Raiders diversity
Photo Credit: AP Photo/File

The Raiders Diversity Stretches Beyond Football – It’s a Legacy


Behind peace, love, serenity, and inclusion, the world has joined together to spread awareness in the fight against racism and social injustice. Many athletes, owners, and coaches in the NFL have unified and used their platforms to voice their acknowledgments and concerns of the importance of racial literacy and equality.


Raiders diversity
Photo Credit: Silver and Black Pride

As people of every culture, race, and identity paint the streets around the world protesting against racial discrimination, many team owners of the NFL advocate their players to exercise their rights of free speech. The Raiders have openly shed light on the fight against racism and are engaged in how to find a solution. 

Former Raiders owner AL Davis was known for promoting and enforcing diversity in the league. He campaigned equality and inclusion in minority staff members, even before the Rooney Rule was created. For this reason, many feel the Rooney Rule should have been called the Davis Rule.

Tom Flores became the NFL’s first Latino starting quarterback in league history in 1960 when Al Davis signed him. Then in 1979, Davis hired Tom Flores, who became the first Latino head coach in pro football and the first minority head coach to win a Super Bowl.

In fact, Flores has three Super Bowl rings total, one as the assistant coach under John Madden in Super Bowl XV, and two as the Raiders head coach, in Super Bowl XV, and Super Bowl XVII.

Mr. Davis also hired the first African-American head coach in NFL history in Art ShellShell, who was elected to the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1989, became the Los Angeles Raiders head coach also in 1989, and once again in 2006 while the team was still in Oakland.


Al Davis had long been a champion for civil rights and equality.


For instance, in 1963, the Raiders, who were then a member of the AFL, was scheduled to play a preseason game in Mobile, Alabama, where his black players were not allowed to be roomed in the same hotel as the whites. He demanded the game be moved to Oakland.

Raiders diversity
Photo Credit: Silver and Black Pride

Davis would not accept segregated hotel accommodations for his players. He once fought to have the AFL All-Star Game moved from segregated New Orleans in 1965. When Davis took over as the AFL’s commissioner in 1966, he fought for racial equality league-wide. He helped the AFL build a brand of football that could compete with the NFL by encouraging scouting and drafting black players from Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs).

Davis once again became the general manager of the Raiders and drafted the first black quarterback in the modern era, Eldridge Dickey, out of Tennessee State. He also took some of the greatest players in the history in the NFL who also happened to play at HBCUs. He drafted the mentioned above Art Shell (Maryland State), the late Willie Brown (Grambling State), and the late Gene Upshaw (Texas A&I).

Davis aimed to run a diverse organization and also strived to add femininity in a male-dominated industry. He shocked many by hiring Amy Trask, the first women CEO in the NFL in 1997. He believed in equal opportunity for all ethnicities and genders. Trask ran everything business-related for the Raiders except the player personnel department, which Davis maintained control of.  


All eyes were on Mark Davis to take over his father’s dominant legacy in innovating equal opportunity and he hasn’t disapoointed.


Raiders diversity
Photo Credit: Sporting News

Davis told the media that he had a conversation with Nevada Attorney General Aaron Ford and Clark County Sheriff Joseph Lombardo to help strategize and find solutions for the current situation. ”Not only do we have to tell people there’s something wrong, we have to come up with solutions—as Americans and human beings. I’m trying to be positive but truthful, said the Las Vegas Raiders owner.

Once the team received the green light to be able to speak freely in regards to racial discrimination without fearing that it will have a negative impact on their play on the field, many of the guys put the Raider shield to the side and united together to enlighten the world on their personal experiences and methods to address change.

The team released this statement in the wake of George Floyd‘s tragic and senseless death:


Raiders diversity
Photo Credit: Raiders



Davis came out last week publicly and said he gave the OK in 2017 for the Raiders to sign Colin Kaepernick if he could help the team win. “Since 2017, I’ve told the coaches and general managers that if they want to hire Colin Kaepernick, they have my blessing,Davis said.

Kaepernick, the former San Francisco 49ers quarterback, who was vilified for kneeling during the national anthem, was trying to bring awareness to police brutality and social injustice happening to minorities across the country. He has also been out of the NFL since the final game of the 2016 regular season.

Davis has openly communicated that he will not stand behind them; he will stand beside those who are fighting for change. Although training camp is right around the corner, Davis voiced the importance of unifying the Raider staff and community leaders to promote healthy conversations to keep on going and advocate change. 


Raiders franchise quarterback Derek Carr discusses how the conversation of social injustice is a popular subject in virtual meetings. “It’s amazing to use your voice and platform.”


We are trying to come up with some things. We are in the process of coming up with some things that I believe that will help for generations, to where everyone feels safe in our country where everyone can be stopped by the police and not have to worry and feel some type of way or feel different and things like that.”

All those kinds of things. We have been working as a team because whatever we do, we are going to do it together, whatever we do, we are going to be unified. We are all going to feel good about it; we are all going to know that we are making a difference and making a change.” said Carr.

Carr’s objective is to unite people, to solidify change and spread love. 


Raiders head coach Jon Gruden has given the team the freedom to speak on racism and their past experiences in dealing with it. 


Raiders diversity
Photo Credit: Raiders

Raiders wide receiver Tyrell Williams uses his platform to speak out on the racism that he experienced throughout his childhood and the challenges he faced while having an identity crisis striving to seek authenticity in the school system.

In an interview with NBC Sports, Williams described his struggle while tackling the frustration of fitting in on the football field. “The biggest thing that we saw, me and my brother of being two of the better athletes through that system, through our conferences is going to places and people saying that they wish they were black so that they could be good at this sport, or make All-Conference, or anything like that.

Then you also hear on the other side of it; you’re getting called N-word during the games; you’re getting all that type of thing. So that was the most frustrating part for me in that thing kind of an identity crisis and not knowing where to fit in.” 


Protests continue to push for a change around our nation. Many athletes around the NFL have shared their personal experiences and continue to strive to spread awareness and cultivate change. If the people of America can come together in agreement and love and support one another, no matter race, color, creed, religion, or ethnicity then we can become the America that Martin Luther King Jr. had in mind. 


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-Nyshon Zaragoza – Franchise Sports Media


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