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Hill: Father’s Day special for Raiders coach with son on staff

Antonio Pierce may not have been fully prepared for fatherhood when his son De’Andre was born.

That didn’t mean he wasn’t going to give it his best effort, even if his professional ambitions weren’t going to allow him to be there every day.

“Sophomore year of college and you’ve got a son,” Pierce said this week. “I’m chasing my career goal, and there’s a lot of things I missed. There’s a lot of graduations, performances and practices I couldn’t take him to.”

Pierce, 45, is around De’Andre, one of his seven children, a whole lot more these days after hiring him as an offensive assistant after he spent last year on the staff at Cal Poly.

“I didn’t want a chance that when I got older and I finished playing that I missed (that time) again,” he said.

But part of the balance between being a parent and a boss is making sure De’Andre has to earn his stripes in the NFL regardless of his last name or how he got his foot in the door.

“Obviously, I know the elephant in the room is that I’m the coach’s son and the youngest on staff and I’ve never been with the offense,” the 25-year-old former defensive back said. “But at the end of the day with all our coaches, no matter where we came from, we’re all here right now. And so we all have this opportunity, and I’m going to take it and run with it.”

‘Absolutely been a dream’

The younger Pierce said his job duties include organizing PDF documents and Excel spreadsheets for coaches and players and making sure tablets and play sheets are updated. On the field, he’s even been seen taking hits from rookie offensive lineman Jackson Powers-Johnson.

De’Andre is just happy to be learning the craft and pursuing his goals. He’s also enjoying having time with his father, who coached him in high school and college.

“It’s absolutely been a dream, honestly,” he said. “Obviously, I see him away from here and I see the dad, and then we get to the facility and we’re in football mode. It’s totally different.”

Both aspects of the relationship are important to the elder Pierce, especially his son’s willingness to embrace the process that goes into becoming successful on his own.

“De’Andre has done a good job throughout his life of high school, playing college football, then trying the pros and getting into coaching,” Pierce said. “Listen, the opportunity came up, you put him on the staff, you put him at the bottom of the list, make him do the simple things, the hard things, things he’s not comfortable with.”

Antonio Pierce is proud of the staff he put together, and it’s not just because of their coaching acumen. He believes there are a lot of great dads in the building, and it was important to him in building the culture.

“The cool part about it, and with Father’s Day coming up and for all our coaches and all the fathers out there, there’s nothing like that relationship,” he said. “As fathers, we get beat up a lot. I wasn’t a deadbeat dad. I was always there for my son, and I’m proud of where he is. I’m proud of all my children. And I’m just proud really of all the men that we have in this building, because I think we’ve got some excellent men and dads in this building.

“So Happy Father’s Day to everybody going forward.”

I’ll allow it

I can accept that I’m not the target audience for most in-arena gimmicks and promotions. While I tend to skew younger in terms of music and pop culture, this is the surest sign that I am indeed becoming an old man.

While I’ve always thought the game was the main attraction, obviously many fans paying for an experience and a night out with friends and family and are looking to be entertained.

One surefire winner everyone can agree on, however, is the baby race. It’s been done by many teams and events over the years in different ways, but the basic idea is to see which child can get from point A to point B in the quickest amount of time, typically prodded by screaming parents waving stuffed animals or other favorite toys.

The Aces busted it out Saturday and it didn’t disappoint, with several of the babies simply sitting on the court and looking around at all the fans in the arena. NBA stars Damian Lillard, Bam Adebayo and LeBron James appeared to be loving the action from the front row.

More of that, less of the constant announcements of the same TikTok sound effects on every possession and “miss twice, get a slice” nonsense every time an opponent steps to the free-throw line.

Contact Adam Hill at ahill@reviewjournal.com. Follow @AdamHillLVRJ on X.

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