In an interview with NBC Sports Bay Area that aired on Wednesday, Raiders and Aces owner Mark Davis said “it really hurt” to learn about the bigoted email exchanges that ultimately triggered the dismissal of former coach Jon Gruden.
“I really believed that we had hit on something and that we we’re going to build something,” Davis said. “I gave him a long-term contract so he would have the patience to build the team the right way. I believe we were in the process of building a foundation. … The reconstruction was starting to happen.”
And then, Davis said, “the email situation happened.”
Emails that Gruden wrote during his tenure with ESPN were laden with racist and sexists comments and were published by the New York Times, leading to his ousting — and the promotion of special teams coordinator Rich Bisaccia to interim head coach.
Davis said he did not believe Gruden was fit to lead the Raiders organization “based on the comments that been out there.”
“Unfortunately had to make the change,” he added.
Davis also said he did not see Gruden “do anything that had anything to do with the statements that were made on those emails. As far as in practice, Jon was one of the most perfect people that I’d seen around. I don’t think it’s fair for anybody to insinuate that those types of things were happening.”
Bisaccia helped the Raiders finish 10-7 and qualify for the NFL’s postseason for the first time since 2016 and second time since 2002. Davis said he strongly considered lifting Bisaccia’s interim tag based on the support he garnered throughout the organization, but was ultimately more impressed by the tandem of coach Josh McDaniels and general manager Dave Ziegler.
“(I) thought as a team, the two of those people coming together could help bring this organization into the future,” Davis said. “I felt it was time for us to make that break and just see what we can do in a new phase and a new type of Raider organization.”