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Raiders’ Mark Davis defends tweet about Derek Chauvin verdict

Raiders owner Mark Davis took responsibility Tuesday night for a tweet that appeared on the team’s official account in relation to the guilty verdict in the George Floyd murder case.

The tweet read: “I Can Breathe 4-20-21.”

Derek Chauvin, the former Minneapolis police officer charged in the killing of Floyd, was found guilty of unintentional second-degree murder, third-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter.

An hour after the tweet went public, Davis’ tweet already had received nearly 20,000 comments and more than 15,000 retweets.

Most were of a highly critical nature.

The 46-year-old Floyd was heard saying “I can’t breathe,” 20 times as Chauvin pressed his knee into Floyd’s neck on May 25 of last year.

“That’s my tweet. That was me,” Davis told the Review-Journal. “I don’t want anyone in the organization taking heat. I take full responsibility for that.

“I was driving home from a meeting (Tuesday) when the verdict came in. Soon after, I was listening to George Floyd’s brother, Philonise, speak. And he said, ‘Today, we are able to breathe again.’ I took my lead from him. In my mind, that was all I needed to say — ‘I can breathe.’

“I believe it has a lot of context. (Chauvin) was on his neck for more than nine minutes and was found guilty on all counts. And now, his knee is fully off his neck. Unfortunately, it’s a little too late.”

Davis doesn’t have an official Twitter account but said he relayed the words to team personnel so that they might be shared across the team’s social media platform.

“I think justice was served,” Davis said. “It’s rare I make statements about anything and if I thought it offended the (Floyd) family, I would feel very badly and apologize. Other than that, I’m not apologizing. I honesty believe after listening to Philonise, this is a day that we can all breathe.

“We still have a lot of work to do. It’s not the end. But this is definitely a step in the right direction.”

The late Al Davis, Mark’s father, championed diversity and racial unity like few owners in sports.

He hired the first Latino head coach (Tom Flores) and the first black head coach (Art Shell) of the modern era. The Raiders also hired the NFL’s first female executive (Amy Trask).

The Raiders were practicing the Rooney Rule that mandates interviewing minority candidates long before it was established.

“That’s all part of our DNA as a franchise,”Davis said. “I feel bad if what I wrote was misinterpreted. But I listened to what the family said and how it felt, not some talking heads. I hope people understand that.”

Ed Graney can be reached at egraney@reviewjournal.com or 702-383-4618. Follow @edgraney on Twitter.

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