Amy Trask Saved the Las Vegas Raiders for Mark Davis

The current owner has done incredible things for his beloved Las Vegas Raiders that his Iconic father, Al Davis, never could, but his success was because of the team’s former CEO.
August 4, 2011; Napa, CA, USA; Oakland Raiders head coach Hue Jackson (left) talks to chief executive officer Amy Trask (right) during training camp at the Napa Valley Marriott. Mandatory Credit: Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports
August 4, 2011; Napa, CA, USA; Oakland Raiders head coach Hue Jackson (left) talks to chief executive officer Amy Trask (right) during training camp at the Napa Valley Marriott. Mandatory Credit: Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports / Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports
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LOS ANGELES, Cal.—Mark Davis has led the Las Vegas Raiders out of past decades of financial hardship to a place of prosperity that his father, the iconic Al Davis, never could.

Davis deserves all the praise, setting the franchise up for decades of success by boldly deciding to move the team from Oakland and California to the milk and honey of the desert in Las Vegas.

This is well known.  

What isn’t known is that former team CEO Amy Trask saved the franchise for Mark Davis.

This is my fifth season covering the Silver & Black, and I constantly hear about how the team is “broke” and cannot afford to invest.

The more I explored those rumors, the more they did point to the past in Oakland but not to the recent reality of being in Las Vegas.

While the Raiders are undoubtedly frugal, the reality is that frugality doesn’t mean the team is broke.

I applaud Mark Davis for being more connected to his blue-colored fan base than many billionaire owners he rubs shoulders with as the owner of the team.

As I researched the team’s past, I was repeatedly told, “You need to talk to Amy Trask.” 

Indeed, Trask fought the financial battles for the team every day working for Al Davis.

Trask and Al Davis had a close relationship, and they cared for and loved one another in a teacher-pupil role. Trask was one of a handful of people who wasn’t afraid of the legendary Al Davis.

Trask described it this way: “I will just add that as much as we did love one another, there were times we wanted to strangle one another. I can’t tell you the number of times he hung up the phone on me. I would get these midnight calls, and we would have these arguments, and he would hang up the phone, or I would hang up the phone. We argued a lot, but both believed it could be productive and healthy, and it didn’t impact our relationship.”

And thanks to Mark Davis’s exemplary leadership, the Raiders’ decades of financial struggle are over.  

But that doesn’t change the past.

“Allegiant [Stadium] is magnificent, and you’re absolutely right; it solved the financial issues,” she says. “When Al was looking at the Raiders’ future, I was not with the Raiders when the team was in Oakland. I joined the Raiders after Al had moved to Los Angeles. I was with the team when he chose to move it back to Oakland.

“I looked at all the available deals with him. We looked at something in Sacramento, we looked at something at Hollywood Park, we looked at something in Irwindale, and we looked at something in Oakland. And I explained to him that the Oakland deal’s financial arrangement was the worst for the Raiders. In other words, of all the options we had, looking at it strictly from a finance standpoint, the Oakland deal was the worst.”

Trask dug deeper into the details as Davis deliberated on what to do.

“We had long discussions about that, and he ultimately shared with me that that was where his heart was. He wanted the team to go back to Oakland. But, we were the secondary tenant; the A’s controlled the vast, vast, vast, vast number of revenue streams, and it was a deal that was hard on us. It was not a good economic deal.”

Trask shared the heart of the man who many saw as ruthless in business and football.

“Al made decisions without regard to financial ramifications,” she says. “There were team owners; it just drove them nuts. There used to be revenue share in the league, and I would have discussions with owners, and I had a discussion with Al.”

Trask detailed why some of the issues with the NFL arose.

“The stadium deal that we did with Oakland was not a good financial deal for the team, and I went through all of that with Al. And I showed him the revenue streams, and I showed him the revenue projections, and I showed him the comparisons between stadiums. He went with his heart. But, as a result, we were to use a sort of hackneyed phrase, “economically behind the eight ball.”

