Despite the Raiders, and coach Jon Gruden, standing behind their man in the Antonio Brown helmet issue, it was Mayock’s take-charge moment that mattered.
Mike Mayock knows intestinal fortitude.
After weeks of a drawn-out Antonio Brown situation, it was Mayock’s impromptu press conference in Napa that changed the course of what could have been a massive distraction for a team trying to rebuild itself.
Let’s rewind a bit. Yes, there’s no question the Raiders – and particularly Gruden – were publicly behind and supported Brown’s properly filed grievance over his beloved helmet. Brown followed the rules in filing the grievance and it’s hard to argue a player using the system to file a complaint and doing things the right way. Even though the media – primarily east coast-based journalists – wanted to paint it as something very different.
Fast forward to Sunday and Brown received word his grievance had been denied by an independent arbiter. He again skipped practice prompting Mayock to step up and issue his warning: either you’re all in, or all out. Then comes Monday, and Brown returns to practice – at least he was there even if he didn’t practice with a helmet.
Although many wanted to paint the “ultimatum” as some huge confrontational statement from GM to his player, to me, it was more just a reassertion of what Brown already knew.
Many times organizations operate behind the scenes and even though the NFL is covered 24/7, you don’t always have all the facts and in the case of AB, we clearly didn’t. Mayock had to have had the same conversation with his agent Drew Rosenhaus before he addressed the media.
Addressing the media, as he did, was the best thing he could do for his team and for Gruden. Gruden may be the head of the household in Raiderland, but the symbiotic relationship between him and Mayock is exactly why he is there.
Mayock is his own man but also the great yin to the Gruden yang. By taking on the mantle of asserting the team’s dominance over a player, Mayock allowed Gruden’s relationship with his star player to deepen and that helped both the team and the player.
With Brown now seemingly in the fold, as the team approaches the regular season, much credit should be given to Mayock. I don’t think there’s been a lot of credit given but it’s worthy to point out.
Mayock is never going to be the star with Gruden on stage. But Mike Mayock isn’t a “look at me” guy anyway. He’s a highly intelligent, hard-working, football guy. In retrospect, hiring him as the Raiders GM might be the biggest move the team made since the hiring of Gruden.