As the clock struck midnight on a cold March night, a deal between the Oakland Raiders and the Pittsburgh Steelers was struck as well. In the early minutes of the new day on March 10, rookie general manager of the Raiders Mike Mayock had completed a franchise-altering deal. As many around the world lay dormant, the Oakland front office was hit with a lightning bolt of energy as they just landed seven-time Pro-Bowler Antonio Brown. NFL Network’s Gregg Rosenthal calls the trade a “steal” as the Raiders send a 2019 third and fifth round pick to Pittsburgh in return for Brown’s services. Brown’s agent Drew Rosenhaus also had high praise for Mayock who claimed that in the crucial 48 hours of heavy negotiations, Mayock showed why he is the right man to lead the rebuild in Oakland. Rosenhaus, a now 30-year veteran in the sports agency world, lauded Mayock’s efforts in the negotiations with this to say.
“Mayock is a talented general manager and a tough negotiator,” Rosenhaus said in a NFL Network televised interview Sunday. “He did a good job. You would’ve thought he was a veteran NFL general manager. He was very sharp and very professional. He actually worked on Antonio’s deal with me.”
Like any trade, career, or story, there is always a beginning. In truth, there may not be much more of a humbling beginning than Mayock’s. Through hard work, determination, and integrity, Mayock has established himself into one of the most respected names in the world of football. This success did not come overnight. His story started in Overbrook, a neighborhood right outside of West Philadelphia, PA.
Mike Mayock: West Philadelphia Born and Raised
A team should be like a family. You should be able to look left and right knowing that your back is covered. The value and importance of family and football was ingrained into Mayock at a young age. As the oldest of seven, Mike grew up in a tight-knit family that was taught the value of hard work, respecting of others, and the sport of football. With the Mr. Softie theme song in the background on a late summer afternoon, Mike would play football in the streets. Savoring each moment with the ball before the sun found the horizon, like many of us, Mike dreamed of the NFL as he sprinted on the warm sun-kissed black tops of Overbrook. Mike’s father was the head football coach and math teacher at the Haverford School. This connection would later help get Mike and his brothers’ first-rate education and a chance to play for a quality football team.
College and a Career Cut Short
Mayock chose to attend Boston College where he would star as the captain of the football and baseball team. Coincidentally, in 1981, the Steelers drafted Mayock in the 10th round of the NFL Draft. Unfortunately, Mike made it to final cuts only to end up handing in his playbook. Discouraged but not broken, Mayock headed up to Toronto and played for the Argonauts. Following his stint in the CFL, Mayock got a shot on the New York Giants; however, a knee injury in 1982 ended his NFL career.
From Cold-Calling to Canada
After the conclusion of this football career, Mayock considered coaching. However, he found himself in commercial real estate. He enjoyed the energy while on the job and he had a knack for networking. Although he was making a good living, football was a part of him and right now, it was missing. Mayock called local high school and college football games. He would pick the minds and just talk football with the coaches at these schools such as my alma mater, West Chester University. Mike found his first reporting action for New Jersey Network as a sideline reporter for the Rutgers and Princeton football teams. However, he knew he could make it to the big time and was sending tape out to major names.
In a leap of faith, Mayock decided to cold call the front office of ESPN’s college football division. After some discussion, he was on his way up to Bristol, CT for a face-to-face meeting. After showing his passion and immense knowledge of the game, he landed a sideline-reporting gig for a bowl game. Reporting in Canada for the CFL was next on tap. For 18 years, Mayock would balance the real estate job while building his resume in sports reporting. Mayock found his big break in 2003. The NFL Network hired Mike to be their college and NFL Draft analyst, a role that he held until the very last day of 2018. Mayock was the voice of the NFL Combine for years and an elite evaluator of NFL caliber talent coming out of college. Those talents did not go unnoticed by his friend.
Mayock and Chucky, A Match Made in Football Heaven
After a disastrous first season in Oakland, Jon Gruden knew he needed someone he could trust by his side as the general manager. Mayock is the man to ask when it comes to the draft and Gruden wanted his longtime friend to join Raider Nation. On December 31, 2018, Mayock as Raiders general manager became official. When asked about the new job, Mayock had this to say.
“It’s a little different, I’m not gonna lie to you,” said Mayock. “It’s been kind of a whirlwind couple of months. I mean, I’ve known Gruden for a lot of years, but you walk in at 5:30 in the morning, he looks at you like, ‘Why you late? I’ve been here an hour.’ It’s been awesome.”
The first on the job, Mayock signed 10 players to futures contracts. On February 14, Mayock named Brentson Buckner defensive line coach, Taver Johnson assistant defensive backs coach, John Morton senior offensive assistant coach, A.J. Neibel strength and conditioning coach and Kirby Wilson running backs coach. In his first major move as general manager, Mayock oversaw and executed the trade and of Antonio Brown. Additionally, just a few hours later, Mayock had successfully traded guard Kelechi Osemele and a sixth-round pick to the New York Jets for a fifth-round pick, shedding $10.2 million in cap space. Next, Mayock re-signed defensive tackle Johnathan Hankins to a two-year extension. As free agency opens this week, look for the seasoned duo of Mayock and Gruden to make some major splashes as they still have over $58 million in cap space and five first-round picks in the new two drafts.
Oakland Bound but Philadelphia’s Son
The most uncomfortable paths in our lives can sometimes take us to the most beautiful places. From the blacktops of Overbrook right outside of Philadelphia, a young boy dreamed of playing in the NFL. Years later, he accomplished that goal and is now in charge of an entire franchise. Philly born Mike Mayock is the right man to lead the Oakland Raiders franchise toward a brighter future.
Philadelphia natives often receive negative criticism from outsiders. This can be attributed to the fact that they all have a chip on their shoulder. They will defend their sports teams until their last breath. However, discussions are genuine and every task is done with passion. It’s a blue-collar city and the city’s heart beats as one. Mayock is the true embodiment of the phrase “Philly Tough.” Even though he is known for his calm demeanor, he truly speaks with a great amount of fervor and will go to bat for you if he believes in you. Raider Nation, the best is yet to come. Come fall, the Raiders may have a few more fans from Philly and Delco, as they watch one of their own chase the Lombardi Trophy.