Raiders coach Hue Jackson spoke at length about how the organization is going to move forward on the heels of managing general partner Al Davis passing away Saturday.
Rather than omit something that might be of interest, here’s what Jackson said from start to finish Monday in his weekly news conference:
Introduction: First, I’d like to take a moment to thank Raider Nation, the Raiders’ community and fans, and everybody who showed up here last night to welcome the team home from a victorious game in Houston. There was nothing like it. The fans were lined up from the driveway through to the where the players park and somehow managed to get back there where they park. It was great. It was an awesome scene. A tremendous feeling winning a huge game on the road in Houston, especially after the couple of days we had. I think our players and the organization were really happy and thankful for the many people who showed up last night.
Again, what a hard-fought game in Houston by our football team. I thought the guys fought as well as we fought all year. I think we played against a really good football team. My hat’s off to Houston, because I think that team is going to win a lot of football games. Unfortunately, they got some players hurt. We got some players nicked too, but that’s just a part of the game. I thought our team responded and played as physically as I’ve seen us play all year. We still have to get better. We have a way to go, but I thought we were physical and went out and played Raider football.
What did you think of the welcome back by fans to the facility?
Nothing like that. I’ve been in a place where we won a playoff game, and there were quite a few people when we got back. This felt different. The feeling of what had happened was still near and dear to everybody, losing Coach. It was just different. It was more a celebration of a win and a man’s life. It was amazing. What a tremendous feeling it was last night.
How long will the grieving process last?
I think the grieving part is over. Obviously, we’re going to Coach very near and dear to us as we move forward. All you know Coach and what he was about. He wasn’t about all of that. He was truly about let’s move and on to the next situation and opportunity that we have so we can capture that. We’re chasing something. He knew it, and we know it. That’s what we’re going to do.
Has the baton been passed from Mr. Davis to you in terms of the vision?
I probably haven’t looked at it the way you just expressed it. I’ve felt that ever since he made me the head coach. My job is to help this organization get back to where it wants to be within his vision. That’s what I’m setting out to do. That’s how I set out to do it when the year started. Coach is about winning championships, and that’s what we’re going to be about. We’re not going to back down from that.
Most emotional game you have been involved in?
It was hard, because I loved the man. Everybody says I have a different type of relationship with him than most. I think I understood what he wanted. Coach’s goal was to make people better than they have ever been. He pushed you. He prodded. He had a lot of demands on you. That’s probably the environment that I work in best. I like when people have high expectations for me and make me reach them. That’s what he did for each and every person in this organization. Some people from the outside see that as something different. I see that as being pushed to be the best you can be. To lose that is tough. At the end of the game, I felt all of the emotions that I lost someone I could always lean on about the situations here. Not that I don’t have other people. Amy Trask and Mark Davis are here, and I can always turn to them, but I can’t pick up the phone and call Coach anytime I want anymore. I can’t call Coach and ask what he thinks about this or that, or I’m not going to get any of those late-night phone calls at 11 p.m. or midnight to say, ‘Hue, what are you doing?’ That’s different. All of that hit me at that particular moment. All of that is done. You have to move on to the next chapter.
Q: What else will change procedurally without Al Davis?
A: I’m not. Honestly nothing has hit me that way. That things that need to be done, I’m being very honest with you guys, we already had a plan in place. I know the trade deadline is coming up. I know there’s decisions that we have to make based on who’s going to be on our 46 as we move through the week. But coach already taught me how to do those things. When I tell you that there were so many countless hours spent having conversations and talking about the things you need to do and why you do them. I’m very well versed in how to do those things. I feel very comfortable doing those things. I’ve done them every week with his approval and I’ll continue to do them with the approval of Mark and whoever else I need to talk to.
Q: So are all decisions going to be made by you from now one?
A: I’m never going to do anything alone here. We’re a team here. So I’m not going to say I’m going to do it alone but I think I’m going to be the person that says hey let’s make sure we take a peek at these things to make sure we’re strengthening our team trying to find a way to get our team the best we can have it the best we can be.
Q: Do you have to make a roster move because of Terrelle Pryor’s return?
A: No, we don’t. obviously we get a weeks exemption on that. He’ll count as the 54th player and until we make a decision exactly what were going to do in that direction then we have to do anything. So I think we’re going to in a really good spot as far as Terrelle Pryor is concerned.
Q: What are you going to miss the most about Mr. Davis?
