Raiders owner Mark Davis takes responsibility for 'I can breathe' tweet posted after Derek Chauvin conviction

Jason Owens
·4 min read

Update: On Wednesday, George Floyd's brother Philonise Floyd issued the following statement in support of Mark Davis while thanking the Raiders for their support:

“On behalf of our family, I would like to extend our deepest gratitude to the Las Vegas Raiders organization and its leadership for their support of our family and for our nation’s ongoing pursuit of justice and equality for alll Now more than ever, we must come together as one and continue on in this fight.

“For the first time in almost a year, our family has taken a breath. And I know that goes for so many across the nation and globe, as well. Let’s take this breath together in honor of my big brother who couldn’t. Let’s do it for George.”

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Tuesday's verdict convicting former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin on all three charges in the murder of George Floyd marked a catharsis for many.

In communities weary of the lack of police accountability for the deaths of people of color, Chauvin's conviction was cause for hope. It didn't bring Floyd back to his family. It didn't ensure that unnecessary deaths would cease. But for people distrustful of a system they see as repeatedly failing them, Chauvin's conviction demonstrated that justice is attainable. In this one instance, a least.

Raiders 'I can breathe' tweet draws backlash

The news prompted an outpouring of response from a sports community that's played a significant role in driving the social justice conversation prior to and since Floyd's murder last May. The responses from athletes, teams and leagues ranged from relief and joy to warnings that Chauvin's conviction is not the end of the conversation.

Then there was the Las Vegas Raiders response, which drew immediate and widespread backlash on social media.

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Raiders owner Mark Davis explains, stands by tweet

The tweet elicited Floyd's repeated pleas of "I can't breathe" as Chauvin knelt on his neck for more than nine minutes before he died. When made aware of the backlash toward the tweet, Raiders owner Mark Davis took responsibility for it.

"That's my tweet," Davis told the Las Vegas Review-Journal's Ed Graney. "That was me. I don't want anyone in the organization taking heat. I take full responsibility for that."

Davis told The Athletic's Tashan Reed that tweet was an ode to Floyd's brother Philonise Floyd, who said in a news conference Tuesday: "Today we are able to breathe again."

"If I offended the family, then I'm deeply, deeply disappointed," Davis told Reed. Davis also told Reed that he was not taking the tweet down. 

FILE - Oakland Raiders owner Mark Davis arrives to the NFL football owners meeting in Key Biscayne, Fla., in this  May 22, 2019, file photo. Mark Davis is expanding his sports empire in Las Vegas, buying the Aces from MGM Resorts International.
The Raiders owner purchased the WNBA team Thursday, Jan. 14, 2021, pending approval from the league's board of governors. (AP Photo/Brynn Anderson, File)
Mark Davis said that the Raiders won't be taking the controversial tweet down. (AP Photo/Brynn Anderson, File)

Reed pointed out that counter-protesters in support of the NYPD wore shirts with the same slogan in 2014 in an apparent reference to Eric Garner. Garner, like Floyd, pleaded "I can't breathe" while placed in a police chokehold before his death.

"I learned something," Davis told Reed. ... "I have to do a little bit more research into that just so I can speak coherently on that aspect. ...

"Let me say this right off the bat: I was not aware of that. 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."

Raiders chastised on social media

The tweet drew widespread backlash and calls for its removal that apparently won't be heeded.

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Reddit likened the tweet to an ill-advised Florida State graphic that showed Martin Luther King Jr. doing the tomahawk chop.

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But mostly, folks just wondered how long the Raiders were actually going to keep the tweet up while marveling over their social media team pinning it to the top of their timeline. 

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