ALAMEDA, Calif. -- The day Jon Gruden has been awaiting since he was formally introduced as Oakland Raiders coach -- for the second time -- on Jan. 9 has arrived.
The Raiders officially begin their offseason training program at the team facility Monday, and finally Gruden will get his hands on his players -- something he's been forbidden to do since the end of the season by the CBA. Just don't expect some grandiose speech from Gruden to his current roster of grinders.
"I'm not going to have a long meeting here," Gruden said with a grimace at the NFL owners meetings in Orlando, Florida, less than two weeks ago. "I'm not going to say a whole lot."
Not when he can only have the players for four hours a day, four days a week during the first phase of the three-phase offseason program.
"So I'm not going to talk to them for two hours,” Gruden laughed. "I'm going to get them downstairs and really sell our strength and conditioning program.
"I want [the players] to go down there and lift and run and be together for three hours and then I want them to come upstairs and do football for one hour, that first week. And get excited about being a Raider and learning our system and building some relationships. That's what it's all about -- trust, you know? And relationships ... four hours. Not a second less; not a second more. I mean, I'll have a two-minute warning."
Technically, the workouts are voluntary, but turnout is expected to be high. And among the first topics Gruden will broach with the team, as he already said, is the team's new strength and conditioning program under Tom Shaw.
"We got a new program downstairs, totally different than what has been going on there," Gruden said of Shaw, the renowned trainer who had most recently been working with ESPN Wide World of Sports in Orlando.
"Six years with the New England Patriots. He was with Bobby Bowden in the glory years of Florida State. He was with the New Orleans Saints. What I saw down there from him, the way he was handling young players, veteran players, major league baseball players, that was something I wanted. He was my No. 1 hire. That guy touches the whole roster, all the time."
Gruden said he "loves" the staff Shaw has compiled, which includes Gruden's son, Deuce, a world-class weightlifter.
"We hired the first female strength coach [in the NFL] that I know of," Gruden said of Kelsey Martinez, who also worked with Shaw. "She's spectacular. Wail 'til you meet her. D'Anthony Batiste is another power guy. We hired a guy that was the ex-strength coach of the New York Mets [in Rick Slate].
"So we have a real diverse group that can service kickers, punters, injured players, big guys, skinnier guys, fast guys. I love that. I love what we've got going. I'm really proud of it. Anxious to see our players and how they respond to it."
Of course, there will be meetings. How can there not be meetings?
And the way Gruden, who last coached in the NFL in 2008, sees it, the Raiders have to have the "best meetings in football" to be successful.
"If you can have one hour, it better be three hours of content," Gruden said. "You can't just go in there and tell stories and have a good time. And when you're on the practice field, if it’s two hours, or if it's an hour and 56 minutes, every second has to be allotted for. You've got to move around from drill to drill.
"The players want that. They want, I think, discipline on the field. They want organization and I think it all starts with your coaching staff and fortunately, we've hired some really good people."