Hue Jackson had held the Raiders head coaching job for just four games before Al Davis passed away. After that season, Mark Davis brought in a new regime to take over the football side of things, headed up by General Manager Reggie McKenzie. The housecleaning in Oakland included Jackson and his staff.
Now he returns to Oakland for the first time as Bengals offensive coordinator. Bengals' head coach Marvin Lewis says he wants Jackson to have a little extra motivation to beat his old team.
"I would hope so," Lewis said of Jackson wanting this one a bit more. "Anytime I go back to Pittsburgh and Baltimore there is extra juice."
As for Jackson, he claims this is just another game for him. Though that wasn't always the case.
"It wasn't easy getting over the firing," Jackson told the San Francisco Chronicle. "It took me probably a year. It did. You look back on the things you could have done better, and then we ended up playing them the next year (a 34-10 Cincinnati win). So you go through all that process and seeing people you know and respect and love, people who fought with you and all that. And then you move on beyond that. Hopefully, I did all that right, in a professional manner. And I know I did."
"The feeling is different. It's not as raw in my emotions as it was back then. So this is another game against a good football team and we're on the road a long way from home, so we have to play good."
In his two years in Oakland, he brought the Raiders back to respectability, first as an offensive coordinator, and then as head coach. The Raiders went 8-8 both seasons for their only non-losing seasons in the past 13 seasons.
When he went to Cincinnati, he stared back at the bottom, taking a position as a defensive back and special teams assistant. Over the past three seasons, he has worked his way back up to the offensive coordinator position he had earned when he came to Oakland in 2010.
"He's got tremendous expertise," Lewis said of Jackson. "He's been a great mentor for some of the young players when he first came back here and he was coaching on defense. He helps move our young guys along and continues to have done a great job now with the offense and the development of our offense all the way through."
It seems unlikely this is just another game for Jackson. He may be just saying the right things. Or it could be the significance of this game won't hit him until he is on the sideline, back in Oakland again, in front of his former adoring fans, and where he once won a game in honor of Al Davis. And where he will be face to face with the two men who fired him from his dream job. That's when I would expect he will undeniably realize how much this game really means to him.