Sunday’s Week 13 matchup at the Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum will be many things.
First and foremost, it’ll be the 116th matchup between the Oakland Raiders and Kansas City Chiefs, in what has turned into one of the longest-running rivalries in all football.
The Sunday clash will also give us our first chance to see the Chiefs’ high-flying offense in 2018 – remember the Silver and Black will wrap up the season against these very Chiefs on December 30 – but it’ll also be a game between two, old pals.
Twenty-six years ago, long before they became head coaches, Jon Gruden and Andy Reid were young position coaches in the Green Bay Packers organization, still finding their footing in the National Football League.
Now, more than two-and-a-half decades later, the pair are set to square off in the regular season, and although the records between the two teams are on different ends of the spectrum, Sunday’s game won’t lack intriguing storylines, and the relationship between Gruden and Reid is at the top of that list.
“We were both young and we were able to learn a ton from a great head coach,” Reid explained Wednesday. “Jon and I spent a lot of time together, along with Steve Mariucci, we were the youngest guys on the staff. We all kind of bonded and did our thing. We did a lot of the gopher work, which we loved. Great learning experience and great foundation to build on.”
Under Mike Holmgren, Gruden and Reid went to the postseason twice, and while the Packers were unable to win it all during that three-year stretch, the football education that the pair received in that stop has served them well as they’ve continued throughout their careers.
“We had a blast with that stuff,” Reid said. “Who could find what or design what. We had a blast with that. He [Gruden] is a creative mind, so you got to stay on you’re A-game when you are hanging with him.”
“Yeah, we have a lot of memories,” Gruden added. “I just have a lot of good feelings right now watching this tape. We’ve got our hands full. He’s a great friend of mine. Passionate coach. He loves football. He might be one of the few guys I know that likes football more than me. That’s why I treasure him.”
With more than a combined 45 seasons of professional football under their collective belts, both men have enjoyed great successes, and have also struggled through some less-than ideal, trying times.
Currently boasting a 2-9 record, Gruden and the Raiders are currently in the midst of one of those trying times, but Reid believes his friend can turn things around.
“I’m friends with Jon, and I have a ton of respect for him,” Reid said. “He’s a great football person and coach. He loves the game. He’s passionate about the game. He’s doing what he thinks is right. You can’t ever question when you have a record like he has, Super Bowl Champ, etc., etc. I don’t know, none of us know, including you guys as much as you’re around him, no one knows the whole picture like the head coach does and what needs to be done and so on. I would defer to him. I’ve known him a long time and I’m very confident in his ability. He’s doing what he thinks is the right things.”