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'We're going to build this bad boy': Q&A with Raiders Head Coach Antonio Pierce

Only like Antonio Pierce could, he rang out a loud "Raaiiiddersss" chant to open his introductory press conference as the Raiders head coach.

The former linebackers coach was elevated to interim head coach on October 31, leading the team to five victories to end the 2023 season – three of those coming against division opponents. The former Super Bowl-winning linebacker earned the respect and admiration of his locker room and the fanbase while also showing what he could bring if given the chance to steer the ship, prompting his hiring to the role on a permanent level. 

After the joint introductory press conference with General Manager Tom Telesco,'s Levi Edwards chatted with Pierce on what's to come in Las Vegas.

Levi Edwards: What were your thoughts on Tom Telesco before his arrival to the Raiders?

Antonio Pierce: He built a very talented team. It all starts with the quarterback [Justin Herbert]. They've got a guy who can really toss the ball around the football. A very talented roster. Big, tall, length, speed. When you look at them on paper and you watch them on film – it's scary. It's something we knew we had to prepare for and really be at our peak because of the athletic DNA of that team and the way they were built.

LE: How beneficial is it to have a general manger coming in that already knows the landscape the AFC West?

AP: It's huge because there's no guessing. He know the Chiefs, he knows the Broncos, obviously he knows the team he just came from. He knows he has to get to know the Las Vegas Raiders. I think that's a benefit for us. That speeds up the process and the learning curve of what it takes to win in this division, which is the most important thing we have to really lock down on and make the foundation of how we build our team.

LE: Can you take me through the interview process and meeting Telesco?

AP: We had never met prior, so we just wanted to see if we could work together. Obviously, we're going to have different ideas and different opinions and we'll figure out how to hash those out.

LE: How important is it to have a GM with 11 seasons experience in that role?

AP: There's nothing like experience. He's somebody who has been there and done that. You can kind of lean on him and trust that he went through a lot of these ups-and-downs and pinnacles. He did a great job with his former team, we need him to do the same thing here.

LE: Who are some people you'll lean on for guidance now that the interim tag has been removed?

AP: Really the same people I have over these last few weeks that've been my mentors and people I've looked up to. We've talked about Tom Coughlin, Marvin Lewis. There's actually former players that've played at a high level that have some insight and other guys across the National Football League. Mike Tomlin is someone that, if you want to replicate anyone, it's Mike Tomlin. Seventeen years, same place, never a losing season. That's what you want to model yourself after.

LE: What does it mean to you to have the support of players on the decision to make you head coach?

AP: It goes back to respect, I had to earn that with them. You have to earn trust and accountability with them, and we worked for nine weeks to put the best product we could together. When you're a former player, and now coach, and the current players and former players across the league see what you've done, they're not just rooting for me because I was a player, they're rooting for me because I'm the right guy for this position – and that's to be the head coach of the Las Vegas Raiders.

LE: What's your message to Raider Nation?

AP: Raider Nation is always, baby. Show up, we're going to build this bad boy. Soon enough, we'll be able to show out with you.

View photos from Antonio Pierce and Tom Telesco's first days as the Las Vegas Raiders Head Coach and General Manager.

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