Marvin Lewis once spent 16 seasons as the head coach of the Cincinnati Bengals and in that time, he racked up 131 career wins, which more than doubles the number of any other coach in franchise history. After parting ways with the organization following the 2018 season, Lewis kept his distance from the NFL, but now, he's making a return. 

The Raiders announced in January that Lewis would be joining Antonio Pierce's staff as an assistant head coach in Las Vegas, and four months later, we finally know why Lewis decided to make a return to the NFL. The former Bengals coach held his first press conference this week since taking the job and he was asked why he decided to join the Raiders after spending the past five seasons at Arizona State. 

"I think just the opportunity to really assist [Pierce]," Lewis said, via

Lewis and Pierce actually have a long history together that dates back more than 20 years. Before taking the Bengals' head coaching job in 2003, Lewis spent one season as Washington's defensive coordinator in 2002. During that one year, Pierce was a linebacker on Lewis' defense. The two crossed paths again at Arizona State where they served on the same coaching staff together for four seasons (2018-21). 

"From the time that I first met him and had the opportunity to coach him, and then the opportunity to kind of reunite again later on at Arizona State -- so kind of was in a similar role at one point there with him there as well, being in support of him, I just have been really impressed all the time with him," Lewis said. "Back to 2002 with the now-Commanders, I guess. So, it's just this opportunity."

Pierce has proven that he's eager to learn from former head coaches, which is another reason why Lewis liked the idea of coaching with him in Las Vegas. 

"He's not stuck on himself, that way," Lewis said. "He wants to hear other people's point of views, and so forth, that way. And that's good, but he has a great direction, himself, as a leader. He takes responsibility for providing the direction and reinforcing it every day."

Before taking the Bengals job 21 years ago, Lewis had a lot of success as an assistant. Not only did he make it to the Super Bowl as a member of the Steelers' coaching staff in 1995, but he was also the defensive coordinator for the Super Bowl winning Ravens in 2000, a team that had one of the best defenses in NFL history. In those two situations, Lewis learned under Bill Cowher and Brian Billick, and the 65-year-old wanted to pass on his knowledge to Pierce. 

"I think those were helpful to me when I got the opportunity to become a head coach and hopefully I can help benefit AP, as well, that way," Lewis said. 

Pierce has built a coaching staff that has a lot of experience under its belt. Besides Lewis, the Raiders also have former Dolphins head coach Joe Philbin (senior offensive assistant), along with Patrick Graham (defensive coordinator), Rob Ryan (senior offensive assistant) and Edgar Bennett (wide receivers), who won a Super Bowl as a player with the Packers. The Raiders also have linebackers coach Mike Caldwell, who won a Super Bowl while serving as an assistant in Tampa Bay in 2020. 

It's a staff that's deep on experience so the Raiders should be ready for almost any situation that gets thrown at them this year.