To celebrate his return to the sideline, Oakland Raiders head coach Jon Gruden threw a party for fans on Friday at Ricky's Sports Theatre and Grill in San Leandro.
Raider Nation showed up in droves.
Attention #RaiderNation! Huge party @rickysportsbar hosted by head coach Jon Gruden #Raiders pic.twitter.com/jwUT089twI— Mark Carpenter (@MarkCarpenterHI) July 20, 2018
Oakland Raiders Fan Appreciation Day here at @rickysportsbar!#RaiderNation pic.twitter.com/OVHInAKuaW— Raiders PR (@RAIDERS_PR) July 21, 2018
In all, over 500 fans showed up, according to a Ricky's spokesperson.
"We are honored to be a part of the love story between Jon Gruden and this fan base," the spokesperson said. "It's incredibly special. And the significance of this event, at this time, is not lost on us."
The Raiders, Gruden, and Ricky's all collaborated on the event, which came together because of Gruden's relationship with Ricky's owners, Ricky and Tina Ricardo. Gruden paid for the catering and entertainment himself, according to the spokesperson.
Plenty of Raiders alumni attended, including Cliff Branch and Lester Hayes, according to ESPN's Paul Gutierrez. Branch even took the mic and made a guarantee.
Cliff Branch addressing the crowd: “We got the right man for the job. And believe me, you will see a championship in Oakland in the next two years.”— Matt Kawahara (@matthewkawahara) July 21, 2018
Gruden broke in as an NFL head coach with the Raiders in 1998, and coached Oakland for four seasons. It was in Oakland where Gruden was first given the nickname "Chucky," after the murderous puppet in the Child's Play film franchise. Gruden paid tribute to those roots at Ricky's with a... creative autograph signing.
Here’s Gruden signing the Chucky doll box pic.twitter.com/lzBJJsEDXq— Matt Schneidman (@mattschneidman) July 21, 2018
Raiders training camp begins on July 27. Whether or not the team will be joined by its best defensive player remains to be seen.
Star defensive end Khalil Mack skipped the team's mandatory minicamp in June in pursuit of a new contract. Gruden told fans on Friday that the team will "find a way" to bring Mack back.