ALAMEDA, Calif — The Raiders have walked a fine line the last three years between anticipating the move to Las Vegas and being respectful of the closure in Oakland.
“We’re excited about the future,” Raiders coach Jon Gruden said. “I don’t want to underestimate that either. But we’re also very respectful of where we come from and just the two games that we have left.”
The Raiders have two more games left at the Oakland Coliseum — Sunday against the Tennessee Titans and next week against the Jacksonville Jaguars — and that reality is beginning to settle in.
“I guess in a lot of ways I was raised here, you know what I mean?” said Gruden, who coached the Raiders from 1998-2001 and returned last year. “It’s the beginning of my NFL coaching career in a lot of ways, at least head coaching career.
”I just love it here. I had my first son here and I kind of have a lot of history here, and some of my friends, a lot of my friends are in the black hole. A lot of my only friends are here. I don’t have a lot of friends except the guys in the black hole. I only get to see them six or seven times. I get emotional talking about it.”
For Gruden, saying goodbye to Oakland has meant recollecting some favorite memories.
“I’ll just say one day we were playing and it was pre-game warm ups and I looked over there and I saw my mom in the black hole. I said, ‘somebody go get my mom’,” Gruden said. “My favorite memory though was really when Al Davis would come out and I would see him down in there in the black hole with the fans. That was really cool for me. I enjoyed that a lot.”
Ironically, Raiders quarterback Derek Carr’s most enduring moment occurred during one of his darkest professional days when he suffered a season-ending broken fibula that cut short his MVP run in 2016.
“I broke my (fibula) and you could just feel the air go out of the stadium,” Carr said. “And I remember sitting there and as I was driving away, just the applause and the cheers. It was like for whatever reason in that moment I felt the love back and that’s something I’ll always remember, because I gave everything I have for our team and you give so much it’s always nice to hear it back.”