The Las Vegas Raiders, a team with one of the NFL’s most storied histories of breaking racial barriers, on Thursday named attorney Sandra Douglass Morgan to the position of team president. She is the first Black woman in NFL history to be named to the position.
Morgan also breaks other molds: most NFL team executives have at least prior sports experience, if not NFL specific credentials on their resumes. She has neither but boast a host of experiences that that team sees as beneficial to her role. She’s a former city attorney in Las Vegas, the city that the Raiders moved to from Oakland, Calif., just two seasons ago. She’s also the former chair of the Nevada Gaming Commission, a powerful board that oversees the lucrative sports betting and casino industries.
Until recent years, gambling was a taboo for the NFL, but with pro sports embracing legalized betting, the Raiders are positioned as the home team in the country’s betting capital.
In addition to her professional credentials, the optics of the Raiders hiring a Black woman are also critical. The team and the NFL are at the center of scandals involving race and gender. Former Raiders head coach Jon Gruden resigned last October a trove of his emails containing racist and homophobic language was leaked to the media. Gruden is currently suing the NFL claiming he was targeted by the league’s front office.
The Raiders have also lost multiple executives and the organization has been accused of systemically mistreating employees.
At the same time, the NFL is being sued by three Black current and former coaches for racial discrimination.