Jon Gruden is a celebrity. There’s no question about that. He was a celebrated NFL head coach and fiery personality on the sideline for 11 years before he sat in the seat John Madden once held for the past nine years with Monday Night Football.
For that reason alone, his introductory press conference was a big deal. But it’s more than that. He’s also a well-loved and well respected NFL coach. And his return to coaching brought his former players and Raiders legends out of the woodwork. Some of whom are Hall of Famers and others who have remained in the public eye throughout the years.
The list of Raiders legends on hand was long. The likes of Howie Long, Cliff Branch, Michael Haynes, Willie Brown, Jim Otto, Ted Hendricks, Dave Casper, Jim Plunkett, Tom Flores, James Loften.
Others who made a special trip to see their old ball coach don Silver & Black again. It was like a reunion. With players like Steve Wisniewski, Lincoln Kennedy, Jerry Rice, Tim Brown, Roland Williams, Rod Coleman, Grady Jackson, Russell Maryland, Eric Allen, Rickey Dudley, and Charles Woodson just to name a few.
Rich Gannon, rumored to be Gruden’s pick for QB coach, was also in attendance.
That’s part of the Raider mystique that Jon Gruden has always talked about as to why the Raiders have held his heart all these years.
“I’d really like to thank all the Raider players that are here today,” Gruden said to open the press conference. “I saw Charles Woodson. Brady fumbled that ball. Tim Brown, Howie Long, Russell Maryland, Eric Allen, Jerry Rice, Jim Otto, Ted Hendricks. It’s about the people for me and that’s a big reason that I’m here today. Obviously this is very emotional for me. I never wanted to leave the Raiders. I never thought I’d be back, but here I am and I’m ready to work.”
No one was more vocal today than Charles Woodson who, before Gruden even took the stage tried to start a ‘RAAAAAIIIDERRRRSS’ chant in the room. It didn’t catch on, but his effort was appreciated. He later got up and asked a pretty funny question to Gruden about whether there was a no-trade clause in his contract that caused the room to erupt in laughter.