March 3, 2011GUTIERREZ ARCHIVERAIDERS PAGE RAIDERSVIDEOPaulGutierrez
STOCKTON With an hour-long line of Raiders fans extending out the door, he was the most popular person on the south concourse of the Spanos Center. More likely, the most popular person in the entire arena.He signed everything placed in front of him. From footballs to helmets to pictures of himself. To, what, no babies to kiss?In the middle of an autograph one fan asked him to PLEASE! re-sign Zach Miller. We will, he said with a bright, reassuring smile.Shortly thereafter, a Sharpie exploded in his hand. And if that was the worst thing to happen to Hue Jackson on Hue Jackson Appreciation Night at a Pacific mens basketball game against Cal State Fullerton, it was a good night. Especially with labor unrest between the NFLs owners and its players threatening to impede Jacksons start as the new Raiders coach.
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Honestly, I dont even, the labor thing, its going to take care of itself so Im not even concerned about that, Jackson told CSN California. Tonight is about being here amongst the fans, the Raider Nation and also the people here at the University of the Pacific and watching a great basketball team play tonight.So being at the alma mater, where he played quarterback in 1985 and 1986, throwing for 2,544 yards and 19 touchdowns, where he played one year of hoops, in 1986, where he earned his degree in P.E. and got his start in the coaching fraternity in 1987 as the Tigers running backs coach, must also serve as a nice distraction, right? Even with the 24-hour extension agreed upon by the owners and players to avoid for the time being a lockout.It does, but honestly, I havent even thought about it, Jackson said. I know everybodys talking about it (but) I just feel like, thats going to take care of itself. I have total faith in the process on how theyre going about doing it. And whether we get to start when we need to start, or whether we have to start later on, its going to all take care of itself.Forgive Jackson if he sounds as if hes merely whistling past the graveyard. Because really, who honestly believes there will not be a season in 2011? The real threat is in any hindering of Jacksons growth as a head coach for the first time in his careerat any level.Thats why a trio of Raiders season ticket holders from the area made sure they were among the first in the building. Just to get a glimpse of Jackson. And, of course, to get his signature and press the flesh.Were diehards, said Fernando Gomez, 35, of Sacramento. Weve been through the two-win seasons and the playoffs. That offense Hue had last year, it made it fun to be a fan again. His ability to put the ball in the end zone; put up points. Thats where we were getting celebrating mediocrity. The Nation needs this.In his first season as Oaklands offensive coordinator, the Raiders more than doubled their scoring output, going from 197 points in 2009 to 410 points last season and improving from the No. 31-ranked total offense to No. 10, on the strength of the NFLs second-leading rushing attack.
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It gives you hope, added Ollie Churchill, 24, also from Sacramento. Its fun to met the coach who gave life to the offense.Josh King, 33, and from Stockton, concurred.Its unbelievable, King said. Its a chance of a lifetime to meet the current head coach of your favorite team. Awesome.Jackson was interviewed by UOP hype lady Amanda King for the crowd at the 12-minute media timeout of the first half and he said his biggest thrill was catching up with professors he knew.This is home, he said.And at halftime, Jackson was escorted to midcourt by Tigers athletic director Lynn King and feted with a plaque, a jersey and accolades.Wow, a choked up Jackson said after. Thats all I can say. What a tremendous honor. And I havent done anything. To be presented with those things, what a challenge. Truly, I should be honoring them and hopefully I can by getting the Raiders back to the Super Bowl.Still, even with the labor strife delayed for at least another 24 hours, there were other matters of importance in the streets of Silver and Blackdom. Like the departure of left guard Robert Gallery.
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Gallery told ESPN he and the Raiders came to a mutual agreement for him to leave The Raiders said Gallery wanted 8 million to return while they were willing to pay him 2.5 million.Thats part of the business, Jackson said of losing Gallery. Its a tough deal anytime you lose guys whove been here for a long time. And Roberts been part of the process when things were good and then all of a sudden didnt go as good and now all of a sudden hes leaving with a better taste in his mouth because he did such a good job and he was a huge cog in what we did this past year.But this is a business and we know things, sometimes, decisions get made for different reasons. Hes going to go on and do great things and were going to keep going forward also.Then theres that matter of the Raiders still not listing a defensive coordinator and Jackson joking at the Combine last week that he was the DC.Im not going to call the defensive plays, Jackson howled. But Im going to make sure that we are very sound in what we do and how we go about attacking people. Thats my goal and thats my job.That process is going to get wrapped up pretty soon but we are still in a holding pattern.Jackson was talking about the purportedly vacant defensive coordinator position. He might as well have been referring to a new Collective Bargaining Agreement staving off a work stoppage.