Antonio Pierce: Raiders are going to have fun playing again

Nov 1, 2023, 1:49 PM

Las Vega Raiders assistant coach Antonio Pierce yells at Maxx Crosby (98) during the NFL game featu...

LAS VEGAS, NV - OCTOBER 23: Las Vega Raiders assistant coach Antonio Pierce yells at Maxx Crosby (98) during the NFL game featuring the Houston Texans against the Las Vegas Raiders on October 23, 2022 at Allegiant Stadium in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by John Rivera/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

(Photo by John Rivera/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

The Las Vegas Raiders became the first NFL team this season to make drastic changes to its coaching staff.

On Halloween night, Mark Davis pulled the trigger, firing Josh McDaniels and Dave Ziegler. Offensive Coordinator Mick Lombardi was also let go.

The day after cleaning house, the organization introduced interim coach Antonio Pierce and interim general manager Champ Kelly to the media.

“I grew up in Compton California. I was born a Raider. I was born with the Raiders rolling in the Coliseum in LA,” Pierce said. “I was rolling with NWA, talking straight out of Compton, rocking Raider hats. So when an opportunity came to work with Josh and Pat Graham and Dave, I jumped on it. That’s what set me up for this. I was born this way.”

Coming off of two losses, Pierce said he could feel the team wasn’t itself. Now, the priority is changing the culture and enjoy playing the game again.

“When we walk in that stadium, it’s got to be electric. And I told these guys, I’m not promising we’re going undefeated, I’m not promising were going to redo the record books, but I am going to promise this, we’re going to have fun doing it,” Pierce said. “And I know when you start having fun and guys start believing in one another, and they start engaging in each other and believing in what the coaches are telling them and understand it’s in their best interest that we are in this together. When you put the “we” aspect and us and team into it, it changes all that from the I’s.”

This isn’t the first time the Raiders have changed coaches in the middle of the season. And the last time it happened, in 2021, a few players who were on that roster are around for this change.

“They understand what it’s like, a coaching change in the middle of the season,” Pierce said. “And I’m relying on our leaders to lead. I’m going to come in here with the game plan, this is the picture that we’re trying to paint but they’ve got to carry it throughout.”


Who is Antonio Pierce?

The Raiders linebacker coach for the past season and a half, Pierce comes into the role with plenty of NFL experience.

Before picking up the clipboard, Pierce was signed as an undrafted rookie free agent by the then-Washington Redskins in 2001. He spent four seasons in Washington before finishing his career with the New York Giants where he won one Super Bowl.

“How bout that, couldn’t write it up,” Pierce said when asked that his first opponent is his former team. “But it’s not Antonio Pierce versus the Giants. The Las Vegas Raiders versus the Giants. Coming into our house. Much needed win for us. We’ve had two ugly losses and it’s time to change that. We’re in the second half of the season. Doesn’t matter who Antonio Pierce played for. It’s about the Las Vegas Raiders. Those players understand that. It’s not about me.”

After his playing career ended in 2009, he eventually found his way back on the sidelines, joining Arizona State as a linebackers coach in 2017. During his tenure, he would eventually add the titles of associate head coach and defensive coordinator before leaving in 2022.

Who is Champ Kelly?

Before joining the Raiders organization in 2022, Kelly spent seven seasons in personnel and scouting departments with the Chicago Bears and eight seasons with the Denver Broncos. Throughout his career, according to the Raiders, his teams have won “five division titles, one conference championship, appeared in Super Bowl XLVIII, and to date, players have earned a combined 58 Pro Bowl nominations and six Hall of Fame enshrinements.”

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