I don’t know if you’ve heard, but Jon Gruden has received a fair amount of criticism for some of his additions, both in the draft and in free agency. Many of those additions came with some character red flags including third round draft pick Arden Key and free agency signee Daryl Worley.
Not only is Gruden from the Al Davis school of giving guys with character questions a second chance, but he has a guy in house who is a prime example of someone who had some seriously scary backstories, but who has done a complete 180 from that.
He’s gone from selling drugs and dropping out of high school to becoming the Raiders’Man of the Year candidate, getting his college degree, and becoming a team leader.
“I was always a guy who I had to get burnt a couple of times and learn,” said Irvin. “That didn’t change when I got into the league. I had the suspension. I got locked up two weeks before the draft and I got the suspension, so when I got into the league, I still was immature even though I had been through what I had been through. I still was young-minded, I still was a kid. For me to go through what I went through, getting locked up, getting suspended, overcoming that and look at me now. I’m one of the team leaders here. It’s big. Guys don’t often get second or third chances, but I was one of those guys who was fortunate enough to get it. I’m just happy that I didn’t blow it and I learned in time. Like I said, guys can learn from me. It’s never too late. You can mess up but just get the right people around you, surround yourself with the right people and it’ll take care of itself.”
“That’s a great success story,” Gruden said of Irvin. “And it just goes to show you, you can’t judge a man’s character just because he’s made mistakes when he’s 21 or 22 years old. You have to try to create an environment where people can flourish, young people can develop and mature and become great. Bruce Irvin’s a great example of that. He was surrounded with greatness in Seattle and he was put in a channel of success and he took advantage of it. Hopefully we can provide that for some people down the road.”
It’s for that reason Gruden made Irvin the mentor for third round defensive end Arden Key. The former LSU Tiger has owned up having issues off the field that were the primary cause of his drop from fringe first day pick to nearly falling out of day two. That is had the Raiders not taken him with the 87th overall pick.
Key said the Raiders put a plan in place for him and the first step of that plan was to meet Irvin. The two are even from the same area around Atlanta Georgia.
As for Worley, he is a former third round pick as well who has 25 NFL starts under his belt. But he is currently in some serious legal trouble that included a DUI, weapons possession, and resisting arrest.
Worley was in the West Virginia secondary alongside Karl Joseph. Irvin’s a West Virginia alum as well, so Worley has plenty of incentive and support in place in Oakland. Gruden appears to think very highly of Worley as Tuesday he mentioned him right along with starters Gareon Conley and Rashaan Melvin.
It’s kind of too bad Irvin wasn’t here in 2015 when Aldon Smith was with the team. He may have been able to offer him a voice he would listen to. You never know.
Even with all the #BabyReggie free agent recruiting Irvin has done since he was signed, I don’t think anyone could have predicted when the Raiders signed Irvin two offseasons ago that he would be so much more of an asset off the field.