No victories happen during press conferences. But what happens at a press conference can provide a glimpse of what can happen when it’s time to play the games.
In his first press conference as the new-old coach of the Oakland Raiders, Jon Gruden projected the energy and demeanor that could inspire a room full of grown men to get the most out of their abilities. Honed by nine years of broadcasting, Gruden may be an even better communicator than he was when he coached the Buccaneers and, before that, the Raiders.
“I never wanted to leave the Raiders,” Gruden said. “I never thought I’d be back, but here I am.”
Gruden said that he returned for four reasons: He loves football, the City of Oakland, the Raiders, and winning.
“No guarantees, no promises, but I want to win,” Gruden said, before pointing out that he hasn’t won a game since 2008 — but that he hasn’t lost one, either.
Gruden said he’s been talking to Raiders owner Mark Davis for the last six or seven years about the Raiders, and about “ways that we could improve the Raiders.”
He said that Davis called him “a few weeks ago” (and then he corrected himself to say “a couple of weeks ago”) to see if Gruden had any intentions of coaching.
“Yes I do,” Gruden said, adding that it all came together in a “mysterious” way — a description far more accurate and telling than he likely intended.
Gruden said his schedule hasn’t changed at all, including his just-ask-him-and-he’ll-tell-you habit of getting up before 4:00 a.m. The game has changed, however. Specifically, the rules regarding practices and offseason interactions have become much more restricted. Gruden openly lamented the inability of players and coaches to work together from January to April, and he’ll surely be frustrated about that as he tries to get to work with his new quarterback, Derek Carr.
Gruden spoke with passion about playing in Oakland, saying that he hopes to fill up the Black Hole with Raiders fans “at least seven or eight more times.”
“There is unfinished business as a coach,” Gruden said. “I was traded. I was fired. . . . For my [Raiders] career to end that night in New England, it still ticks me off.”
He’s referring to the last game the notorious Tuck Rule contest from early 2002. And he made it very clear early in the press conference that he’s not just ticked off about the fact that his last game as a Raiders coach came via a loss in the playoffs at New England. He’s ticked off about the now-defunct Tuck Rule.
“Brady fumbled that ball,” Gruden said.
Gruden didn’t fumble the ball during his introductory press conference. Whether he carries the ball as the coach of the Raiders for the second time remains to be seen. So far, there’s reason to believe that great days are coming.