Jerry Rice Warns Raiders Players over Jon Gruden: 'They're Going to Get Chucky'

Tim Daniels@TimDanielsBRFeatured ColumnistJanuary 10, 2018

ALAMEDA, CA - JANUARY 09:  Oakland Raiders new head coach Jon Gruden speaks during a news conference at Oakland Raiders headquarters on January 9, 2018 in Alameda, California. Jon Gruden has returned to the Oakland Raiders after leaving the team in 2001.  (Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)
Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

Hall of Fame wide receiver Jerry Rice said Oakland Raiders players better be ready for "Chucky," the alter ego of new head coach Jon Gruden. 

On Wednesday, Carl Steward of the Bay Area News Group passed along comments from Rice, who played one season under Gruden during the coach's first stint in Oakland, about the importance of buying into his approach in order to succeed.

"I hope these players are ready, because they're going to get Chucky," he said. "They're going to get him, and how they deal with that could tell the whole story. But Chucky's going to come out. And either you buy in or you're not going to be part of it."

Rice gave credit to Gruden for helping him extend his career after a legendary 16-year run with the San Francisco 49ers. He made it clear, however, that Raiders players will be forced to make a "his way or the highway" decision as the intense 54-year-old Ohio native takes the reins.

"I think he has a character like Bill Walsh—he can be your best friend or your worst enemy," he said. "He going to keep you on your toes, and maybe the current players, that was something they were lacking this year. Sometimes with all the talk, you fall into listening to all the talk. But you need a coach that's going to keep you focused, and Jon Gruden is that type of coach."

Gruden posted a 38-26 record across four seasons during his first stay with the Raiders (1998-2001). He was traded to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in 2002 and led the organization to its first Super Bowl title during his first season in charge. He was fired after the 2008 campaign with a 57-55 mark in seven years.

He spent the past nine seasons working as a color commentator on ESPN's Monday Night Football.

"I'm so thrilled to be back here," Gruden told reporters Tuesday. "I hope people understand the emotion inside. I feel there's unfinished business. I also feel a lot of loyalty and I feel a lot of responsibility to get the Raiders going again. It's been a while since we consistently performed at a high level. That's all I care about. I'm going to do everything I can to help this team get right again."

He's tasked with getting a talented Oakland roster back on track after a disappointing 6-10 campaign. It followed a 12-4 record in 2016 that produced the franchise's first playoff appearance since 2002.

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