By Jerry McDonald - NFL Writer
Monday, December 7th, 2009 at 1:39 pm in Oakland Raiders.
Part of Bruce Gradkowski wished he could have remained behind to join the festivities.
“My mom told me last night,me and you dad have tomorrow off. We’re going to have a good time tonight,’ ” ” Gradkowski said Monday “ `I said, ‘Good, enjoy it. I’ll be on a six-hour plane trip.’ ”
It was a weekend party for the Gradkowskis, starting with a bus load of 15 players coming to their home not long after the Raiders charter landed Friday night. Players had a late meal starting at around 10 p.m., wrapping up at 11:30.
Loads of pasta, chicken parmesan, all home cooked, with only wings brought in from the outside.
“I’ve never been to anything like that before on a game weekend, and it was great,” Raiders tight end Zach Miller said.
“Dinner was awesome,” Gradkowski said. “Might have to bring Mom out so she can cook again.”
Gradkowski didn’t seem to mind the lack of sleep or all the attention which makes him an NFL celebrity for a week. According to STATS, LLC, Gradkowski is the only quarterback since they’ve been keeping track since 1991 to throw three come-from-behind touchdown passes in the fourth quarter of a game.
“It was really hectic after the game because I had to do all the interviews, and then I had 50 family members waiting outside I had to go talk to,” Gradkowski said. “So it was real exciting, though, getting to see everyone, and how much my family enjoyed it. Kind of wish I could’ve stayed home in Pittsburgh to enjoy it with ‘em, but I might’ve got kicked out of Pittsburgh.”
Gradkowski’s father, Bruce Sr., became emotional when asked if he was proud of his son on a KPIX interview televised to the Bay Area. It’s not the first time Bruce has moved his father to tears.
In a pre-draft diary with the Pittsburgh Post Gazette in 2006, Gradkowski recounted purchasing a 2001 Grand Marquis in perfect condition for his dad. A friend who kept his cars in immaculate condition owned it, and Bruce Jr. bought it for his dad as surprise, pulling up in front of the house and honking the horn.
Bruce Sr. got emotional that time, as well.
“He gets choked up when he’s excited, and he’ll try to hold it back,” Bruce Jr. said. “He’s like a big teddy bear. I say, ‘let it out, Pop, it’s all right.’ ”
The Raiders flight didn’t arrive in Oakland until 10:30 p.m. after a delay at the Pittsburgh airport because of ice on the wings.
More to come . . .