Wednesday's NFL: Raiders owner says team wasn't targeted in email investigation

Barry Wilner
AP Pro Football Writer

New York — Las Vegas Raiders owner Mark Davis says he doesn't believe the team was targeted in the leaking of emails that led to the resignation of coach Jon Gruden.

Speaking after the NFL owners meetings ended Wednesday, Davis also acknowledged the team has reached a settlement with Gruden, who received a 10-year, $100 million contract to return to coach the team in 2018. He did not reveal terms of the settlement.

Asked about any recent conversations with Gruden, whose racist, homophobic and misogynistic comments were uncovered during an investigating of workplace misconduct at the Washington Football Team, Davis said: “He's hurt, he's really hurt. I understand that. But he understands the ramifications of what he said.”

“We all have our demons in life,” Davis added, “and we have to understand that.”

Davis wondered about the timing of the leaking of the emails, and said he was not given a reason for delays in his team being told about them. The NFL has not and will not be releasing documents from the independent investigation of the Washington Football Team, saying the league is protecting the identities of those who testified. Gruden's emails were to Bruce Allen, the former president of the Washington franchise.

Mark Davis, owner of the Las Vegas Raiders, leaves the NFL owners meeting in New York, Wednesday, Oct. 27, 2021.

Davis would like the league to release a written report of the investigation.

“I would like to see some of the things that were charged,” he said.

He also gave a lukewarm endorsement of Raiders general manager Mike Mayock, who was hired by Gruden.

“Mike Mayock is the GM of the Raiders,” the owner said. “I will not speak for the future, right now he's the GM of the Raiders.”

And, echoing the sentiments of his late father, Al Davis, the Pro Football Hall of Fame owner, Davis noted about the way his team was drawn deeply into the Washington investigation, “We’re Raiders. We’re used to this.”

Al Davis often took on the league and other teams on a variety of issues, including suing the NFL to allow him to move the franchise.

There were no matters up for voting on the owners' agenda for these meetings — the first in person since December 2019. There was a tweak to the Rooney Rule that requires interviews of minority candidates for coaching and executive jobs.

At least one in-person interview with a minority candidate for head coach and general manager positions who is not working for the interviewing team will be required. Many interviews during the COVID-19 pandemic have been done virtually.

The idea is to ensure that searches for such hires are diverse and thorough.

Through seven weeks of the schedule, the number of coaches’ challenges has dropped significantly from 62 in 2020 and 104 the previous season to 46. Troy Vincent, the NFL’s pro football operations chief, believes help from the replay officiating booth and league office in New York has led to the decrease.

Vincent also said the uptick in penalties overall stems from an increase in offensive holding calls.

Defending the process for replay reviews, Vincent said there were five or so reviews that required lengthier than normal stoppages.

“But there is an appreciation of getting it right,” he said. “It is not about the time, the goal is to get it right. We’re always about efficiency, but we have the technology to get it right.”

Favre repays $600K in Mississippi welfare case, auditor says

Jackson, Miss. — Retired NFL player Brett Favre has repaid $600,000 in state welfare money he accepted for speeches where he didn't appear, but the state attorney general could sue Favre if he doesn’t pay interest owed on the amount, the Mississippi auditor said Wednesday.

Auditor Shad White said Favre paid the $600,000 to the auditor’s office this week. White sent the former Green Bay Packers quarterback a letter Oct. 12 demanding $828,000, which was the $600,000 plus $228,000 in interest.

Of the $228,000, White said: "If he does not pay that within 30 days of our demand, the AG will be responsible for enforcing the payment of the interest in court."

Favre is not facing criminal charges, but former Mississippi Department of Human Services director John Davis and other people have been charged in one of the state’s largest embezzlement cases. Allegations of misspending came to light in early 2020 when Davis and five others were indicted.

White said in May 2020 that Favre, who lives in Mississippi, had repaid $500,000 of the $1.1 million in welfare money he received for multiple no-show speeches. Favre was paid by Mississippi Community Education Center, a nonprofit group whose former leader is among those awaiting trial.

In a Facebook post when he repaid the first $500,000, Favre said he didn’t know the money he received came from welfare funds. He also said his charity had provided millions of dollars to poor children in Mississippi and Wisconsin.

White on Oct. 12 demanded that several people and organizations repay $77 million in misspent welfare money intended to help people in one of the poorest states in the nation. With interest, the demand jumped to $96 million. That included money sought from Favre.

White issued the demands about two weeks after a Maryland-based CPA firm issued an independent report about how the Mississippi Department of Human Services spent federal money from 2016 through 2019 through Temporary Assistance to Needy Families. The report found nearly $41 million in “questioned costs” for items including travel and programs to support college athletes.

White demanded the whole $96 million from Davis and most of it from Mississippi Community Education Center and another nonprofit organization, Family Resource Center. Davis left the Department of Human Services in July 2019.

Those indicted along with Davis were former professional wrestler Brett DiBiase; former Department of Human Services employee Latimer Smith; Nancy New, who has been the director of Mississippi Community Education Center and New Learning Resources; her son Zach New, who has been assistant executive director of the education center; and Anne McGrew, an accountant for the education center.

DiBiase pleaded guilty in December to one count of making a false statement. He said in court documents that he had submitted documents and received full payment for work he did not complete. He agreed to pay $48,000 in restitution, and his sentencing was deferred.

McGrew pleaded guilty on Oct. 11 to one charge of conspiracy to commit embezzlement for her role in the case. She awaits sentencing and has agreed to testify against others.

Davis, Smith, Nancy New and Zach New have all pleaded not guilty and await trial in state court.

Nancy New and Zach New also have been indicted on federal charges, have pleaded not guilty and await trial.

Mississippi Community Education Center, operating as Families First for Mississippi, received more than $44 million in government grants from mid-2014 to mid-2018, according to nonprofit tax filings. Amounts spiked to $12.9 million and $26.7 million in the final two years, as Davis outsourced a large portion of Mississippi’s Temporary Assistance to Needy Families spending to the group.