ALAMEDA, Calif. -- Norv Turner hoped he would get a second chance as an NFL head coach. He was thrilled to get it with the players in the silver-and-black uniforms he always wanted to wear.
Turner, who grew up in nearby Martinez, Calif., as an avid
Raiders fan, replaces Bill Callahan, fired Dec. 31 after two
"I never played for the Raiders, but about 30 miles over there in Martinez, in the streets, I was Daryle Lamonica many times," Turner said, recalling Oakland's famed quarterback from 1967 to 1974. "When my arm got tired, I was George Blanda. I grew up with the Raiders."
"I belong here," said Turner, the Miami Dolphins' offensive
coordinator the past two seasons. "When I got off the plane the
other night, I felt like I was coming home. I feel like I'm home
Turner spent nearly seven seasons as the Redskins
coach, leading them to a 49-59-1 record and just one playoff berth between 1994 and 2000 before being fired with three games left in his final
campaign. He was widely
criticized in Washington, but Turner still believed in himself -- and so did his many friends.
"I wanted to see if it was real, because I got a lot of
recommendations," Davis said. "I felt if I waited [to hire a
coach], I couldn't do any better. ... I just thought it was the
right fit. Everything that we need at this particular time, we will
rely on Norv to help us with."
Turner, 51, is the 14th head coach in a franchise lineage that includes
John Madden, two-time Super Bowl winner Tom Flores and owner Al
Davis, who coached the team from 1963 to 1965.
But Turner inherits a messy situation in Oakland: The Raiders'
defense of their AFC championship was a disaster almost from the
first preseason game, with injuries to more than a dozen key
players and a near-mutiny against Callahan.
Davis provided one, firing Callahan and later criticizing the
coach's handling of discipline matters. Bruce Allen, the Raiders'
top personnel man under Davis, also left voluntarily to become
Tampa Bay's general manager earlier this month.
The Raiders interviewed at least six coaching candidates during
the past few weeks. They came close to hiring Dallas
assistant Sean Payton last week, but he stayed with the Cowboys.
Turner didn't get an interview until talks with Payton ended,
and Davis hinted last week that he might want to interview New England Patriots assistants Romeo Crennel and Charlie
But Davis had promised Jimmy Johnson -- Turner's former boss in
Dallas -- that Turner would get an interview.
"When I sensed there might be a coaching change, I just said to
Al, 'Don't forget about Norv Turner, because I think he's the best
there is,'" Johnson said in a phone interview. "I just felt like
Norv was going to be the perfect fit."
Turner impressed Davis enough last Friday to
persuade the 74-year-old owner to depart from his usual preference
for hiring first-time head coaches. Of the Raiders' previous eight coaches dating to Madden's first
season in 1969, only one -- Joe Bugel, who lasted just one season in
1997 -- had previous head coaching experience.
Turner is a career assistant who began his NFL coaching career as an assistant with the Los Angeles Rams in 1985, and he was on Dallas' coaching staff from
1991 to 1993, when the Cowboys won two straight Super Bowls.
At least Turner has experience working for a hands-on owner: He
was fired by Washington's Daniel Snyder with three games left in
the 2000 season after the most expensive team in NFL history to
date went just 7-6. Turner was praised for his game plans, but
criticized for failing to keep his teams properly motivated and
Others who have played for Turner give different accounts of his
"Jimmy Johnson was a tremendous football coach," former
Cowboys quarterback Troy Aikman said from Dallas. "But I don't
doubt for a minute that if Norv had not come in, we wouldn't have
won the Super Bowls we did, and I'm not the only one who feels that
Turner signed a three-year, $8 million contract with two option
years, according to the San Francisco Chronicle.
Davis, Turner and Mike Lombardi -- expected to replace Bruce Allen as Oakland's de facto general manager -- must make decisions on the futures of several veterans, including Woodson, Gannon and receivers Tim Brown and Jerry Rice. The Raiders also have the second pick in the draft.
But Turner expects to win immediately in Oakland -- and Davis
expects nothing less.
"I don't think I ever heard the word 'rebuild' used around the
Raiders," Turner said. "I don't think that's what we're doing
Information from ESPN.com senior NFL writer Len Pasquarelli was used in this report.