Mark Davis says he's fully aware of the snide comments, public and otherwise, directed his way. He knows his haircut is ridiculed, his knowledge disrespected and his judgment questioned.
Bring it on, the Raiders managing partner says with a hearty laugh. It comes with the title. He can handle all of it, even conceding some of the criticism is fair.
What he won't tolerate, he says, is mocking the Raiders and the legacy of his late father, Al Davis.
That is Mark's version of the events preceding his curious decision to not renew the contract of the team's media relations director, Zak Gilbert, whose departure from the Raiders last weekend, after one season on the job, left Davis taking fire from media around the nation and left some fearing he might be as mercurial as his famously volatile father.
Davis addressed this and a number of other subjects during a wide-ranging 21/2-hour interview the other day at one of his favorite East Bay restaurants. Among them:
On whether Gilbert's dismissal -- in the wake of a Sports Illustrated article with an unflattering portrayal of Al Davis -- means the Raiders, after considerable outreach last year, some of it generated by Gilbert, will thicken their veil of secrecy: "The things we did last season (including welcoming Jon Gruden and Marcus Allen, both of whom had sour relationships with Al Davis) were the right things to do. We still believe in that. We'll continue work with people for the good of the franchise."
On whether Gilbert's dismissal is a pointed message to the man who hired him, general manager Reggie McKenzie, entering the second year of a five-year contract: "Not at all. Reggie understands why I made the decision I made. Look, I understand what Reggie is trying to do. Reggie's fine. He's the one guy that I've hired. I've got to give him room to do his job."
On negotiations with city and county official regarding the team's stadium situation: "We're talking, and there are some encouraging signs. We've done plenty of talking in the past, and we still don't have a long-term solution. Oakland still is in the driver's seat. We want to stay. We don't want another short-term lease extension. We want something that will work for us, for the city and for the NFL.
"But if we can't get something done, I've got to do what's best for the team. For the last 10 years, we've been deficit-spending. But we signed the agreements, so it's nobody's fault but our own."
On the impact of the 49ers stadium being built in Santa Clara, scheduled to open in 14 months (August 2014): "They're moving out of San Francisco, which could open an opportunity for us. The way I see it, the East Bay and the West Bay and the North Bay are there for us."
On whether the Raiders ever will deliver on their intention -- often stated by Al Davis -- to create a Raiders Hall of Fame: "I absolutely will do that -- as soon as we know where we'll be playing long-term. The alumni (are) the most important thing about the franchise. That's my family. Trust me, anytime I talk to someone about a stadium, it's about a stadium AND a place for the Hall of Fame."
On the recent resignation of CEO Amy Trask, who devoted 28 years to the Raiders, most of that time as chief lieutenant to Al Davis: "She was very, very valuable to the organization and very, very valuable to my father. She put in a lot of blood and sweat. I felt she deserved to write her own ending. There was no real organizational chart on the business side. We plan to change that."
Trask, who presided over the business operation and was the point person for the team's search for a long-term home, was a respected executive but a feared supervisor. Several Raiders employees indicate her departure has reduced daily anxiety at the team's Harbor Bay headquarters. As most of Trask's duties have been handed to Marc Badain, another longtime employee, Davis says he's seeking an official replacement and hopes to find one this summer.
Meanwhile, he will have meetings with current employees to gather input -- but leave football decisions to McKenzie and allow Trask's replacement to initiate and implement key decisions on the business side.
Davis recently met with a group of employees, mostly involved in the business operation, to ease concerns while addressing future plans.
"I'll be in the building more often," says Davis, a rare presence last season. "Like I've said before: I still know what I don't know. But I've been around long enough to pick up a few things. What I really want to do is simple: find good people, give them goals and let them go to work."
Though the Raiders still plan to tarp off the Coliseum's east side top deck (Mount Davis), Davis is promoting upper-deck seats on the opposite side be sold for $250 in 10-game packages or $25 per seat. He's selling them, and he's pushing his people to do the same.
This will be Davis' second full season as managing partner, and Year One was difficult. The team performed poorly, fans grew restless and there was no real progress regarding a stadium.
Year Two is off to an intriguing start, what with Gilbert's departure and the perception that it not only exposed Davis as thin-skinned but also undermined McKenzie's authority. There also are valid concerns about overall franchise stability.
Davis' image needs some serious mending. Does he have the goods to oversee an NFL franchise? It's too soon to conclude, but early indications have invited harsh reviews against which there is little reasonable defense.
"That's OK. My concern is winning," he says. "The Raiders will be great again. Write it down. The Raiders will be great again."
For now, Davis needs a trumpeter to blow that horn. That was an important part of Gilbert's job. He did it admirably and with the best of intentions.
"I'll agree with that," Davis says. "I believe he did."
The next media relations director, he adds, must completely understand the significance of protecting the shield -- and, moreover, the man who built it and lived it until the day he died.
The son asks no protection. Mark Davis will endure the withering critiques, the chidings and the belittling. He now knows, more than ever, that it's there.