Despite it being nearly a half decade now since he was the head coach, Hue Jackson remains a popular name amongst Oakland Raiders fans who see the now Cincinnati Bengals offensive coordinator as the man who came the closest to returning the franchise to glory. A coach who was fired after an 8-8 season before the rebuilding process in Oakland viewed by some as a coach who the Raiders never should have been let go and a coach who would have guided the team to the playoffs if he had stayed in charge.
While nobody knows how Jackson’s tenure with the team would have finished had he not been let go after one 8-8 season, the coach himself still hasn’t got over the premature firing by the Raiders. Telling local media in Cincinnati that the firing was a hard blow personally after feeling that the team was close to something special in Oakland before going into a rebuilding project after his firing.
Jackson told ESPN’s Coley Harvey that he thought that the Raiders had a chance to make the playoffs when he was with the team, but just didn’t do it in his first season which made it a tough pill to swallow when he was fired just months after the death of Al Davis and the transition of the team to ownership under his son in Mark Davis.
“That was hard,” said Jackson, per Harvey’s column on the Bengals upcoming trip to Oakland for Week 1. “We were kind of close. I thought we were. But we just didn’t get it done. At the end of the day, it’s still a performance business. I thought we had a chance to make the playoffs, and we didn’t do it.”
The now Bengals OC added that the Raiders had the right to go in a different direction and despite it being a career setback, he is now past the firing in what was his first NFL head coaching job.
“They can decide to go into a different direction at any time, and that’s what they did,” Jackson said. “But I’m beyond that now. That’s in the rearview mirror.”
Now many years removed from the firing and with the Raiders on a new head coach in Jack Del Rio, Jackson told Harvey that the emotions aren’t running as high as they were in the past when it comes to facing his former team.
“It’s not as raw in my emotions as it was back then,” Jackson said adding that he won’t be using the return for any added internal motivation. “It’s just the place we’ve got to go.”
With Jackson coming back to the Coliseum for the first time since his firing the return of the still popular former head coach will be a narrative that will be a minor focus when the Raiders and Bengals clash on Sunday even if Hue himself is downplaying it going into the week. A man who made a name for himself in a short time in Oakland, Jackson will always be linked to Mark Davis and Reggie McKenzie through his firing after that fateful 8-8 near-miss of the playoffs during one of the most dramatic seasons in franchise history. Now that he is back in the Black Hole for the first time, emotions will be running high for some, even if Jackson doesn’t want to admit it on the record.
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