(KRON) — When it was first reported that Jon Gruden would return to Oakland and coach the Raiders, several media members said the team planned a “splashy” press conference to announce the hire.
On Tuesday, the Raiders met those high expectations.
The star-studded event started with Owner Mark Davis and General Manager Reggie McKenzie seated, leaving the middle spot open for the man of the hour. After a two-minute hype video was played to bring out even more excitement for the hire, Jon Gruden was introduced and sat in between the two men in charge.
“This is an organization I want to be a part of,” Gruden said. “This is something I feel strongly about.”
Davis broke out of his norm and showed some personality, saying this was a “big effin’ deal.”
You could feel the excitement in the building. There hasn’t been a press conference this big in the Bay Area since Kevin Durant signed with the Golden State Warriors.
Fans lined up outside the headquarters with Chucky dolls, Super Bowl posters and their team attire hours before the Noon presser. Some of the Nation traveling over a hundred miles to be there and see Gruden reunited with his former team.
Davis began the press conference by stating “once a Raider, always a Raider.” The sentiment stayed true with Raiders alumni such as Charles Woodson, Rich Gannon, Howie Long, Jim Otto and more in the building. Woodson even jokingly asked Gruden if he has a no-trade clause in his contract. Quick side note, Karl Joseph and Marquette King were spotted around the facility as well doing off-season workouts.
Oakland Athletics Manager Bob Melvin was in attendance. The Bay Area native had high praise for the new head coach of the Silver and Black.
“It lifts everybody’s spirits,” Melvin said. “The fact that you got a leading man here now who has a passion for Oakland, which is important and wants to take the Raiders to a new level.”
Although Gruden is not from the Bay Area, he didn’t shy away from saying this was similar to the Raiders bringing back Oakland’s own Marshawn Lynch. Gruden also noted that he has never met Beast Mode. He’s asked for Lynch in production meetings when he was calling games, but it never happened.
Gruden and Davis have been talking about the Raiders for about the past six to seven years. If it wasn’t about making Gruden the head coach, the conversations were always centered on what can be done to make the team better.
The Raiders, who ended the 2016 season with a 12-4 record became a media darling. Analysts, former players and fans raved all off-season about how the team would become a Super Bowl contender. The team fell drastically short of the expectations, finishing the year 6-10, leading to the quick dismissal of Jack Del Rio.
Many factors resulted in the poor record; one of them was the regression of Derek Carr who became the second richest quarterback in the NFL last summer. Gruden cited the back fractures Carr dealt with earlier in the year for his lack of success this season. He also stated that the quarterback hasn’t had continuity with his coaching core and he hopes that the new staff can help him take the next step.
Gruden says he met with Carr the morning of the press conference and has already thought of some new plays to call. Yes, he plans on calling the plays. Paul Gunther will leave the Bengals to become the Raiders new defensive coordinator. Greg Olson will return to the Raiders as the offensive coordinator.
Former Raiders great Rich Gannon is rumored to be the new quarterbacks coach, however, it is not official as of Tuesday afternoon.
Gruden says his 10-year contract is, in fact, true, but jokingly claims he doesn’t know if he will even live another ten years. As far as working with Reggie McKenzie on adding new players to the team, they will work together.
“Reggie and I come from the same tree in Green Bay,” Gruden says.
However, they may not see eye to eye on everything.
“We’re not always going to agree. He’s probably going to win. Look at the size of him,” Gruden joked.
Mark Davis said Tuesday was the best day of his life. He’s wanted Gruden to coach the Raiders ever since his father Al passed away. If Gruden had rejected this latest offer, Del Rio would have remained the Raiders head coach with different coordinators under his belt.
But the timing was right. Prior to this, Gruden’s sons were younger and he wanted to spend time with his family. He’s been offered coaching gigs throughout his broadcasting career, only to turn them all down.
The demand was high for the 54-year-old head coach. But his heart was in only one place.
“I’m thrilled to be back here. I hope people understand the emotion inside. I feel there’s unfinished business,” Gruden said. “I feel a lot of loyalty and responsibility to get the Raiders going again. It’s been a while since the team has consistently performed at a high level.”
And while the team is moving to Las Vegas in a couple of years from now, Gruden says he’s excited to see his friends in the Black Hole again and make this team a winner here.
“I love the city of Oakland,” Gruden said. “I want to give them two of the best years of football I can possibly give them.”
A few fans I spoke with before the presser spread the idea of removing the tarps from home games and selling those tickets. That way, Davis slowly gets some of his money back and the Nation gets more chances to see the Silver and Black before they head to Sin City.
The fanbase is excited to see the new-look Raiders and their head coach, even if he hasn’t been on the sidelines in nearly a decade.
“I haven’t won a game since 2008. I haven’t lost a game either,” Gruden said.
And he is right. Jon Gruden and the Oakland Raiders have unfinished business.
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