ALAMEDA, Calif. — Jon Gruden finally decided the time was right to finish what he nearly achieved in his first stint in Oakland and deliver another Super Bowl title to the Raiders.
Nearly 16 years after he was traded to the Bucs following a crushing loss in the "Tuck Rule" game in New England and after a six-year courtship by Raiders owner Mark Davis, Gruden is officially back in Oakland where he started his head coaching career 20 years ago.
Gruden was introduced Tuesday, in front of a large crowd that included nearly 50 former Raiders and nine Pro Football Hall of Famers, as the coach Davis believes can carry Derek Carr and the Raiders back to the top.
The Raiders nearly got there in Gruden’s first stint from 1998-2001 but lost to Baltimore in the 2000 AFC title game and followed with the memorable loss in the snow to the Patriots.
Gruden was traded to Tampa Bay the next month for four draft picks and $8 million. He beat Oakland in the Super Bowl the next season but said he always identified with the Raiders.
"For my career to end that night in New England, it still ticks me off," Gruden said, as his parents watched from Tampa. "I’m so thrilled to be back here. I hope people understand the emotion inside. I feel there’s unfinished business. I also feel a lot of loyalty and I feel a lot of responsibility to get the Raiders going again. It’s been a while since we consistently performed at a high level. That’s all I care about.
"I’m going to do everything I can to help this team get right again."
Davis said he had been trying to bring Gruden back for six years, ever since taking over the franchise after his father’s death. He thought he had been close four times before, and the opportunity was right this year after more than a dozen cross-country recruiting trips to Tampa, where Gruden lives.
Gruden will get a 10-year contract worth about $100 million.
"Everybody knows I’ve been infatuated with him to get him here, but they really didn’t know how deep our conversations were going, how far along we were in that to make it happen," Davis said. "Somebody asked me, what was harder — to get the 31 votes to move to Las Vegas? Or to get Jon Gruden? And by far to get Jon Gruden was the toughest."