Most of the coaches that Tom Cable has brought in or promoted for his staff this season, have a long list of credits that make them obvious choices. The Raiders new receivers coach would not fit into that category. In fact, Sanjay Lal had never been even a position coach at the NFL level prior to this season.
Lal has spent the past two seasons as an assistant under previous receivers coach, James Lofton. Lofton was among the position coaches that was replaced this season and suddenly Lal was given the opportunity he always hoped for.
“I’m privileged to have this job”, said Lal. “I told Coach Cable and Coach Davis that ‘You’ve given me my dream job and I will coach every day with that attitude.’ It’s like a gift to me to have these young guys to mold.”
Prior to being assistant receivers coach for the Raiders, he had never even been a head coach at any level. But while he may be inexperienced as an NFL coach, he has had great success throughout his football career, both coaching and playing. Lal explains how his road began and what drove him here:
“I always thought I wanted to be a coach at some point and I really tried and tried and tried and probably overtried to make it into the NFL and I didn’t. When I didn’t make it into the NFL, I coached high school football [at Miramonte]. At first I thought it was just high school football. But then I got into it. There was one player, a receiver, and I taught him a move and he used the move and scored and came back and hugged me on the sideline and said, ‘Coach, I wouldn’t have scored if it wasn’t for you.’ And right then I was hooked.”
As a Raider fan or just a native of the Bay Area, you have to love Sanjay Lal’s body of work. His previous coaching stops were all in the east bay with Cal (QB coach), Saint Mary’s College in Moraga (QB coach), Los Medanos College in Pittsburg (WR coach), and Miramonte High school in Orinda (passing game coord.). So this is a classic example of the Raiders coveting a local product.
In the three seasons in which Lal coached for Cal, the Bears played in bowl games every season and Cal captured a share of the school’s first Pac-10 title in 2006.
As the passing game coordinator at Miramonte High School, Lal helped develop quarterbacks Ken Dorsey (Miami, San Francisco 49ers), Drew Bennett (UCLA, Tennessee Titans, St Louis Rams), Adam Smith (Duke) Taylor Humphrey (Hawaii) and Mark Guillion (Miami, Alabama). During Lal’s tenure, Miramonte won four North Coast Section championships, including a 13-0 record in 2001.
Lal completed his collegiate playing days at Washington, where he was a wide receiver for the 1992 national championship team. He was also a member of two Rose Bowl teams while at UW and is currently of a member of the Husky Hall of Fame. Before transferring to Washington, he was a member of the 1989 UCLA Cotton Bowl championship team.
Becoming a coach for the Raiders was not the first time he was invited to become a member of the team. After graduating from Washington, Lal was invited to the Oakland Raiders’ training camp. He may not have made it as a member of that Raider team but he didn’t give up on his dream. After playing professional football for two seasons in 98 and 99, he moved on to begin his coaching career. And ten years later, here he is proudly sporting his Raider polo shirt as a member of the coaching staff.
“To be with the Raiders is a dream. It’s one of 32 jobs but it’s with the Raiders. So you have your dreams and this comes true and you look back and say how did I get here. If I could have written it, I wouldn’t have been able to write it or believe it. But it happened and I’m not going to let go of it.”
Keep on living that dream Sanjay. And we will live It right along with you.