This post was originally published on Sacramento Observer

By Antonio R. Harvey

Nevada attorney Sandra Douglass Morgan was appointed as the Las Vegas Raiders’ team president July 7. She’s the first Black woman to hold such a title in the National Football League.

The former chairwoman of the Nevada Gaming Control Board is the NFL’s third woman to become a team president.

“It is the honor of a lifetime to join the Raiders at one of the most defining times in the team’s history,” Morgan said in a statement. “This team’s arrival in Las Vegas has created a new energy and opportunities we never dreamed possible. I look forward to taking this team’s integrity, spirit and commitment to excellence on the field into every facet of this organization.”

A Las Vegas native, Morgan has long been a trailblazer. She was the first person of color to serve as chair of the Nevada Gaming Control Board and was Nevada’s first African-American city attorney, serving North Las Vegas.

Morgan most recently was with the law firm Covington & Burling LLP. In addition to her city attorney’s job, she also has been a litigation attorney for an international gaming and hospitality company.

“I am thrilled that Sandra has agreed to join the Raiders family,” Raiders owner Mark Davis said. “Her experience, integrity and passion for this community will be invaluable to our organization.”

I’m not here to sweep anything under the rug or avoid problems or concerns that need to be addressed. The fact is I accepted this role because I believe in the promise of the Raiders, I believe in the future of the Raiders and I believe in this organization’s tenets of integrity, community and, most of all, commitment to excellence.

Sandra Douglass Morgan

According to NFL.com, Morgan’s hire came two months after interim president Dan Ventrelle, who held the position for almost a year, left the Raiders’ front office. He took over as team president in July 2021 after Marc Badain resigned.

Ventrelle, according to an NFL.com report, said he was fired in retaliation for bringing concerns from multiple employees to the league about a “hostile work environment.”

Since 2013, lawsuits have been filed against the Raiders by former scouts, cheerleaders, assistant coaches, and a staff member of the team’s human resources department. Most of the complaints date to the team’s time in Oakland. The Raiders moved to Las Vegas on Jan. 22, 2020.

Morgan addressed the timing of her hiring and during an introductory news conference July 7.

“It’s no secret that this organization has faced some recent challenges,” she said. “But I want to be clear: I’m not here to sweep anything under the rug or avoid problems or concerns that need to be addressed. The fact is I accepted this role because I believe in the promise of the Raiders, I believe in the future of the Raiders and I believe in this organization’s tenets of integrity, community and, most of all, commitment to excellence.”

Morgan’s hiring comes months after Jon Gruden resigned as the Raiders’ head coach following published reports of disturbing emails he wrote over a 10-year stretch, including racist, misogynistic and anti-gay language. Gruden, 58, was in the third year of a 10-year contract worth a reported $100 million.

The recent issues sharply contrast the organization’s diversity and inclusion efforts historically.

Dating to the guidance of the late team owner Al Davis, the Raiders have been a leader in racial and gender advancement. Art Shell was the NFL’s second Black head coach when he was hired in 1989 and first since Fritz Pollard, hired by the Akron Pros in 1921.

There are only two Black head coaches in the NFL: Lovie Smith with the Houston Texans and Mike Tomlin, entering his 15th year with the Pittsburgh Steelers.

Al Davis appointed Amy Trask as chief executive officer in 1997. Trask, who started out as an intern, spent 30 seasons with the Raiders, including 16 years as the team’s CEO in Oakland.

“We have so much to do, and I’m excited to be at the helm of that growth,” Morgan said of continuing the building the team around diversity.

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