ALAMEDA, Calif. – After nine years in television, Jon Gruden clearly knows how to put on a show.
That much was evident right away Tuesday when Gruden was introduced as the Oakland Raiders coach, returning to the franchise he led for four seasons from 1998-2001.
Gruden, 54, professed his love for the city of Oakland and the Raiders franchise while frequently flashing his sense of humor and a smile at a packed news conference.
“I’m thrilled to be back,’’ Gruden said. “I have a great opportunity, and I plan on doing everything I can with this opportunity. Let’s go.’’
With the Raiders planning to move to Las Vegas in 2019 or 2020, they have secured a star-caliber coach to take them into their new home. But Gruden proclaimed himself more focused on the short term, starting with the remaining time in Oakland.
Lured back to the sidelines by a 10-year contract reported to be worth $100 million, Gruden takes over a team that went a disappointing 6-10 after entering the season with legitimate Super Bowl aspirations.
The year before, the Raiders had gone 12-4 and made the playoffs for the first time since 2002 as up-and-coming quarterback Derek Carr finished third in the MVP voting. But Carr regressed in 2017, his quarterback rating dipping from 96.7 to 86.4 and his interceptions more than doubling from six to 13.
Getting him back on track will be one of the main priorities for Gruden, who conducted the ESPN show QB Camp for years.
Gruden’s return, almost exactly 20 years from the day the Raiders first hired him as the then-youngest coach in the NFL at 34, was greeted by a group of black-clad fans outside the team’s headquarters.