Updated December 31, 2018 - 5:39 pm
A text received on Sunday suggested the Raiders had done it again, hiring someone for a critical position off television.
Well, if this Mike Mayock experiment doesn’t work, it’s true Ashton Kutcher played some high school ball for the Clear Creek Amana Clippers in Iowa.
So there is that.
The only surprising thing about Mayock being hired as the Raiders’ GM is that anyone is surprised.
It’s just so … 2018 (’19) Raiders of them.
Progress is said to be driven by a sense of adventure and unconventional thinking and, in this manner, the Raiders are proving to be the crazy uncle who wears his bathrobe and slippers to the opera and doesn’t give a hoot about what anyone thinks.
The thing is, it might actually work.
It could also prove a reality TV disaster coming to Las Vegas in 2020.
On one hand, Mayock has as much NFL front office experience as the guy who wrote this sentence and most everyone who reads it, which is to say absolutely none.
On the other, for all the questions that surround a team that just finished 4-12, Mayock’s greatest strength could provide needed and immediate answers.
Not to mention positive results when it comes to which names will highlight a roster in the coming years.
“I’m jacked, I’m juiced, I’m ready to go,” said Mayock on Monday at a news conference in Alameda, California.
Translation: He’s totally hyped for those 4 a.m. film sessions with Jon Gruden.
Mayock is like the Raiders coach in that he arrives straight from your flat screen, having worked for the NFL Network since 2004 and owning the reputation as one whose knowledge is elite when predicting which college players will best translate to the professional level.
The draft annually features hundreds of prospects wanting to hear their name called and, more often than not, the 60-year-old Mayock knows which ones can actually play.
There is a reason former Giants general manager Jerry Reese declined to interview for the Raiders position. The correct sense throughout the NFL is that while the team will assuredly promote the idea its GM will work alongside Gruden — it did so again Monday — the person will instead be working for him.
See McKenzie, Reggie, fired Dec. 10.
This is Gruden’s team and every major decision will occur only with his approval, including who the Raiders draft and which free agents they pursue and possibly sign.
“I know we’ll argue about some guys,” said Mayock, “and I can’t wait.”
Enter the unconventional choice.
Draft is crucial
Think about it. Gruden in one season certainly didn’t prove much of anything upon his return to the sidelines, other than he can coach a team to last place in the AFC West while trading away its best player (Khalil Mack) and best receiver (Amari Cooper).
Whatever aptitude Gruden might have when it comes to the player personnel side of things is also unknown — he has never been viewed as any sort of guru when it comes to talent evaluation — so for a team with three first-round picks in April’s draft and $80 million in cap space, having someone with Mayock’s expertise in such areas could prove the difference between a quick turnaround or more 4-12 records.
That is, if Gruden is willing to listen.
The Raiders have four of the top 35 choices and 11 overall in the upcoming draft.
They can’t mess things up.
Yes. The hiring of Mayock is different. It’s showing up to the opera in a bathrobe and slippers, another risky move by Gruden with no assurance of a successful ending.
The only guarantee in any of this is that the Raiders now have the game’s best TV analysts running their franchise.
And we know how well that worked out with the Lions and Matt Millen.
But this is also a Raiders team that has missed the playoffs 15 of the last 16 years. Is there really such a thing as too unconventional right now?
“We’re going to lead the league in effort,” said Gruden. “I will not make any more promises than that. Mayock and I will be committed to work together, we’re going to be passionate about what we do, we’re going to be loyal to one another and we’re going to lead the league in effort.
“And if we don’t, I want to meet the two that beats us in that.”
If there is such a pairing, I’m guessing one won’t be named Kutcher.
You have to believe the Raiders are saving Clear Creek High’s finest, just in case.
Contact columnist Ed Graney at email@example.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.