New Raiders hungry after tasting humble pie
ALAMEDA — Humility isn’t often a term associated with professional football players.
Moments like Richard Sherman screaming into a microphone — talking trash after a big win —help fuel a notion that all athletes are full of themselves.
That’s not the case for the Oakland Raiders, who have finished 4-12 in two consecutive seasons.
Some of their new additions bringing along Super Bowl rings fit right into that humble-pie eating category. Like new defensive end Justin Tuck:
“All of us veteran guys think the same way. We all have a lot to prove and all of us feel as though there’s a lot of talent on this football team. … What I’m saying right now doesn’t really mean anything.”
“Until we line up in training camp, for the preseason and the regular season and go out and do it. I can sit here and talk as much as I want to. … Once that clock starts ticking down from 15 minutes, we’ll have the opportunity to prove everybody wrong. In due time.”
Tuck is one of eight players the Raiders brought in from other teams during the offseason.
Some of them were offered far less than they felt they were worth by their former teams. The Giants made an offer to Tuck, but it was one that he called “pretty much disrespectful.”
No doubt with two super bowl rings, 60.5 sacks in 90 career starts, and multiple Pro Bowl selections, Tuck’s career has been illustrious.
The same could be said for another player whom the Raiders signed: running back Maurice Jones-Drew.
Jones-Drew is an East Bay Area native, growing up in Antioch and playing for Concord’s infamous De La Salle high school, his local ties were clear when he joked about his commute to the Raiders facility:
“That 40 minute drive, which I’ll never take 880 again!”
Jones-Drew cracked a few more jokes Tuesday afternoon, despite feeling snubbed by Jacksonville. He’s been mildly envious of longtime Raiders running back Darren McFadden, because Jones-Drew grew up a Raiders fan.
The combination of it all, a group of players will numerous accolades who all have something to prove could make general manager Reggie McKenzie look like a genius.
Everybody on the team is buying in, according to fullback Marcel Reece, who said:
“It was close to 100 percent (for voluntary workout participants). The guys that didn’t show up, I know why they didn’t and I know when they will. So it is 100 percent in my eyes.
Especially when you have veteran guys, we’re definitely not here for the money because the offseason workout program is not life changing money.”
It’s not uncommon to hear big name players make an attempt — however genuine or fake — to seem like a team player, humble and ready to play football. But there’s more to it than that.
Something else that comes with veteran additions, particularly ones who have won Super Bowls, is a different kind of expertise.
Just ask Tuck, who shed some light on the deeper intricacies of what some of these guys bring:
“I really like how (the coaches) approach things. They say ‘we want to hear how you guys have done it. We want to incorporate those things and make it work.’ That’s encouraging becayse it’s hard to adjust after nine years doing things one way. But I do understand that, regardless of how it’s done, everyone has to do the same thing.’
In one offseason, Oakland has gone from a team favored for the first overall draft selection, to one chock full of talent. And the salaries will allow for several big additions next season, too.
And one of the few questions that remain can’t be answered until the regular season: how in the world will they fare against so many insanely tough opponents?
Pundits agree that the Oakland’s stock is on the rise, and a solid draft could give the Raiders what they need to be this year’s version of the 2013 Kansas City Chiefs.
Raider Nation might not appreciate the comparison, though they’d love a crack at a wild card playoff berth.
And for all the McKenzie haters, only time will tell. But the guys he has brought in come with a humble mind and a hungry attitude. These guys want to win. Bad.