When Al Davis passed away in October of 2011, the Raiders embarked on the beginning stages of a new era. The organization's transitional phase during the regular season was bumpy with a vacuum in the front office in terms of a leading football executive. From the average Raider fan's perspective and in spite of speculation, there was uncertainty on how (and when) the new era's plan would be executed. A mere 4 days after the completion of the season the lead candidate, Reggie Mckenzie, was interviewed for the role of Raiders GM. 2 days after interviewing, McKenzie was hired effective immediately. The decisive action taken by Mark Davis in securing McKenzie to become the key leader of the front office is remarkable and praise worthy.
There are many interesting associations between the key people involved with this important hire and possible new additions to the franchise as a new chapter in Raider football truly begins.
Reggie McKenzie: Former Raider player and Director of Football Operations at Green Bay.
Al Davis: Drafted McKenzie in 1985 to play LB for the Los Angeles Raiders. Al's son (Mark), current owner, interviewed McKenzie on Wednesday based on the recommendation of Ron Wolf and Ken Herock.
John Madden: Hired by Al Davis as the Raiders Head Coach. By the pre-planned request of Al Davis, acted as a consultant to Mark Davis. Madden and Mark Davis interviewed McKenzie.
Ron Wolf: Former Raiders and Green Bay executive who highly recommended McKenzie to Mark Davis. Ron's son (Eliot) was hired by Reggie McKenzie at Green Bay as the Assistant Director of Player Personnel. Eliot Wolf is rumored to be rejoining McKenzie with the Raiders in some executive capacity.
Ken Herock: Former Raiders player who followed Ron Wolf to the expansion Tampa Bay Bucs as Director of Player Personnel and endorsed McKenzie to be GM of the Raiders. One of Ken's sons (Shaun) is currently the Assistant Director of Scouting at Green Bay.
Winston Moss: Former Raider player and current LB Coach at Green Bay. Rumored to be joining the Raiders coaching staff as either Head Coach or Defensive Coordinator.
Darren Perry: Former Raider DB Coach and current Safeties Coach at Green Bay. It is rumored that Perry will be joining the Raiders coaching staff in some capacity.
The father-son dynamic and the Raiders-Packers connections are quite unique.
Al Davis/Mark Davis; Ron Wolf (Raiders/Packers)/Eliot Wolf (Packers); Ken Herock (Raiders)/Shaun Herock (Packers)
The hiring of Reggie McKenzie as the Raiders General Manager is a breath of fresh air for some tired lungs. I have tremendous respect and admiration for Al Davis but over the past few years, I desperately wanted a traditional GM to steer the organization into the 21st century. McKenzie has been groomed the past 18 years with the Green Bay Packers front office as a Director of Football Operations.
This quote from McKenzie's former boss bodes well for a bright, new future;
"I would like to thank Reggie McKenzie for all that he has done for the Green Bay Packers over the last 18 years," Green Bay general manager Ted Thompson said in a statement. "Reggie is a tremendous talent, but more importantly, he is a good friend and great family man. His contributions to our organization are numerous and he is ready for the opportunity to be a general manager in the National Football League. It's been a privilege to work with Reggie, he is a good man."
Lastly, I suppose the big elephant in the room is the status of Hue Jackson. With McKenzie on board and the transition of the organizational overhaul in the infancy stages, it would seem to be a 50/50 proposition on whether Jackson stays or goes. On the one hand, I like Hue's aggressive nature and offensive mind. There is no question that the Raiders offense has elite capabilities under Jackson's leadership. An argument can be made that as a rookie Head Coach, Jackson is learning on the job and had too much on his plate with the passing of Davis. On the other hand, the Raiders record setting # of penalties and 1-4 finish should be blamed to the man leading the coaching staff, Jackson.
The 2 possible outcomes of McKenzie coming on board are:
(1) Retain Jackson to keep stability at Head Coach but put him on a short leash. Based on the performance of the team in 2012 will dictate Jackson's future with the Raiders beyond 2012.
(2) Show Jackson the door under the purview of the GM and put his stamp on the organizational overhaul. I'm quite certain that McKenzie already has a short list of potential candidate from his 18 years in the league as a high ranking executive.