Raiders draft pick Josh Jacobs shares incredible story of overcoming adversity

Raiders draft pick Josh Jacobs shares incredible story of overcoming adversity

On Thursday night, 32 men had their dreams of playing in the NFL realized when commissioner Roger Goodell called their names during the first round of the 2019 NFL Draft.

It's a life-changing moment for every player who walks on that stage and shakes Goodell's hand. The culmination of years of hard work, dedication and perseverance.

For new Raiders running back Josh Jacobs, it was even more than that.

Oakland selected Jacobs, the do-it-all Alabama back, with the No. 24 overall pick. For Jacobs, it was a sign that what his father always told him -- that everything will work out if you do things the right way and persevere --  was true.

Jacobs, who grew up in Tulsa, Okla., detailed his tough childhood in an article on The Players' Tribune posted Thursday, just before the draft.

When Jacobs was in fourth grade, his parents split up, and he went to live with his father. While his father's new apartment was being made ready, they slept on relatives' couches and, eventually, his father's Suburban. Jacobs would shower after football practice, and his father would drive around looking for a spot to park the car for the night, always sleeping with a gun on his chest to protect his son.

They eventually moved into the apartment, but the good times didn't last for Jacobs and his family.

"We slept in that Suburban every night for maybe two weeks until the apartment was finally ready," Jacobs writes. "We moved in, and a couple of months later, my dad won custody of my three brothers and my sister, and they moved in with us, too.

"Then, my dad lost his job."

For the next two years, Jacobs and his father and siblings went from motel to motel, living out of their backpacks and eating mainly white rice and ramen noodles. When money was really tight, Jacobs' father wouldn't eat.

"I didn’t really understand it all at the time — the way we were living, the sacrifices my dad was making … none of it. I just never looked at our life as a struggle," Jacobs wrote. "To me, it was just life. It was all I knew."

Despite his frustration and family's desperation, Jacobs' father never turned to drug dealing, which would have been the easy way to make money. He wanted to do right by his kids.

"He said he would never do it, for two reasons," Jacobs wrote. "One, it was too risky. If he got arrested or sent to jail, there would be nobody to take care of us kids, and he might lose us. And that was out of the question.

"And two … he said that the easy way out usually isn’t the right way. He said it’s hard work and perseverance that gets rewarded, not shortcuts."

[RELATED: Jacobs reveals he picked draft-night shoes with Raiders in mind]

That's what Jacobs did. He worked hard and ran even harder. For his dad and his siblings.

But, most importantly, because he loves the game of football.

After those two years, Jacobs' father landed a steady job and was able to get a house. Money still was tight, but they no longer were moving from motel to motel.

Jacobs was a star on the gridiron in high school, putting up absurd numbers. So absurd, in fact, that the local newspaper refused to print them because they believed his coach was making them up.

During his senior season, Jacobs still had zero scholarship offers and zero stars on the recruiting websites. Even after he put up 455 yards and six touchdowns on just 22 carries in a game covered by the local paper, he still received no interest.

Then, a man named G. Smith from Texas called Jacobs' father asking to help get his son recruiting interest. He had come across Jacobs' highlight-reel and wanted to help. He had Jacobs create a Twitter account to post his highlights, and took care of the rest.

The offers started coming in, but once Nick Saban and Alabama came knocking, it was a wrap.

"Everybody knows Alabama for being a football factory," Jacobs wrote. "For putting dudes in the NFL left and right. But I didn’t look at it that way. I saw it as an opportunity to play against the most elite competition in college football, and to get a quality education at the same time.

"Where I’m from, kids don’t get either of those opportunities. So that was all I was focused on. Getting to the NFL was the absolute furthest thing from my mind."

But during his final season at Alabama, Jacobs became the star of the Crimson Tide's crowded backfield. He rushed for 83 yards and two scores while having the flu during the SEC Championship Game. 

During the next game -- the Capital One Orange Bowl against Oklahoma -- Jacobs went wild, running for 98 yards on 15 carries and catching four balls for 60 yards and two scores.

The NFL was sure to come calling, and on Thursday night, Raiders general manager Mike Mayock and coach Jon Gruden did.

[RELATED: Grades for Raiders' three first-round picks]

Jacobs' running style -- hard and powerful -- makes him an attractive prospect, but it's his attitude that should excite the Raiders and their fans.

"I run for my pops, the man who sacrificed so much and worked so hard to provide for me and educate me," Jacobs wrote. "I run for my three-year-old son, Braxton, so he can have a father he’s proud of, like I’m proud of mine. I run for my sister and my three brothers. I run for my teammates and my coaches. I run for everybody who has ever supported me, anyone who’s ever doubted me, and for anyone out there living on white rice and ramen noodles. I run for anyone who’s in a tough situation and feels like it’s never going to end — that there’s no light at the end of the tunnel.

"I run to show them that there is."

