Jon Gruden is widely recognized around the NFL community for his high energy and maniacal obsession over football. That passion seems to be a recurring theme among the free agents who have joined the Silver and Black of late as they told our own Levi Damien over conference call.
“You have a conversation with Coach Gruden and you are going to feel like you’re ready to be out there on the field right then and there,” fullback Keith Smith said.
Gruden’s legend reached epic proportions as a color analyst for ESPN on its Monday Night Football telecasts. But his rise to fame began in Oakland as the head coach of the Raiders from 1998-2001. This past offseason, he returned to coach the Silver and Black bringing his iconic charisma and passion that made him famous in the first place.
It’s been less than two months since owner Mark Davis announced that Gruden would succeed Jack Del Rio as Raiders head coach. To say that Gruden’s personality fired up incoming free agents would be an understatement.
This feeling was especially true with the Raiders most sought after free agent target, Jordy Nelson.
“I think everyone knows the intensity that he’s going to bring . . . day in and day out,” Nelson said of his new head coach. “That energy, I think, will feed down to the other coaches and into the players and will also allow us to match that on practice and obviously on game days.”
The former Packers receiver may have been the player the Raiders coveted most, but Gruden had the same energy and enthusiam no matter the recruit.
“From him talking, he has that type of effect on people that he got me very excited,” added two-time Pro Bowl running back Doug Martin. “He got me very excited to come here.”
While Gruden is well known for his play-calling and focusing on the offensive side of the ball, even defensive players were impressed by the coach affectionately known as “Chucky”.
“For me, what really attracted me was Jon Gruden,” linebacker Tahir Whitehead told reporters. “Great guy in the league. Grew up watching some of the teams he’s coached. That right there in itself was enough for me to be motivated to come out...I felt good about the coaching staff and I felt good about the energy in the building.”
Jon Gruden has a vision for the Oakland Raiders. His excitement and passion for football is not only convincing players to be a part of it, but getting them fired up to play for him.