Trask argues that she's anything but a yes-woman, and both she and Davis insist they have had plenty of heated disagreements. But she also does nothing to discourage the comparison. "I can be very, very tough," she says, "and what's wrong with being tough? If tough were used to describe a man in my position, I don't think it would be perceived as a negative."
Critics take Trask to task for harping on legal technicalities pertinent only to the Raiders' interests and for repeatedly calling Tagliabue's integrity into question. "I think people respect her intellect and talent, but she uses it in such a negative, unproductive way that no one respects her as a businessperson," says another team's second-highest ranking executive. "It's always about ripping you down, and because of that she's despised."
These days at owners' meetings Trask has at least a little company in the ladies' rest room, where, she says, "There's never a line." Cincinnati Bengals executive vice president Katie Blackburn, owner Mike Brown's daughter, has become increasingly influential, and two other owners' daughters, Charlotte Anderson ( Cowboys) and Linda Bogdan (Bills), hold VP titles. San Diego Chargers VP Jeanne Bonk, the team's chief financial officer, also regularly attends league meetings. (The NFL has two female owners, the 49ers' Denise DeBartolo York and the St. Louis Rams' Georgia Frontiere, each of whom has delegated day-to-day authority to men.)
On another beautiful day in the Oakland hills, on a bench outside another upscale coffee house, Trask fiddles with an earring and takes the last sip of a double latte. Men with Raiders caps walk past as she praises her boss's imprint on football, lashes out at the tuck rule that may have cost her team a playoff victory over the Patriots and declares, "I believe that the Raiders are treated differently than other teams in many respects. Al Davis has opened the doors of the NFL to Hispanics, African-Americans and to women, and I don't think that sits well with everybody."
To the untrained ear it all starts to sound suspiciously like what a Tass report in the '70s might have said about Soviet foreign policy. "Hey," Trask says, "it's not propaganda if you believe it."
Pigeons scatter as the Princess rises, walking briskly and grinning from ear to ear.