Even normally friendly Oakland Raiders right offensive tackle Lincoln Kennedy got a bit agitated.
"I understand the matchup but you've got to understand something," Kennedy said. "I've never been to the Super Bowl. This is my first time going to the Super Bowl. The fact that I'm going back to my hometown and to play where I grew up is a great moment of elation for me. It's a great joy to me. I'm not concerned with Gruden. I'm really not."
Oakland wide receiver Tim Brown, however, understands the scenario.
"I know the NFL wishes they could move this back a week so they could pump it up," Brown said. "It's unbelievable for this to happen like that the first year after he leaves. I know it's going to be a lot of hype. There's not going to be any way to deflect it. You're just going to have to deal with it."
When Bill Callahan, who was the Raiders offensive line coach and offensive coordinator, took over for Gruden in March, many folks felt he would be nothing more than a caretaker and if Oakland was successful it would with Gruden's players.
Gruden should still get ample credit for laying the foundation from Oakland transforming from a putrid 4-12 team in 1997 into a .500 club immediately, a playoff contender by the second year and a bonafide Super Bowl threat the last three seasons.
Callahan, however, has taken a good team and made it better. In addition, Oakland added some crucial free agents during the offseason such as defensive tackles John Parrella and Sam Adams, linebacker Bill Romanowski and safety Rod Woodson.
Gruden and Callahan are similar in terms of their dedication and work ethic but not much else. In terms of personality, Gruden's competitive fire seethes outwardly as he scowls and barks at players and officials. Yet, he's as likely to use the term ‘Jiminy Christmas' when addressing the media. Callahan exudes a placid and stoic demeanor that is somewhat similar to Tom Landry or Don Shula. Underneath that demeanor, however, is a fiery competitiveness.
From a play-calling standpoint, Gruden tends to favor the ground game especially if the team is in front by a wide margin. Callahan, however, is anything but predictable and keeps going for the jugular even if the Raiders are in front by two touchdowns in the fourth quarter.