For the Raiders owner, the return of Jon Gruden as head coach after a six-year pursuit was all the reason in the world to celebrate.
Celebrate they did with a gala that had all the makings of a Hollywood premiere.
There were celebrities — an estimated 50 former players including nine Hall of Famers. Oakland Athletics manager Bob Melvin, who grew up in the Bay Area, found his way inside. A big screen backdrop played highlights of Gruden’s career. Television cameras and reporters — 112 of them, more than had been at any Raiders press conference before — crammed their way into the spacious Performance Center.
Not far away, lining both sides of the long driveway leading to the back of the team’s facilities, were about 100 or so fans holding signs and Chucky dolls, waving and cheering while trying to peer into each car that drove up.
Then there was the man himself, taking the hero’s welcome and soaking it all in.
Gruden is back in black and ready, he said, to take care of unfinished business.
“I never thought I’d be back, but here I am and I’m ready to get to work,” a beaming Gruden said as he sat between Davis and general manager Reggie McKenzie. “I’m so thrilled to be back here. I hope people understand the emotion inside of me. I feel unfinished business.
“I also feel a lot of loyalty and I feel a lot of responsibility to get the Raiders going again and it&