In 1983, a young lady began her internship for the Los Angeles Raiders. In 2013, a wildly successful, powerful woman retired from her position as Chief Executive Officer of the Oakland Raiders. That trailblazing woman was Amy Trask, the first female CEO in NFL history.
Amy Trask began her internship with the Raiders during their second year in Los Angeles. She was a 22 year-old law school student, unsure of what her future held. What she did know was that she was a big football fan. Trask found her love for the Raiders while attending Berkley for her undergraduate degree. When she saw she could combine her love for law with her love for the Raiders, Trask’s career took off.
In 1982, Trask got her internship with the Raiders by cold calling the organization. In an SBNation interview, Trask says she spoke with a gentleman unsure of what an internship entailed. Trask replied, “Well, I’ll work for you, and you won’t pay me.” Trask says the gentleman told her to “come on down,” and the rest, as they say, was history.
After she completed her internship and graduated law school, Amy Trask returned to the Raiders in 1987. While she originally had no specific goals within the organization, she enjoyed working with the Raiders. Trask says she was so thrilled to be working on the team she would have picked up the “scrunched-up cups on the sideline” if asked to do so.
10 years after returning to the Raiders legal team, Trask was promoted to CEO in 1997. Trask spent her time as CEO handling all non-football business for the Raiders organization. She also served as the face of the franchise. Amy says her favorite part of working as CEO was that no two days were the same. Trask dealt with everything that came up during the work day, and it was always unpredictable.
As CEO, Amy handled everything from finances to league compliance. She was the official point of contact between the organization and the NFL. She also worked directly with Al Davis, helped manage the league’s partners, and countless other things.
After 16 years of unpredictable and exciting work, Trask retired from her position as CEO in 2013.
While Trask meant the world to the Raiders organization, she was also priceless to a group far from football: women. The promotion of Amy Trask to CEO marked the first female CEO in NFL History. Trask opened doors other women never had the chance to and was a face for young women around the world. In a male-dominated world such as football, Trask showed women they had a seat at the table.
Morgan Moriarty of SBNation asked Trask, “Did you experience any challenges being one of the few women in an NFL front office in the 80s, 90s, and so forth?” Trask replied:
“I’m asked all the time if I was tested because I’m a woman. The answer is, we’re all tested all the time. Whether it’s because of our gender, our race, our ethnicity, our age, our seniority, our educational background – we’re tested all the time. Well, what’s the best answer when you’re tested? Pass the damn test.”
Amy Trask became a role model for young women everywhere, myself included. She showed us there is no job, no sport, and no front office you can’t be in. As things got hard, Trask kept going. As financial woes, losing seasons, and constant pressure loomed, Trask kept going. For that, and many more reasons, she will always be remembered as the “Princess of Darkness.”
Here’s to you, Amy Trask, and to women in sports everywhere. You passed the test.
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