Sports Illustrated has a big article out today on Jon Gruden’s return to Oakland. It’s a remarkable look at how little has changed in the 17 years between the time he was traded to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers — yes, kids, a head coach was once traded for draft picks, and it happened in your lifetime — and his return last month.
Al Davis no longer runs the team, but his office remains his office, exactly how he kept it during life. For that matter, Gruden still works out of the same office he did the last time around. Can you imagine a major college football program going 17 years and not updating its facilities?
And that’s part of the reason why Gruden is back in silver and black. The Raiders are moving to Las Vegas for the 2020 season, and the club has taken on a tremendous amount of debt to make that move happen. Gruden is Mark Davis’s bet against that debt, the star that will sell the suites and the sponsorships to fill the club’s new stadium in its new home.
It’s easy to see why the Raiders wanted Gruden. But why did Gruden want the Raiders job? And why now? As was well documented during his nine years with ESPN, he was coaching without coaching. He studied as much film as anyone, he worked with more quarterbacks than he could ever collect on a single roster, he was free to do whatever he pleased from February to July, and he was paid better than anyone at the world’s biggest sports media company to do so.
Here are Gruden’s words, according to SI:
“I got tired of sitting in a dark room, watching tape by myself,” Gruden says. “I took rumba-dancing classes; that didn’t last—I wasn’t any good. Bought a boat; I never used it. Live on a golf course; I never play. I’d go to the FFCA early, and next thing I know it’s 10:30 at night. I’m thinking, S—. I’m wasting my time. I got to go compete.”
Is that not the most Gruden quote of all time? Every single one of you read that in his voice, or at least Frank Caliendo’s impression of Gruden’s voice.