It seems like an eternity ago but back in 2016, it looked like the Raiders were building a powerhouse football team. The team went 12-4, made the playoffs and had a really promising future. A big reason they were so good was because of their elite offensive line. During the 2016 season, the Raiders were tied for the top spot in the NFL by only allowing 1.2 sacks per game.
A big reason the offensive line was so good was because of left tackle Donald Penn, who made the Pro Bowl that year. Though he only spent five of his 14 NFL seasons with the Raiders, it’s clear that was his favorite stint. The team announced on Monday that Penn is signing a one-day contract so that he can retire a Raider.
Penn’s last season in Oakland wasn’t ideal. He only played in four games as he dealt with injuries. It’s good to see that he’s getting a chance to end his Raiders career on a very high note.
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Raiders Almost Never Signed Penn
Interestingly enough, the Raiders almost didn’t sign Penn, to begin with. Back in 2014, the team agreed on a massive deal to sign Roger Saffold. However, he failed a physical and the team backed out of the deal. This left the door open for them to sign Penn.
Saffold has put together a solid career and was even named second-team All-Pro in 2017, but the Raiders are probably happy with how everything played out. Penn became a beloved member of the team and a leader. He also clearly has a ton of admiration for the team. He will now forever be apart of the team’s history.
Jon Gruden & Mark Davis Give Statements
There aren’t many teams in professional sports that revere their alumni the same way the Raiders do. The team has been very good to its former players. Owner Mark Davis offered a strong statement in response to the Penn news.
“I want to join all of Raider Nation in congratulating Donald Penn on his retirement from football,” Davis said. “Donald came to the Raiders with a passion for the organization and he exemplified what it means to wear the Silver and Black during his five memorable years with the team. He was a leader both on and off the field and was held in high regard around the league throughout his career. We’re happy to welcome Donald home. He will always have a special place in this organization.”
Raiders head coach Jon Gruden was actually the first coach to give Penn a shot back when he was in Tampa Bay. He also issued a statement on the former Pro Bowler’s retirement.
“It’s perfect to see Donald retire as a Raider,” Gruden said. “He brought a toughness and tenacity to the offensive line that enabled him to have success at one of the most difficult positions in the game. I share Donald’s love for football and his love for the Raiders, so I am thrilled to see him retire as a member of the Silver and Black. I want to congratulate Donald on his retirement and wish him and his family all the best.”