The owner of NFL team the Las Vegas Raiders has taken responsibility for a tweet sent out on the franchise’s official social media account that was widely slammed in the aftermath of Derek Chauvin’s trial.
Mark Davis, who has a net worth reported to be around $AUD650 million, spoke up after a post that said “I CAN BREATHE” was shared by the Raiders on Twitter when former police officer Chauvin was found guilty of murdering George Floyd.
Floyd’s death in police custody last year sparked worldwide protests against racial injustice and police brutality, and on Wednesday morning Chauvin was convicted on all three counts: second degree unintentional murder, third degree murder and second degree manslaughter.
Floyd repeatedly told police “I can’t breathe” when Chauvin’s knee was on his neck for more than nine minutes, and those words became the catchcry of the Black Lives Matter movement.
After Chauvin was convicted, Floyd’s brother Philonise said: “Today, we are able to breathe again.” The Raiders tried to channel that message in their tweet, but it went down horribly with Americans aware there is still so much further to go to achieve racial equality.
Davis said he never meant to offend Floyd’s family but maintained he would not be instructing the Raiders to remove or delete the tweet, and stopped short of saying sorry.
“If I offended the family, then I’m deeply, deeply disappointed,” Davis told The Athletic. “I could un-pin it and let it run its course. It’s already out there.
“It’s not an apology. I’m not embarrassed by what I said, but I did learn something now.”
Davis also maintained he had no idea “I CAN BREATHE” shirts were worn by supporters of the New York City Police Department following the death of unarmed black man Eric Garner at the hands of a police officer in 2014.
“Let me say this right off the bat: I was not aware of that,” Davis said. “Absolutely not. I had no idea of that. That’s a situation that I was not aware of.
“I can see where there could be some negativity towards what I said based on that.”
America condemns Davis appalling tweet
American sports business reporter Darren Rovell was among many to criticise the tone-deaf tweet.
“That this tweet was tweeted is hard to believe,” Rovell wrote. “That it has remained up for more than an hour is harder to believe.”
He also ripped Davis’ suggestion the quote was inspired by Philonise Floyd.
“Raiders owner doubling down,” Rovell tweeted. “If it’s a quote, you quote it. Otherwise, it’s from you.”
Podcaster Brandon Walker said: “I think the Raiders tweet might be the worst tweet of all-time. WTF were they thinking?”
Sports writer Andrew Walker said: “The Raiders’ tweet is an abomination. Unquestionably the worst social media gaffe by a branded account I’ve ever seen.”
NFL writer Trevor Sikkema hit out at Davis for letting the tweet go out in the first place, and keeping it pinned to the top of the Raiders’ Twitter page.
“Feel truly awful for the people on the Raiders social team who will now have to deal with the majority of the backlash, the replies, and the harassment (for much more than just today) all because of an owner’s tone deaf power trip on a social channel,” he wrote.
Tashan Reed, who spoke to Davis for his piece in The Athletic, said the Raiders owner “failed miserably”.
“The Raiders, as an organisation, simply cannot let that sort of thing happen again,” Reed wrote. “They aren’t the first sports organisation to make such a misstep, but it’s still ignorant, embarrassing and unnecessary.
“Again, I believe Davis is someone who wants to help as an advocate for social justice, but this wasn’t the way to do it.”
For The Win’s Andrew Joseph wrote in a piece: “In the sports world, specifically, it would be tough to find a worse response than the Las Vegas Raiders’ effort. This was just so bad.”