He never thought it would happen, but Jon Gruden is back with the Oakland Raiders.
“I never wanted to leave the Raiders,” Gruden said. “I never thought I’d be back. But here I am, and I’m ready to get to work.”
He’s spent the last nine seasons making us laugh on Monday Night Football. Gruden stayed true to form and gave us some instant classic quotes during his introductory press conference on Tuesday.
“I don’t have a guarantee to be alive for 10 years, just so people know.”
Other than those specifics, Gruden didn’t talk much about his contract. But he did make a joke about the reported length of the deal.
Gruden was asked by former Raiders cornerback Charles Woodson whether or not the team included a no-trade clause in his contract. Gruden said that they did, and he also said there is no ownership stake in the team included in his deal.
“Brady fumbled that ball.”
He addressed Woodson directly another time, and with a funnier quote. Gruden’s last game as the Raiders head coach was the infamous Tuck Rule game. Woodson is the one who stripped the ball from Tom Brady. The Tuck Rule was born when officials ruled it a forward pass. Gruden made it clear that he disagrees.
Gruden has previously said that he believes the Tuck Rule is “a crock of sh*t.”
It wasn’t the last Tuck Rule reference of the presser.
“Thanks for bringing up the Tuck Rule and how old we are,” Gruden said. “That’s great.”
“I’ve never met Marshawn Lynch.”
Gruden said he’s looking forward to meeting the running back. But it’s never happened before, not even during Gruden’s broadcasting career.
“I asked for Marshawn Lynch in production meetings and never got to meet him,” Gruden said. “So I’m anxious to sit down with Marshawn.”
It’s not a shock that Mr. “I’m just here so I don’t get fined” would dodge a production meeting with ESPN. But Gruden’s love of the Oakland area and the Raiders are things that the new head coach definitely has in common with Lynch.
“I’m not really a deep, philosophical person.”
Gruden gave us some insight into himself during the presser, including the fact that he has a different perspective than other coaches.
“Somebody said I was insane a minute ago,” Gruden said. “It’s probably exactly right. I have a different mentality than most guys, I guess.”
“I haven’t won a game since 2008. I haven’t lost any, either.”
Gruden’s been away from the game for some time, but he’s ready to be back.
“Yeah, I’ve been thinking of a lot of plays,” Gruden said. “And when I met Derek Carr this morning, I thought of a few more.”
“We’re not always going to agree, and Reggie will probably win.”
He’s ready to work with general manager Reggie McKenzie, and Gruden already knows who will win if they can’t agree.
“Look at the size of the guy,” Gruden said.
Gruden said he’s ready to see Raiders fans in the Black Hole, and he’s excited to renew those AFC West rivalries. He got a taste of that when he called his last game for ESPN on Saturday between the Titans and Chiefs in Arrowhead Stadium.
“My juices got going when those Chiefs fans started taunting me,” Gruden said.
“Technology is incredible.”
We already knew Gruden loves technology. He said as much on Saturday when he used his cell phone to show us all a highlight of Brad Johnson throwing himself a touchdown pass back in Week 7 of the 1997 season during the Titans-Chiefs broadcast.
Gruden talks to his kids about “Snapchat, Instant-gram, all of that stuff” pic.twitter.com/7r9YXumMQB— Will Brinson (@WillBrinson) January 9, 2018
“I talk to my kids about Snapchat, Instant-gram, all that stuff,” Gruden said.
“This is a big f’in deal”
That one wasn’t a quote from Gruden. But team owner Mark Davis summed up Gruden’s return perfectly.
“Once a Raider, always a Raider. Never been more appropriate than today,” Davis said to open the presser.
Gruden, 54, compiled a 38-26 record in four seasons with the Raiders between 1998 and 2001, earning back-to-back AFC West titles in his last two seasons. After the 2001 season, he was traded to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in a blockbuster deal involving multiple first- and second-round draft picks.
He led the Buccaneers to a Super Bowl win over the Raiders in his first season in Tampa Bay. But the team made the playoffs just twice in the next six seasons and Gruden was fired after the 2008 season with a 57-55 record.
Gruden joined ESPN as a color commentator for Monday Night Football in 2009 and kept the job for the next nine seasons, despite rumors of college and NFL teams attempting to pull him back into the coaching ranks.
The Raiders were finally the team to pull it off with a gigantic 10-year, $100 million contract.
Now — barring a disaster or some other unforeseen circumstances — Gruden will lead the team in a transition to Las Vegas. The Raiders are set to play in Oakland in 2018 and possibly 2019 as well before moving to a temporary home in Las Vegas in 2020. A new stadium is scheduled to open in time for the 2021 season.