Saying he never wanted to be traded from the Oakland Raiders to Tampa Bay in the first place, Jon Gruden returned as the head coach of the Silver and Black, nearly 20 years to the day after he was hired there the first time.
"Obviously, this is every emotional for me,'' Gruden said during an introductory press conference that was attended by 50 former Raiders players. "I never wanted to leave the Raiders. I never thought I'd be back. But here I am and I'm ready to get to work.''
Gruden, 54,was traded in 2002 to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers by late Raiders owner Al Davis, who fetched two first-round picks, two second-round picks and $8-million for the charismatic young coach.
In his first season in Tampa Bay, Gruden led the Bucs to a win in Super Bowl XXXVII over the same Raiders team he had just left behind.
Gruden said two of his former Bucs assistants will join in Oakland as coordinators: Rich Bisaccia will run the specials teams and Rams quarterbacks coach Greg Olson will be the offensive coordinator. But Gruden said he will still be the offensive play-caller.
Gruden made it clear he still had an emotional attachment to the Raiders and to their brand.
"I just want to say there's really four major reasons why I'm here coaching today,'' Gruden said. "Number one, I love football. I love the players that play it, I love the preparation, I love the journey. Love football. And I love the city of Oakland. I had a son here. Some of my great memories in life are in Oakland. And I want to give them two of the best years of football that I can possibly help deliver.
"And I love the Raiders. The brand is global. Everywhere I went as a Monday Night Football analyst, the Raider nation would come out of the ground. I love the Raiders. And most of all, I love to win and I'm going to do everything I can. No guarantees, no promises. But I want to win.''
Raiders principle owner Mark Davis called it "the biggest day of his life,'' and said he had pursued Gruden every year since he left coaching to join ESPN in 2009.
The Raiders are scheduled to begin play in a new stadium in Las Vegas in 2020.
Gruden reportedly agreed to a 10-year contract that will pay him $10-million per season to coach the Raiders.
Gruden said he has kept up on all the changes in the NFL since he last coached in the league in 2008.
"Look, what has changed is the collective bargaining agreement as changed the way we practice, the way we conduct ourselves in the off-season," Gruden said. "Obviously, the rules have changed. Player safety has now emerged as a critical part of the game. I've paid very close attention to it.
"I have a lot to prove. There's no question. I have not coached since 2008. I haven't won a game since 2008. I haven't lost any either, so I just want to keep that in perspective. I've got to hire a great coaching staff. That's been the No. 1 criteria I've tried to bring every place I've been as a head coach. It's about the people, it's about the staff, it's about the tempo that we establish as a coaching staff. With that said, I've got a lot to prove, I know that. But the game is still is decided by players between the lines and we all have to adapt every year."
Gruden said he had a rare opportunity to see the game from a different perspective as a broadcaster and had access to every team and training facility. That information, he said, should help him this time around.
"Look, I've gotten to see every facility in the league," Gruden said. "I've had a chance to watch them practice, see how they conduct training camps. I've had a chance to learn some things and see some things that I would've never gotten a chance to see as a coach and have had a chance to study different offenses, different defenses, and I've had a chance to get into personnel more. So I think I'm more big picture now than I was in the past. But I still want to be very detailed in the way we play offense, I still want to be very involved in how we move the football. But I have had some opportunities that are unique and I think beneficial as a broadcaster."
One of the attractions to the Raiders for Gruden is working with their young quarterback, Derek Carr.
"I think he's got a huge upside," Gruden said. "I think with Greg Olson and the system we're going to put in place, it's going to demand a lot from him and I think that's what's going to unlock the greatness in him but very, very excited to have him as our quarterback."
Gruden did not elaborate on whether he had final say in personnel decisions but said he would work closely with Raiders general manager Reggie McKenzie.