It’s been decades in the making but Las Vegas Raiders head coach Jon Gruden finally has a chance to return to the scene of a legendary crime.
The date January 19, 2002, marked the day that two NFL teams had their destinies intertwined. For the Raiders, the team lost in Foxborough thanks to the infamous “Tuck Rule.” This resulted in head coach Jon Gruden getting traded by owner Al Davis the following offseason. What followed was nearly a generation of futility, though the team did go to the Super Bowl the next year only for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers to embarrass them.
For the Patriots, it was a completely different story. Led by head coach Bill Belichick and quarterback Tom Brady, the team went on to become one of the most dominant NFL dynasties while winning multiple championships. Many fans believe the Silver and Black was robbed of its destiny that game, and rightfully so. Alas, things happened the way they did and there’s nothing anyone can do about it. That said, Gruden will be able to revisit the scene of the crime and get some measure of payback today.
Will The Raiders Avenge 2002 Today in Foxborough?
Raider Nation hasn’t forgotten nor forgiven what happened that fateful day and neither has Gruden. Unsurprisingly, the Raiders coach was recently asked about it and he made his feelings quite clear on the matter.
“Yeah, thanks for bringing that up, He [Brady] did fumble that damn ball.”
Lincoln Kennedy, former Raiders tackle and current radio announcer, still vividly remembers everything. “After the ruling, it just took all of the air out of us,” Kennedy said. “We were just shells. Deflated.” The ruling that Kennedy refers to was the one by referee Walt Coleman. In it, he referred to the Tuck Rule to overturn the fumble caused by Charles Woodson. He ruled it was an incomplete pass and that allowed Belichick’s Patriots to maintain possession. The rest, as they say, history.
It’s been a long time coming with Gruden and Belichick’s careers going down different paths after that game. Today, however, is about Gruden getting some closure for what happened, if not at least Gruden will get a win over one of the most hated teams in Raiders lore.
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*Top Photo: D. Ross Cameron/Associated Press