As a Steelers fan, I’m conditioned to hate the Oakland Raiders. That, of course, meant not holding Al Davis in the highest regard. But when thinking about Davis’s life more thoughtfully since his passing last week, it’s impossible to not respect and admire his legacy of making groundbreaking hires that promoted inclusiveness and diversity. Tom Flores and Art Shell’s names have been mentioned quite a bit, but Amy Trask, the Raiders CEO, is more often overlooked.
Trask joined 95.7 The Game in San Francisco with the Rise Guys to talk about just how emotional the end of Oakland’s Week 5 win over Houston was, how players told her on Monday that the Raiders actually only had 10 men on the field on the final play of that game, the organization’s plans to pay tribute to Davis on Sunday, the special night the Raiders had arriving back at the team facility when they mingled and celebrated with fans, why she thinks the Raiders are the only type of family/community organization in sports where a scene like that would have happened without their being security, yellow rope, etc., and what it means for her to be a part of Al Davis’ legacy of groundbreaking hires in terms of diversity and inclusiveness.
Just how emotional was the end of Oakland’s Week 5 win over Houston:
“Tremendously. It was quite emotional, and I don’t know if I can even quite describe it to you. I can share with you one moment from Monday, the day after the game, when I saw a few of our players in the building, and they shared with me that we only had 10 men on the field for the final play of the game. I had not realized that, I was so caught up in the emotion that I had not realized that. I was also standing at field level, and at my size, there’s no opportunity whatsoever to count the number of players on the field. When you’re at my size standing at field level, you need to be a bit higher up. So I did not realize we only had 10 men on the field. And when I heard our players on Monday share that we only had 10 men on the field, I looked at them and said ‘no, we had 11.’ And I guess for a moment they didn’t understand what I was saying. And one goes ‘no, Amy’ and they told me who ran off and said ‘we only had 10.’ And I said ‘no, we had 11.’ And at that moment they all smiled and said ‘yes, we had 11 men on the field.’”
On how the organization plans to pay tribute to Davis this Sunday:
“Well, we will open the game with a moment of silence, and that will be very, very special. And I know our fans love the tailgating experience; I love that experience, it’s a tremendous, tremendous part of the Raider Nation culture. But I would encourage everyone that Sunday, rather than tailgating until that very, very last moment as our fans usually do, to close that tailgate just a bit earlier. I think you’ll want to be in the stadium for that moment of silence, which will be just before the national anthem. Then throughout the game we will have moments, vignettes, opportunities for us to reflect on so many special moments over the last decades. And we have something special planned for halftime.”
Did watching the Raiders win a classic ‘Just Win, Baby’ game the day after Davis’ death give her any ‘comfort’:
“I don’t know if comfort is the right word. It was a very, very special moment. The moment I exited the field, the first person I saw was Willie Brown, and we shared a very special moment. And you could everywhere throughout the tunnel and locker room area and everyone was processing that game in a different way. And then to arrive back at our facility, and find what must have been more than 500 people lining the driveway with candles and signs — our fans there to share that moment with us was just indescribable.”
On what it means to her to be a part of Davis’ legacy of providing groundbreaking opportunities in the workplace as the first female CEO of an NFL team:
“It’s an honor. Al Davis had a five decade legacy of providing opportunities of diversity, of inclusiveness. I will tell you, when the National Football League and other organizations around the country enacted rules — you know, there’s rules now about diversity — internally we would just sit around and share a smile, share a look, because as I was fond of saying, we didn’t need no stinkin’ rules. I’ll also share one more reflection on Sunday night when we got back — I looked around at the fans and the players and the coaches and the staff, and the manner in which we were all mingling, and I thought to myself ‘I don’t know another organization in sports where there would be that interaction.’ Other organizations there’d be that yellow rope between the fans and the organization, there would be security between the fans and the organization. We were simply the Raider Family Sunday night, and it didn’t matter whether you were the quarterback or the head coach or the fan that sat on the sideline or in the third deck or in the end zone, you were a Raider.”