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Raiders hire Antonio Pierce as head coach, lift interim tag

Antonio Pierce wasn’t shy about his desire to be the Las Vegas Raiders’ head coach. Now, the team has officially dropped the interim label from Pierce’s title.

The Raiders hired Pierce to be their 23rd head coach in franchise history, the team announced Friday.

The Raiders had named Pierce interim head coach after the team fired coach Josh McDaniels and general manager Dave Ziegler the night of Oct. 31 following a 3-5 start this season, their second together. Pierce guided the Raiders to a 5-4 record the rest of the way, and the club finished the season 8-9, good enough for second in the AFC West.

Pierce’s promotion is a direct contrast from what Raiders owner Mark Davis did when faced with a similar situation with Rich Bisaccia in 2021. Following Jon Gruden’s resignation during the 2021 season, Bisaccia, as an interim head coach, led the Raiders to a 7-5 record and a playoff berth. Despite some internal support for Bisaccia’s promotion to head coach, Davis opted to hire McDaniels as head coach in 2022.

McDaniels went 9-16 in 25 games as Raiders head coach before he was fired shortly after Week 8 of this year.

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Pierce had been outspoken about his hope to be promoted to the Raiders head coach. He said in December that his “resume is on the grass.” Raiders stars Davante Adams and Maxx Crosby both openly advocated for Pierce to get the head-coaching job.

‘There’s only 32 [NFL] head coaches in the whole world, so you’ve got to find a leader of men,’ Crosby told reporters earlier in January. ‘And when you’ve got one of them in the building currently, I don’t know why you would let them go.’

Pierce’s résumé on grass and support from star players, apparently was enough to convince Davis and the rest of Raiders brass that Pierce was the right man for the position.

A person close to the situation told USA TODAY Sports that said Crosby is ‘thrilled’ about Pierce’s promotion. The person spoke on condition of anonymity before the announcement was made by the Raiders.

The 45-year-old Pierce played linebacker in the NFL for Washington from 2001–04 and the New York Giants from 2005–09. He won Super Bowl 42 as a member of the Giants.

Pierce began his coaching career as head coach of Long Beach Poly High School from 2014–17. He then moved to the collegiate level at Arizona State in 2018. He held various roles at ASU but served as associate head coach from 2020-2021. He was hired as the Raiders’ linebackers coach in 2022.

Follow USA TODAY Sports’ Tyler Dragon on X @TheTylerDragon.

This post appeared first on USA TODAY

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