Raiders’ Mark Davis Breaks Silence on Decision to Hire Antonio Pierce

It’s a new era for the Las Vegas Raiders that will be led by head coach Antonio Pierce. He took over the team after Josh McDaniels was fired during the 2023 season and quickly turned the culture around.

Though Pierce has only been coaching in the NFL for two seasons, he went 5-4 as the interim head coach and had the Raiders competitive in every game. The players were vocal about wanting the coach to be retained and star defensive end Maxx Crosby went so far as to threaten a trade request if the team went in another direction.

Owner Mark Davis felt the pressure but he always believed that Pierce was a great fit for the job.

“There was a lot of pressure on me from the outside to hire Antonio for the head-coaching job, but I think people forget I was the one who hired him in the first place for the interim job,” Davis told The Athletic’s Vic Tafur in a January 26 interview. “When I interviewed him back then, I got the feeling that he was something special.

“Growing up in L.A, knowing the Raiders and the culture of the Raiders back then, I thought he was the perfect choice at the perfect time to take us through the season. What surprised me was how successful he was at winning over the team as quickly as he did. Winning over the fan base as quickly as he did. Winning over the alumni as quickly as he did. And winning over the building as quickly as he did.”

Time will tell if Pierce can truly build something special but he has the support of Davis for now.

Antonio Pierce Had a Lot of Support

Mark Davis and the current players weren’t the only people to support Antonio Pierce’s bid to become head coach full-time. Raiders legends like Charles Woodson came out and endorsed the coach. In fact, Davis revealed that there was rampant support for Pierce all over the organization.

“I went through a nine-week interview process for the head coaching job of the Raiders,” Davis said. “And it was unanimous from the players, fans, alumni and staff that Antonio Pierce was the right man moving forward. He earned that.”

Former interim head coach Rich Bisaccia had a lot of support to get the full-time job in 2022 but Davis went in a different direction. He decided to listen to his players and others in the Raiders family this time around.

Antonio Pierce showed off the charisma 😮‍💨

— NFL (@NFL) January 25, 2024

Antonio Pierce Is More Than a Players’ Coach

While Antonio Pierce has connected with his players, Mark Davis didn’t want a head coach who would simply fold over for his players. Davis believed that Pierce proved during the course of the regular season that he could be much more than a players’ coach.

“A players’ coach is a players’ coach, but (Pierce) is also someone who will discipline guys, as we saw during the season with Marcus Peters (who was released),” Davis said, “Antonio has compassion, but he also has discipline.

“Antonio is more than just a players’ coach. He absolutely has the X’s and O’s and is very smart and is a quick learner. He has the humble ability to understand that he doesn’t know everything and therefore he is willing to bring in people like Tom Coughlin and Marvin Lewis. And learn from them, learn the nuances of being a head coach in the National Football League, learn the nuances of scheduling and all of those different kinds of things that come with the job.”

Pierce clearly has the full confidence of Davis which should only help his transition into the full-time role.

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