It’s the holy trinity of football!
The Raiders have experienced significant shifts over the last few years. The team was relocated from Oakland to Las Vegas, officially becoming the Las Vegas Raiders in 2020. Then with that shift came new leadership, Sandra Douglass Morgan making history last year as the first Black woman to ever serve as president for an NFL franchise team. A former Vegas city attorney, Morgan also previously made history as the first Black woman to chair the Nevada Gaming Control Board. Last year’s appointment ushered in a new era for the businesswoman as she vowed to break down barriers in the sport.
“I want to get to a point obviously where there is no more firsts…It is the honor of a lifetime to join the Raiders at one of the most defining times in the team’s history…The team’s arrival in Las Vegas has created a new energy and opportunities we never dreamed possible. I look forward to taking this team’s integrity, spirit, and commitment to excellence on the field into every facet of this organization,” said Morgan.
Now, the team is shaking things up again, becoming the only NFL team with a Black President, Black Head Coach, and Black General Manager. Last week, the Raiders unexpectedly announced that they had fired coach Josh McDaniels and general manager Dave Ziegler, ESPN reports. The news came just one day after the Raiders’ 26-14 loss against the Detroit Lions during “Monday Night Football.”
It was the team’s second consecutive loss, with sports analysts pointing out that the team’s offense gained no traction. The losses brought the Raiders standing to a dismal 3-5. In contrast, when McDaniels and Ziegler were hired in 2022, the team was 10-7, just one year after their surprising 2021 playoff run. With the early season losses and the Raiders going to a combined 9-16 without a playoff appearance under the new leadership, owner Mark Davis felt it was best to change staffing quickly.
“After much thought about what the Raiders need to move forward, I have decided to part ways with Josh and Dave. I want to thank them both for their hard work and wish them and their families nothing but the best,” said Davis.
In the interim, the Raiders have named linebackers coach Antonio Pierce as their head coach and current assistant general manager Champ Kelly as the new GM, effective immediately. The appointments make the Raiders the only current NFL team to have three Black staffers in those executive positions, setting a new tone for African Americans in leadership roles in the sport.
Both Pierce and Kelly are expected to serve in their capacities throughout the remainder of the season. Upon its completion, the organization plans to begin a comprehensive search for a new head coach and general manager. The move is in alignment with the Raiders’ new style, the team blazing trails since its inception. Under the leadership of Morgan, she has committed to making sure she’s not the last Black woman to hold her position, with the organization committed to creating more and more opportunities for African-American leadership on and off the field.
This past weekend, Pierce won his first game with the Raiders as head coach, NBC Sports reports. A former Super Bowl-winning linebacker, he spoke about the historic moment for the team and how it feels being in this position from the other side of the field.
“My first game in the NFL, and the Super Bowl, and then my first game as head coach. That was special…I’m humbled by the opportunity. When you look at it, it’s just something that if it goes forever, if it doesn’t, for one moment, we had an opportunity. If it’s the next nine games or so ever, let it be. But very humbled,” said Pierce.
Cover photo: Las Vegas Raiders Are Making History as Only NFL Team With Black President, Coach, & GM/(l to r) Las Vegas Raiders interim head coach Antonio Pierce, president Sandra Douglass Morgan, & interim general manager Champ Kelly/Photo by Kyle Terada/USA Today Sports