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Before the arrival of Jon Gruden at the helm in 1998, the Raiders had been mired in a sequence of mediocrity, not having made the playoffs since 1993.
But with an approach that was as steady as it was swashbuckling, Gruden was able to change the collective psyche of his players and, before long, the Silver and Black were enjoying successive AFC West division championships. And then came the offseason of 2002.
Unable to reach a long-term deal with his head coach, Al Davis made the fateful decision of trading the beloved Gruden to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. In return, the Raiders received the Bucs’ first- and second-round draft picks in 2002 and 2003, and an added $8 million in cash.
The Raiders actually made it to Super Bowl XXXVII that season, boasting a conference-best 11-5 record and the league MVP (QB Rich Gannon).
But in a cruel twist of fate, their opponents would be...the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. And the rest, as they say, is history.
The Raiders were no match for their former coach’s new team and the game resulted in a 48-21 smackdown. Coincidentally, this also marked the beginning of Oakland’s downward spiral.