Raiders' owner Al Davis hired Kiffin on January 23, 2007, making him the youngest head coach in Raiders history, and the youngest head coach in the NFL's "modern era" (i.e. since 1946), and signed Kiffin to a two-year deal worth about $4 million with a team option for 2009. Pro Football Hall of Fame Coach John Madden was 32 when he was elevated to the head post by Davis in 1969. Davis had been known to select young, up-and-coming coaches in their thirties; those hires who fared well include John Madden, Mike Shanahan and Jon Gruden. All have won Super Bowls, though Madden is the only one of the three to win a championship with the Raiders.
Age 31 at the time of his hiring by the Raiders (32 when he coached his first game), Kiffin became the youngest head coach in National Football League history; he also surpassed the New York Jets' Eric Mangini and the Pittsburgh Steelers' Mike Tomlin as the youngest head coach since the AFL–NFL merger in 1970.
On August 12, 2007, in his NFL head coaching debut, Kiffin and the Raiders won their preseason opener 27–23 over the Arizona Cardinals.
Kiffin vehemently opposed the selection of JaMarcus Russell. After being drafted with the first overall pick in the 2007 NFL Draft, Russell held out until September 12, and didn't make his first start until December 2, long after the season was effectively over.
Kiffin recorded his first regular season win as an NFL head coach on September 23, 2007; the Raiders defeated the Cleveland Browns 26–24 when defensive lineman Tommy Kelly blocked a late Cleveland field goal.
At his end-of-the-season press conference, Kiffin told the media and his players that he had many plans and changes he was going to make in the 2008 offseason. When asked by his players about rumors that Kiffin was interested in open coaching positions in college football, he told them he never thought the rumors were important enough to address because he was never planning to leave.
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Famous quotes containing the word raiders:
“This is our fate: eight hundred years disaster,
crazily tangled like the Book of Kells:
the dreams distortion and the lands division,
the midnight raiders and the prison cells.”
—John Hewitt (b. 1907)