Lechler: 'Mr. Davis offered something I wasn't turning down'
Shane Lechler holds the NFL career punting average record of 47.5 yards on 1,014 punts. (USA TODAY IMAGES)
As the shock waves continue to dissipate for longtime Raiders fans over the departure of punter Shane Lechler to Houston as an unrestricted free agent, perhaps the biggest Raiders fan of all has come to terms with the move.
"I just wish him luck," Raiders owner Mark Davis told CSNBayArea.com Wednesday. "It's all part of the deal, the business, how it all goes."
Lechler, a seven-time Pro Bowler and six-time All-Pro, is widely considered one of the two or three greatest punters in NFL history and was a favorite of the late Al Davis, who drafted Lechler in the fourth round of the 2000 draft.
The elder Davis also made Lechler the richest punter in NFL history four years ago when he re-signed him to that four-year, $16-million contract. So you had to wonder what went through the then-owner's mind when Lechler ripped the organization over the release of coach Tom Cable in January of 2011.
"My first reaction was…if you get out your newspaper, Shane said publicly he wasn't coming back, he didn't like it here," Davis said at the media conference announcing Hue Jackson's hiring that same month.
"A month later, he was coming back because I gave him the highest paid contract of a specialist in pro football. No, these things happen, that's a part of our lives. I read about marriage breakups, all those things."
Upon being introduced in Houston this past weekend, Lechler acknowledged that the Texans made a run at him the last time he was a free agent.
"Words can't describe just getting to come home and play football, this is a dream come true," said Lechler, a Texas native who lives just outside of Houston in Richmond. "I was fortunate enough to play in the Silver and Black for 13 years and had a great time doing it.
"I thought (coming to Houston) was going to happen four years ago but Mr. Davis offered something that I was not going to turn down, and now that that's out of the way, signing here in Houston, I'm very excited."
Lechler said he was surprised the Raiders did not re-sign him, but said it was in the past, and had targeted the Texans since free agency began this offseason.
In averaging 47.2 yards on 81 punts following offseason knee surgery last season, his second-lowest since 2005, Lechler still holds the NFL career punting average record of 47.5 yards, on 1,014 punts.
"Mr. Davis, and what the Davis family has done for me financially, has really taken care of me," Lechler said. "My hat's off to Mr. Davis and Mark Davis, his son, and Carol and…I appreciate everything they did for me."
The younger Davis, meanwhile, has always had an affinity for Lechler, and his running mate, placekicker Sebastian Janikowski. Davis said he had yet to speak to Lechler since he signed with the Texans, but planned on doing so soon.
"I wish him the best," Davis said. "He was a great Raider."