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Countdown to kickoff: 98 is a special number for Raiders

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Jon Gruden AP

There are now 98 days until the Raiders open the 2018 season. Their season opener will be on Monday Night Football because a certain former Monday Night Football analyst is now their head coach.

Jon Gruden is one of the most famous names and personalities in sports. But few knew who he was until he took over as the Raiders head coach the first time. The magical number here is 98. That’s the year Gruden burst onto the scene as one of the youngest head coaches in NFL history.

That’s also the year he made future Hall of Fame defensive back Charles Woodson the 4th overall pick in the draft.

Gruden quickly earned the nickname ‘Chucky’ with his iconic scowls. He was beloved by his players and in his third season as head coach, the Raiders were an NFL powerhouse, finishing with a 12-4 record, winning the AFC West, and making it to the Conference Championship game.

After four seasons at the helm, Gruden and Al Davis weren’t getting along so Davis traded him to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, where he would get instant revenge, beating his old team in the Super Bowl.

Even after winning a Super Bowl in Tampa and spending seven years with the Buccaneers, Gruden always had a soft spot for the Raiders and the city of Oakland. So, after nine years in the Monday Night Football booth, he returned to the Raiders. Just a couple years after his first ever draft pick Charles Woodson had returned for a three-year stint of his own before retiring after 18 years.

Two Raiders greats whose careers started together in Oakland twenty years ago in ‘98, who got their rings elsewhere, but who were ultimately drawn back to the Silver & Black mystique.