For the first time in nearly 10 years, Jon Gruden was back on an NFL sideline, and if his postgame reaction was any indication, it sounds like he enjoyed himself. 

After the Raiders’ thrilling — and we use that word loosely in the preseason — 16-10 win over the Lions, Gruden sounded ecstatic about his return to Oakland. 

“It was awesome,” Gruden said, via “I mean, I saw some recognizable faces that had got a little bit older, saw some old friends that mean a lot to me. Like I’ve said all along, it’s a great responsibility. The nostalgia’s worn off, so we have to do something with the opportunity, but it sure was great to see the Raider fans, and they stayed with us until the end, and I really appreciate it.”

The game marked Gruden’s first time on the sideline as a coach since December 2008 when he coached his final game with the Buccaneers (coincidentally, that actually came against the Raiders). The win over the Lions also marked his first time on the sideline as a Raiders coach in nearly 16 years. Before Friday, the last time Gruden took the field as the head coach of the Raiders came all the way back in January 2002. 

Despite the 10-year break between coaching jobs, Gruden still seems to be himself. After a 60-yard touchdown by Marshawn Lynch got called back due to holding on the third play of the game, Gruden turned into his alter ego. 

“Chucky came out for a brief moment tonight,” Gruden said. “I was really ticked off, though, after [Lynch’s run] was called back. You know, I just got to the stadium, I just called my fourth play.”

As fate would have it, Gruden’s return to the sideline was eerily similar to his final game with the Raiders. On January 19, 2002, the Raiders lost to the Patriots 16-13 in the Divisional Round of the playoffs in what became known as the “Tuck Rule” game. If you need a quick refresher, the Raiders appeared to clinch the win in regulation after hitting Tom Brady and appearing to force a fumble. However, officials ruled that Brady was still in the act of passing rather than “tucking” the ball away, and because of that, there was no fumble. The Patriots would tie the game on that possession before winning in overtime. 

In Gruden’s return, the game against the Lions ended when a former Patriots quarterback, Matt Cassel, took a similar hit. 

This call went in Gruden’s favor and the Raiders took over possession after recovering Cassel’s fumble. Better late than never!

Gruden and the Raiders will be back on the field on Aug. 18 when they travel to Los Angeles for a preseason game against the Rams. 


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