Ever since leaving Oakland, Jon Gruden always made it clear just how much he loved the Raiders fans. During his first four-year stint as head coach, he and the fanbase fell in love with each other, in part because of his fiery personality and also because of his success. "Chucky" went 40-28 from 1998 to 2001 in Oakland, his final game coming against the New England Patriots in the AFC Divisional Round, also known as "the Tuck Rule" game.
Gruden and the Raiders were a perfect match, but Oakland owner Al Davis shockingly traded the coach to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers that offseason. He went on to win the Super Bowl that very next season, beating the Oakland Raiders. Not exactly how Raider Nation hoped their Gruden story would end.
Six years later Gruden was in the broadcast booth for Monday Night Football on ESPN, where he had a successful eight year run. During that time he made sure to embrace the Raider fans anytime he called a game in the Black Hole, and NFL Films always made sure to roll tape for these family reunions. Gruden is now in his second year back as Oakland head coach, and the love between he and the fanbase was never more apparent on Thursday night. Following a massive 26-24 win over the division-rival L.A. Chargers, which brought Oakland's record to 5-4, FOX cameras picked up Gruden celebrating with the fans, who he might love more than anyone has ever loved anything:
Aside from that one dude that held on to the hug a bit too long in the first clip, Gruden has never been happier to be wrapping his arms around a bunch of crazy people in black face paint and costumes. I'd tell Raiders fans that Halloween was last week, but every Sunday (or Thursday or Monday) is Halloween when you're a Raider fan.
"I'll never rethink that," Gruden said of his wild celebration with the fans. "Every win I'm going down there. I got face paint all over me, I got to see some costumes I've not seen before at any football games. Awesome."
What a shame it is this team is leaving for Las Vegas. That said, these people might literally follow the Raiders to hell if that's where they went.