Despite the cigar smoke coming from the Raiders locker room after Sunday’s 30-6 victory over the Giants, Antonio Pierce has been a clear breath of fresh air for Las Vegas this week.
Team owner Mark Davis elected to fire head coach Josh McDaniels and G.M. Dave Ziegler 25 games into their tenure with the Raiders, appointing Pierce as interim head coach and Champ Kelly as interim G.M. After starting 1-0 as an NFL head coach, Pierce said Sunday was one of only three times he’s gotten butterflies as a professional.
“My first game in the NFL, and the Super Bowl, and then my first game as head coach,” Pierce said in his press conference. “That was special. The other part that was special was the history that we made today. Black president [Sandra Douglass Morgan], female. Black general manager, Champ Kelly, and then obviously myself. I don’t take that for granted. Again, I’m humbled by the opportunity.
“When you look at it, it’s just something that if it goes forever, if it doesn’t, for one moment, we had an opportunity. If it’s the next nine games or so ever, let it be. But very humbled.”
As a Super Bowl-winning linebacker, Pierce was known as a player for his physicality and leadership. Pierce said he felt like the Raiders displayed the kind of physicality and scrappiness he’d like the team to embody on Sunday.
“I don’t have to talk about it, I think if you watch the game, it was just that,” Pierce said. “I think it starts with the fronts, it starts with your O-line and your D-line. It’s a mentality. It’s about taking somebody’s will and then you get to tee off like you saw we did with the quarterback getting eight sacks. It goes hand in hand.
“Listen, there’s a lot of great teams, they’ve got somebody up front on both sides that puts fear in your heart and they have to run it back and obviously linebackers and other guys. More importantly, this is a great team win. This is a great win for Raider Nation, the fans, our players, our organization. I’m proud to have the opportunity to coach these gentlemen and we’re going to do it again next week.”
Now at 4-5, the Raiders will host the Jets on Sunday Night Football in Week 10.
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