The Oakland Raiders' recent hire of Reggie McKenzie has been lauded all across the Internet and the rest of Raider Nation as a great move and a positive step in the right direction for the organization following the death of Al Davis and a disappointing 8-8 finish to the season. SBN's own Silver and Black Pride has been universally ecstatic about the move, as have the good folks at raiderfans.net. McKenzie is seen as a winner and as a fount of stability and level-headedness, two things Raider Nation understands the team desperately needs more of within the front office.
But why do we feel this way about Reggie McKenzie? Certainly Ron Wolf's unabashed endorsement speaks volumes, as he is a man widely respected across the league and especially by Raider fans, The fact that McKenzie is a former Los Angeles Raider doesn't hurt either, as he understands the legacy of the Raiders and what the team looks like when it is successful. The fact that McKenzie, until this week, worked for the Super Bowl Champion and undisputed best team in football Green Bay Packers is another huge factor, as that team has a roster absolutely stacked with the best talent, which McKenzie in no small way is responsible for. But let's go back to McKenzie's earlier years and examine him from the beginning.
McKenzie played linebacker at the University of Tennessee after being valedictorian of his class at his Knoxille, TN high school. McKenzie graduated with a degree in business administration with an emphasis in personnel management. After his retirement from pro football, McKenzie returned to Tennessee and was an assistant coach under Phil Fulmer. His staff was the one that recruited Peyton Manning and they enjoyed a successful season. McKenzie also founded a youth charity in Knoxville.
McKenzie was drafted by the Raiders in the tenth round in 1985. He played four years with the Raiders, two for the Cardinals and one for San Francisco. After one year coaching at Tennessee he became a personnel assistant with Green Bay and then their director of pro personnel three years later. This particular era of Packers history is a very successful one, with the Favre-Levens-Brooks-Sharpe offense being very strong and the Packers winning Super Bowl 31.
McKenzie became director of football operations in 2008, a move coinciding with the (temporary) retirement of Brett Favre and the emergence of Aaron Rodgers as the NFL's premier quarterback. In his capacities as director of pro personnel and then all football operations, Reggie McKenzie is partially, if not primarily, behind the acquisitions and drafting of the Packers' current Super Bowl-winning core of Rodgers-Jennings-Nelson-Finley-Woodson-Raji-Hawk-Matthews. I suspect football fans may reflect on this team in the future as one of the greatest teams ever assembled, and Reggie McKenzie is largely responsible for it.
So what will he bring to the Raiders? A pedigree of success and an eye for scouting, both in the professional and college ranks. Gone are the days when Oakland drafts players based on 40 time and measurables alone. Ahead are days where the Raiders draft the best players with the best character who fit the system the team has in place. McKenzie is not a brash maverick like our beloved former owner. He is a quiet, blue-collar workman who will simply go to work every day and make the team better with poise and rationality. This is the reputation he has fostered with the Packers and this is the man the Raiders have had the good sense to hire.