IT HAS ALWAYS been easy to underestimate Mark Davis. After all, he is known for his wacky bowl cut and silver-and-black suits and for managing the Raiders from the bar at a P.F. Chang’s. Since his Hall of Fame father, Al, died six years ago, Davis has been an afterthought in league circles, easy to malign and hard to take seriously. A year and a half after that dinner at Dan Tana’s, Davis’ fellow NFL team owners publicly embarrassed him when they voted for the St. Louis Rams to move to Los Angeles and gave the San Diego Chargers — who had partnered with the Raiders in a losing effort to move to Carson, California — a year to decide whether to join them.”I finished third in a three-horse race,” Davis told associates. Few owners cared that they had put the Raiders in franchise purgatory. Sit tight, Davis had been ordered, while the league’s power brokers determined which teams would play where.Few knew at the time, but Davis saw a chance to dust off an old pipe dream.On Friday afternoon, Jan. 29, 2016, 17 days after the LA vote, Davis found himself sitting opposite Sheldon G. Adelson in the casino magnate’s vast cream-colored office at the Venetian, high above the Las Vegas Strip. Adelson was 82 years old at the time and the 14th-richest person in America, worth around $32.5 billion. Short and all but bound to a motorized scooter, with rosy cheeks and a comb-over of dyed auburn hair, Adelson was the most powerful man in the state of Nevada, the imperious owner of its largest newspaper, a kingmaker who one week before the 2016 election would donate $25 million to a super PAC to help elect Donald Trump president. “A government” in his own right, an NFL source calls Adelson. Nobody dared cross him, especially Nevada politicians. Adelson couldn’t “give a f— about the NFL,” or any sports, in the words of a lawyer who knows him well. His aides say he has attended only two or three NFL games, including this year’s Super Bowl in Houston, and he isn’t starstruck by anyone connected to pro football. (His private assessment of commissioner Roger Goodell: “He’s an idiot.”) But the proposition Davis brought that day to Adelson grabbed his attention: Help the Raiders move to Las Vegas.
Source: The inside story of how owner Mark Davis moved the Raiders to Las Vegas