SEATTLE – When news came down over the weekend that Oakland Raiders owner Al Davis had passed away, University of Washington coach Steve Sarkisian was reminded of his first NFL job, his most high-profile job offer, and one of the strangest interviews of his life.
Sarkisian spent a year working under Davis as quarterbacks coach with the Raiders in 2004, and he interviewed for the vacant head-coaching job the following year. Sarkisian said Monday that he was offered the job but that he decided to turn it down.
“When the opportunity came, I had to try to remove the emotion of I-get-to-go-coach-the-Oakland-Raiders,” said Sarkisian, a Southern California native who grew up a fan of the Los Angeles Raiders. “Is this the best thing for my family? For myself, for my family and for our careers as we move forward? And I just didn’t feel like it was the right time to be taking that job.”
What Sarkisian remembers most was the one-on-one meeting with Davis, who is an NFL icon but is also known to be a difficult boss for head coaches. The Raiders’ last two coaches _ Lane Kiffin, who interviewed the same year as Sarkisian, and current Seattle Seahawks assistant Tom Cable _ left the team under uncomfortable circumstances, to say the least.
Sarkisian recalled his interview as being unlike any other.
“The most unique experience of my life,” the current Huskies coach said Monday. “There is no manual to get ready for an interview with Al Davis.”
Sarkisian explained how Davis asked a series of questions that were all over the map, beginning with one about pregame meals. Sarkisian made it through the interview and contends that he was subsequently offered the head coaching job, even though the Raiders denied making such an offer at the time.
While Sarkisian seems to be satisfied with his current gig, he won’t forget the time he spent with Davis.
“A very unique man,” Sarkisian said. “A lot of people have had impact or influence on football over the past 50 years, but I don’t think any one single man has had more of an impact on our game that we play today than Al Davis.”