Football Life Rich Bisaccia Journey to Becoming the Riders’ Interim Coach


As 9-year-old Rich Bisaccia exited from the stadium tunnel in search of his seat, the harsh blackness gave way to a dazzling Bronx winter. The iconic Yankee Stadium frieze and surrounding buildings were in front of him, which he had only seen on TV, or heard about on the radio or through second-hand talks. More than 100 yards of brownish green expanse, lined as if it were a football field, lay below.

On Dec. 7, 1969, Bisaccia was attending his first NFL game, with his favorite club, the New York Giants, hosting the St. Louis Cardinals and the future football lifer was looking forward to seeing his hero, Giants quarterback Fran Tarkenton, in person.

Bisaccia, who was born in Yonkers, New York, had recently relocated with his family to New Fairfield, Connecticut, following the death of his grandmother and family matriarch.

Reporters and fans alike rushed to Google, Wikipedia, and other sources to verify Bisaccia’s Giants ancestry. It was all in good fun. Nick was such a devotee, according to the younger Bisaccia, that he believed he knew more than Allie Sherman, Alex Webster, and Bill Arnsparger.

The problem was, once Bisaccia was promoted to the Raiders in the aftermath of Jon Gruden’s departure over the email incident on Oct. 11, the search for further information on Bisaccia began.

So, there was some curiosity, especially after the Raiders won a pair of blowout wins over the Denver Broncos and Philadelphia Eagles in his first two games as head coach, putting the club at 5-2 heading into their bye week.

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After which Henry Ruggs III was slain in a terrible vehicle accident early Nov. 3 that killed a lady and her dog, while fellow first-rounder Damon Arnette, an oft-injured cornerback, was released Nov. 8 when a video of him displaying firearms and making death threats appeared online.

Since then, the Raiders haven’t won a game, and speculation has turned to not only Bisaccia’s future with the team, but also that of general manager Mike Mayock and quarterback Derek Carr.

Three straight defeats — to the Giants, Kansas City Chiefs, and Cincinnati Bengals, dropping Las Vegas to 5-5 — have complicated Bisaccia’s assignment, which was already challenging owing to Gruden’s surprise midseason departure and the release of Ruggs and Arnette since accepting the position.

However, as the Raiders prepare to face the Dallas Cowboys on Thursday (4:30 p.m. ET, CBS), Bisaccia remains the team’s most intriguing figure… especially considering we know so little about him.

“I have five sisters,” he said. “I have four children.” “I owe my life to football,” he says of his five grandchildren.

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