Raiders HC Antonio Pierce gets zero votes for best coaching hire from NFL decision makers

As the Raiders embarked on their search for a new coach this offseason, there was seemingly only one choice for owner Mark Davis. Interim coach Antonio Pierce earned strong support from his players as he led the team to a 5-4 finish. Notably, superstar defensive end Maxx Crosby threatened to seek a trade if Pierce wasn’t retained.

Davis hired Pierce as his permanent coach and never interviewed the hottest name in the coaching market, Jim Harbaugh. Harbaugh, the former 49ers and University of Michigan coach, is now leading the Chargers. In an anonymous poll of NFL executives and coaches conducted by The Athletic, Harbaugh was voted best coaching hire. Meanwhile, Pierce received zero first, second, or third-place votes.

In fact, in an article loaded with anonymous comments from the seven NFL decision-makers — four executives and three coaches — there were no quotes about Pierce. There was only a short paragraph about the Raiders coach at the end of the piece.

Pierce was promoted after serving as the interim coach following Josh McDaniels’ midseason firing. The Las Vegas Raiders were 5-4 under Pierce, who was a popular leader with the players who publicly pined for him to get the job.

While this is definitely a slight to Pierce, it says more about how well-regarded Harbaugh is. He’s won everywhere he’s coached. In a perfect world, the Raiders would’ve gone after Harbaugh or interviewed him at the very least.

But Pierce made such a strong impression within the Raiders organization, the job was his all along. There’s no guarantee Harbaugh would’ve taken an interview, anyway. It appears he wanted to join a team with a franchise quarterback already in place.

Pierce has talked often about the “Raider Way.” Much of the Raiders’ mystique involves being unconventional. He has a chance to embody the Raider Way by proving he’s every bit as good a hire as Harbaugh, no matter how unconventional his hiring may seem to NFL observers.

Years from now, we’ll have more answers. In the meantime, the Raiders’ two matchups against the Chargers will have even more intrigue than usual, as Pierce and Harbaugh battle for bragging rights and the AFC West crown.

Story originally appeared on Raiders Wire