I’ll be honest – this article started as a profile on Kelsey Martinez who recently joined the Raiders and became the first ever Latina coach in the NFL. Badass, right?
Well, it turns out there’s a deeper, older story to tell. The Raiders (and loud, proud Raider Nation), it seems, have a long track-record of being one of the NFL’s most progressive and inclusive franchises. It’s time someone says thank you.
1) In 1980, the Raiders hired Tom Flores – the league’s first Hispanic head coach
Flores was the first Hispanic starting quarterback. He joined the Raiders as the first minority head coach in professional football history, going on to win a Super Bowl. The man is a machine. In fact, he is one of only two people in history to win a Super Bowl as a player, assistant coach, and head coach!
2) In 1983, the Raiders hired Art Shell – the league’s first “modern-era” black head coach
Shell was a rockstar on the field first. He was inducted into both the College and Pro Football Halls of Fame. A natural leader, the Raiders soon hired him. He became the second ever African-American head coach in the history of professional football, and the first black coach in the sport’s “modern era.”
3) In 1997, the Raiders named Amy Trask as CEO, the first female to hold the position in the league.
Known to Raider Nation as “The Princess of Darkness” (excuse me – how do I get that title?!), Amy Trask was appointed CEO of the Raiders in 1997. She’s an outspoken advocate of diversity in the workplace. As far as she’s concerned, “businesses who do not hire in an inclusive manner deserve to fail…. If they’re not hiring people because of gender or race, ethnicity or religion, then that business is cutting off its own nose to spite its face.” She goes on to say “At some point, perhaps business Darwinism will take effect.” YAS Princess of Darkness!
4) In 2015, Raiders Owner Mark Davis announced a Zero Tolerance for Domestic Violence Policy (and turned down all-star players to hold it up) Having witnessed first hand the terrors of domestic violence when a close family friend was killed by her boyfriend, Mark Davis had no problem setting clear policies that lead the NFL by example. “It’s just something we can’t tolerate,” Davis said of domestic violence. “I don’t know how to fix it in society, but I know we can’t have it on our team.” He’s turned away top-roster trade and signing opportunities with candidates accused of violence. For that, we thank him (and forgive this haircut).
5) In 2017, Raiders players and coaches sat during the national anthem, in protest of comments made by president Donald Trump about former 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick. These men took a public stand against the belligerent comments of President Donald Trump, putting their career at risk to show solidarity with BLM and Colin Kaepernick.
6) And in 2018, they hired Kelsey Martinez as the second ever Female Strength and Conditioning coach in NFL History – and its first ever Latina. At 26 years old, Kelsey Martinez is naturally humble, hard working, and made of grit. It’s her job to make the Raiders stronger and faster – conditioning top talent including Heisman Trophy Winners. She credits her success to confident focus: “Don’t create limits on yourself,” Martinez advised. “I was able to find what I love to do”… Then, she drops this bomb on us, “Do you love what you do?” Damn, girl. Way to get a woman thinking.
So the next time someone asks if you’re watching the game, consider rooting for the black and silver.