It was a party 16 years in the making.
Preseason or not, Friday night was one that Jon Gruden will likely never forget. From his arrival at the Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum as head coach for the first time since 2001, to shaking hands with fans pregame, and then calling his first football game since 2008, Friday was a memorable one for Gruden.
Oh, and his team won too.
With AC/DC providing the soundtrack for the evening, the Silver and Black took care of business, beating Matt Patricia and the Detroit Lions 16-10 in the team's preseason opener.
See exclusive photos of Head Coach Jon Gruden's return to the Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum.
"Happy to say that we won a football game, even though it's the preseason," said Gruden postgame. "That's what it's all about, finding ways to win, but plenty of things to clean up. There were some bright moments, and I can't wait to see the tape. Great to be back in the Coliseum, I'll say that, really cool tonight."
And to be fair, "really cool" might be a bit of an understatement.
While the intensity and overall excitement for Gruden and the Raiders will likely crescendo Week 1 when the Silver and Black play host to the Los Angeles Rams on Monday Night Football, Friday night gave a sneak preview, a little glimpse of what things can be like with Gruden back at the helm.
Since Gruden was re-introduced as head coach in January, there has been a bit of an unspoken countdown until August 11, the night he finally returned to the Coliseum, and while Friday's result won't count towards his official win/loss record, it was quite the start for a team trying to rebound from a disappointing 6-10 campaign.
"It was awesome," Gruden said. "I saw some recognizable faces that had gotten a little bit older. Saw some old friends that mean a lot to me. Like I said, this is a great responsibility, the nostalgia's worn off. We have to do something with the opportunity, but it was sure great to see the Raiders fans, and they stayed with us until the end, and I really appreciate it."
Like Gruden said, at this point, the nostalgia of his return to the Silver and Black has nearly evaporated. While he remains a fan favorite, a key cog in the storied history of the Raiders, at this juncture, with training camp nearly behind us, Gruden is first and foremost a coach, a coach trying to make sure his team is prepared to delve into what is set to be a very competitive AFC West in 2018.
And as such, even though his team did come away with a W, Gruden was quick to point out the areas that needed to be better going forward.
"I thought we got off to a great start other than the penalties," he explained. "I thought we could have had a very good evening, had it not been for Marshawn's long run being called back. We had a fumbled snap at the five-yard line going in. We can't get set on a quick play to negate their challenge, which cost us more points. We left a lot out there, I think. We had a 3rd and 1 play, we had a man go the wrong way. You can't win in this league in the regular season and make mistakes like that, but there were some good moments. Guys played well tonight."
His guys did indeed play well, but for the over 53,000 people in attendance, the guest of honor at Friday night's party was the man roaming the sidelines in the silver Raiders polo and windbreaker.
Photos of the game action during the Raiders' Preseason Week 1 matchup with the Detroit Lions.