move, the Bay Area was in the permanent rear-view mirror.

With Al Davis’ health in decline and his decision-making impacted as a result, the Raiders were constantly in a state of upheaval from within. Combine that with the way the Raiders meshed with Bay Area politics, and the result was four winning seasons in 25 years.

And while early betting lines have the Raiders looking at something approximating another 7-9 season in 2020, look at the way they’re operating and it’s not inconceivable they could be on to something positive.

An old Al Davis adage was “I don’t believe in chain of command,” and it’s how the Raiders operated until general manager Mike Mayock joined Jon Gruden in 2018.

After his father’s death, Mark Davis hired Reggie McKenzie as general manager but didn’t like Dennis Allen, McKenzie’s pick as head coach. Allen was eventually fired. Jack Del Rio, Davis’ choice in 2015, didn’t always see eye to eye with McKenzie in terms of personnel.

Once Davis made his dream hire in Gruden, McKenzie’s job was to run the personnel department until such a time Gruden determined how things would proceed. That eventually led to Mayock. And with Gruden and Mayock, the Raiders have a clear chain of command and direction for the first time since the days when Al Davis was running things himself and at the height of his powers.

The Raiders’ business economics are on track thanks to a healthy hotel tax to help finance the stadium. The football operation is working with a common vision. Mark Davis is on the verge of achieving stability in Las Vegas that would have been a yearly struggle in Oakland.

The Raiders have a plan in Las Vegas, and Mark Davis, who like his father orchestrated an exit from Oakland, helped them get there.

Unlike his father, Mark isn’t coming back.

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©2020 The Mercury News (San Jose, Calif.)