With Marshawn Lynch reportedly hanging up his cleats for a second time, Jacobs is expected to become the featured back in Oakland.

Expect him to run hard and work harder.

Daryl Worley has eyes wide open heading into important Raiders season


Daryl Worley has eyes wide open heading into important Raiders season

Daryl Worley’s shoulder popped out of its socket on a cold December day in Cincinnati, a painful predicament that had to be remedied right away. Getting it back in was imperative, but the Raiders cornerback wasn’t doing so just to feel better on the bench.

He wanted to get back in the fray. That impulse was strong despite a season already down the drain and zero financial security in the 2019.

“You have a drive as competitor that has been there since you were a kid,” Worley said on this week’s Raiders Insider Podcast. “Even though the season may not have been going as we would’ve hoped, I feel like it gets to a point where you grind for six months with guys who have become your brothers. You want to take care of yourself, but you also want to be out there with them.”

It’s that drive that drew head coach Jon Gruden to him last spring. He did some homework on a guy way too talented to be unemployed, someone mired in a rough patch.

“I can still see Worley on the sideline trying to knock his shoulder back into place and keep playing,” head coach Jon Gruden said. “He’s a tough guy. He has also had some adversity in his career, but I got a lot of respect for the way a man can get up off the ground and dust himself off given another opportunity.”

The Raiders provided a soft landing after a rough go in his native Philadelphia. The Eagles traded for him last offseason, but a run-in with the law while reportedly intoxicated and resisting arrest put him on the street.

Gruden scooped him up knowing a suspension was on its way, with unwavering support in public and private. Worley was quickly inserted into the lineup upon return, where he started nine games until that shoulder issue sidelined him in Cincinnati.

It required surgery heading into restricted free agency, a less-than-ideal scenario that could prompt the Raiders to offer a lower contract tender and prevent other teams from bidding for his services. The Raiders essentially locked him down with a second-round tender offer worth $3.095 million, meaning a team that signed him to an offer sheet the Raiders refused to match would’ve had to cough up a second-round pick. That’s really something, considering Worley was a third-round pick and the Raiders could’ve saved some coin by offering an original round tender that still would’ve been a preventive measure.

Worley appreciates the extra million bucks, but the respect factor might’ve meant more.

“When you’re getting a nudge like that, it’s both business and personal,” Worley said. “It shows the comfort they have in me, and a certain level of respect.

“I’m thankful and appreciative of everything they’ve done for me. I try to pay it back every day, with the type of professional I am and the type of player they expect.”

This is an important year for him to find top form, which is possible after recovering fully from shoulder surgery. While Worley feels a certain loyalty towards Gruden, he isn’t blind to the fact the Raiders drafted cornerbacks Trayvon Mullen and Isaiah Johnson in the first four rounds. Gareon Conley’s a long-term solution on one side, with plenty of present and future competition at his current spot.

The Raiders were nice about the RFA tender but didn’t extend a long-term deal, so Worley will enter 2019 with unrestricted free agency’s possible riches (and career transition) on the immediate horizon.

“As a human, you know the future is coming,” Worley said. “You think about it, but I just always feel that taking care of each day, everything else will handle itself.”

[RELATED: AB setting new standard for Raiders during offseason program]

Worley likes playing in Silver and Black, across from Conley. They have become friends since Worley signed up, and they lived together during this offseason program. Worley has high hopes for them as a shutdown pairing knowing he must do his part, as he enters his prime right now at age 24. Matching that level with Conley’s steady and top-end talent could create a real impact.

“I feel that that’s something we expect of ourselves and something we expect,” Worley said. “It’s a situation where we’re in our second year in the system and we shouldn’t just make some plays. We should also be the thing that sparks the defense and our team and changes games.”

Raiders sign first-round draft pick Johnathan Abram to four-year contract


Raiders sign first-round draft pick Johnathan Abram to four-year contract

The Raiders are getting some business done before summer vacation truly starts. The Silver and Black signed a third member of their NFL draft class late Tuesday afternoon when No. 27 overall pick Johnathan Abram inked his rookie contract.

No. 4 selection Clelin Ferrell and No. 40 pick Trayvon Mullen signed earlier in the day.

No. 24 overall pick Josh Jacobs is the only Raiders draftee that remains unsigned, and it’s certainly possible his deal gets done before rookies formally leave on summer vacation later this week. They stayed an extra week after the offseason program’s end to work with the strength staff and player engagement department on off-the-field education common to all first-year NFL players.

Abram was slotted to receive a contract worth $11.45 million over four years that includes $6.380 million in a signing bonus. There’s also a fifth-year team option available that is standard for all first-round picks.

[RELATED: AB setting new standard for all Raiders during offseason program]

The Raiders selected Abram with the first-round pick the Dallas Cowboys gave up for Amari Cooper. Abram impressed during the offseason program and joined the first unit during the final week of OTAs. He was there again in minicamp, and a solid training camp could lock him into a starting safety spot right away.