The Oakland Raiders fired public relations director Zak Gilbert after just one season with the team on Saturday, according to a report in the San Francisco Chronicle.
Citing team sources, the Chronicle reported Raiders owner Mark Davis fired Gilbert because of a Sports Illustrated story published in April. According to the Chronicle, Mark Davis did not like how the story portrayed him or his late father, Al Davis, the Raiders' legendary former owner.
Gilbert had been hired by general manager Reggie McKenzie. He had not appeared at the team's facility since the SI story and he was on leave awaiting a final decision from Mark Davis.
In a statement, Gilbert took the high road and thanked the Raiders for his time with the team.
“I’d like to thank Mark Davis for the honor of serving the Raiders, and Reggie McKenzie for hiring me. I leave holding my chin up, knowing I dedicated every waking hour to promoting a positive image for our team. The co-workers in my Raiders family are extraordinary; the camaraderie we built was really special. Talking to Raiders fans on a weekly basis, I learned first-hand that their passion and loyalty is unmatched. I have great respect for the team’s rich history and took seriously the role of preserving it. Although disappointed that I can’t remain on the ride, I wish Reggie and Dennis Allen absolutely nothing but success in a bright future.”
The SI story by Jim Trotter at times cast the late Al Davis as an owner who was somewhat out of touch with the evolving nature of the NFL. An excerpt:
When he went to view the club's draft room last year, he discovered that none existed, so he had one built from scratch. When he requested the team's scouting questionnaires for evaluating college prospects, he learned there weren't any, so he created them.READ: The Sports Illustrated story that reportedly caused the Raiders to fire their PR director >
Such resources are givens in most NFL organizations—but not with the Raiders and Davis, who had his own way of doing business. He was the only owner who didn't use one of the national scouting services for college prospects, and the only one who didn't subscribe to the psychological-testing program available to each team before the draft.
Davis was so behind the times that even toward the end he didn't allow employees to use direct deposit, and he kept the budget for coaching and support staffs in his head rather than on paper. In his video department, the software was tragically outdated.