ALAMEDA — The Oakland Raiders recaptured their past and present in one move Tuesday afternoon. They rehired Jon Gruden as head coach after a hiatus of 16 years.
On an overhead projector in the team’s weightlifting facility, the Raiders showed footage of their past — 34-year-old Gruden. Showed him pacing on the Raiders sideline, giving speeches in the Raiders locker room, yelling at Raiders players, scowling at the camera, eyes bugging out of his head. Vintage Chucky.
Underneath the overhead images, in real life, sat the Raiders’ current and future head coach — 54-year-old Gruden. Still scowling. Eyes still bugging out of his head. Hair thinner than 20 years ago.
“This is very emotional for me,” Gruden said. “I never wanted to leave the Raiders. I never felt I’d be back, but here I am.
“There are four major reasons I’m here coaching today. 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 were 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. I love the Raiders.
“Most of all, I love to win. I’m going to do everything I can. No guarantees, no promises, but I want to win.”
Last week, Gruden signed a reported 10-year, $100 million contract with the Raiders, and on Tuesday they introduced him to the media. Even some of Gruden’s former players, including Rich Gannon, Tim Brown, Jerry Rice and Charles Woodson, came to the press conference to welcome Gruden back.
Gruden sat at a table between general manager Reggie McKenzie and team owner Mark Davis.
“Mark and I have been friends a long time,” Gruden said. “Over the last six or seven years, we have talked about the Raiders — not necessarily about becoming the coach, but maybe ways that we could improve the Raiders, my vision of how I thought I could help them.
“Mark came to me a few weeks ago and asked me if I had any intentions of coaching. With the support of my family, I said, ‘Yes, I do.’”
Davis said he first offered the coaching job to Gruden six years ago, “right after (McKenzie) was signed.” Since then, Davis has offered Gruden the job three times.
“My frequent flyer miles between San Francisco and Tampa, did that (trip) maybe 15 times,” Davis said. “I have a laundromat there where I do my laundry.”
Gruden lives in Tampa.
“Everybody knows that I’ve been infatuated to get him here,” Davis said. “But they really didn’t know how deep our conversations were going and how far along we were to make it happen.”
Gruden became seriously interested in the job this season as the Raiders underperformed. They won only six games. The previous season — 2016 — they won 12 games and made the playoffs.