A: there’s so many things, there’s not one thing in particular. Probably just the conversations, the late night conversations when we would talk about practice, what we need to make sure we took care of how so many years he’s played against so many different teams and he knows have either tried to attack the Raiders or try to defense the raiders. And he goes ‘Hue don’t forget this. Make sure you cover this base. Make sure you think through this.’ And a lot of this things I probably already thought about but it was just reassuring having him say make sure you thought through this. And I’d go yeah, I got it, that means I’m on the right track. So I’ll miss that. But more so than anything I’ll miss him. I’ll just miss the man and what he is. When you have an opportunity to learn from somebody like him and be around him, there’s nothing like it. Nothing.
Q: When was the last time you spoke to Mr. Davis?
A: Friday. Friday was the last time I talked to him.
Q: What was the nature of your final conversation?
A: We had some players in. you guys asked me about Trevor Pryce. That particular day we had some players in and we were making some decisions about what direction we wanted to go in. and me and him were dialouging back and forth as far as that was concerned and what we needed to do. And he was wishing me well, to take the team to Houston and get a win like he always does whenever we talk. That was the last time I had an opportunity to talk to him.
It’s been reported that he was actually braking down film on Friday. True?
“You’re absolutely right. I bet he was. There’s no question about that. Trust me when I tell you, if I know Coach, up until this last opportunity there was nothing more that he was doing than football and preparing for the Raiders to play Houston. I guarantee you that.”
Do you feel the Raider legacy under Al Davis is in safe hands? How do you view your responsibility for that going forward?
“Well, I mean, my responsibility is to coach this team and to have this team become all it can become this year. This is a one-year deal. This is our team, the 2011 team, and that’s what I’m going to do and whatever role I need to play, I’m well-prepared to play it within the structure of how we do things here within the organization. Obviously I know I’m the lead when it comes to football, and I gladly accept that, but nobody’s going to anything alone here. That’s not how we do business, even when he was here. He didn’t do it alone, either. He was the head of it all. He made all the decisions and the yeses and the nos. But boy, he took a lot of input, too. We’ll continue to operate that way. I think it’s a good opportunity for all of us to grow and get better.”
How do you feel about the idea of this team using Mr. Davis’ passing as a rallying cry for the rest of the season? How do you think he would feel about that?
“Me knowing coach, that’s now what he was about. Don’t use a rallying cry over him. Do your job. Do your job and perform because that’s what he pays you to do, to be the best you can be. It was never about one person. Just as if it was me, I would never want it to be about me. I want it to be about this organization and this football team being the best it can be because it should be great and expect to be great. We are committed to excellence, and that’s how we’re going to go about doing it.”
In the coming weeks or the end of this year, is there going to be a need to bring in someone to help you fill the void?
“If that’s what we decide to do, then that’s what we’ll do. I’m open and I think the organization’s open to doing whatever we need to do to have us be the best we can be. Whatever that is, I’m totally open to that, and I think if that’s what’s the best thing for us to do, that’s what we’ll do. If it’s not, then we won’t. And I think we’re in a great situation right now because we’ve laid such a good foundation, Coach had laid such a good foundation with the people that are here, that we’re kind of up and running and moving in that direction already. I think things are great, and I think they can even be better, and I think we’ll continue to do so.”
So there isn’t a need right now?
“I don’t think right this second. Obviously we’re in the flow of the season. We have a game this week against a very good Cleveland team that’s going to come to town. That’s the No. 1 concern that I think the whole organization has, one of making sure that we honor coach the right way, whenever that is going to take place. Obviously in respect to the family, they’ll make that decision. And then after that we have a big ballgame to play. We got another opportunity to go out and get another win under our belt here at home in front of our fans, and I think that’s what our players are looking forward to doing.”
Q: Are you the sole decision-maker in terms of personnel and such now or is there a plan for a general manager to come aboard?
A: “Right, and that could be true. That could be true. But if something needs to be done right now between Mark Davis and myself and the rest of the people in the organization, that’s who will make that decision. And if that’s the best way to go as we continue to move forward to the future, that’s what we’ll do. If we need to bring somebody in from the outside and have them fill that void, we’ll do that, too. That’s why I said, we’re in a really good place right now, that we have people who have been here, who know. I’ve sat at this man’s knee for two years and I’ve been involved in that draft. I’ve helped shape this team over the last couple of years as far as draft picks are concerned on this football team. So, I know what they look like, run like, act like, sound like, the whole nine yards. Now, it’s just a matter of making sure that all the t’s are crossed and the I’s are dotted as we move forward, if that’s the direction we want to go. And that’s what we’ll do.”
Q: Have you spoken with Mark Davis since Mr. Davis passed away? What did win mean to Mark Davis?
A: “Yes, I have. Oh, yeah. And I can’t speak for him. I really don’t want to because he would have to tell you what he felt. But I just know he was happy that we won the game because it was an opportunity for us to win. Was it fitting because it was after the passing of his dad? I think so. But from an emotional standpoint, what he was really feeling inside, you would have to ask him.”
