Jon Gruden Shows He's Still a Raider at Heart at the NFL Draft

SonnyCorrespondent IApril 27, 2009

5 Nov 2001:   Jon Gruden head coach of the Oakland Raiders shouts on the sideline in their game versus the Denver Broncos at Network Associates Coliseum in Oakland, California.  The Raiders won 38-28.  DIGITAL IMAGE   Mandatory Credit:   Jed Jacobsohn/Allsport

As I watched the NFL Network Crew on Sunday rehash the Raiders' pick of Michael Mitchell, the safety the Raiders picked with the 47th pick of the second round, I had to laugh. I was thrilled with the pick and had just written an article on Mitchell a day before the draft.

Mike Mayock and the rest of the ESPN Crew did not know much about Mitchell, so no team would consider picking this kid that high in the draft, would they? It would be a crazy man's call without the so-called experts that walk on water's OK.

Never mind Mayock admitted not ever watching any film on the kid. Mayock walks on water and does not need to see the kid play in order to put a grade on the kid.

Never mind that the Chicago Bears had Mitchell targeted with their 49th pick per the story in the Chicago Tribune. Once the Raiders selected Mitchell, the Bears traded out of the 49th pick. Wow, the Bears did not rank any of Mayock's players still available as a value at that spot?

Never mind the Dallas Cowboys wanted Mitchell in round two and traded out after the Raiders took Mitchell. The Cowboys stated that the player they wanted was taken at the Raiders' spot and also traded out.

Never mind that the Green Bay Packers, Colts, Texans, and others had Mitchell in for a visit. The "experts" that did not have a clue on this kid were thrown for a loop, and they did not like it.

The Raiders got the safety that they wanted from the get-go by trading down in round two, two spots before he would have come off the board. Looks like value to me if that is your player.

This whole time you have Jon Gruden just sitting there listening to the debate. But if you looked closely, you can see that Gruden has something on his mind.

Then Gruden speaks, and using his hands and arms for effect, he outlines the shape of the globe as he says, "Let me tell you this—the Oakland Raiders are global and have fans all over the world. I have been to Europe, and you see Oakland Raiders gear all over the world. And I can tell you this, I was a Raider. Al Davis could care less about what any of us think or say up here, and that I can promise you."

You could have heard a pin drop. These men that have always shown the Raider bias did not know what to say. Was this the man that they have all portrayed as someone that hates Al Davis and the Raiders?

If you take the time to read Gruden's book, you will see just what he thought of his time with the Raiders and working for Al Davis, and it is nothing like the media portrays it.

At Gruden's press conference when hired by the Bucs, everyone was expecting him to go off on the Raiders and Al Davis. What they received instead was a thank you to Al Davis and the Oakland Raiders for seeing the talent in this young head coach and giving him his chance at the top.

What I witnessed on the NFL Network that day was, "Once a Raider, always a Raider," and you could see he was proud of his days in Oakland. Gruden also was not about to sit there and listen to these clowns spread their hate for anything Raider.

Gruden never got to answer the question asked of him, which was, "Do you think that deep down Al Davis really cares about what we say but just acts like he does not?"

I can give you that answer: Al Davis worries about what you say and thinks about it as much as I do getting jumped by a two-year-old.

Al Davis knows he made a mistake when he let Gruden go and admitted so at a press conference. Al Davis also knows had he kept Gruden at least another year Al would have more than likely added another Super Bowl trophy to the three he has.

It is a new day in Raiderland, but at least as far as Gruden goes, "Once a Raider, Always a Raider."