Unlikely Guest Coach Connection

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Santos Carrillo (middle) with Nick Johansen (left) and Andreas Pröller during the Raiders 2008 training camp. - *Tony Gonzales*

The Oakland Raiders have long been recognized as a global organization. As part of their world-wide initiatives, the Silver and Black invite coaches from all over the world to help them expand their knowledge in training camp as part of the International Guest Coach Program. This coming Saturday, two of the Raiders former coaching interns will reap the benefits of this program as the SWARCO Raiders, marketing teammate of The Oakland Raiders, and Flash de La Courneuve clash in Eurobowl XXIII (Kickoff 11 a.m. PT / 8 p.m. CET).

Santos Carrillo is the head coach of the SWARCO Raiders. His counterpart on the team from the outskirts of Paris is Patrick Esume. Both young men fine-tuned their coaching skills in Napa, Calif., and learned about the daily coaching business of the three-time Super Bowl winning franchise. Both men are first-year head coaches, both are successful and both are thankful for the opportunity the Raiders have given them.

"The Raiders were always looking for ways to reach out to all football fans around the globe. They offer web sites with content in German, Chinese, Spanish, Japanese and even Tagalog. They always had an open door for international coaches," says Esume, who led the Flash to a French championship a few weeks ago.

And Carrillo adds, "Bringing coaches who work outside the US is something that Oakland does. It's something that other NFL teams should do, too. It helps develop the game around the globe. You can see the results on Saturday."

Although there is no point arguing with that, one can see many of the results away from the gridiron, too. Working in an NFL environment helped both Carrillo and Esume to prepare more precisely and to raise their level of work and that of their players and assistants to a higher standard.

"My philosophy hasn't changed. But my organization has. I took a lot of what I saw there in terms of preparation back to Innsbruck. That really helped me and my coaching staff and therefore the whole team a lot," explained Carrillo, who was in Napa in 2008 thanks to the unique cooperation between The Oakland Raiders and their Tyrolean teammate. "Another thing I really enjoyed was to see how coaches and players interact in the pros. I only coached in college before I came here, so that was important for me to see."

"An internship in the NFL is priceless for any coach's progress. You experience preparation on the highest level," explained Esume, who was born in Germany. "It's easy to get the X's and O's. You can ask other coaches, you can read books or surf the Internet. But how to teach all that, how to prepare and how to handle all the information is the most important thing you can learn in an NFL camp."

Esume was one of the first coaches to get the chance to learn from the Silver and Black. He was invited to the International Guest Coach Program in 2005 was brought back to intern for the whole duration of camp in 2006. "I know Art [Shell] from his days with NFL Europa. We have built a good relationship," remembers Esume.

The 35-year-old still has lasting memories from his first time on the sidelines of a Raiders' game, "To actually stand there on the sideline was just amazing. I remember I was blown away by the speed and hard-hitting. The Raiders played their arch rivals San Francisco 49ers in the Battle of the Bay and the fans in the Black Hole were extremely loud. The whole atmosphere was very impressive."

The Flash head coach took many memories and even more coaching experience back to his hometown team, the Hamburg Sea Devils, and helped them win NFL Europa's World Bowl in 2007 as a special teams coordinator and offensive assistant. Though it was the NFL developmental league's last game, he had found enough believers overseas. In 2007 and 2008 Esume was invited to the Cleveland Browns' training camp and even got offered a job. "The Browns wanted me as their special teams assistant last year," explains Esume. "But it didn't work out, because I couldn't get a working visa or a greencard fast enough."

Monterey-native Carrillo hasn't coached in the U.S. since 2005. After a friend backed out of the job as defensive line coach with the SWARCO Raiders, Carrillo was convinced to join the Austrian team and never looked back. He was named defensive coordinator after his first season in Innsbruck and became the head coach last summer. During his stint with the SWARCO Raiders Carrillo won the 2006 Austrian Bowl and the 2008 Eurobowl.

The first Raiders game he witnessed from the sidelines was – just like in Esume's case – against the 49ers; only three years later. Besides the crowd and the buzz in the air, the former New Mexico Highlands University head coach will never forget the team work on the sidelines. "To see how they work as a unit, as a team and how they operate through all the noise was very interesting," he says.

On Saturday the noise at Innsbruck's Tivoli stadium for Eurobowl XXIII will also be a factor as horns and sirens are a common thing in European bleachers. While both coaches will try not to let the noise affect them, they'll also need to use all the knowledge they gained from their International Guest Coach Program experience in order to hoist the precious Swarovski Eurobowl trophy.

"I'm sure both, me and coach Esume, took the most out of the chance to learn from the Raiders," Carrillo points out. "It's really neat that it worked out like that, that we both led our teams to the biggest game in Europe. And it shows the Raiders, that they are doing the right thing in bringing coaches to their camp."

Carrillo hopes to get another glimpse of training camp in Napa this August, as he visits his home state California to attend his sister's wedding this summer. Meanwhile Esume has already packed his bags for his fifth trip to the NFL. And even though his destination this time around will be Philadelphia, when asked about where he sees himself in five to 10 years, he thinks all Silver and Black. "Hopefully with The Oakland Raiders," Esume says. That would bring the International Guest Coach Program full circle.

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