Q: Is it business as usual for you today? Taking a break? Resting?
A: “Rest? Wow! You didn’t say that, did you? There is no rest in pro football. No, I haven’t rested. Not one bit. I’m tired. I’m not going to kid you about that because I have watched Cleveland, and they’re a good team. It’s another opportunity for our football team to get better and to play in front of our fans. I’m going to get a chance to rest when the season’s over, somewhere in late February. Hopefully, I can take a break then but there’s no rest right now. We got work to do. We played better on defense. I told you at some point in time we were going to slow the run down, and we did that on defense. I was very happy to see our guys respond and fight. And they did. We played against a tremendous runner yesterday. Obviously, we still got some things to clean up and get better at. But we were more relentless to the ball. On offense, I didn’t think I prepared those guys well enough. We didn’t play typical Oakland Raider offensive football, and I take responsibility for that because we got to play better. And we will. Their defense, they came to play, and we played against a pretty good defensive football team. Might be the best defensive football team we’ve played all year. But we got to get ourselves on offense back on schedule and play good. Our special teams was sensational. What can I say about SeaBass? The guy was phenomenal yesterday. And the fake punt, obviously I kept calling it, and they weren’t giving us the look. All of a sudden, Bones kept looking at me like, ‘Hey, Hue, when are you going to quit calling this thing?’ We called it again and we called it at the right time. And it was great. Like I told you, I’ll do anything I can to win a football game and that’s what we did. So, and on we go to Cleveland, and that’s all I can think about right now is, how do we put ourselves in position to become 4-2?”
Q: How do you stay focused. Can the Raiders win it all?
A: Why not us? I said that way back in training camp, and I’m not going to quit saying it. Why not? Why can’t we not win it all if we keep working and getting better. And please, nobody say that Hue Jackson said we’re going to win the Super Bowl. That’s not what I said. I said why not us. Just like every other team that’s sitting at 5-0, 4-1 or whatever that is. I’m sure their coaches are saying why not us neither. Who knows what’s going to happen over the next several weeks of the season. Why not the Raiders? Why can’t we not win it if we continue to grow and get better and keep working at this thing.
Q: Relationship with Mark Davis?
A: Very good relationship, very strong. He supports me wholeheartedly. He has. He’s been at training camp, we speak all the time whether it’s before the game or when I can see him. I think we have a great relationship. I’ve never known anything different than that.
Q: Is he an X’s and O’s guy?
A: He’s a fun guy. I really enjoy him. He’s a lot of fun. He loves football and he loves this Raiders organization and this football team. His vision is no different than his dad’s, his commitment to excellence, his pride and poise and let’s win. That’s the way he sees it.
Q: What did you have to do to earn Mr. Davis’ trust?
A: I think it evolved over time. Coach is very good ta telling you what it was he expected and what it was what he wanted done. For me it’s like any of us in here who works for an employer. They have an expectation of what it is they want you to do. I think when you go out and set forth to do it, it’s not whether you do it exactly like they say but as long as you’re putting forth that effort and you’re trying to get done what it is that people need to get done and they see that you’re working at it and working hard at it, I think you earn their respect and you earn their trust. I don’t think he just gave me his trust. I had to earn it. I think I earned it through hard work. I think I earned it through meeting his demands and exceeding his demands. It’s no different than with my staff. They have to earn my trust each and every day. I have to earn your guys’ trust each and every day. That’s why we build a relationship and then the communication piece was good. As I said before, we could go back and forth on a subject. I wasn’t always agreeable and he wasn’t always agreeable but we always agreed when it was all said and done. I think that’s the most important part. We don’t have to see things the same. Coach always came from a good place in my opinion. Even when he would say I don’t like this, it wasn’t the fact that he was trying to ‘You better do it this way.’ It was just, ‘Look this is how I see it.’ Anybody can respect that and I did. I’d say ‘OK coach what about this.’ Then he’d think through it and say ‘oh, you got a point.’ That’s how we communicated and I think it worked best for us both.
Q: What was it like coming to work this morning?
A: Probably getting in my car I really realized it was different. When I was driving in and it was raining again, l remember the rain in Houston, wow was it raining yesterday. Coming in I turned on the radio and normally after you win a game I don’t try to listen to that. I was trying to find, is it 106.1? 106.1 KMEL, right? I was trying to turn to that. I was turning to it and there was this blurb about coach and it hit me for a second again. I cannot pick up the phone and call him today. There will not be a phone call today from him today at about 4 o’clock or 5 o’clock saying, ‘Hey, Hue later on let’s get together and talk.’ Yeah it’s different, a lot different. I’ll miss it.
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