Despite Raiders' dismal season, Jon Gruden insists there are players 'dying' to join the team

Thearon W. Henderson/Getty ImagesJon Gruden claims players are clamoring to come to Oakland, but his team’s performance on the field begs to differ.
  • Jon Gruden’s stint as head coach of the Oakland Raiders is off to a disastrous start.
  • Amid his team’s 1-7 record, Gruden recently claimed he’d been bombarded with calls from players hoping to play for the Raiders.
  • It’s not impossible to imagine the Raiders turning things around in a relative hurry, but Gruden will surely hope any such calls keep coming in the offseason.

Jon Gruden’s 10-year contract as head coach of the Oakland Raiders has not started the way fans had hoped.

After joining the team in the offseason after years of speculation that he’d return to coaching, Gruden has the Raiders off to a 1-7 start and openly selling off some of his most talented players to stock up on draft picks.

The seasonlong trainwreck culminated Thursday night, with the Raiders getting thumped by the San Francisco 49ers, a 34-3 loss in which Oakland allowed quarterback Nick Mullens to throw for a near-perfect game in his first career NFL start.


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But despite the evidence of his new empire actively burning around him, Gruden still sounds as confident as ever that the Raiders are a team to be feared.

In an interview with Fox Sports that aired before Thursday night’s dismal effort, Gruden was adamant that players around the league were calling him to say how much they wanted to play for Raider Nation.

“I got a mobile phone just like you and everybody else,” Gruden said. “I get a lot of phone calls from people that are dying to come play here. I’m just telling you. They’re dying to play for the Raiders.”

He added: “And to have salary-cap space and to have a chance to talk to the people that you really want to wear the silver and black, the guys you really want to wear the silver and black and represent this team, that’s exciting.”

It’s unsurprising to see Gruden convey confidence in his team’s future, as he’s on the books to lead the team through two more presidential administrations.

But any posturing aside, Gruden has set himself up for a potential turnaround – his fire sale of the team’s assets has left him with numerous valuable picks in the 2019 NFL draft, and if he can find a good return on them, it’s not impossible to imagine the Raiders turning things around in a relative hurry.

But as things stand, the Raiders have been embarrassed in more games than they have put up a fight. Gruden is surely hoping those texts are still coming when the offseason rolls around.

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