Trask shared incredible insight into the financial turmoil.

“I got very, very frustrated, and I said to him, ‘Look, you don’t get it both ways. You don’t get to enter deals that are not in the financial best interest of the organization, and you don’t get to nix deals that are good for us financially and then complain about our finances.’ And I had that discussion with him umpteen times, and I said, ‘Fair enough, you don’t want to do this deal, we won’t do the deal, but then I don’t want to hear from you when we are out of money because you can’t have it both ways.’ It’s intellectually dishonest what I explained to him.

“To both want to nix deals and yet complain that we didn’t have financial resources, and I said to him, and I had this discussion with owners of other teams, ‘You can’t nix deals because you don’t like the branding, or the terms of the agreement or what’s required of the team and yet expect other teams that are doing those deals to then revenue share with you. You’re expecting them to do deals you won’t do but then want a share of that?’ I mean, we argued about that all the time.”

Trask explained the constant financial woes.

“We were always in an Oh, my God, we need money. Maybe I was always the one who was panicking, he never was. We didn’t have operational cash. We did not have the cash we needed to operate. Now, some of it was we didn’t have as much cash as other teams; some of it was simply cash flow, and I would negotiate a line of credit so that we would have the appropriate cash flow. But that was every year. It didn’t just happen once. That was every single year. I was out scrapping for credit facilities, working capital, working lines of credit.” 

The stress took its toll on Trask. 

“I remember at one point it was, I mean, it got to a point that the financial crisis was existential in nature, and I was working to get us another credit facility. And at one point, I said to him, because it was so, so stressful, and we didn’t have it done yet, and I was working to get the deal done. At one point late at night, I said to him, ‘I don’t understand how you can sleep at night.’ And his quote to me was, ‘I can sleep at night because I know that you aren’t sleeping at night.’”

But then Trask shared something that, according to her, not even Mark Davis knows.

Al Davis had had enough. His battles with finances had taken their toll on him. He was done. He wanted to do something nobody would have believed.

He wanted to sell the Raiders.

“Every single year, I was scraping for credit. And that comment from him again was probably one of the biggest compliments he gave me. ‘I can sleep at night because I know you’re not sleeping at night.’ Because I always found a way to get it done.”

Then, the shocker, “At one point a couple of years before he passed away, he just got tired of it, and he said to me, ‘Let’s just sell the whole team. Let’s just sell the controlling interest. Let’s just sell it. Let’s be done with it. This is hard on you. You’re always having to find us money. You’re just going through lengths to find this. Let’s just sell the whole thing.”

But Trask talked Al Davis out of selling, and into saving the team for his son.  

“I looked at him and said, ‘You want to leave this team to your wife and your son. You want your son to have this team. I will find you the money,’ and I went and found the money.”

Amy Trask stopped Al Davis from selling his beloved Raiders, battling for his son.

“I don’t think he (Mark Davis) ever knew that his dad had gotten to the point where he just said, ‘Amy, sell the team.’”

She added, “I fought for it so he could pass it on to Mark. And of course, to Carol, but of course, Carol was of the same generation as Al, so ultimately Mark.” 

While we had never met in person prior to this interview, Trask and I share numerous close friends around the National Football League, and she had followed me on social media (as I had her) because of her love of the Las Vegas Raiders and interest in my coverage.

I reached out to her for what will be a three-part deep dive into her era of the Silver & Black. 

We agreed to meet in Southern California, and the meeting exceeded my expectations.

Trask, once anonymously called the Princess of Darkness” by an NFL source, sat beside me in a sport known for hulking behemoth men. 

Although small, her shadow looms large over the history of an iconic professional sports franchise.

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Hondo Carpenter


Hondo S. Carpenter Sr. is an award-winning sports journalist who brings decades of experience to his role as editor and publisher, and beat writer for our Las Vegas Raiders and the NFL coverage. Carpenter is a member of the PFWA, FWAA, and USBWA.