By Jerry McDonald - NFL Writer
Friday, January 13th, 2012 at 11:06 am in Oakland Raiders.
Raiders coach John Madden talked about his role sitting in with owner Mark Davis during the interview of Raiders general manager Reggie McKenzie on his KCBS radio spot on Wednesday:
Q: Isn’t this the first time in team history someone other than Al Davis is the Raiders GM?
Madden: They had close to a general manager when Bruce Allen was there and Jon Gruden was the coach. That was a time that Al was spending a lot of time in court, and I think Bruce Allen was kind of the acting general manager and go-between with Al being in court and Jon Gruden the coach.
Q: Your role in sitting down with Mark Davis in McKenzie interview? A lengthy conversation . . . six hours?
Madden: You have to have at least that much. My part wasn’t a big part. Mark was going to interview Reggie by himself, this wasn’t a two-way thing. He just asked me to sit in on it and so I did. I sat in on it and I kind of said to myself, self, before you go in there don’t talk too much, as I’m wont to do. The next thing I know I’m up there drawing on the board. So I really wanted to discipline myself to kind of sit on the side and, for the most part, shut up, and that’s what I did. I’m not saying that I was making any decisions or doing anything. I was sitting there, and there was the interview, and the discussion was primarily between Mark and Reggie.
Q: Not out of line with what you’re doing with your life at this point. You’re the sage in the room. You’ve been there . . .
Madden: Yeah, and been with the Raiders and been with Mark Davis, I mean, I’ve known Mark Davis all his life, and that was a place to go, and I was there. It kind of made sense. He just wanted to make sure that when he was talking, asking questions, that he didn’t miss anything. And he didn’t. He was prepared. I was very impressed with Mark. Mark kind of knew what he wanted. He knew who his guy was. His guy was Reggie McKenzie, and he just wanted to kind of have one last talk before he made that decision and everything was impressive and he made the decision.
Q: You approved of selection, what do you like about McKenzie as GM?
Madden: Most of the recommendation came from Ron Wolf. Ron Wolf hired Reggie originally. Reggie’s been with the Green Bay Packers for 17 years, and he was hired there by Ron Wolf, and Ron Wolf kind of got him started in scouting and brought him up through the ranks, so it was Ron’s recommendation and Ron, working with him, watching him in work. Ron still lives part time in Green Bay. Ron’s son works with Reggie. So there was a real knowledge there, a lot more, obviously than I have, so that’s where the knowledge of Reggie McKenzie really came from was through Ron Wolf to Mark..
Q: People want to find people they can work with . . is it about the football, the Xs and Os, or something other than that?
Madden: He wanted his guy. Like Reggie said he wanted his guy as coach, Mark wanted his guy in the organization in the football part of it, and really what he needed was a guy who was going to do the things that his dad did. And Al Davis was very heavily involved in everything, as everyone knows, but heavily involved in personnel, and scouting and signing, the salary cap and all those things. In essence, Mark had to hire someone to do the job that his dad did. And so this is kind of his guy in football and his guy running football operations, which is scouting, college scouting, pro scouting, all personnel, free agents, signing players, and then the coach, coaching ‘em, the whole thing, and he wanted someone that he could just give that to, and that guy was Reggie McKenzie.
Q: McKenzie said, I like big and strong, always will, I like speed, too. That’s not going to change. . .
Madden: That’s what you go for. That was always our thing. When you’re not sure, you get to that point in a draft or signing free agents where they’re not going to have everything, so you don’t start giving in to mediocrity and just saying, well this guy was a good little player, he’s this or that, you say, OK, we don’t know these guys and if we’re not sure they can really make it, let’s go for two things. He either has to be big or strong, or he has to be fast. And then if you hit on a guy, you’ve got a big, strong guy that can play or you’ve got a real fast guy that can play. You don’t want to compromise those two things.
Q: Like the way Mark Davis handled the news conference, impressed that he said he’s his own man and will be different from his dad . ..
Madden: Mark, instead of being hands-on, he’s an observer, and he’s a good observer. He kinds of sits and watches and listens and takes time to make a decision. That was the thing after Al passed away a lot of people want to talk to Mark, what are you going to do? What’s the thing? And Mark wasn’t ready to talk because he wasn’t ready to do anything. And he couldn’t do anything. When he could do something, at the end of the season, he went and he did it and I think that was a smart approach. Early, he had to make some decisions on the Carson Palmer thing, because that happened right away, but other than that, he could just sit and observe and think about what he wanted to do. And he observed a lot and put a lot of thought into it and then he came up with Reggie McKenzie.
Q: Taking an organization dominated by one man, now his son’s in charge and a general manager, everyone must be wrestling with the cultural change, saying, what do we do now?
Madden: That’s why he hired Reggie McKenzie. He’s going to put an organization together and I think it’s going to be structured around the personnel part and getting good players. It’s all about players, and we can talk about this thing and that thing and having good cheerleaders and all that stuff, and that’s all nice, but you’ve got to have players. If you have players, you’re probably going to win and if you don’t have players, you’re not going to win. So I think that’s going to be a big thing with them now is they’re going to go out and get the best players, and if they don’t have ‘em, they’re going to keep trying until they get them.
Q: You suggesting Raiderettes aren’t worth a half-point at any home game?
Madden: No, they’re not. Or are any of the other things, the scoreboard, making noise, any of that other stuff doesn’t count if you don’t have players.