Mark Davis: The inflatable raft being dragged behind the yacht


Stunningly after all this time and seeming resolution, the whereabouts of the Oakland Raiders are still considered something of a mystery in these parts, even with so many knowledgeable media types dispensing wisdom as though it were psilocybin Pez.

But, as this week is devoted as much to the dysfunctionality of the Bay Area market as it is to the ever-shifting legacies of the two competing quarterbacks, this much is certain:

Ain’t nothin’ changed, kids. Not since last week, last month or last year, and every update circles back to that central and indisputable truth.

But because you want to know things that are either already known or not yet knowable, let’s round up the five scenarii one more time.

There are the Oakland rumors, being pimped by people who don’t want to pay attention to every sign given from every corner for the last two years, starting with the fact that OAKLAND HAS NO MONEY TO GIVE AND HAS BEEN SAYING SO FOREVER.

[BAIR: Schaaf: If A's move downtown, 'Raiders situation less complicated']

There are the Las Vegas rumors, being pimped by Mark Davis despite any apparent local will or interest in bankrolling.

There are the San Antonio rumors, being pimped by people who apparently think Dallas owner Jerry Jones and Houston owner Bob McNair are either suddenly in favor of sharing their wealth, or are dead.

There are the San Diego rumors, being pimped by people who think the Chargers are really and truly done flirting with them and want to link hands in a perpetually uneven relationship with Rams owner and clear winner Stan Kroenke.

And there are the Los Angeles rumors, being pimped by lots of “insiders” who think Dean Spanos will get cold hooves at the idea of being dry-cleaner bagged by Stan Kroenke and stay where he is.

And since this is Superb Owl I, all the rumors congeal into a nonsensical and brackish porridge that smells and tastes like liquefied elk face, so let us try to walk you through this again.

Starting with the end of the Oakland paragraph, in which the city reaffirms its willingness to extend the Raiders Coliseum lease and nothing more, because that’s all it can (or should) offer, that’s all Davis is asking for, and that’s all he can actually pay for. He thinks he’s going somewhere else, and wherever it is, it’s more appealing to him than Oakland.

And to you good Oaklanders out there, take your anger out on him. I’m not moving your damned team.

Everything else about the Raiders story is dependent upon what Dean Spanos wants, as it always has been. Davis is in the same waiting game he’s been since the day they entered into their abortive partnership. If Spanos chooses L.A., as he has tentatively done, Davis casts his eyes to San Diego, and works his way down from there. If Spanos chooses San Diego and Davis exercises his L.A. option – the one in which Kroenke uses him as a well-paid bar mop for all eternity.

That’s all there is to this, and that’s all there’s ever been to it. True, the Los Angeles story has had many hilariously avaricious twists and turns, but none of them – let me iterate here with emphasis, NONE OF THEM – have been precipitated by anything Mark Davis did or said. He has been the inflatable raft dragged behind the yacht, bobbing helplessly in the sea and of little consequence when course corrections need to be made.

In other words, Spanos is the guy who solves this problem, and he doesn’t know the answer yet. People in the San Diego area seem to think he’d take a humble and go back to the city he spurned rather than get worked over by a man he no longer trusts (Kroenke), but that particular devil is still found in the details.

So let’s go over this again, for clarity as well as emphasis. If Spanos backs out of his deal with Kroenke and stays in San Diego, Davis goes to Los Angeles and promptly starts casting around for someone who wants to spend $3 billion to buy a football team – just know, just to kick the tires.

If Spanos bolts to L.A., Davis goes looking for the best deal he can get, and since (and let me re-iterate it) OAKLAND HAS NO MONEY AND HAS BEEN SAYING SO FOREVER, the best deal is any somewhere else they’ll have him. The two most likely choices are either San Diego or Las Vegas, although Vegas is a longer shot, not because of gambling but because of infrastructure and local interest questions. San Antonio has no chance whatsoever because Davis will be barred by Jones and McNair from moving in, unless they do him a kindness and ask him for even more of a relocation fee than Los Angeles got, just to teach him a lesson about who’s who and what’s what.

In short, the Raiders have a quickie lease to sign with mayor Libby Schaaf and that’s all. There is no more commitment by him to stay in Oakland long-term than there ever was, and no more commitment by her to find money that doesn’t exist. That is why you see his round little face light up so when someone asks him about a city other than Oakland. And when nobody else asks him, he brings it up himself.

So there’s the primer you really didn’t need, on Day 2 of the game’s grand bacchanal. One in which Mark Davis is an owner in good standing and a glorified guest at the same time, waiting for Dean Spanos to tell him his future.

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