The Las Vegas Raiders have a huge decision to make regarding interim head coach Antonio Pierce. Players within the locker room, such as Maxx Crosby and Davante Adams, have publicly vouched for him to get the job permanently, as have franchise legends like Charles Woodson.
The support hasn’t just been limited to those connected with the franchise either as NFL Hall of Famer Michael Strahan has backed him, and now an NBA superstar has joined in as well.
Oakland native and current Milwaukee Bucks point guard Damian Lillard recently spoke with Vegas Sports Today and supported Pierce being given the Raiders job permanently while also explaining his love of coaches who were former players:
“I rock with AP man. I’m a super fan of player-coaches cause I feel like they can relate more than anything. They’ve lived it, won at the highest level. You can tell the players respect him and I think in professional sports when you can be a leader of men and they respect you, you can get a lot more out of the team.”
As Lillard noted, there is a connection and ability to relate with players that comes with having been one yourself. There are certain things that just don’t show up on paper but are extremely important and having played the game at the highest level gives coaches like Pierce a bit of cache amongst players. Growing up in Oakland, Lillard undoubtedly wants his team to get back to its previous glory.
The question now is whether the Raiders will choose to give Pierce that opportunity. The franchise still has yet to conduct any head coach interviews, but Pierce has garnered interest around the league having interviewed with the Tennessee Titans and Atlanta Falcons.
The Raiders were in this position a couple of years ago after Rich Bisaccia took over the team following the resignation of Jon Gruden and led them to the playoffs. The team chose to hire Josh McDaniels instead of retaining him permanently, and that wound up being a disaster, and no one wants the Raiders to do something similar now.
Kliff Kingsbury could be offensive coordinator if Antonio Pierce hired by Raiders
Perhaps in a sign that the Raiders could be leaning towards retaining Pierce, there are already rumors about his potential staff and, particularly, who would be his offensive coordinator.
Recent reports suggest that former Arizona Cardinals head coach Kliff Kingsbury is a name to watch as someone to watch as offensive coordinator under Pierce. The Raiders still have to make the biggest decision, but it sounds as if Pierce is rounding up his staff regardless of where he lands.