The Oakland Raiders and head coach Jon Gruden team up with Dick's Sporting Goods' Foundation Sports Matter to donate to local, Bay Area high school and youth football teams.
Since Jon Gruden was reintroduced as the Head Coach of the Oakland Raiders in January, it hasn't taken him very long to reacquaint himself with the Oakland community. Gruden has been very open about his love for Oakland and its residents. Tuesday afternoon, he welcomed a pair of high school football teams – Oakland Tech and McClymonds – to the team's facility for what they assumed was a tour, but Gruden had more than just a tour waiting for them.
Players and coaches congregated in the Willie Brown Auditorium, and were met by Coach Gruden and representatives from DICK's Sporting Goods Foundation, who had a video prepared for them to watch. After the introduction, Gruden welcomed the pair of coaches on stage to ask them about the struggles of being a football coach in the Bay Area.
Both of them pointed out the budget cuts, purchasing equipment out of pocket, and the overall lack of resources provided for the kids as the primary issues. As someone who loves the game, Gruden is noticeably quite displeased with the hurdles the coaches and players have to go through. In partnership with DICK's, Gruden and the Raiders wanted to reward the coaches each with a $15,000 check in an effort to keep the game of football alive and thriving.
The donation caught the coaches by surprise, and McClymonds Head Coach Michael Peters – father of current Los Angeles Ram Marcus Peters - took a moment to share his appreciation.
"It's huge, you know," Peters said gratefully. "Our programs in Oakland, you know, been really going down as far as the money. The league has cut budgets, and it really affects the kids, and the coaches. So, right now, we're coaching just because of the love for the sport. And this [contribution] pays us back for all the effort and the love that we have for the sport. To come here – we didn't think we were getting anything – just to get a tour, but now to get over 10,000 dollars, that's huge for our program."
Gruden wasn't done there though.
Following his donation to Oakland Tech and McClymonds high schools, the Raiders head coach met with two more youth football teams, the San Leandro Crusaders and the East Bay Panthers at Burrell Field in San Leandro. He gave a quick pep talk, where he once again discussed the importance of football, and all the life lessons it offers. In addition to his pep talk, Gruden surprised yet another group of football teams with a donation, this time for $50,000 each, courtesy of DICK's.
Gruden is adamant about making sure the next generation of football players are ready to carry the torch when it's their time, and his donation, along with DICK's, was a step in that direction.
At the end of the day, the kids are going to have the resources to play the game the way it's supposed to be played, and that's what matters most.