Mark Davis wanted to partner with Sheldon Adelson as both a financier and a fixer as he attempted to relocate the Oakland Raiders to Las Vegas.
Adelson couldn't "give a f--- about the NFL," or any sports, in the words of a lawyer who knows him well. Adelson has attended fewer than five NFL games in his life.
Adelson's private assessment of commissioner Roger Goodell: "He's an idiot."
Davis is seen as the NFL's least wealthy owner and needed someone like Adelson to make such a major move.
"I don't want to make any money," Davis told Adelson, moments after their introduction. "I just want to protect my dad's legacy."
"Well, I do things to make money," Adelson replied. "I don't understand that. Everyone wants to make money."
Adelson considered the Raiders' move a chance to help him shift a windfall of public money away from a competitor's convention center renovation. Bringing the NFL to Las Vegas would also serve as a legacy project for Adelson.
Adelson decided to push Nevada lawmakers to shift most of the bed tax money from their convention center to a proposed 65,000-seat football stadium, to be built on land across from Mandalay Bay off the Strip's southern stretch.
Adelson wanted a return on his investment and eventually pulled out of the deal.
"What Sheldon was buying isn't worth $650 million," says a league source with intimate knowledge of the negotiations. "It never made sense that the Raiders couldn't make it work. Davis was getting a debt-free stadium and got to keep all NFL revenue. It was the greatest deal in NFL history."
Adelson and Goldman Sachs pulled out of the deal with the Raiders but Davis replaced them with Bank of America.
Jerry Jones played a big role from there, wearing six hats: "shadow commissioner, deal broker, stadium financier, proponent of legalized daily fantasy wagering in Nevada, owner/general manager of the Cowboys" and as part owner of Legends Hospitality.