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Graney: Raiders’ choice of Wynn to light torch is senseless

Updated September 24, 2021 - 9:47 pm

Fact: Former casino mogul Steve Wynn has been chosen to light the Al Davis Memorial Torch before the Raiders host the Miami Dolphins on Sunday at Allegiant Stadium.

Fact II: It’s a bad look for a team that has been at the forefront of minority and female hirings throughout its history.

What, the Raiders couldn’t get UFC star Jon Jones? He’s in town.

Wynn stepped down in 2018 as Wynn Resorts Chairman and CEO amid reports that alleged years of harassment, assault and sexual coercion against his employees.

He has denied all allegations.

Wynn first met Raiders owner Mark Davis when the latter was seeking guidance about relocating his franchise from Oakland to Southern Nevada. The two sat for hours in Wynn’s office discussing how professional football might fit here.

“He played a major role in helping us get to Las Vegas and in the building of Allegiant Stadium,” Davis told the Review-Journal on Friday. “I felt like that I wanted to honor him for that.

“I understand the concern. At the same time, these were all accusations and just one side of things. I’m very much against domestic violence and sexual assault, and that goes for anyone with the Raiders or anyone else I might hire to work for me. But this was someone instrumental in making my dreams come true, and I’m not going to abandon him.”

Makes no sense

There is no way to dress it up. Not considering the accusations against Wynn.

There is no way to make sense of it from the Raiders’ side of things.

You won’t find a sports franchise more inclusive. One doesn’t exist. Which makes the choice of Wynn all the more baffling.

This isn’t the Washington Football Team, which in July was fined $10 million by the NFL and saw owner Dan Snyder step away from day-to-day operations after an investigation found the franchise’s workplace “highly unprofessional,” especially for women. It was an incredibly toxic environment.

These are the Raiders, who hired the NFL’s first woman CEO in Amy Trask. Who long before the “Rooney Rule” was adopted to ensure minority candidates were given a fair chance to interview for head coaching jobs, were well on their way to being a franchise defined by acceptance. Who have championed the rights of women throughout the team’s existence.

In purchasing the Aces of the WNBA in January, Davis’ first order of business was to push fellow owners on the topic of female players receiving a larger piece of the financial pie through salaries and a more lucrative media rights deal.

It’s not as if Wynn affords the team some sort of competitive advantage. Did we miss the part where he offered sage advice about how to stop Miami quarterback Jacoby Brissett?

Is coach Jon Gruden awaiting Wynn’s advice on third-down calls?

He literally will be standing beside a mix of lights and fog to replicate a flame.

Is a deserved negative reaction and hit to the team’s sterling reputation in this manner — built over years and years — really worth it?

“I’m concerned about public backlash,” Davis said. “I guess a lot of things I do aren’t fully understood, so I appreciate this opportunity to explain it.

“The Raiders would not be in Las Vegas without someone like Steve Wynn. Accusations are just that. What he did for me and the Raiders family is something I’m not going to forget.”

What’s the point?

Wynn’s selection is a continuation of those who were instrumental in bringing the franchise to Southern Nevada being extended the honor.

Others to have done so this season: Carol Davis, wife to the late Al Davis and mother to Mark; Dr. Miriam Adelson, widow of Sheldon G. Adelson; and former Nevada Gov. Brian Sandoval.

And, now, Steve Wynn.

He of disgusting allegations that he demanded sex from and assaulted several of his resort employees over three decades.

That guy.

I don’t get the point.

Not from this franchise. Not from the Raiders.

The Review-Journal is owned by the family of Dr. Miriam Adelson.

Ed Graney is a Sigma Delta Chi Award winner for sports column writing and can be reached at egraney@reviewjournal.com or 702-383-4618. He can be heard on “The Press Box,” ESPN Radio 100.9 FM and 1100 AM, from 7 a.m. to 10 a.m. Monday through Friday. Follow @edgraney on Twitter.

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