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Raiders’ sage mentor huge help to coaches: ‘I’m here to support them’

Marvin Lewis’ role as the Raiders assistant head coach will be as large or as small as those around him make it.

That includes coach Antonio Pierce and all of his assistants.

“I define the role as kind of speak when spoken to,” Lewis said.

Lewis, who coached the Bengals from 2003-18, was one of the first people Pierce reached out to when he was promoted to Raiders interim coach following Josh McDaniels’ firing Oct. 31.

Pierce played under Lewis in the NFL in 2002, when the latter was Washington’s assistant head coach and defensive coordinator. Pierce also coached alongside Lewis from 2019-21 at Arizona State.

Pierce brought Lewis to Las Vegas as an advisor for the Raiders’ final nine games last season. Pierce plans to lean on Lewis again his first full season in charge.

It didn’t take Lewis long to accept the invitation.

“It didn’t take any convincing at all, really,” Lewis said.

Wealth of knowledge

Lewis was Pierce’s primary sounding board when the Raiders went through the hiring process this offseason.

“Each and every day when he was going through the process after the season and so forth we talked probably every couple of days,” Lewis said. “And then as he began to put the staff together he would check in with me and just tell me how things were going and what he liked, what he disliked and … (was there) anything I could do to help him to research coaches and so forth. That’s what my role was.”

Pierce insisted Lewis stay on his staff as assistant head coach when the Raiders gave him the job full-time.

The team’s assistants are just as excited to have Lewis back.

“Talk about a guy who’s just filled with so much wisdom and has been in this league and has so much experience,” Raiders tight ends coach Luke Steckel said. “A lot of times you get the opportunity to ask them questions and a lot of times you get the opportunity just to sit back and observe and just to watch the way he carries himself and how he’s helped out everyone on the coaching staff from AP all the way down. His presence in the building is definitely felt.”

Lewis has spent most of the last 43 years in coaching.

That experience — which includes a Super Bowl win as the Ravens defensive coordinator in 2001 — makes him a mentor on the Raiders’ staff.

“When he walks into this building, everyone is kind of watching him and following his example to some extent,” Steckel said. “When he opens his mouth to say something, we’re all listening.”

New role

Lewis is wise enough to understand his primary role is as an advisor.

He respects Pierce and the rest of the staff too much to overstep his bounds and become overbearing.

“I’m here to support them,” Lewis said. “I try to keep things leveled out for them as much as I can.”

Lewis’ nine-game stint as an advisor last season built a foundation for what his role looks like this year. He helped Pierce set the tone for his regime. Lewis hopes to build on the culture they established this season.

“I think the first part of that is getting the right people in that locker room with you, alongside you,” Lewis said. “And that was the one thing I thought was really evident here last season is the best players worked extremely hard on the field, and that’s contagious and that builds from the bottom up and that’s what you need.”

Contact Vincent Bonsignore at vbonsignore@reviewjournal.com. Follow @VinnyBonsignore on X.

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